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Does anyone know why altar railings were removed after Vatican II? I was made aware of this yesterday at a bible study.
Nov 20 new
wave hi Judy


we just approaching Abram..........and doing King of Kings in my special ed class, but OTHERS HERE will know
and chime in.......my retention from last years classes is poor evidently because I cannot remember...................
Nov 20 new
(quote) Judy-839063 said: Does anyone know why altar railings were removed after Vatican II? I was made aware of this yesterday at a bible study.
I don't know what excuses were used to justify their removal, but there is nothing in the Vatican II documents that calls for them to be removed. Or for distrivution of Holy Communion standing and in the hand, for that matter.

Nov 20 new
I was young at the time, but I think that is something like this:

1. The altar railing separated the sanctuary from the rest of the church. Only the priest (wearing his stole) and the properly vested altar boys/acolytes could enter the sanctuary during Mass, and even between masses, only select ladies of the altar guild would enter to change the linens and put in flowers, etc. It was considered a holy area. One genuflected upon entering or leaving the sanctuary...even the priest did this. The tabernacle, always withing the sanctuary, was like the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple, ie. only the san ctified hands of the proest could open and touch the sacred Hosts and vessels in there. One always genuflected when crossing on front of the tablernacle.

2. The railing not only separated the boundary between celebrants and congregation, but provided a place for the congragants to kneel respectfully in submission to Christ while they received Holy Communion on their tongues. An acolyte held out a gold or silver pplated patton to catch any falling hosts or crumbs.

Then came Vatican II and the radical interpretation of it. For sake of argument, let's call the reformers of the time the liberals. These liberals decided that:

1. Mass should not display a separation between the priests and the people, but should be more like the last supper with the congregation all sitting around at a meal with Jesus on an equal basis as one would do with a friend. Thus, the sanctuary was no longer holy and the rail needed to come out to remove the idea that there was something special or different about the sanctuary vs. the rest of the church.

2. The "liberals" did not believe in humility or submission in any form, and thought that kneeling down and receiving communion (I don't think they liked the term "Holy Communion") was servile, degrading to the lofty position of Human Beings, and gave the priest too much power over the people. They knew that they could not talk the older folks out of centuries of a tradition of humility before the sacred Host, so they removed the altar rail and kneeling pads so there would be practically no place to kneel. It was a way of forcing the change down the conregation's throats.

Last year, I visited the lovely neogothic church where I grew up and went in to see that not only was there no altar rail or pulpit, but the first three or so rows of pews had been removed and the sanctuary was filled with teenagers all sitting in various positions on the carpet with their backs to the altar facing the leader who was conduction some sort of religious talk. It was the very model of success the liberals had been looking for, with the sanctuary treated like a gymnasium, the tabernacle completely disregarded, and the kids completely at home in a space that no longer had any trancendent meaning to them.

For clarity, I do not say I agree with the changes the liberals made: for the most part I do not; but I remember the thought process as it seemed to be expressed by them at that time and I think I have it about right.
Nov 20 new
(quote) Gerald-283546 said: I was young at the time, but I think that is something like this:

1. The altar railing separated the sanctuary from the rest of the church. Only the priest (wearing his stole) and the properly vested altar boys/acolytes could enter the sanctuary during Mass, and even between masses, only select ladies of the altar guild would enter to change the linens and put in flowers, etc. It was considered a holy area. One genuflected upon entering or leaving the sanctuary...even the priest did this. The tabernacle, always withing the sanctuary, was like the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple, ie. only the san ctified hands of the proest could open and touch the sacred Hosts and vessels in there. One always genuflected when crossing on front of the tablernacle.

2. The railing not only separated the boundary between celebrants and congregation, but provided a place for the congragants to kneel respectfully in submission to Christ while they received Holy Communion on their tongues. An acolyte held out a gold or silver pplated patton to catch any falling hosts or crumbs.

Then came Vatican II and the radical interpretation of it. For sake of argument, let's call the reformers of the time the liberals. These liberals decided that:

1. Mass should not display a separation between the priests and the people, but should be more like the last supper with the congregation all sitting around at a meal with Jesus on an equal basis as one would do with a friend. Thus, the sanctuary was no longer holy and the rail needed to come out to remove the idea that there was something special or different about the sanctuary vs. the rest of the church.

2. The "liberals" did not believe in humility or submission in any form, and thought that kneeling down and receiving communion (I don't think they liked the term "Holy Communion") was servile, degrading to the lofty position of Human Beings, and gave the priest too much power over the people. They knew that they could not talk the older folks out of centuries of a tradition of humility before the sacred Host, so they removed the altar rail and kneeling pads so there would be practically no place to kneel. It was a way of forcing the change down the conregation's throats.

Last year, I visited the lovely neogothic church where I grew up and went in to see that not only was there no altar rail or pulpit, but the first three or so rows of pews had been removed and the sanctuary was filled with teenagers all sitting in various positions on the carpet with their backs to the altar facing the leader who was conduction some sort of religious talk. It was the very model of success the liberals had been looking for, with the sanctuary treated like a gymnasium, the tabernacle completely disregarded, and the kids completely at home in a space that no longer had any trancendent meaning to them.

For clarity, I do not say I agree with the changes the liberals made: for the most part I do not; but I remember the thought process as it seemed to be expressed by them at that time and I think I have it about right.
Wow....Gerald...I bet that was a shock.
When I first learned to serve Mass they even had a altar rail cloth. First it went....and now the rail at my old Church is gone too.
Thankfully the rail is still intact at my current Church. And as long as we keep the same Pastor we have now....it will always be part of the Mass.
Btw...my friends who have come with me have marveled at the beauty of it's traditional sanctuary.
In the back it even has a life size....and "in color" "Pieta"
I love that Church~
Nov 20 new
(quote) Jerry-74383 said: I don't know what excuses were used to justify their removal, but there is nothing in the Vatican II documents that calls for them to be removed. Or for distrivution of Holy Communion standing and in the hand, for that matter.

I never said that Vatican II was responsible for this. As Gerald mentioned, there were liturgists who took it upon themselves to make lots of changes which were not from Vatican II directives. During biblical times, as Gerald mentioned, only the holy people could enter the sanctuary, not the common people. Luke 23:44-45 says that when Jesus died, ..."Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle." Apparently the veil of the sanctuary which kept ordinary people from being close to God was now eliminated. Everyone was now welcome to come to Him. Some of the liturgists after Vatican II saw this correlation and started removing the altar railings. Many changes which we have seen in our Church were not the doings of Vatican II; but rather of the liturgists.
Nov 20 new
We just built a new church and have it in the new one~change is constant right? Linda
Nov 20 new
(quote) Linda-982758 said: We just built a new church and have it in the new one~change is constant right? Linda
What do you mean we have it in the new one? Do you mean that there is an altar rail in your church?
Nov 20 new
(quote) Linda-982758 said: We just built a new church and have it in the new one~change is constant right? Linda
The altar rails and all of the traditions and devotions that were practiced for centuries before the 60's are all coming back; these things simply take time.

The progressives who knocked the railings down are all moving through the latter parts of their lives and into the graves; they could never replenish their ranks. Millions of Catholics have simply walked out of those churches and away from the Faith as it was presented to them, and there are not enough people left to keep all of these churches open.
Nov 20 new
There certainly is one at mine. And we use it. Then again mine is a TLM parish.
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