Q+A: Why are we having a Rite of Dedication of a Church and Altar now? What can we expect at the Rite? – Part II

A: This week we continue walking through the Rite of Dedication of a Church and Altar.

Following the anointing of the altar and the church with chrism, “incense is burned on the altar to signify that Christ’s sacrifice, there perpetuated in mystery, ascends to God as an odor of sweetness and also to signify that the people’s prayers rise up pleasing and acceptable, reaching the throne of God. The incensation of the church indicates that the dedication makes it a house of prayer, but the people of God are incensed first, because they are the living temple in which each fanciful member is a spiritual altar.”

“The covering of the altar indicates that the Christian altar is the altar of the Eucharistic sacrifice and the table of the Lord; around it priests and people, by one and the same rite but with a difference of function, celebrate the memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection and partake of his supper. For this reason the altar is prepared as the table of the sacrificial banquet and adorned as for a feast. Thus the dressing of the altar clearly signifies that it is the Lord’s table at which all God’s people joyously meet to be refreshed with divine food, namely, the body and blood of Christ sacrificed.”

“The lightening of the altar, which is followed by the lightening of the church, reminds us that Christ is ‘a light to enlighten the nations’; his brightness shines out into the Church and through it in the whole human family.”

Following the lightening of the Church, the Mass continues with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Ryan Sales


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