“The altar, which symbolizes Christ and
the place where bread and wine
become his true presence, is the main
focal point in every Catholic church.”
Alignment to the Altar
During our annual spring-cleaning, we took out all the chairs in the church to clean them and to steam clean the carpet. When we put the chairs back, we decided to angle them a bit so that all the chairs would be in line with the altar. The altar, which symbolizes Christ and the place where bread and wine become his true presence, is the main focal point in every Catholic church. Other focal points include the ambo (pulpit), the presider’s chair, and the assembly. Christ is also present in the action taking place at each of those. The angled chairs might make it a bit easier to see one another in the assembly.
Some may wonder why the tabernacle is not in that list of main focal points for the Mass. The tabernacle is extremely important. It is the place where the Eucharist is reserved in order to bring it to the sick and dying. It also makes a holy and special place for individual prayer outside of Mass. Some may have grown up or come from parishes that had the tabernacle right behind the altar. However, the instruction of the Roman Missal states that if the tabernacle is in the sanctuary it is to be “apart from the altar of celebration” (#315). The instruction also states that the tabernacle may be “in some chapel suitable for private adoration and prayer of the faithful,” which we have here at St. John’s. The point is that the tabernacle should not be the focal point during the Mass. Nor should hosts from the tabernacle be used for Mass. The Second Vatican Council stated that the faithful should receive Holy Communion from the hosts consecrated at the Mass they attend. It is active participation in the action taking place in the Mass that is most important.
It is our custom to bring the hosts from the tabernacle and place them on the altar during the communion procession. Any leftover hosts from the Mass are added to them. And if we miscounted or too many people come late and we run out of hosts, we then need to use hosts consecrated at a different Mass.
The church is open during business hours for you to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. The main doors of the church are usually locked, but you may enter through the parish office. You are invited to spend some time with the Lord, truly present in the consecrated bread in the tabernacle. You might also wish to consider becoming a Eucharistic minister to the sick and homebound, so that those who are ill or apart from the community may experience in the sacrament, the presence of the Lord, and the concern of his community. Contact Laurie for more information at our parish office.
“This is a way for a person to reflect on
and identify what was missing from
their marriage that made it impossible
to live out the full definition of
marriage.” ~Fr. Bill
With marriage, the Church tries to do two things that
may seem contradictory. On one hand, we uphold the
dignity and ideal of marriage as a life-long partnership
of life and love. Married love is called to mirror God’s
love. And God loves us God’s whole life – eternally.
Married couples are called to love their whole life – as
the vows say, “until death do us part.” However, on
the other hand, not every couple who enters into
marriage has all the necessary ingredients to live the
ideal of marriage despite their best intentions. The
Church desires to accompany them with compassion
We do both through the annulment process. This is a
way for a person to reflect on and identify what was
missing from their marriage that made it impossible to
live out the full definition of marriage. It does not deny
the good that came from that union, especially if there
where children. It simply states that, looking back with
some objectivity, I can now identify an essential
ingredient that was missing from the beginning of the
marriage. It does not change our definition of marriage
as a life-long union.
The easiest case is when the Catholic form of the
marriage ceremony was missing. A Catholic has the
obligation to marry within the Catholic Church.
Another easy case may be when one’s spouse was not
free to marry in the eyes of the Church due to a
previous marriage. Other cases may be more complex
when dealing with issues of freedom, maturity,
knowledge, addictions, and the like. These situations
may require greater reflection around one’s life and/or
the life history of one’s spouse. The parish has trained
Advocates, who assist those going through the
annulment process. The process is most often done
The purpose of the annulment process is to bring
healing and closure to the painful experience of a civil
divorce. It also allows the Church to issue a
declaration of freedom, so a person may marry in the
Church in the future. Often, one may have already
entered into a new marriage. The annulment process
allows the Church to get caught up and able to
acknowledge and celebrate with you your current life-
For more information on the annulment process, let’s
get together and chat.
“One of the challenges we face is
that when attendance dips below
40% of the building capacity, the
quality of the liturgical experience
begins to be affected.”
– Fr. Bill
Every May and October the archdiocese asks us to count the number of people attending Mass in-person. This helps them in their planning for assigning priests and judging the viability of a community. Prior to COVID (2018), the average attendance at St. John the Baptist on a weekend was 1,048 which utilized 65.5% of the seating capacity of the church.
Last October, when we were still in the midst of COVID and had a general dispensation from attending Mass in person, the average weekend attendance was 571. As we are emerging from COVID and are now encouraged to attend Mass in person, our May count was 699, which utilized only 43.7% of our seating capacity. Here is the breakdown by Mass.
Though we saw a significant gain from last October to May, we still have a lot of rebuilding to do from the devastation COVID racked upon our worshiping community. One of the challenges we face is that when attendance dips below 40% of the building capacity, the quality of the liturgical experience begins to be affected. This is held in tension with the unique identity each Mass has and the community that has formed at each particular Eucharistic celebration.
If you have not yet returned to in-person participation at Mass, please consider doing so. If you are at Mass, please invite others to join you. We also may need you to step forward and take on a liturgical ministry. With fewer people, more will be needed as lectors, servers, Eucharistic ministers, sacristans, and other ministries.
Together, let us continue rebuilding our worshipping community and enhancing the quality of our celebrations by “full, active and conscious participation.” The smaller the number at Mass, the greater the need to participate.