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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

High Altar and the Menorah - Happy Hanukkah

“I am the light of the world.” John 8:12
“I am the vine, you are the branches.” John 15:5

December 6, 2015

Sundown last night marked the beginning of Hanukkah. For the next eight days in Jewish homes all around the world a special Hanukkah candelabra or menorah will be lit. The Catholic Church takes much of her Tradition from the Jews. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1096 tells us, “In its characteristic structure the Liturgy of the Word [our Mass] originates in Jewish prayer….as well as those of our most venerable prayers, including the Lord’s Prayer, have parallels in Jewish prayer. The Eucharistic Prayers also draw their inspiration from the Jewish tradition.”

In fact, if an ancient Jew happened to walk into a Catholic Church, they might find the furnishings and even the arrangement of the church quite familiar. Whereas in the Old Testament the Jewish Temple had three parts, the outer court, inner court and Holy of Holies, our church patterns this with the vestibule, nave, and sanctuary. Upon viewing the High Altar adorned with three candles on either side of the Crucifix or tabernacle they might be reminded of the menorah which God commanded Moses to make.

“You shall make a lampstand of pure beaten gold, its shaft and branches with its cups and knobs and petals springing directly from it. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand, three branches on one side, and three on the other.” (Exodus 25:31-32)

These lampstand’s were so important to the Jewish people that when the Roman emperor Titus conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple in 70AD, his conquest was memorialized by his brother Domitian in an Arch that depicted his troops carrying away the menorah from the Temple.

In the Catholic Church on the High Altar you will see the fulfillment of the seven branch lampstand or menorah with Christ as the vine and light of the world, on the Crucifix or in the Tabernacle, representing the center candle. There is imagery simply in the way we arrange our candles.

Blessings this Advent Season
Lynn’s Timeless Treasures

Photo High Altar Santa Clara Mission
Photo Arch of Titus, Rome
Photo High Altar Wikipedia

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