On Holy Thursday evening, we engaged in a practice which is not required of us at any other time of the year. We removed the Blessed Sacrament from the church.
This is because our tabernacle is within the space where we celebrate the Eucharist. We do not celebrate the Eucharist again until the Easter Vigil, and the Eucharist is not adored there either.
When a church has its tabernacle in its own distinct chapel, then the Blessed Sacrament is still kept in that tabernacle, as it is not in the main body of the Church. We see examples of this at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (also here), and our neighbouring parishes of Toongabbie and Greystanes. This helps us to remember the main reason why we have a tabernacle and reserve the Eucharist.
The main reason we reserve the Blessed Sacrament in a tabernacle is so that it is always there to take to the sick and the dying. It is a constant reminder of our need to support those in our community who are ill, or who require “food for the journey” (which is the meaning of viaticum, or the final communion one receives before death). Following the practice of reserving the Eucharist for the sick and dying, people then began to develop traditions of adoring and praying before the Blessed Sacrament, which many people find to be spiritually fulfilling.
Placing the tabernacle in its own chapel not only reminds us that we reserve the Eucharist for ministry outside of Mass, but provides people with a fitting place to pray privately before the Blessed Sacrament at any time, without the distractions that may present themselves within the larger space of the church. This is why some parishioners have recommended we consider creating a proper Blessed Sacrament Chapel as part of our church renovations.
Don’t forget that your comments on the recommendations are welcome. You can speak to Frs. Denis or Paul, to any other member of the Liturgy Committee, email us at litcomwenty (at) yahoo (dot) com (dot) au or comment below.