I went to an EF (traditional Latin) Mass today at a Church I had never previously visited. (It was actually the funeral Mass for Christine Ackers: May she rest in peace).
The Mass was celebrated at the Church’s original stone altar, facing East. In the sanctuary was also the modern wooden altar at which Mass is, presumably, normally celebrated.
Perhaps because of the style of the two altars, I was struck more strongly than ever before by the different symbolism. The new altar looked like a table. The old altar, while it clearly could serve as a table, did not look like one. It was partly the stone, and partly the orientation of the altar, the reredos, and the orientation of the priest, but it seemed to me so much more clearly to suggest sacrifice.
That difference, between the stone altar (primarily a place of sacrifice and only secondarily a table) and the wooden altar (looking primarily like a table) seemed to me to sum up a lot that has gone wrong with Catholic worship and catechesis.
Of course, the Mass is a sacred banquet; but first and foremost it is a sacrificial offering.
Wondering if I was completely wrong (again) I looked in the Catechism. To my delight I found in §1181 ‘sacrificial altar’ and in §1182 On the altar [...] the sacrifice of the Cross is made present [...] the altar is also the table of the Lord.
Please can we have our sacrificial altars back?