Browsing Pastor's Notes

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Take this, all of you, and eat of it, For this is my Body

Take this, and drink from it, for this is the Chalice of my Blood

In advance of the National Eucharistic Congress this July, I’m continuing to look at some of the Scriptural precursors of the Eucharist. If Christ came to fulfill (not abolish) the Law & Prophets (Mt 5:17), then all numerous prescriptions for sacrifice & worship in the Old Testament are intended to be fulfilled in the New Testament Worship of the Eucharistic Liturgy. Our Protestant brethren who scoff at high liturgy as a medieval make believe would do good to re-read their Bibles and attend to the early & unbroken Tradition of the Church. The Old Covenant is fulfilled in the New. One such Old Testament practice fulfilled in the New is the Tabernacle.

The Lord spoke to Moses: They are to make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst. According to all that I show you regarding the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of its furnishings, so you are to make it… The tabernacle itself you shall make out of ten sheets woven of fine linen twined and of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, with cherubim embroidered on them… Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud rose from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on their journey. But if the cloud did not lift, they would not go forward; only when it lifted did they go forward. The cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire in the cloud at night, in the sight of the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey.          Exodus 25:8-9; 26:1, 40:34-40

The Tabernacle was a physical & tangible place of Encounter with God. Not so the Israelites would have control over God, but so that in our human physical-ness & senses, they could know they were in God’s Presence. The Tabernacle was a place to pray, to converse with God, to know and be known. The Tabernacle was essentially a ‘special tent for a sacred purpose’. The Tabernacle of the Israelites was the tent of meeting where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. In the Ark of the Covenant were the two tablets of the Ten Commandments and a jar of Manna. The Tabernacle housed the Lamp of God which was kept burning to signify God’s Presence. Incense was offered there. One was washed clean in the sacred font kept there. And veils were hung to imply the imperceptibility of God by mankind. Ultimately, the Tabernacle was the pace for sacrifices to be offered.

These things should ‘feel’ familiar to us Catholics. For the Tabernacle – not a tent – but a central focus in the Church is where the Word-made-Flesh – Jesus Christ is kept. He is the Law Incarnate as well as the Bread of Life – Manna from Heaven. We Catholic Christians come before Christ truly present in the Tabernacle to Encounter God in prayer, praise, intercession, and worship. Near the Tabernacle of the Church, a sanctuary lamp is kept burning when the Eucharist is present. Incense is offered – not to the tabernacle – but around the altar where Christ’s saving Sacrifice is re-presented. In the Church, one comes to be baptized in the Font of Water & the Holy Spirit. And veils & vestments are often used over the chalice, priest, & tabernacle to remind us of God’s imperceptibility, even while realizing that in Jesus the Veil that separates humanity from the Divine is rended and removed (Mk 15:38). Now we can see God’s Face in Jesus. The later Temple was the Tabernacle in stone.

In Jewish culture, marriage takes place in a chuppah, which symbolizes the bridal chamber or tent, where in ancient times, the marital act was consummated. Similiarily, the Tabernacle of God, was the place of marriage & covenant with His Chosen people. The Tabernacle in the Church reminds us of the Sacrificial Love of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, for His Bride, the Church. It also reminds us of the consummation of that act by the giving of the Grooms body upon the Cross & in the Eucharist. Some churches have baldacchinos, think of Bernini's Baldacchino in St Peter’s Basilica. The baldacchino emphasizes the place where the bridegroom (Jesus) encounters His Bride (the Church) and pledges His everlasting love. The ‘tent’ or ‘tabernacle’ over the altar is symbolic of the consummating sacrificial love of Christ for His Church in the Eucharist. At Holy Family, directly over our tabernacle is the wooden canopy with four lights. That is a more modern “baldacchino” where the Sacrifice of the Mass took place when the church was first built in 1954.

Thanks for your patience while we celebrate Mass together in the Gym. I realize Mass in a gym is not ideal but it is still the same Eucharistic Lord present to us as we gather to give our Thanksgiving to God.


Celebrating 70 years in our church together as the Holy Family of God


Nothing Less than saints for the Holy Family of God.

Holy Family, Tabernacled with the Word-made-Flesh, Pray for us.


~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries


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