An altar is a structure upon which religious offerings or sacrifices are made. In Christian
theology, the Eucharist is a re-presentation of Christ’s death and sacrifice being made
“present again”. Hence, the table upon which this sacrifice is re-presented is called an
altar. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer (written in the 17 th century when anti-
Catholicism was rampant), the phrase “Lord’s Table” is substituted to avoid the
sacrificial implications of the word “altar”. The area around the altar is endowed with
greater holiness than other areas of the church, and, as a result, some Anglo-Catholic
parishes insist that only persons in holy orders can touch the altar’s surface. Most
rubrics up to the 17th century envisioned the altar as free-standing. With time, reredos,
or ornate altarpieces containing a tabernacle for the reserved sacrament above the
altar, became ever larger. This forced architects to build altars against a wall. When a
free-standing altar is used, the reserved sacrament is stored in an aumbry away from
the altar. Current Catholic doctrine states that newly built altars should be the center of
attention of the whole congregation.
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.