ASK THE LITURGIST (18) – Where to put the ciborium

– Enrico Finotti

Where to deposit the ciborium without a table?

It is not infrequent that sacristy and extraordinary ministers of the Communion complain about the lack of functionality of some tabernacles without a minimum of support to carry out decorously certain necessary operations connected to the Most Blessed Sacrament. The demand is valid, as a decent liturgical action also requires sufficient and functional spaces. If the tabernacle is on an altar in the chapel of the Most Blessed Sacrament or on the same ancient high altar, its table can perform with dignity the indispensable functions for the care of the most holy Eucharist. But at other times the tabernacle is completely devoid of a shelf and only allows you to extract or bring back the ciborium, without the possibility of support. It is therefore necessary to reflect. A suitable table, covered with a tablecloth and with the possibility of spreading the corporal, is necessary before the tabernacle. On it we must be able to perform some necessary acts:

– deposit the ciborium when you raise it or return it to the tabernacle, avoiding opening the tabernacle and closing it with the Blessed Sacrament in one’s hands and allowing a worthless genuflection;

– decant the particles, purifying the cups and rearranging the sacred vessels;

– outside of Mass transfer the [Hosts] for the sick in the case and purify them;

– administer the Holy Communion outside Mass to single believers or small groups;

– expose the Most Blessed Sacrament, even with the monstrance, especially when adoration is done in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament with a few faithful.

It is evident that if the tabernacle is in the presbytery, many of these services will be easily performed on the altar. However, a suitable table should never be lacking in front of the tabernacle, at least to ensure the most immediate services.


Is the ablution cup to be removed?

It is quite convenient that at the tabernacle there is a small container with water for the ablution and near it the purificator. In fact, it is more appropriate than ever, for the greater dignity of the act, that the minister, after the distribution of Holy Communion, purifies his fingers according to the liturgical tradition. The priest and the deacon can do it in the very act of purifying the sacred vessels after communion. Outside of Mass, however, this purification will be possible using the ablution cup at the tabernacle. Above all the extraordinary ministers of the Communion, both in the Mass and outside it, will use it for the purification of the fingers.

The cup must be cleaned regularly and the water, poured into the sacrarium, must be changed frequently, in accordance with what is established: “The practice is to be kept of building a sacrarium in the sacristy, into which is poured the water from the purification of sacred vessels and linens (cf. no. 280).”

(From “Il mio e il vostro sacrificio. Il liturgista risponde”, 2018©Chorabooks. Translated by Aurelio Porfiri. Used with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved)

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