What Is The Significance Of Tabernacle In Church?
As a Christian, you must be familiar with the tabernacle in the church. It is a special place in the church, which holds the ciborium that has the Eucharist. The tabernacle is thus the cornerstone and heart of the Catholic Church. In today’s article, we will tell you about the significance of the tabernacle in the church. Read on!
History of Tabernacle
Research studies show that a tabernacle refers to a church where people meet God. The Israelites built a specialized structure known as a tabernacle for worship. When the Israelites made their exodus from Egypt to Mt. Sinai, they ended up wandering for forty days in the wilderness.
God gave Moses the sacred Ten Commandments. They are mentioned in detail in the Exodus from chapter 25 to 40. In these chapters, God instructed Moses on how to build the tabernacle and worship God.
Not only was this structure fancy but it was also portable. So, every time when the people of Israel moved their campsite, they would carry the tabernacle with them. The portability of tabernacle actually served as a symbol, which means that God was traveling with the Israelites.
Moses would go the tabernacle in order to determine the will of God for the people. So much so, history shows that King Solomon constructed the temple (obviously not a portable building). However, it had the same layout as the tabernacle.
People at that time would use the tabernacle to worship God. Along with praises and prayers, people would offer incense to God using the tabernacle. God likewise established specific days – for instance, the Day of Atonement when the priests and the people would perform special tasks, duties, as well as make sacrifices for God.
In addition, in the Israelite community, the tabernacle became the center of worship when they would be in the wilderness. So, whenever, they would make a camp, there would be a place for each tribe, which would be identified by the placement of the tabernacle.
In early Christianity, people or priests commissioned by the Catholic Church took bread consecrated at their tabernacles to their homes – to give it to people who were sick and/or those who were not capable of attending the celebration.
After the persecution was ended by the Edict of Milan and the early Christian Church got permission to practice its religion publically, people would no longer keep the tabernacle in private homes for safety but would keep it near the altar of the church.
The Significance of Tabernacle Today
The tabernacle was a portable place of worship and a sign to the temple in the holy city of Jerusalem. As mentioned above, it was the place where God met with Moses. Today, the tabernacle and all elements in the compound carry a special spiritual meaning for Christians.
The tabernacle helps people see and understand in a better way the pattern of worship the Lord set forth for them to approach him. Just like it was a place for the people of Israel to interact with God, today, Christians use it to praise God and seek guidance.
In addition, the tabernacle should be placed in the church with the greatest honor. The placing, security, and dignity of the Eucharistic tabernacle must foster love and affection to the Lord.
The tabernacle today is considered the holy of holies. It is because God’s holiness is the most fearful thing to the guilty sinner, you might think about the significance of tabernacle. Well, the reason is simple – unless God’s holiness is satisfied, God can’t dwell with people or have a relationship of love with them.
It is no surprise to tell you that sin separates you from God. So, first of all, the holy nature of God requires that his infinite godliness be maintained. Therefore, it is preferable that the church locate the tabernacle as per the judgment of the Bishop. It could be placed either in the sanctuary or in the chapel that is suitable for the private prayer and adoration of the faithful.
Today, the Catholic Church follows the transubstantiation doctrine, which means that Jesus Christ is present in a true manner – soul and divinity, body and blood, although in the appearance of blood and wine. The elements of Eucharistic are still the body and blood of Christ.
In this sense, the tabernacle serves as a safe place, which is used for storing the Blessed Sacrament – especially for those people who can’t participate in Mass. It is also used as a focal point for worship and prayers for people who can’t visit the church.
According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the tabernacle used for reserving the Eucharist is to be portable. It must be made of opaque or solid material. It should be locked in order to avoid the danger of profanation.