"Let the children of Israel make the Phase in due time . . . according to all the ceremonies thereof" (Num. ix 2, 3).
"The priest shall be vested with the tunic" (Lev. vi. 10).
"And he made, of violet and purple, scarlet and fine linen, the vestments for Aaron to wear when he ministered in the holy places, as the Lord commanded Moses" (Ex.xxxix. 1)
"In every place there is sacrifice and there is offered to My name a clean offering" (Malach. i. 11).
"And another Angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer: and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God" (Apoc. viii. 3).
THE Catholic Church in the celebration of Mass and in the administration of the sacraments employs certain forms and rites. These are called ceremonies. By these ceremonies the Church wishes to appeal to the heart as well as to the intellect, and to impress the faithful with sentiments of faith and piety.
What is more capable of raising the heart and mind of man to God than a priest celebrating Mass? What more inspiring than some of our sacred music?
How beneficial and how lasting the impression formed by the ceremonies of the Church, the following incident will show:
One of our missionaries once went to visit a tribe of Indians who had been deprived of a priest for nearly half a century. After traveling through the forest for some days he came near their village.
'Twas Sunday morning. Suddenly the silence was broken by a number of voices singing in unison. He stopped to listen. To his great astonishment he distinguished the music of a Mass, and of Catholic hymns well known to him.
What could be more touching than this simple, savage people endeavoring to celebrate the Lord's Day as they had been taught by the priest fifty years before? What more elevating than those sacred songs—the Stabat Mater, the O Salutaris, or the Te Deum—uttered by pious lips and resounding through the forest primeval? What better evidence could we have of the beneficial effects of our ceremonies in raising the heart to God?
And yet few things connected with our holy religion have been more frequently subjected to ridicule than her ceremonies. People scoff at them, laugh at them, call them foolish and unreasonable. Those people do not stop to consider that by doing so they, themselves, are acting most unreasonably. For no reasonable person, no judge, will condemn another without hearing both sides of the question.
These wiseacres, however, flatter themselves that they know all about the Catholic Church and her ceremonies without hearing her side of the case. Hence the misunderstandings and misrepresentations regarding her that exist among well-meaning people.
If people would but learn to speak about that which they knew and understood; if they would accord to the Catholic Church the same treatment as to other institutions; if they would examine both sides of the question before criticising and ridiculing her teachings and her ceremonies; if they would but treat her with that openness, that fairness, that candor, that honesty characteristic of the American citizen when dealing with other questions—what a vast amount of ignorance, of prejudice, of sin would be avoided!
We claim that ceremonies used in the worship of God are reasonable, because they were sanctioned by God in the Old Testament and by Jesus Christ and His apostles in the New Law.
Originally published in 1909
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