Reasonableness of Catholic Ceremonies and Practices
BY REV. JOHN J. BURKE
NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO
PRINTERS TO THE HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE
PUBLISHERS OF BENZINGER'S MAGAZINE
FR. CHRYSOSTOMUS THEOBALD, O.F.M.,
Cincinnati, Ohio, die 30, Martii, 1908.
REMY LAPORT, S.T.L.,
JOHN M. FARLEY,
Archbishop of New York.
NEW YORK, March 4, 1909.
COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY BENZIGER BROTHERS.
Reasonableness of Catholic Ceremonies and Practices
THE CEREMONIES OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
I.--Ceremonies Necessary to Divine Worship
II.--Vestments Used by the Priest at Mass
III.--Ceremonies of the Mass
THE PRACTICES OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
I.--Vespers and Benediction
II.--Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament
V.--Honoring the Blessed Virgin
VI.--Confession of Sin
VIII.--The Last Sacraments
IX.--Praying for the Dead
X.--Praying to the Saints
XI.--Crucifixes, Relics, and Images
XII.--Some Sacramentals--The Books Used by the Priest, the Sign of
the Cross, Holy Water, Blessed Candles, Palm and Ashes, Holy Oils,
Scapulars, Medals, Agnus Dei, Prayers, Litanies, Rosary, Angelus,
Stations, Funeral Service, and Various Blessings
XIII.--The Celebration of Feasts
XV.--The Marriage Tie--One and Indissoluble
XVI.--Respect Shown to Ecclesiastical Superiors
Reasonableness of Catholic Ceremonies and Practices
"Let the children of Israel make the Phase in due time . . . according
to all the ceremonies thereof" (_Num._ ix 2, 3).
Reasonableness of Catholic Ceremonies and Practices
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 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
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
and how lasting
formed by the ceremonies
of the Church, the following incident
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
the Lord's Day as they had been taught by the priest
years before? What more elevating than those sacred
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
unreasonably. For no reasonable
person, no judge, will condemn
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
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 honestycharacteristic
of the American
citizen when dealing
with other questions--what a vast amount
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.
I. Ceremonies Necessary to Divine Worship
THE angels are pure spirits. They have no body. Consequently the worship
they render God is spiritual, interior.
bodies are not spiritual, but entirely material substances.
They render God a sort of externalworship
according to the words of the
prophet Daniel, "Sun and moon bless the Lord, . . . stars of heaven
bless the Lord. Praise and exalt Him forever." Man has a soul, a
spiritual substance similar to the heavenly
bodies. He should,
therefore, honor God by the twofold form of worship, interior
"God is a spirit; and they that adore Him must adore Him in spirit and
in truth" (_John_ iv. 24).
From these words of the beloveddisciple
we are not to conclude that
is prescribed as the only essential, and exterior
worship condemned. True piety must manifest
itself externally. Man
naturally manifests his feelings by outward
signs and ceremonies.
The Catholic Church recognizes that man has a heart to be moved as well
as an intellect
to be enlightened. She enlightens the intellect
good books, sermons, etc.; and she moves the heart by the grandeur
If any one doubts that God considers ceremonies necessary to divine
worship, let him read the books of Leviticus and Exodus. Almost the
whole of these books treats of the rites and ceremonies used by the then
chosen people of God in their public worship.
The 26th, 27th, and 28th chapters of Exodus prescribe
the form of the
tabernacle and its appurtenances, the size of the altar and the oil for
the lamps, and the holy vestments which Aaron and his sons were to wear
during the performance
of the public ceremonies.
The book of Leviticus treats more particularly of the sacrifices, rites,
and ceremonies of the priests and Levites.
"And the Lord called Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle
testimony, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say
to them: The man among you that shall offer to the Lord a sacrifice of
the cattle, that is, offering
victims of oxen and sheep, if his offering
be a holocaust and of the herd, he shall offer a male, without blemish,
at the door of the tabernacle
of the testimony, to make the Lord
favorable to him. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the victim,
and it shall be acceptable
and help to his expiation" (_Lev._ i. 1_ et
After enumerating all the sacrifices and ceremonies, the sacred
closes the book of Leviticus with the words, "These are the precepts
which the Lord commanded Moses for the children of Israel in Mount
Sinai," thus showing that He considers ceremonies necessary to divine
The religion instituted by Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is more
spiritual than that of the Old Law. Nevertheless He did not discard
ceremonies. In the Garden of Gethsemani He fell upon His knees in humble
supplication. He went in procession
to Jerusalem preceded by a great
multitude strewing palm-branches on the road and singing, "Hosanna to
the Son of David." Before He cured the deaf and dumb man, He put His
fingers into his ears and touched his tongue with spittle, and looking
up to heaven He groaned and said, "Ephpheta," which is, "Be thou
At the Last Supper He invoked a blessing
on the bread and wine, and
after the supper He chanted a hymn with His disciples--ceremonies
similar to those used in the Mass. When He imparted the Holy Ghost to
His apostles, He breathed upon them. In a similar way they and their
successors communicated the Holy Ghost upon others by breathing upon
them, laying their hands upon them and praying over them, when
conferring the sacrament of Holy Orders.
St. James directs that if any man is sick he shall call in a priest
the Church, who shall anoint
him with oil, as is done in the sacrament
of Extreme Unction.
We must, therefore, admit that ceremonies used in the worship
of God are
reasonable, since they are sanctioned by God in the Old Law and by Jesus
Christ and His apostles in the New Testament.
All these acts of Our Saviour--the prostration in the Garden, the
procession to Jerusalem, the touching
of the deaf man's ears, the
chanting of the hymn, the laying on of hands, the anointing of the
sick--are but so many ceremonies serving as models of the ceremonies
used by the Catholic Church in her public worship
and in the
administration of her sacraments.
II. Vestments Used by the Priest at Mass
BEFORE entering upon an explanation
of the ceremonies of the Mass, which
is our principal
act of public worship, let us examine the meaning of
the vestments worn by the priest
during the celebration
of that august
sacrifice. First, it is well to remember that these vestments come down
to us from the time of the apostles, and have the weight of antiquity
hanging upon them. Hence, if they did not demand our respect as
memorials of Christ, they are at least deserving of attention on account
of their antiquity.
The 28th chapter of Exodus tells us the sacred
vestments God wished the
priests of the Old Law to wear during the public worship. "And these
shall be the vestments which they shall make: a rational
and an ephod, a
tunic and a straight linen garment, a mitre and a girdle. They shall
make the holy vestments for thy brother Aaron and his sons, that they
may do the office of priesthood unto Me." As God in the Old Law
prescribed vestments for the priests, so the Church, guided by God,
vestments to be worn by the priest
of the New Law
while engaged in the sacred
The long black garment
which the priest
wears around the church in all
functions is called a _cassock_. Kings and officers of the
army wear a special uniform when performing their public duties; priests
wear _cassocks_ and other special garments when performing their public
duties. These vestments are used to excite
the minds of the faithful
Who, for example, can behold the cross on the chasuble the priest
without thinking of all Christ suffered for us on the cross? As the
priest in celebrating Mass represents the person of Christ, and the Mass
represents His passion, the vestments he wears represent those with
which Christ was clothed at the time of the passion.
The first vestment the priest
puts on over the _cassock_ is called an
_amice_. It is made of linen, and reminds us of the veil that covered
the face of Jesus when His persecutors struck Him. (_Luke_ xxii. 64.)
When the priest
puts on the _amice_ he first places it on his head, thus
recalling to mind the crown of thorns that pierced the head of Jesus.
The _alb_ (from _albus_, white) represents the white garment
Christ was vested by Herod when sent back to Pilate dressed as a fool.
(_Luke_ xxii. 11.)
White is emblematic of purity. Hence the wearer is reminded of that
purity of mind and body which he should have who serves the altar of the
The _cincture_, or girdle, as well as the _maniple_ and _stole_,
represent the cords and bands with which Christ was bound in the
different stages of His passion. St. Matthew says in the 22d verse of
the 27th chapter, "They brought Him _bound_ and delivered Him to Pontius
Pilate, the governor."
The _chasuble_, or outer vestment the priest
wears, represents the
with which Christ was clothed as a mock king. "And they
clothed Him with purple" (_Mark_ xv. 17). Upon the back of the
_chasuble_ you see a cross. This represents the cross Christ bore on His
sacred shoulders to Calvary, and upon which He was crucified.
In these vestments, that is, in the _chasuble_, _stole_, and _maniple_,
the Church uses five colors--white, red, purple, green, and black.
White, which is symbolic of purity
and innocence, is used on the feasts
of Our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin, of the angels, and of the saints
that were not martyrs.
Red, the symbol
of fortitude, is used on the feast of Pentecost, of the
Exaltation of the Cross, of the apostles and martyrs.
Purple, or violet
(the color of penance), is used in Advent and Lent.
Green (the color of hope) is used on all Sundays when no special feast
is celebrated, except the Sundays of Lent and Advent.
Black (the color of mourning) is used on Good Friday and during the
celebration of Mass for the dead.
Thus we see that each vestment and color used has a special
All are calculated to attract our attention, elevate our minds to God,
and fill us with a desire to do something for Him Who has done so much
for us--to at least keep His commandments.
One word about the use of Latin in the celebration
of Mass will perhaps
here. History tells us that when Christianity was
established the Roman Empire had control of nearly all of Europe, Asia,
catholic [´kæθəlik] a.天主教 n.天主教徒 (初中英语单词)divine [di´vain] a.神圣的 v.预言 (初中英语单词)priest [pri:st] n.教士；牧师；神父 (初中英语单词)funeral [´fju:nərəl] n.葬礼，丧葬；困难 (初中英语单词)violet [´vaiələt] n.&a.紫罗兰(的)；紫色 (初中英语单词)purple [´pə:pl] n.紫色 a.紫(红)的 (初中英语单词)scarlet [´skɑ:lit] n.猩红色 a.猩红的 (初中英语单词)impress [im´pres, ´impres] v.铭刻 n.印记；特征 (初中英语单词)faithful [´feiθfəl] a.忠实的；可靠的 (初中英语单词)capable [´keipəbəl] a.有能力；能干的 (初中英语单词)impression [im´preʃən] n.印刷；印象；效果 (初中英语单词)incident [´insidənt] n.小事件；事变 (初中英语单词)savage [´sævidʒ] a.野蛮的 n.蛮人 (初中英语单词)celebrate [´selibreit] vt.庆祝；表扬；赞美 (初中英语单词)sacred [´seikrid] a.神圣的；庄严的 (初中英语单词)acting [´æktiŋ] a.代理的 n.演戏 (初中英语单词)reasonable [´rizənəbəl] a.合理的；有理智的 (初中英语单词)condemn [kən´dem] vt.谴责；定罪，判处 (初中英语单词)flatter [´flætə] vt.阿谀，奉承；胜过 (初中英语单词)accord [ə´kɔ:d] n.&vi.符合 vt.给与 (初中英语单词)amount [ə´maunt] n.总数；数量 v.合计 (初中英语单词)worship [´wə:ʃip] n.&v.崇拜；敬仰 (初中英语单词)spiritual [´spiritʃuəl] a.精神(上)的；神圣的 (初中英语单词)interior [in´tiəriə] n.&a.内部地(的) (初中英语单词)beloved [bi´lʌvd] a.为….所爱的 n.爱人 (初中英语单词)essential [i´senʃəl] a.必需的 n.要素，要点 (初中英语单词)performance [pə´fɔ:məns] n.履行；行为；工作 (初中英语单词)christ [kraist] n.基督 int.天啊! (初中英语单词)nevertheless [,nevəðə´les] conj.&ad.然而；不过 (初中英语单词)procession [prə´seʃən] n.队伍 v.列队行进 (初中英语单词)blessing [´blesiŋ] n.祝福 (初中英语单词)extreme [ik´stri:m] a.尽头的 n.极端 (初中英语单词)therefore [´ðeəfɔ:] ad.&conj.因此；所以 (初中英语单词)explanation [,eksplə´neiʃən] n.解释；说明；辩解 (初中英语单词)principal [´prinsəpəl] a.主要的 n.负责人 (初中英语单词)garment [´gɑ:mənt] n.衣服，外衣 (初中英语单词)excite [ik´sait] vt.激动；引起，招惹 (初中英语单词)passion [´pæʃən] n.激情；激怒；恋爱 (初中英语单词)purity [´pjuəriti] n.纯净；贞洁 (初中英语单词)celebrated [´selibreitid] a.著名的 (初中英语单词)cincinnati [,sisin´næti] n.辛辛那提 (高中英语单词)celebration [,seli´breiʃən] n.庆祝(会)；庆典 (高中英语单词)israel [´izreiəl] n.以色列 (高中英语单词)incense [´insens, in´sens] n.香(气) vt.激怒 (高中英语单词)appeal [ə´pi:l] vi.&n.请求；呼吁；上诉 (高中英语单词)lasting [´lɑ:stiŋ] a.持久的；永远的 (高中英语单词)distinguished [di´stiŋgwiʃt] a.卓越的，著名的 (高中英语单词)hearing [´hiəriŋ] n.听力；听证会；审讯 (高中英语单词)regarding [ri´gɑ:diŋ] prep.关于 (高中英语单词)honesty [´ɔnisti] n.诚实，老实 (高中英语单词)characteristic [,kæriktə´ristik] a.特有的 n.特性 (高中英语单词)dealing [´di:liŋ] n.交易；来往 (高中英语单词)prejudice [´predʒədis] n.偏见；不利 vt.损害 (高中英语单词)consequently [´kɔnsikwəntli] ad.因此，所以 (高中英语单词)heavenly [´hevənli] a.天的，天空的 (高中英语单词)external [ik´stə:nəl] a.外部的；外面的 (高中英语单词)manifest [´mænifest] a.明显的 v.表明 (高中英语单词)outward [´autwəd] a.外面的 ad.向外 (高中英语单词)prescribe [pri´skraib] v.指示；处(方)；嘱咐 (高中英语单词)saying [´seiŋ, ´sei-iŋ] n.言语；言论；格言 (高中英语单词)offering [´ɔfəriŋ] n.提供；礼物；捐献 (高中英语单词)testimony [´testiməni] n.证明；证据；表明 (高中英语单词)jerusalem [dʒe´ru:sələm] n.耶路撒冷 (高中英语单词)girdle [´gə:dl] n.腰带 vt.用带束(缠) (高中英语单词)innocence [´inəsəns] n.无罪；天真 (高中英语单词)virgin [´və:dʒin] a.处女(般)的 n.处女 (高中英语单词)symbol [´simbəl] n.符号；象征 (高中英语单词)appropriate [ə´prəupri-it, ə´prəuprieit] a.适宜的 vt.私占；拨给 (高中英语单词)christianity [,kristi´æniti] n.基督教；基督精神 (高中英语单词)blessed [´blesid] a.享福的；神圣的 (英语四级单词)intellect [´intilekt] n.智力；有才智的人 (英语四级单词)beneficial [,beni´fiʃəl] a.有利的，有益的 (英语四级单词)touching [´tʌtʃiŋ] a.动人的 prep.提到 (英语四级单词)ridicule [´ridikju:l] vi.&n.嘲笑；奚落 (英语四级单词)unreasonable [ʌn´ri:zənəbl] a.不合理的；荒唐的 (英语四级单词)testament [´testəment] n.契约，誓约；遗嘱 (英语四级单词)disciple [di´saipəl] n.门徒，弟子 (英语四级单词)grandeur [´grændʒə] n.伟大；富丽；壮观 (英语四级单词)acceptable [ək´septəbəl] a.可接受的；合意的 (英语四级单词)saviour [´seiviə] n.救星；救助者 (英语四级单词)anoint [ə´nɔint] vt.涂油于，用油擦 (英语四级单词)rational [´ræʃənəl] a.(有)理性的；合理的 (英语四级单词)contemplation [,kɔntem´pleiʃən] n.注视；冥想；打算 (英语四级单词)advent [´ædvent] n.来临；降临 (英语四级单词)ecclesiastical [i,kli:zi´æstikəl] n.基督教会的；教士的 (英语六级单词)unison [´ju:nisən] n.协调，一致；齐唱 (英语六级单词)tabernacle [´tæbənækəl] n.临时住房，帐篷 (英语六级单词)fortitude [´fɔ:titju:d] n.坚忍；刚毅 (英语六级单词)