Have you looked at our liturgical environment and wondered why the banners are not evenly distributed on either side of the crucifix or why the whole thing is a little off center? It’s all intentional! Liturgical environment is meant to be more than just decoration. The design of the liturgical environment should help to foster an environment of prayer and even lead you into a deeper experience of the liturgical season and the liturgy itself.
Our Lenten environment on either side of the crucifix is made up of banners of purple in various shades and textures of fabric. The left side represents our journey with Christ toward the cross. We enter into the season of Lent with the baggage and burden of sin.
What did you carry with you into the Lenten season that you would like to leave at the foot of the cross? What burdens, habits, or grudges can you hand over to Jesus throughout this season so that you may truly know the liberation and joy of his resurrection?
Notice that Jesus appears to be reaching out toward these five banners, offering to take on our suffering. These five banners are closer to the crucifix to help to emphasize the image of Christ taking on our sin. The right side of the crucifix has only three banners, which should call to mind the many “threes” that we encounter in this season: the three days of the Triduum, the three crosses on Calvary, Peter denying Christ three times, and Jesus’ three days in the tomb. These three banners get shorter as the eye moves away from the crucifix, symbolizing the hope in this season of Lent. We sacrifice, we repent, we atone, and all of these draw us closer to experiencing the true joy of the resurrection.
The season of Lent is often compared to a desert. It is time that we set aside to remember to spend time in prayer the way that Jesus did—denying ourselves of some of our “guilty” pleasures perhaps, but mainly intentionally taking time to refocus our relationship with the Lord. The dead potted trees should remind us of this desert and awaken in us a thirst for Christ’s Living Water. The green plants represent the hope that drives us through the season and also remind us that God’s presence never leaves us.
Finally, the area in front of the ambo continues the themes of desert and the liturgical color purple. There are a variety of symbols in this area: the water jar to remind us of the woman at the well, an oil jar to call to mind the anointing that Lazarus received before his burial, and plenty of dirt (thanks to the large tree stump), which calls to mind the mud used to heal the man born blind.
It is our hope that the liturgical environment will draw you into deeper reflection on the Mass and the season.