Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: discarded altar parts
discarded altar parts QUESTION from John August 28, 2001
Dear Mr. Slavek
A wooden neo-Gothic high altar was removed from my parish church in the 60's. While I believe the mensa was properly disposed of, a few of the panels and columns were recombined into a statue pedestal in the parish school. I should add that, while its removal was certainly to be regretted, even in its whole state the altar would never have been considered artistically significant.
A while ago the school building committee was cleaning and chose to discard the pedestal. The pastor was uninterested in it. Knowing that if I didn't act, these remains of a former altar of the Holy Sacrifice would be subjected to the indignity of a garbage dump, I rescued it.
These parts are taking up coveted space in my basement. I either have to do something with it or dispose of it. I wish to do the right thing. My question: is it acceptable in the Church's eyes for me to re-use some of this lovely woodwork (respectfully of course) or ought it to be altogether disposed of in the standard manner of sacred objects?
Thank you for your kind assistance and God bless you.
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on September 2, 2001
Canons 1238 and 1212 state that when an altar is destroyed in large part, as your altar apparently was, it loses its dedication and blessing.
With that having been said, though, I myself would not be comfortable with using material that the greatest sacrifice ever had happened upon. Since the church does not rule in this matter, I offer my opinion that pieces be disposed of as like any sacred object, if it is not possible to use them in the construction of a new altar.
P.S. from Bro. Ignatius, Q & A Manager: Or you may donate them to a community like the Legion of St. Michael for use in our Prayer Chapel. :-)
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