Temporary Altars

I am overjoyed that the Anglican Catholic Fellowship (our diocese in England)  is ministering to house groups and isolated folk. One such group is being established in Whitby, the north-eastern port that represents my own roots and means a great deal to my own family. Our diocese had a church and parish in Whitby, but the priest has chosen another path and our Bishop had had no choice other than to part company with him for disciplinary reasons.

This may be the beginning of a new group that could develop into a parish, worshipping in private homes for the foreseeable future. Perhaps one day, they would get the use of a cemetery chapel or build their own.

See Churches of the Future.

Our diocesan site shows the home altar used for Mass in Whitby:

home-altarIt all comes from a good sentiment, and this round table might be the only one in the house. It isn’t always easy to find altar cloths, and when we’re “in the field”, we just have to make do with what we find. The corporal would have served as an altar cloth.

I have a certain amount of experience with this, including celebrating Mass on a rock on the beach on the Glénans islands.

glenans_rock_altarI had to carry everything in two bags on foot, since I travelled by sea from the mainland to the islands, so it had to be the absolute minimum.

An alternative is for the priest to use a travelling chapel, like the old school tuck box I still have with a folding table inside the lid. When the box is placed on an ordinary table, the altar table is just at the right height. That is one solution.

Another is carrying a piece of 20 mm plywood in the car with a trestle foot, such as I used for my sailing holiday in Brittany this past summer:

terre&mer06It’s functional and the right height and size. I recommend a height of about 90 cm and the piece of plywood being 1m30 by something like 70 cm. If you can find space for the board and the folding foot (which you can buy in a DIY shop) in your car, everything else packs into a small box.

An alternative is using a chest of drawers rather than a table. I would also advise keeping it simple. There is no need for flowers or statues on the altar. A Byzantine antemension can be used instead of an altar stone.

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