April 03, 2020 4 min read

Why Is There A Tabernacle In Church

There are many things of great prominence and significance associated with the Christian faith. A tabernacle is one of those things. It can be found in churches all over the world. For small kids or new converts, it might be confusing to see a tabernacle in church. So let’s take a look at what a tabernacle is and why is it so important for a church to have one.

 

What Is A Tabernacle

Tabernacle literally translates to dwelling place. So any place where people dwell can be called a tabernacle in general. The reason that it is named tabernacle in Christianity is that it is where the Christ is known to dwell in Eucharist.

The Eucharist is known as a Christian rite. It is considered ordinance in some of the churches around the world and sacrament in some others. It basically presents the sacrifice, giving of thanks, bread and other important aspects. To be honest, anything can be used to denote the Eucharist. The tabernacle is a piece of furnishing where the Eucharist is placed when the mass is not going on. It can help in keeping the Eucharist saves so it can be served or distributed to other people later on.

The word tabernacle has also been used by ancient Jews to name temporary tent shelters that they used to make on their long journeys.  It is actually believed that the Christian tabernacle actually originated from the use of the word by Jewish tabernacles.

Tabernacles can be seen in catholic churches throughout the globe but it is not just a catholic thing. You can find tabernacles in churches of other Christianity sects as well including eastern orthodoxy, Lutheranism and Anglicanism.

A tabernacle is usually a fixed container. The container is always locked and kept safe. In some cathedrals and churches, there is a container set inside the wall for the same purpose. It is known as an ambry.

Tabernacle

Why Is There A Tabernacle In A Church

Every church has a blessed sacrament. Blessed Sacrament is the devotional name given to the blood and body of Jesus Christ in form of sacramental bread & wine used at the celebration of Eucharist. The tabernacle is placed in the church. Its main purpose is to hold the Blessed Sacrament. It acts as a safe and secure place where the Blessed Sacrament is stored and then carried on to sick people who are unable to participate in the Mass.

It is also present at the church as a focus for prayers of Church attendees. Tabernacles are still very important in the modern world. They are a huge part of the Christianity and will remain so till the end of the world. The Second Vatican Council touched the matter and importance of tabernacles. Before this council meeting, regular masses were used to be held in front of the tabernacles. However after this second Vatican Council, this was changed. There are separate masses for the altar and for tabernacles respectively.

The use of tabernacle at churches is symbolic of the blessings and care that the Christ has bestowed upon the world.

 The tabernacle

Placement of The Tabernacle

The placement of the tabernacle is very important. It is one of the most important things in a church or cathedral. This is why where it is placed holds a lot of importance. In the old days a tabernacle could be seen placed in the heart of the church or cathedral. It was placed right in the center where everyone could see it. Overtime, this has changed. These days the tabernacle is placed on the side where it does not have continuous eyes on it. This is done to keep the tabernacle secure and safe. The main thing is the Eucharist inside the tabernacle. So no matter where it is placed, the true importance lies in the Eucharist inside the tabernacle. Its position does not affect the immense value that the Eucharist possesses. Its location or placement does not affect its value one single bit.

 St Peter's Basilica Tabernacle

Can There Be More Than One Tabernacle At A Catholic Church

Tabernacles are no doubt very important in the Christianity religion however there should only be one tabernacle at a single church.  The law about this is very clear that there should only be one tabernacle in any church and it should be immovable. It should never be taken out of the church without any proper or important reason. The only time when a church or a cathedral can have more than one tabernacle is when one of the tabernacles is being transferred from one location to another and needs a storing place for the journey. In such scenarios, one church can house more than a single tabernacle however this will only be temporary and once the second tabernacle reaches its final location, the respective church would be left with only one tabernacle.

What Is A Tabernacle Usually Made Up Of

A tabernacle can be made up of stone, wood or metal. It is usually made up of metal in churches throughout the globe. Tabernacles used to be gold in the old days. To this day you can still find many tabernacles in different churches and cathedrals throughout the world that are made of gold.

A tabernacle can be in any shape. A tabernacle does not have to be of a specialized shape. Over the years the tabernacle has been seen to come in different forms and shapes. It depends on the church or the cathedral.

What Does The Book Of Law Say About Tabernacles

The law is very clear on tabernacles. The law is stated as “The tabernacle in which the Eucharist is regularly reserved is to be immovable, made of solid or opaque material, and locked so that the danger of profanation may be entirely avoided” (CIC 938-3).

Now the law clearly states that it has to be an immovable, solid and opaque object. Most of the time, this is the case while in very few churches there are also moveable tabernacles as well.

Finally, next to a tabernacle, there always should be an oil lamp lit at all times. This has been since God told Moses that a lamp filled with the pure oil should perpetually burn in the Tabernacle (Ex 27:20-21). 

Tabernacle & Light

Check out our BLOG: CATHOLICALLY TODAY: LOVE, PRAY, WRITE and read more about "What Is The Significance Of Tabernacle In Church"


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