April 3, 2015
The altar of repose symbolizes the sepulcher or tomb of Our Lord, and is at times referred by those names. It is a loving show of affection for Our Lord and His Paschal Sacrifice, and is the place where the faithful make a holy hour on Holy Thursday, joining Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane, in response to His words, “What? Could you not watch one hour with me? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia defines the altar of repose as:
The altar where the Sacred Host, consecrated in the Mass on Holy Thursday, is reserved until the Mass of the Presanctified on the following day. It is prescribed that the altar of repose be in the church and other than the one where Mass is celebrated. In the Mass on Holy Thursday two hosts are consecrated; after the consumption of the first, the second Host is placed in a chalice, which is covered with a pall and inverted paten; over the whole is placed a white veil, tied with a ribbon. This remains on the corporal in the center of the altar till the end of Mass, when it is carried in solemn procession to the altar of repose, there to remain in the tabernacle or in an urn placed in a prominent position above the altar. Individual churches vie with one another in rendering these altars of repose with their respective chapels ornate in the extreme, with rich hangings, beautiful flowers, and numerous lights. Catholic piety has made Holy Thursday a day of exceptional devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and the repository is the center of the love and aspirations of the faithful.
Enjoy images of altars of repose from Fraternity apostolates around North America and beyond.