In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  Hello Fr. Paul and thank you for your ministries. Should the collection be placed directly in front of the altar?  In English, the instruction says that “they are to be put in a suitable place away from the Eucharistic table” (GIRM 73).  In Latin, “quapropter loco apto extra mensam eucharisticam collocantur.” In Spanish, “se colocaran en un lugar oportuno, fuera de la mesa eucaristica.” The interpretation that this means “not on top of the altar” seems deficient to me.  “Away from” means to provide some distance between the objects.  I believe that we should also compare this to the instruction that the altar candles and cross should be on or near the altar.  Some objects should be near; others should be “away from.” Thank you for considering this question.


A:  I addressed this in my book Let Us Pray. In my view, it does mean “off the top of the altar” because the word mensa continually refers to the altar top. You are correct that candles and even the cross are to be near the altar—but that’s in reference to the complete altar, not just its mensa. The concern here seems to be that the collection not be placed on top of the altar along with the bread and wine. I think it’s fine to set it near the altar on the floor, which is away from the mensa.