Give Voice to the Word of God
All that We Have: The Ambo in the Daily Mass Chapel
Published on July 27-28, 2013 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
The ambo in the Saint Andrew’s Daily Mass Chapel is one of two that were built with cherry wood by William D. Fister (1941-2005). The other one he gave to his mother, Mary Scanlon Fister, who proudly displays it in her apartment at McDowell Place in Danville. Both were modeled after a candle table, a piece of furniture that was designed and built locally by the Shakers in nearby Pleasant Hill. The design itself evokes the song of praise of the psalmist for the Word of God that during the liturgy is proclaimed from this ambo: “Your word is lamp for my feet, a light for my path” (Ps. 119:105).
The ambo was built in such a way that the height of its book stand can be adjusted. An adjustment is made by having an angled wooden block ‘catch’ one of the grooves on the side of the central vertical bar. A small shelf where a lectionary can be stored was built beneath its desk.
This ambo graced the main sanctuary of the Church from September 2001 to Lent 2013. Its modest size though often got dwarfed in the expanse of that main sanctuary and its shelf proved too small to store all the books for Sunday Mass. (The shelf could hold only the Sunday lectionary, leaving no room for the Gospel Book or the book of petitions.) It was moved in Easter 2013 to its present location in the chapel. But, it is also meant to be used in the main sanctuary on Palm Sunday and Good Friday as the lectern for the second deacon in the reading of the narrative of the Lord’s Passion.
In order to hide the installation of a microphone, a plywood piece of a cloud and lightning bolt had been attached to the front of its desk. Two pieces of limestone symbolizing the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments were placed on its wooden platform to secure it to its former place. Unfortunately, these items, instead of enhancing Bill Fister’s original design, only distracted from its noble simplicity. Thus, they were removed when the ambo was refinished in Lent 2013 by Michael Beaven. Leg glides also were placed at the bottom platform to keep it steady.
This ambo now stands in the Daily Mass Chapel before a copy of Jan Van Eyck’s painting of Saint John the Baptist. The Sacred Scriptures identify him as “the voice crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’” (Mt. 3:3; Mk. 1:3; Lk. 3:4; cf. Jn. 1:23). Those who proclaim and preach from this ambo are thus reminded that, just like the Baptist, they have been called to give voice to the Word of God so that those who have gotten lost in the wilderness of this world might find in the Word made Flesh the way to everlasting life.