Bishop Christopher Budd consecrated our new altar during the morning Mass at Bodmin on Sunday 14th August, The Feast of the Assumption. The picture of the interior of St Mary’s on our Home Page shows how the church looks subsequent to the re-ordering that has taken place in the last few weeks and months. The consecration of the altar is a significant moment in the life of any parish. It is in keeping with the Eucharistic mystery that Christian people erect a permanent altar for the celebration of Mass so that “it is attached to the floor and cannot be moved” and they have done this from the earliest times.
It is appropriate that a Parish Church has only one altar “so that in the assembly of the people of God the single altar signifies the one Saviour Jesus Christ and the one eucharist of the Church”.
“The altar should be freestanding so that the priest can easily walk around it and celebrate Mass facing the people. It should be the focal point on which the attention of the whole community naturally centres”.
“Since the bishop has been entrusted with the care of the particular church, it is his responsibility to dedicate to God new altars built in his diocese”.
In the rite of consecration, the new altar is:
Anointed with the oil of Chrism as a symbol of Christ the High Priest “the Anointed One” so that on the altar of his body he might offer the sacrifice of his life for the salvation of all.
Incense is burned on the altar to signify that Christ’s sacrifice, there perpetuated in memory, ascends to God as an odour of sweetness, and to signify the people’s prayers ascending, pleasing and acceptable to God
The covering of the altar indicates that it is the altar of Eucharistic sacrifice and the table of the Lord around which God’s people joyously meet to be refreshed with divine food.
The lighting of the altar teaches us that Christ is the light; his brightness shines out in the Church and through it to the whole human family
Finally, the celebration of Mass proclaims the bond that closely connects the dedication of an altar with the celebration of the eucharist.
Extracts from the Rituale of Bishops