Traditional Mass

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Continued . . .

49--How is the altar covered?

The altar is covered with three white hempen or linen cloths.
Why? It is a question of suitability, of neatness, and of utility. It precludes all possibility of profanation of the Precious Blood, if the chalice were accidentally overturned. Again, these three white cloths recall the swaddling clothes of the Crib and the linens that enveloped Christ in the tomb.

A crucifix on the altar is essential. It recalls that the Sacrifice of Calvary becomes present in the Mass.

For a Low Mass, two beeswax candles are placed on the altar; for a sung Mass, four; for a High Mass, six; and seven if the celebrant is a bishop.

The candle has several meanings. It typifies Jesus Christ, the Light of the World; the wax symbolizing His human nature; the flame, His divinity.

Again the candle symbolizes the soul of the Christian standing straight and pure before God. It gives light and warmth while consuming itself to the last moment of its earthly existence. . . .

On the altar also are placed three cards called the altar cards (or canons), which bring to the priest's mind the prayers to be recited during Mass.

The tabernacle or tent is the place where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.

Finally, there is the missal on its missal stand.
[From 'Your Mass and Your Life,' to be continued . . .]