...what's happened to S. Mary's, Somers Town on Eversholt street, near Euston station? I sometimes drop in there if I ever have to walk to Camden from my work near St Pancras, and on doing so today, I noticed a few changes since my last visit.
The overall impression is much more like a church than I last remembered it! The pews have been re-orientated from the circle they were in before and now all face towards the High Altar. The nave Altar has been put back into the sanctuary and is now much closer to the lovely High Altar and Reredos which is the main ornament in this sparse church. This re-positioning of the altar seems to have necessitated another welcome change - no more celebrant's chair facing away from the Altar of Reservation! This is an abuse all too commonly seen these days in churches that follow a more informal style of liturgy, but in fact it is not to be tolerated. Our churches were built with one focus: Christ, and to place a chair for the celebrant with his back to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is a grave offence. For a priest to sit in a position that is literally centre-stage during the liturgy is also inappropriate. When not performing some liturgical action at the altar, surely the priest should sit in some place aside from the altar, not obscuring it or pulling focus from it, especially if our Lord be there upon it.
Another change I noticed was a slimming down of shrines. There is now one Shrine of Lady in the nave, and another in the South side of the Church. There is also now a distinct Side Chapel, where I didn't notice one before. Such considerations are pastorally important, as a side chapel allows Masses to be said during the day when people might wish to come and pray before the Tabernacle in the main body of the Church.
It seems S. Mary's has been scrubbed up and turned around for the better, and I'd love to know who is responsible for the changes. I love having that church so close to my work, and I've often dropped in on lunchbreaks and spent some time with Jesus, especially during Lent, taking my place along with the homeless and the travellers who tend to hang around near the station. Long may the ministry of S. Mary's continue in this part of London. I only pray that whoever rearranged the furniture has the opportunity to see to that nasty colour on the walls!