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
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
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.