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This room is for discussion related to learning about the faith (Catechetics), defense of the Faith (Apologetics), the Liturgy and canon law, motivated by a desire to grow closer to Christ or to bring someone else closer.

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Nov 21st 2013 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 Holiest in the Jewish temple, ie. only the sanctified hands of the priest could open and touch the sacred Hosts and vessels in there. One always genuflected when crossing on front of the tabernacle.

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

As an acolyte for a few years growing up.. i vividly remember holding the Paten for Kneeling congregants as they received communion, and trying to make sure it was in position to catch any falling hosts or crumbs.

Removing the railing does in my opinion seem to take away the focus/significance of the Sanctuary.
it would be nice to see it make a comeback.
Nov 21st 2013 new
sad Sadly our alter rail is long gone.
Only a "few" years ago our parish remodeled the inside our church Completely- no alter rail. weeping Some ask ...the priest said NO, that was the end of it!

On special occasions, like weddings or funerals I visit the Episcopal and Methodist each retaining their alter rail . It makes me so sad that we just let something like this go to the way side.

The Episcopal is a tiny church and you even have to go up 3 step to get to the rail then kneel, and they have the ushers there to help any elderly person up by the hand. They told me ,we would not even "think" of taking our communion rail down! It brings back special memories for me when I see the inside of their tiny church, it looks more like our big one use to.

Where as the Big Methodist Church ( inside looking nothing like ours ) But have the beautiful rail ( like we did). They allow the people to go there and knee to receive communion OR stand in a line and receive it like our church does now.

I miss it!

Nov 21st 2013 new
Thanks William,
In fact it is in marble and I love the fact that you can kneel there.
If you look up from ours when you are praying you see the crucifix.
Nov 21st 2013 new
We have a alter rail in our new church just opened last week and the Bishop is coming this Saturday.
Love it!
Nov 21st 2013 new
Wikipedia has several paragraphs on the history of the altar rail at the following URL:

There are an abundance of Catholic churches here in my area (Baltimore/DC) and they run the gamut of new vs. traditional. My parish has colonial roots back to 1728 and
including where the first American Bishop, John Carroll, was elected on May 18,1789.

Personally, I try more to make sure I am worthy to receive communion each week rather than worry too much about whether I should be standing/kneeling or receiving via mouth/hand. I think of those that may be restricted to a wheelchair and are unable to choose to kneel or stand - and how tough that must be.

I have seen railings come and go at the altar - but then again I have seen many Catholics come and go also through the years - I pray for the return of many of those Catholics - and do that both kneeling and standing. The altar (or lack thereof) does not change the desire to try to make myself worthy to receive Him.

I have stood on both sides of the altar railing on many occasions, and stood on the altars that have no railings at all. Being in His presence is what I try to concentrate on during each mass - though I fail miserably sometimes - the railing issue has never been one of the sources of my failure.

Nov 21st 2013 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.
A unique and beautiful rural church, with a communion rail in rural WA State....

This is one of my hometown parish churches (in the rural farming area of Colton & Uniontown, WA). The photos show how the church looks today. Note the communion rail and the change after Vatican-II (below).

Photo of exterior of St. Boniface Church, Uniontown, WA as it is today:

1st consecrated church in Washington State. Construction started in 1888, completed in 1905. Uniontown has a population today of only about 300 people.

Photo showing the front of the church as it exists today.

Note the communion rail is intact, except that there used to be a communion rail gate at the center. After Vatican II, the six marble pillars that composed the gate were removed and refashioned into the new low altar, which can be seen in the photo. Note also in the photo, that there are actually six altars at the front of the church (the high altar, the low main altar, and four small side altars.

Photo of high altar (as it is today):

Virgin Mary statue positioned at peak of roof above main entrance. I think that this is unusual, as I have never seen this on any other Catholic Church. This statue can also be seen in the first photo (above):


Nov 21st 2013 new
My parish has kept the altar rail and Holy Communion is received while kneeling. The only exception is for those who, for health reasons, cannot tolerate wheat. They stand in the middle and the priest brings the Blood of Christ to them at the end of communion. The injured and very elderly who cannot walk easily also are brought Holy Communion in the front pew.
Nov 21st 2013 new
(quote) Linda-982758 said: Yes,
We have a alter rail in our new church just opened last week and the Bishop is coming this Saturday.
Love it!
Linda would you mind telling me the name of your parish? I would love to see it the next time I am in Raleigh. We are building a new church as well here in Fayetteville. Our dedication will be in February. I bet the railing will be beautiful.
Nov 21st 2013 new
flowerI am so blessed to be a member of a Parish that has kept their communion rail and that is all we use, except for those that cannot kneel. And we have the communion rail cloth. Of course our priests are bringing back the Sacred. TLM, the praying of the hours, Eucharistic Adoration, frequent availability for confession...and on and on. Praise Jesus! theheart heart
Nov 21st 2013 new
Hi Evie
I would love to go to mass with you. It is St Catherine of Siena in Wake Forest!
The Bishop is having a special first mass this Saturday at 10 am. Long one though could be two hours.
Please let me know!
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