Catechism of the Catholic Church

306 Part Two 1182 The altar of the New Covenant is the Lord’s Cross, 59 from which the sacraments of the Paschal mystery flow. On the altar, which is the center of the church, the sacrifice of the Cross is made present under sacramental signs. The altar is also the table of the Lord, to which the People of God are invited. 60 In certain Eastern liturgies, the altar is also the symbol of the tomb (Christ truly died and is truly risen). 1183 The tabernacle is to be situated “in churches in a most worthy place with the greatest honor.” 61 The dignity, placing, and security of the Eucharistic tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. 62 The sacred chrism ( myron ), used in anointings as the sacramental sign of the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, is traditionally reserved and venerated in a secure place in the sanctuary. The oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick may also be placed there. 1184 The chair of the bishop ( cathedra ) or that of the priest “should express his office of presiding over the assembly and of directing prayer.” 63 The lectern ( ambo ): “The dignity of the Word of God requires the church to have a suitable place for announcing his message so that the attention of the people may be easily directed to that place during the liturgy of the Word.” 64 1185 The gathering of the People of God begins with Baptism; a church must have a place for the celebration of Baptism (baptistry) and for foster- ing remembrance of the baptismal promises (holy water font). The renewal of the baptismal life requires penance. A church, then, must lend itself to the expression of repentance and the reception of forgiveness, which requires an appropriate place to receive penitents. A church must also be a space that invites us to the recollection and silent prayer that extend and internalize the great prayer of the Eucharist. 1186 Finally, the church has an eschatological significance. To enter into the house of God, we must cross a threshold, which symbolizes passing from the world wounded by sin to the world of the new Life to which all men are called. The visible church is a symbol of the Father’s house toward which the People of God is journeying and where the Father “will wipe every tear from their eyes.” 65 Also for this reason, the Church is the house of all God’s children, open and welcoming. 59 Cf. Heb 13:10. 60 Cf. GIRM 259. 61 Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei: AAS (1965) 771. 62 Cf. SC 128. 63 GIRM 271. 64 GIRM 272. 65 Rev 21:4. 617, 1383 1379 2120 1241 1348 103 2717 1130