|High Priest Offering a Sacrifice of a Goat (illustration from Henry Davenport Northrop's 1894 Treasures of the Bible)|
"He pushed him down backward. He went rolling and falling down, he did not reach halfway down the mountain, before he became separated limb from limb." 2
Bloody, torn, mangled, smashed on the rocks far below, lay the sinless victim with the sins of Israel on him, a striking image of the bloody body of the dead Christ with the sins of all mankind on Him.
"The conductor returned to the last booth, under which he sat till dark," image of Pilate in his palace, after his death sentence on the Christ had been put in execution. Before the death of Christ, each year the scarlet cloth on the rock and in the Temple after the death of the goat became white, and swift runners ran back to the city to tell the joyful news to the people. But after the crucifixion it changed no more. Jewish writers try many ways to explain the reason.
"Formerly the tongue of crimson wool used to be tied to the door of the porch of the Temple outside, so all could see it. When it became white, all rejoiced. When it did not become white, all became out of spirits and ashamed. Then it was changed so that it was tied to the door of the porch inside. They used to look at it even then. It was then re-formed that half should be tied to the rock, another half to the horns. They had another sign. A tongue of wool used to be tied to the gate of the Temple, and as the goat reached the desert, the wool by a miracle became white, as it is said:" If your sins be as scarlet they shall be made white as snow, and if they be red as crimson they shall be white as wool." 3
When runners brought the news to the Temple that the goat was killed, they began the morning services, the image of a pontifical High Mass we have described in a former work (The Tragedy of Calvary, chapter viii).
The high priest vests in his magnificent vestments. His Sagan, as assistant priest stands at his right, the twelve priests, images of tlie twelve sons of Jacob, fathers of the twelve Hebrew tribes, range, six on either side of the pontiff, as during the ceremonies morning and afternoon each day. This was the number of assistant priests in all Temple ceremonies, and this was the reason Christ chose apostles to the number of twelve.
Five hundred vested priests and as many Levites took part in the services. First the priest chosen by "lot," assisted by two priests, like the deacon and subdeacon of the High Mass, entered the Holies and incensed the gold altar, as now we incense the altar at the begiiming of Mass. Then the lamb is sacrificed, his blood thrown on the horns of the altar in the form of a cross, and his flesh placed to burn on the everlasting fire burning on the great sacrificial altar.
Before the porch of the Holies was an ornamental ark called the "Aaron," in which reposed the five first books of the Old Testament. With the ceremonial we will give when we describe the synagogue, the holy Scrolls are taken out mid prayer, chant and anthem.
"The high priest came to read. If he desired to read dressed in linen or white byssus vestments, he did so, otherwise he read in a white stole of his own. The Hazzan, "servant" or attendant, of the congregation takes the Scrolls of the Law from the ark and presents them to the president of the congregation, he gives them to the Sagan, and the latter presents them to the high priest." 4
This ceremony, modified but little, is seen when the the Gospel is sung at a High Mass. But when the bishop pontificates it is carefully followed. The altar boy or one of the clergy hands the Missal to the subdeacon, who reads from it the Epistle, after which he gives it to the deacon, who lays it on the altar, as the scrolls were in the ark, and kneels in prayer. He takes it, and kneeling presents it to the celebrant, who blesses him. The book is carried by the deacon, the clergy going before him till they come to the place where the Gospel is sung. The Jews in their synagogues of our day carry the Scrolls of the Law with the same ceremonies.
"The high priest rises and receives the Scrolls standing. He reads the section. (The celebrant at a high Mass, standing at the altar, touches the Mass-book in the hands of the kneeling deacon.)" After the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they were slain for offering strange fire, etc., 5 and the section: 'Upon the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement,' etc. 6 Then he rolls the Scrolls together, and keeps them on his knees and says: 'More than what I have read to you is written here.' "The section "Upon the tenth," etc., he reads by heart, and pronounces over it the eight blessings, namely over the Law, over the service, over the thanksgivings, the atonement of iniquity, the Temple by itself, Israel by themselves, Jerusalem by itself, the priests by themselves and the rest of the prayers. He who sees the high priest reading does not witness the burning of the bullock and the he-goat, not because it was not allowed, but because a great distance intervened, and both were done at the same time."
The Temple with its great cloisters, its courts open to the sky, its halls, chambers and rooms covered an area of about 1,000 feet square. It was the largest religious edifice perhaps ever built, and was so thronged with people that they could not all see every service.
"If he read in linen garments, he washed his hands and feet, stripped himself and went down to bathe, came out and dried himself with a sponge. Vestments of cloth of gold were brought him, he put them on, washed his hands and feet; he went out and performed the rites over his ram, the ram of the people, and the seven unblemished lambs of one year. They were offered with the daily sacrifice of the morning, and the bullock for the burnt-offering, and the he-goat used outside, were offered with the daily sacrifice of the evening." 7
"He washed his hands and feet, undressed, went down to bathe, came up and dried himself. White vestments were brought him, he put them on, washed his hands and feet, he went in to fetch the spoon and censer. He washed his hands and feet again, stripped himself, went down to bathe, came out and dried himself. Vestments of cloth of gold were brought to him, he put them on, washed his hands and feet, and went in to offer the in-eense of the evening and to trim the lamps. He then washed his hands and feet, took off his vestments, put on his own clothes, which had been brought to him, and was accompanied to his own house. He used to keep the day as a holiday with his friends, when he came away from the Holy of Holies unhurt." It is known to us by tradition that the high priest bathed five times and ten times washed his hands and feet. When the conductor of the scapegoat returned, if he met the high priest in the street, he said to him: "'My lord the high priest, we have done the commission of Him, who giveth life to all living. May he who giveth life to all the living give thee a long, good and orderly life.'"
What did this elaborate ceremonial of the destroyed Temple of Jehovah signify? It pointed to the future, the atonement of the Cross, the entry into the heaven of heavens, of the Scape-Goat Christ with the world's sins on him, first after his sacrifice of the Last Supper and of the cross, and his entry again after each Mass.
This world and all in it images the unseen spirits, and the abode of bliss beyond the skies where the Eternal dwells in glory. When the priest says Mass or when the bishop pontificates, as high priest of the newer and more perfect Church, surrounded by his ministers, clothed in purple, gold and fine linen, offering, not bloody victims, but the "Lamb of God slain from the foundations of the world," we look beyond the veil of this magnificent ceremonial and image that supernal sanctuary shown us thus in visible forms. St. Paul beautifully refers to the Day of Atonement, telling that the ceremonies foretold Christ to the Jew, and now recalls him to the Christians.
"For the first tabernacle was made, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the setting forth of loaves, which is called the Holy. And after the second veil, the tabernacle, which is called the Holy of Holies. Having the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant covered about on every part with gold, in which was the golden urn that had the manna, and the rod of Aaron that had blossomed, and the tables of the Testament. And over it were the cherubims ('Those grasped' 'Held fast') of glory overshadowing the propitiatory, of which it is not needful to speak now particularly." Now these things being thus ordered, into the first tabernacle, the priest indeed always entered, accomplishing the offices of the sacrifices. But into the second, the high priest alone entered once a year, not without blood, which he offered for his own and the people's ignorance, the Holy Ghost signifying that the way into the sanctuary was not yet made manifest, while the former tabernacle was yet standing, which is a parable of the time then present, according to which gifts and sacrifices are offered, which cannot as to the conscience make him perfect, that serveth only in meats, and in drinks, and diverse washings, and justifications of the flesh laid on them until the time of correction.
" But Christ being present, a high priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the blood of goats and of calves, but by his own blood entered once into the sanctuary, having obtained eternal redemption."
For if the blood of goats, and of bulls, and the ashes of a heifer, being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled to the cleansing of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Holy Ghost offered himself without spot to God, cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
"And therefore he is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of his death for the redemption of those transgressions, which were under the Old Testament, they who are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament (that is a will dividing property after death), the death of the testator must of necessity intervene. For a testament is of force after men are dead, otherwise it is not yet of force whilst the testator lives. Whereupon neither was the first indeed dedicated without blood."For when every command of the Law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying: 'This is the blood of the Testament, which God hath enjoined unto you.' The tabernacle also, and all the vessels of the ministry, in like manner he sprinkled with blood. And almost all things according to the Law are cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.
"It is necessary therefore that the patterns of heavenly things should be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with a better sacrifice than these. For Jesus hath not entered into the Holy Places made with hands, the patterns of the true, but into heaven itself, that he may appear now in the presence of God for us." 8
Let us look beyond the ceremonial of Temple and Mass to that heavenly sanctuary, where God reigns in glory mid millions of saints bought by his blood. Church chancel, copied from Temple Holy of Holies, has now no veil. The great veil closing the Holy of Holies was rent from top to bottom the moment Christ died, to tell how he opened heaven by his death. The Jewish high priest, that day in the Holy of Holies, holding out his hands dripping with blood, arms and body forming a cross, foretold our High Priest Jesus in the heavenly Holy of Holies, holding out his bloody pierced hands before the throne of his Eternal Father, offering there the Masses said by all his ministers on earth.
For the agent binds the one who sends him to act for him. The ministers bind the governments who send them as representatives. In ordination the priest receives the power to act for Christ in the business of saving souls and offering sacrifice. Standing at the altar, sitting in the confessional, administering the sacraments, Christ acts through and by the priest. The priest may be learned or not, good or bad, cultured or crude, homely or handsome, but the Mass and sacraments are the same, for the Pontiff of mankind does all these through him, the same as though He in visible form performed the function. 9
Now let us see our High Priest in heaven and the Liturgy of that celestial Church, of which that of the Temple, was, and ours is the image. John, born of Aaron's family, priest of the Temple, most beloved of the twelve, so dear as to lay his head on Jesus' breast, John was saved from martyrdom by a miracle, and banished to Patmos by the cruel emperor Domitian. As the steamer passes you see that rocky isle, bleak, barren, desert, rising from the Grecian Sea. He tells us that he saw the heavenly Sanctuary from which Temple and Church buildings were copied.
In sensible forms and images the last of the apostles saw the vision, but far below the reality of the spirit world: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man what things God hath prepared for them that love him." 10 No one while living here can see the three Persons of God, angels or disembodied souls of men. For as with the light we see material things, so the light of glory streaming down from God the Son in beatific vision, shows us the world of spirits only after death. Under visible forms acting on his senses the beloved Apostle saw the opened heavens.
On the high heavenly throne was the Eternal Father, before Him rose the altar with the souls of martyrs under it. There were the four writers of the Gospels in forms of animals Ezechiel saw. 11 The twenty-four ancients, the great men of both Testaments sat on seats of glory. Because of her higher powers over the other dioceses, from apostolic times the Roman diocese formed her presbytery of twenty-four priests, now the College of Cardinals, while the other diocese had only twelve members of the senate. There was the woman clothed with the sun, crowned with twelve stars—the apostles—while the heavenly hosts sang the celestial Liturgy. There was spread the table of the Lord, the great Eucharistic Banquet to which were invited all the nations. The Son of man and Son of God, as High Priest of mankind, the Lamb of God, 'The Angel,' stood at the heavenly altar offering to his Eternal Father the Masses his ministers said on earth.
For these reasons, at every Mass the priest with closed hands resting on the edge of the altar prays, that Christ may offer the Oblation on the heavenly altar, before the throne of his Eternal Father, amid the vast unnumbered angels and saints of that heavenly Jerusalem, saying:
"We humbly beseech Thee, O Almighty God, that thou wouldst command these gifts to be carried by the hands of thy holy Angel to thy altar on high, before the sight of thy Divine Majesty, that all of us, who by partaking of this altar, shall receive the most holy Body ✠ and Blood ✠ of thy Son, may be enriched by every heavenly blessing and grace. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen."
1 Psalm xxi. 19.
2 Yomah, vi, 92.
3 Isaias i. 18; Yomah, vi. 95-97.
4 Yomah, chapter xii. 98.
5 Levit. xvi.
6 Levit. xvi. 29, 30, 31. 32.
7 Yomah xii. 102.
8 Hebrews ix.
9 See S. Augustine, Tract VI. in John.
10 1. Cor. ii. 9.
11 Ezechiel i.
11 Ezechiel i.