The Sanctuary Reredos

  

“I Am With You Always”     (Mt 28:20)

 

The Sanctuary Reredos

1.  The Reredos  (an ornamented wall or screen that rises behind the high altar of a church)

A tall structure projects from and buttresses the center of the great terminal wall at the west.
The reredos is adorned with the following features:

— Above: The sign of the Holy Cross is a brilliant rose window.

At the center: The Ark of the presence of God — in the Bible and in the reserved Eucharistic Sacrament.  The Ark is a small
elevated chapel,  separate from the main assenbly space, yet not concealed or hidden away, but in full view of the whole
congregation.

At the sides:  Two shrines celebrating Christ and His Church in the images of St. Joseph, holding the Child Jesus,
and of the Virgin Mary praying as the Church.

 

 

2.  The Ark of God’s Presence

The central recess, called the Ark, is the Chapel of Reservation or Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.  Here, in the Tabernacle,
are reserved the sacred hosts remaining after Holy Communion.  These hosts are reserved for three reasons:

—  to give Communion to the sick, as needed, at times outside of Mass, between eucharistic celebrations.

—  to honor reserved hosts, fragments of a previous celebration, by mingling them with the altar bread just consecrated,
thus showing a sign of unity in time with other people of an earlier Mass.

—  to venerate the sacrament of Christ’s abiding presence in the fragments of the holy Eucharist reserved witin the
Tabernacle.

3.  The Tabernacle

A place of safekeeping, our Tabernacle was first used in St. Lucy’s former convent and later in the original St. Lucy’s
Church building.  The two bronze doors are marked with Alpha and Omega.  The first and last letters of the Greek
alphabet, alpha – omega signify that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Beginning and the End of all things.

Firmly built into the wall of the ark, St. Lucy’s Tabernacle is in a permanent and central place of honor.

Though Holy Communion is given from the hosts offered and consecrated at each Mass, it is not always possible
to provide exact quantities of altar breads.  After the Communion rites, then, we follow Jesus’ words:
“Gather up the fragments, lest they be lost”.  At St. Lucy’s, all the people can see openly the Tabernacle where
the precious fragments are respectfully reserved.

At later celebrations, other people may also freely see the Tabernacle “where they put the Lord”, remembering
in prayer those who worshipped here before them.

4.  The Sanctuary Light

Keeping the “Ner Tamid” (eternal light) burning is a custom that comes to us from the time of Christ and is
still honored in both synagogues and churches today.  St. Lucy’s Sanctuary Lamp also comes from the original
church building.

Burning lights are an extension of the Liturgy of the Word and of the Eucharistic rites, as are the candles each of
us holds during the candlelight vigil of Easter night.

5.  The Abiding Presence of the Lord

Thus, in the Ark, Christ’s abiding presence is expressed under three forms:

—  the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle.

— the Holy Bible, the Word of God (the Bible, in Spanish, is a gift from our Sister Parish in San Salvador), and

— the Sanctuary Light, recalling that our Saviour is “the light of the world”.  (Mt 5:14)