The Ceremonies Of The Catholic Church





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.





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