Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Altar of the Poor Clares in Woodchester

One of the things which always fascinates people, when it is explained to them, is the reason why Priests kiss the altar at Holy Mass.

I have to tell them that it is not that I am fond of altars, in the same way as one might be fond of a maiden aunt, and so give her a quick peck on the cheek. Rather it is something much more intimate.

In the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass the pray that accompanies this kissing of the altar is this:

Oremus te. Domine, per merita Sanctorum tuorum, quorum reliquiae hic sunt, (Osculatur Altare in medio) et omnium Sanctorum: ut indulgere digneris omnia peccata mea. Amen.Trans: We beseech Thee, O Lord, by the merits of Thy Saints, whose relics are here, (Celebrant kisses the Altar stone) and of all the saints, that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to forgive me all of my sins. Amen.
And that gives the game away.

The Priest kisses the Altar Stone which contains relics of those how have died and now are in heaven. We are joined together with the countless ages and the whole Church, on earth, in heaven or in purgatory.

The altar then is important, but only really as a receptacle for the relics of the saints.

The Poor Clares have moved out of Woodchester, and the Convent is up for sale. So what would you remove first of all? What would your priority be? Silver? Gold? Paintings? Vestments?

After the Blessed Sacrament, I would have thought it would be the relics...

...apparently not.
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