The Blessing Of The New Altar,
6th of September 2017
The new altar is blessed with holy water and chrism.
Now dressed with altar cloth, antemension, candles, tabernacle and missal – ready for the Liturgy.
After Mass, from the left, Fr John Ives (a visiting Orthodox priest), Fr Nathan, and two of our faithful.
Why an altar? And whose Altar?
Dear friends, today we meet to bless this altar, which we have built to give dignity to our worship, and to honour his command to break bread in memory of him.
But let us ask the question – why an altar? And whose altar?
The mystery of the Lord’s Supper, instituted by Christ himself, as the sacrament of our salvation, is also the sacrament of true worship, which brings to perfection in Christ the mystery of the one true altar prefigured in those many altars of old.
Indeed it was Noah, the second father of the human race, who once the flood receded, built an altar in the Lord’s name and offered a fragrant offering to commemorate the covenant founded in love.
And then Abraham, our father in faith, who whole heartedly accepted God’s word and constructed an altar on which to slay Isaac, his only son. But the Lord stayed his hand and provided a ram for his offering.
And Moses, mediator of the old law, built an altar on which was cast the blood of a lamb; so prefiguring the altar of the cross.
All this Christ has fulfilled in the paschal mystery; as both priest and victim, he freely mounted the tree of the cross and gave himself up to his Father, as the one perfect oblation that takes away the sins of the world.
In his once for all sacrifice the new covenant is sealed, and in the shedding of blood, sin is cancelled.
And so today we meet in his name to offer the banquet of the Eucharist, that will transform bread and wine into his body and blood, and make present before us his saving work – and so by faith we may enter into the paschal mystery.
For this purpose, we seek his blessing of this new altar, a simple table of English oak, that it may be forever reserved for the sacrifice of Christ, and stand for ever as the Lord’s table, where we his people may find nourishment and strength.
May this altar be a sign of Christ, a sign of our redemption, from whose pierced side flowed blood and water, which ushered in the sacraments of the Church.
May it be for us a table of joy, where the friends of Jesus may hasten to offer up their trials and suffering, and take up their journey restored and renewed.
May it be for us a place of communion and peace, so that those who share in the body and blood of Christ, may be filled with his Holy Spirit, and grow in his love.
May it be for us a source of unity and fellowship, where united in Christ, we may share his love with all people.
May it be the centre of our praise and thanksgiving, where through Christ the high priest and living altar, we will offer our Lord and God that acceptable sacrifice of praise and worship.
And so to answer the question. It is his altar, on which through the Eucharist, the power of his sacrifice is renewed and we feed on him by faith and with thanksgiving.
In response to his invitation to partake in his body and blood; we offer our lives in service, and through his death and resurrection we are made one in him, and become one people, the body of Christ.
Adapted from the Vatican II Rites for the dedication of an altar. 6 September 2017