When not used for Communion, the altar is left empty; or, it may bear a cross and two candles, one candle on each side of the cross. The empty cross represents the victory of Jesus over sin and death. The candles remind us that Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12). In liturgical churches, the altar is to face east, towards Jerusalem, as a reminder of our Lord’s crucifixion and death.
ALTAR CLOTH – The altar cloth is a piece of cloth made of pure white linen and draped over the altar. This represents the white garments that Jesus was wrapped in when He was placed in the tomb.
ALTARPIECE – This consists of one or more panels either attached to or placed directly behind the altar. A single panel altarpiece is called a “largen” and a triple panel is called a “triptych”. If it has more than three panels, it is called a “polytych”.
AMEN – This word is said at the end of prayers and at the end of hymns that means “true”, “certain”, or “may it be so”. It is taken from the Hebrew word “amanl” which means “to strengthen”.
AMICE – This rectangular piece of white linen that was once worn on the head of the priest for warmth. It is now worn around the neck of the priest. The amice is often embroidered with a cross. It is symbolic of the blindfold placed on Christ during His mocking by the Roman soldiers in the Praetorium (Luke 22:63-65)