What do the above two pictures have in common?
I’ll get to that...but firstly, in case you don’t recognise the pictures...the first is of the Menorah – the lampstand which stood in the Temple in Jerusalem; and the second is of the High Altar in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Secondly, by way of an introduction to this blog post...it was inspired by some good friends of ours who recently relocated and are currently living in Rome (and rather heroically I might add). Anyway, they e-mailed us to let us know are very encouraged by their local Catholic parish which is unashamedly traditional. They even mentioned that the “church was done up properly with the 6 candles, three each side of the Tabernacle”. This is the traditional way for the altar to be set up i.e. with six candles – three on either side of the Tabernacle or Crucifix (as indicated by the High Altar in St. Peter’s).
I originally didn’t know why a traditional altar was supposed to be set up in this way...until I coincidentally came across the reason in a completely unrelated book earlier this week.
The traditional setting of the Altar is based on the Menorah – signifying that the Old Covenant is fulfilled in the New; the central “candle” is Christ – because He is the Light of the World and the centre of everything that we as Catholics believe and practice.
Isn’t that just stunning?!? The longer I am Catholic the more I grow to love the faith that has been handed on to us from the Apostles and their Successors. It really is awe-inspiring!