Sunday, July 22, 2007

Want to Travel back in Time and Link with the Apostles?- Then Go to the Catholic Mass Down the Street

Catholics often hear from those in other various Christian communities that Jesus isn't interested in all this ritual. When they talk about "ritual" they are talking about the liturgy of the "Mass". Jesus of course was involved in quite a bit of ritual as a Jew. He never denounced this so called "ritual" he was involved in from what I can see. Catholics make the claim that teaching and much of our worship/liturgy comes from the Apostles. Can we back up that claim?

The two Bishops that served in the State of Mississippi tackle the subject of the antiquity of the mass. Those two Bishops are Bishop Latino fo the Diocese of Jackson and Bishop Rodi of the Diocese of Biloxi. The below excerpts are from Bishop Latino's comments that appear in the July 6th edition of the Mississippi Catholic. It appears that at some point this link will have the Bishop's new column. Bishop Latino is interacting with observations that Bishop Rodi made in his Diocesean newspaper, The Gulf Coast Catholic. That appears to be online on pdf form and I shall post a link as a update once I find it.

St Justin is one of the important witness of the apostolic church. He throws light on the early Christian witness, belief, and liturgical life. St Justin Martyr was born at Flavia Neapolis, about A.D. 100, converted to Christianity about A.D. 130, taught and defended the Christian religion in Asia Minor and at Rome, where he suffered martyrdom about the year 165. For a bio of our ancestor inaith go here.

If you wish to see the text that is mentioned below go here. The chapters of St Justin Martyr's works that are partially quoted from as to the Liturgy are "CHAPTER LXV -- ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS ", "CHAPTER LXVI -- OF THE EUCHARIST" and" CHAPTER LXVII -- WEEKLY WORSHIP OF THE CHRIS- TIANS." Read it all after you read the Bishops's thoughts.

Bishop Latino in his column states:

In the year 155 A.D., for example, a man named Justin wrote to the pagan Roman emperor, Antoninus Pius, asking him to stop persecuting Christians. He explained to the emperor that, although the emperor had heard many strange things about Christians, the members of the early church were no danger to anyone. Justin described the manner in which Christians worshipped when they gathered together. Read carefully this description of the manner in which the early church worshipped and compare it to the Sunday Mass in your parish. You will see the Mass is celebrated in basically the same way as the early Christians celebrated their faith. Justin’s letter is in bold. I have added in parentheses the parallels to our modern Mass.

On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place. (We call this day Sunday.) The memoirs of the apostles and writing of the prophets are read, as much as time permits. (Justin refers to the “memoirs” of the apostles and “writings” of the prophets. The word “bible” would not be used for another 300 years until the Catholic Church collected all these writings into one book.) When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things. (We call this the sermon or homily.) Then all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves … and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments so as to obtain eternal salvation. (We call this the General Intercessions or Prayers of the Faithful) When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss of peace. (We call this the sign of peace. It has been moved in the modern Mass to just before sharing Communion.) Then someone brings the bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren. (We call this the presentation of the gifts or the offertory procession.) He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistan) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts. (We call this the Eucharistic Prayer, the core of which is the words of consecration.) When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: “Amen.” (We call this the Great Amen which is at the end of each Eucharistic Prayer.) When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those who are called deacons give to those present the “eucharisted” bread, wine and water and taken them to those who are absent. (We call this Communion. After Communion the consecrated or “eucharisted” bread is reserved in the tabernacle so it may be brought during the week to those too sick to come to Mass.) Comparing Justin’s description of the Mass in the year 155 A.D. with our Mass today, it is obvious from where our Mass comes. The manner in which the early Christians worshipped God has come down through the generations to us today. Although different times and cultures have added some traditions to the Mass, it is basically the same and unchanged in its most essential elements. The next time someone asks you why Catholics celebrate Mass the way we do, you can tell them that it was not something just thought up recently, but has come to us from the apostles as what Jesus, at the Last Supper, asked us to do in his memory

A wonderful column.

St Justin is just one of the ancient sources that are both biblical and non bibilical that show us the worship of the early Church. A worship that was centered around Eucharist.

Do you have Eucharist? If you are Catholic do you appreciate the Eucharist? Do you go to communion in the proper state? In effect do you EAT GOD? I know that is blunt but let's not dress it up. A few days ago I mention a "Emerging Church" blogger from the anglo catholic tradition. He was commenting partially on the so called "controversal" RESPONSES TO SOME QUESTIONS REGARDING CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE DOCTRINE ON THE CHURCH that was released by the Vatican.

This young Anglican blogger, who views his tradition as "Church", said in part:

Well that is in your face that is for sure. But what he was touching on is what the Vatican Document was also talking about. The Church stated in the the Response to Some Questons Document:

"According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense.

That is why as to our Eastern Orthodox Brothers and Sisters the Church stated:

" “Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all – because of the apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds”[13], they merit the title of “particular or local Churches”[14], and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches"

Eucharist is all tied up into this as you can see as well as the issue of Apostolic tradition. A subject I will hit on another day.

This is why Catholic think the Mass is so important and is in fact the summit of our prayer life and with God himself.

No comments: