Bishop Paprocki: Return the Tabernacle to the Center of the Sanctuary

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Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has directed all the pastors in his diocese to move the tabernacles in their churches back to the center of the sanctuary.

In a beautifully written pastoral letter, Ars celebrandi at adorandi (The Art of Celebrating and Worshiping), Bishop Paprocki expounds on the rich tradition and teachings of the Church regarding the celebration and reverence for the Eucharist.

Bishop Paprocki also recounts the lamentable movement in the last few decades that has seen the Blessed Sacrament relegated to “side chapels,” which he notes are sometimes nothing more than converted storage closets.

And that, says Bishop Paprocki, needs to change now:

“I direct that in the churches and chapels of our diocese, tabernacles that were formerly in the center of the sanctuary, but have been moved, are to be returned as soon as possible to the center of the sanctuary in accord with the original architectural design. Tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary or are otherwise not in a visible, prominent and noble space are to be moved to the center of the sanctuary; tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary but are in a visible, prominent and noble space may remain.”

Bishop Paprocki also reminds the faithful that the proper sign of reverence for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is to genuflect, not merely to bow.  He also encourages more frequent Eucharistic exposition and adoration, as well as public Eucharistic processions through the streets.

Bishop Paprocki, you rock.

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Categories:Liturgy New Evangelization

56 thoughts on “Bishop Paprocki: Return the Tabernacle to the Center of the Sanctuary

  1. Anne says:

    Many many thanks to you, Bishop Paprocki!

  2. Tim Verellen says:

    The tabernacle is not the focal point, but He who resides there namely Our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore the tabernacle and the high alter (not a table) together should be the focal point and the mass should be offered on the high alter. The novel use of a table facing the people focuses on the meal aspect of the mass making secondary at best the sacrificial act oc the mass. This has been the fight of the SSPX for 40+ years. It is a good step in the right direction to see some of the forgotten traditions rediscovered by the local Catholic Churches. Keep up the good work I hope some day to recognize the mass at the local Catholic Church in my area SE lower Michigan.

    1. Mark says:

      SSPX is not in full union with the Church they are by every definition of the word a protestant. They are in Protest, believing they know better than Holy Mother Church who is protected from error and guided by the Holy Spirit. It is no different than those who push for womens ordination and a married priesthood.

  3. Helen Joanne Satmary says:

    The Tabernacle should be on the main Alter in all Roman Catholic Churches. It is God’s house and to be put aside is an insult to Our Lord. Thank you Bishop Popracki. I hope all Priests, Bishops and Cardinals will follow suit and I also agree that kneelers should be in all Catholic churches. Let us get back to truly adoring our God and giving Him our deep respect and love.

  4. Jacolyn Ramoneda says:

    I agree with this proposal. It should have never been moved.

    1. TLM333 says:

      And in some cases moved to broom closets no less. Bishop Paprocki is one of the few faithful shepherds we have left in the Church of Christ. May God give him a gigantic megaphone.

  5. Pat says:

    I totally agree… Ours has a place of honor, but feel they all should be placed back where they always were…

  6. Vincent says:

    I guess it depends on how one understands what it means to have reverence for the Eucharist. There was a very good reason for moving the tabernacles. In many places, there was such an emphasis on Eucharistic adoration and reverence for the reserved sacrament that it had eclipsed the actual celebration of the Eucharist in the mass. Pope Pius X helped us move in the right direction by encouraging early and frequent reception of the Eucharist at a time when many people attended adoration more often than they actually received the sacrament. Vatican II moved us further in the right direction by emphasizing the fourfold presence of Christ in the mass (in the gathered assembly, in the Word proclaimed, in the minister, and in the consecrated bread and wine) and reemphasizing the Eucharist as both meal and sacrifice. While Eucharistic adoration and reverence for the reserved sacrament are certainly appropriate, the center of our Eucharistic worship should be the mass itself: the body of Christ gathered around the table and the body of Christ on the table. I think it makes sense then that our churches should be arranged to make the altar the focal point, not the tabernacle. The tabernacle should still have a dignified place (i.e. not in a closet), but it shouldn’t be the focal point.

    1. jerry says:

      Luther used a very similar argument.

    2. I just can’t believe that you don’t believe the Body and Blood of Christ need to be the focal point of our churches. Sorry, Can’t agree. 30% of Catholics do NOT believe in the real Presence. Could the fact that we don’t put Him in a prominent place in the sanctuary be part of that.

      1. Chris says:

        I have Never seen or heard of anyone revering the Eucharist and ignoring the Mass. You will be lucky to find Eucharistic adoration much less Too Much of it (if that is even possible). I believe your argument solves a problem that is so rare as to be insignificant!

      2. Vincent says:

        Read what I wrote again. I DO want the Eucharist to be the focal point of our churches. But the focus should be on the active celebration of the Sacrament in the midst of the community (centered on the altar) rather than on the reserved sacrament (centered on the tabernacle).

        The tabernacle is sacred because of the mass which brings the Lord’s body into our presence; the mass is not sacred because of the prsence of the tabernacle.

    3. Caro says:

      It’s Christ who should be focul point amd center of ALL of our catholic Churches and if you believs that He is fully present (body, blood, soul, and divinity) in the Eucharist then it would only be right to place the tabernacle; in which He dwells, in the very center.

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