Tuesday, July 23, 2024

In a Rare and Magnificent Liturgy, Bishop Gainer Consecrates New Altar at St. Jude Thaddeus Church in Mifflintown

In a solemn and unique ritual rich with prayers, Sacred Chrism, incense, candles and the placement of relics of four saints, Bishop Ronald Gainer consecrated the new altar of sacrifice at St. Jude Thaddeus Church in Mifflintown on Friday evening, October 6.

The sacred rite is a rare opportunity to witness, and one that is resplendent in nature as the place of Christ’s sacrifice is consecrated.

“Very few Catholics in their lifetime ever get to experience this ritual. Bishops only ever get to celebrate it a handful of times, and some never get this opportunity at all,” Bishop Gainer told the congregation. “It’s a rare but magnificent liturgy.”

Pointing to the bare piece of craftsmanship that he would soon consecrate, the bishop told the congregation “Right now, this beautiful piece of fabricated marble is a table, a counter. It’s not an altar, but it will be. As this ritual unfolds, I invite you to absorb and inhale this magnificent ritual of our Catholic Church, which sets aside this beautiful piece of fabricated marble and makes it a symbol of Christ in our midst and the place where the sacrifice of Christ is re-presented to us.”

The new altar of sacrifice (upon which Holy Mass is celebrated) and the new altar of repose (on which the tabernacle is placed) replace the former altars, original to the parish’s first church – now the social hall – dedicated in 1959. The former altar of sacrifice is currently being used for the Shrine of St. Jude at the rear of the church, and the former altar of repose will become a credence table in the sacristy.

The new altars are made from Carrara marble and were fabricated locally by Shade Mountain Granite.

During the rite, the congregation chanted the Litany of the Saints before Bishop Gainer placed the relics of four saints into the top of the altar of sacrifice – St. Jude Thaddeus, St. Felix, St. Peter Chanel and Pope St. Pius X. The bishop then prayed the Prayer of Dedication, asking God to “bless this altar built in the house of Your Church, that it may ever be reserved for the sacrifice of Christ, and stand forever as the Lord’s table, where your people will find nourishment and strength.”

Pouring Sacred Chrism onto its four corners, the bishop smeared the holy oil across the entire altar to anoint it as a visible sign of the Mystery of Christ. Incense was then burned from the altar, it’s smoke a symbol of the prayers of the faithful ascending to heaven.

At the conclusion of the rite, the altars were adorned with linens, candles and flowers brought forth by parishioners.

“The altar has been recognized as the primary symbol of Christ in the Church,” Bishop Gainer told the congregation. “That’s not to say we don’t have the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle and celebrated on the altar, but the altar as a symbol is the primary symbol of Christ because it has been Christened.”

Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Gainer were Father William Weary, pastor of St. Jude Thaddeus Parish and of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in nearby Lewistown; and former parochial vicars Father Peter Rettig, parochial vicar of St. Joseph Parish in York, and Father Jayaseelan Amalanathan, who is now serving in his native India.

“My heart is filled with such great joy to celebrate the consecration of these two altars in the Year of the Eucharist,” Father Weary said at the conclusion of Mass. He also expressed his gratitude to parishioners who played vital roles in the planning and procurement of the new altars, and to the parishioners who signed up to fill all three days of the parish’s round-the-clock 40 Hours Devotions that began after the Mass.

“I hope the result of these new altars is that all the parishioners see how the faith community rallied around this project, and I hope this revives devotion to the Eucharist,” Father Weary told The Witness. “This is a significant event during the Eucharistic Revival and we’re extolling the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I hope this will be a spiritual revival for the people of the parish.”

(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

- Advertisement -spot_img

Submission Deadline

The deadline for submissions to the biweekly Notebook/Parish Obituaries listing is every other Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Please refer to the Publication Schedule for edition dates and deadlines.

Other News