Installing Altar Rails for ease in the normal manner of receiving Holy Communion, Christ our God

I snapped this picture in the Upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, above the grotto in Lourdes, after assisting soon to be Cardinal Burke with logistics for Holy Mass. That’s when I was the first “Latin Mass” chaplain in Lourdes in time times of Summorum Pontificum.

For the installation of altar rails, step one is to get permission from the one-man liturgical committee of the Diocese. His office is closed today. Alas. Soon, though.

Step two is to get plans for the best way to go about the construction given that the revamped floor was not made for this after the high altar and such had been viciously ripped out in decades gone by.

A gentleman is volunteering to turn some pillars for us, you know, with swirls, not easy. A real craftsman.

Another gentleman is volunteering to make a base and a top for us. A retired cabinet maker.

I’m looking for measurements of the usual height of an altar rail, etc., whether that measurement includes adjustments for pads on which to kneel, etc.

Is there possible a reader who has plans stored away in an archive closet of a church or Cathedral, say, in Madison, say, in Birmingham, say, in Chattanooga, say, in one of our great parishes in Charlotte Diocese? I would appreciate this help very much, as would Jesus’ little flock, as would Jesus.

Right now we have a “kneeler” where most parishioners kneel, one after the other, but we gotta have something more solid for those who need to push off in order to get back up. No one has to kneel. We can all have knee problems any time in our lives. But in this parish, people love to kneel if they can. They are anxious to get this project underway and completed. I’m sick of reverence for Jesus being shunned like a mortal sin, so that people in mortal sin think nothing of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. Get it? A vicious circle.

Sometimes people complain about the installation of altar rails. Over the decades, around the world, that amounts to just a few. So, my response is that, oh! altar rails are just a bit of mercy for the handicapped, right? That’s the excuse I give to people who are just so very afraid that this might be about kneeling before the Son of the Living God who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. But then they see that I am being sarcastic with them. It’s about mercy, sure. But it’s also about proper reverence before Divine Son of Immaculate Mary. The facial expressions are priceless. Lesson taken. :-) But, I ask, why is it that one mere inquiry sets ecclesiastics running in fear and cowardice, agreeing even out of character that it’s just so very true that we cannot at any cost be reverent before Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

I have much more to say about this, and a recent comment by a reader, which I didn’t let through, as I want to put it up in a post on it’s own. It’s about Covid and kneeling. Great! It might be another day or two. We’ll see. Right now, I gotta be out in the pasture with Jesus’ little flock.


Filed under Eucharist

6 responses to “Installing Altar Rails for ease in the normal manner of receiving Holy Communion, Christ our God

  1. Nan

    Speakig of altar rails, I was in a wedding many years ago, in Florian MN, years after the church had closed. My friend married a local man and the church is on a crossroads in the country. Gorgeous church built by Polish Catholics.

    A few years ago, after church, a woman talked about the church in Florian and was astonished to learn I’d been there. She said her sister-in-laws grandfather had made the molds for the Stations of the Cross and that after Vatican II, the local bishop sent a letter, directing the parish to remove those and the altar rails. They took no action.

    At some point later, the bishop sent someone to remove the altar rails and stations of the cross. They’re still there. Clearly the bishop either didn’t know or care how offensive it would be for a community that had built such a beautiful church to be told to change things.

    Cardinal Burke is one of my favorite priests.

  2. James Anderson

    I Googled “Altar rail design” and that lead me to a company that had an altar rail rescued from a church and it listed the height as 29″.

  3. Carroll Keen

    Wow! Never heard of Stations of the Cross being removed. Even in churches I’ve visited that were built after Vatican II, there were Stations of the Cross.

    • Nan

      I assume he was an overzealous modernist; there was no reason for the Stations of the Cross to be removed and I think the altar rail was marble so it would’ve been horrifying to remove it-most churches think not using it is a solution. But then I’ve heard stories of a priest who got his beautiful, old chalice out of a dumpster.

  4. Gina Nakagawa

    These days ANY reverence shown toward our Redeemer is considered to be too much, There is hope, though. The people are beginning to return to giving God His due. Soon, I pray, the world will be filled with “rigid Catholics.”

  5. Mark March

    I really need to get a handle on these balusters that we are looking at producing. Any suggestions on where I might look to get something similar to what you have in mind?

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