For those who are very attentive to such details: these pictures do not show the altar cross I recently placed on the altar at Saint Mary. This is something that Pope Benedict has very much encouraged, along with having altar candles along the edge of the altar toward the people. His belief, which I share, is this can be very helpful in emphasizing that when the priest stands at the altar, facing the people, nonetheless his focus is not on the assembly, but on God. This is one of his concerns about the change, that came after Vatican II (yet was never mentioned in the documents of Vatican II), to have the option of the priest offer Mass versus populum--and option that has become all-but-universal.
The altar arrangement mentioned above--with candles and a crucifix--is recommended by Pope Benedict, and I have adopted it entirely at Saint Boniface--here's a picture (I think if you click on the picture, it will become large enough to see the altar with plenty of detail). Yes, the altar cross is not there, obviously because of Benediction--but it is usually about where you see the monstrance, although not as large.
This arrangement I have partially adopted at Saint Mary--i.e., with an altar cross, along with the placement of candles you can see. Saint Mary's altar is smaller, and we have altar candles that sit on the floor around the altar. You can see how I arranged them, with two additional candles on the altar. As I say, since this picture, I have added a small altar cross; perhaps in time, we'll try a different arrangement of candles.
You can see how how the tabernacle was recently refurbished, and how we dress the altar. I usually prefer a full-length altar cloth, both as a way to make use of color, but also to avoid over-emphasizing the altar as a "table" at the expense of it as an altar--i.e., of sacrifice. Recently I sought advice from some folks at the New Liturgical Movement, and many there suggested the altar cloth should be a traditional "antependium" that is usually a fine bit of cloth work, stretched taut over a frame, with simple designs--something like this:
Now, I happen to think this is very nice, but I also expect it to be very expensive. So you can see, above, how we do it now, what do you think?
The pictures of Saint Mary, above, taken as they were from the choir loft, skew your perspective--seen from the nave, the altar lines up more evenly with the place of repose for the tabernacle--the height of each is carefully aligned for that purpose, but you can't see that here.