What part of the church is the sanctuary?

Hi everyone! I am ashamed to ask this question, :o but…where in the church is the sanctuary located? and is the altar the table where the consecration is done?

I’m confused as to where things are located.

God bless you!

The sanctuary is the area at the front of the church where the altar and cross are located, and the area around it that is usually raised. Also included are the priest’s chair and altar servers’ seats. Usually, but not always, the lectern where the readings are proclaimed is within the sanctuary. The tabernacle that holds the Blessed Sacrament is frequently, but not always, in the sanctuary. The sanctuary is a particularly sacred space within a Catholic church. Where the congregation sits is called the nave, and is not part of the sanctuary.

The Catholic use of the word *sanctuary *is quite different from the Protestant use of the same word. Protestants tend to refer to the entire interior of the church building as the sanctuary, distinguishing it from the church hall, offices, and other buildings on church grounds. Where I currently live in the South, I have even heard a few Catholics use the word *sanctuary *in this way, but that is not proper Catholic usage.:banghead:

Thank you so much! You helped me tremendously! :smiley:

God bless you abundantly! :smiley:

While were at it,

Apse - the front end of a cruciform (cross-shaped) church building, usually containing the sanctuary. These correspond with the top of the Cross and are often, but not always, semi-circular.

Transepts - in a cruciform church, these would correspond with the horizontal beam of the Cross. These often contain side altars or chapels.

Nave - the central body of the church building, where the pews are located. The word is related to “naval,” since the Church is often called the “Barque (boat) of Peter,” and in many churches the nave can resemble the wooden beams of an inverted ship.

Narthex - the entryway of the church, sometimes referred to as a vestibule or foyer. This helps to separate the worldly from the sacred, and also helps keep the noise of conversation out of the nave.

Crypt - a basement chapel under the nave, not necessarily containing tombs.

Sacristy - the room where a priest vests and prepares for Mass. Some churches have separate sacristies for altar servers and supplies.

Triforium - some churches have elevated balconies or walkways along the side walls of the church, which usually connect with a choir loft or gallery at the rear.

Baptistry - many older churches have a room at the back or side of the nave where the baptismal font is located and baptisms take place there. At some churches in Europe and Latin America, the baptistry is a separate building next to the church.

I admit to mis-using the term this way now and then…at first, as a new Catholic, simply because I didn’t know better. But even today I’ll make a verbal slip back into Protestantism on occasion. Pretty sure I’ve accidentally complimented my priest on his ‘sermon’ once or twice too ;).

There may be one more part and that is the chapel. This may be located in a separate room attached to the church which contains the sacred Eucharist. It is used for private adoration and prayer during the day. Some chuches do not have this chapel, so they keep the holy Eucharist behind the front alter in a tabernacle. Wherever the Holy Eucharist is kept, there will be a candle burning around it somewhere indicating the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

I assume that you are referring to the use of sermon, rather than homily. Sermon is never improper, as in Catholic usage, a homily is simply a sermon based on the scriptural readings of the day. All homilies are sermons, but not all sermons are homilies. One is a subset of the other.

Before Vatican II, Catholics always ruse the term sermon, but after the council there was greater emphasis placed on preaching about the readings of the day, so priests were encouraged to preach homilies most of the time.Occasionally a priest may need to preach on a subject other than the scriptures that day (such as abortion, contraception, indulgences, the HHS mandate, the papacy, the angels and saints, etc.), so strictly speaking, it might be a sermon, rather than a homily.