Friday, 1 July 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 97.

SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.


CEREMONIES IN GENERAL EXPOUNDED.

Q. What are ceremonies, and how many kinds are there ?

A. Ceremonies are outward actions, made use of for decency, honor, and instruction : and there are chiefly two sorts, civil and religious.

Q. Why are they necessary ?

A. Because man being composed of body and soul, which mutually concur in all performances, both civil and religious. It is both requisite and necessary that these be attended with certain visible ceremonies, to distinguish what we are doing, and render the performance of the duty more significant

Q. I easily conceive the necessity of ceremonies in civil matters, which cannot be managed, unless civil power be conferred, executed, and obeyed, with proper ceremonies. But what occasion is there for ceremonies in religious matters ?

A. For the same reasons that they are necessary in civil matters; and particularly that God may be served with decency, with more honor, and the people instructed in their duty.

Q. How with decency ?

A. By churches, or places set apart for divine service, decently adorned, a thing not refused to men of distinction: for princes, nobility, gentry, etc., take care of commodious and decent places of abode.

Q. How for God's greater honor ?

A. The ceremonies are to be answerable to the dignity of the person, both as to show, riches, grandeur, etc.

Q. How for the people's instruction ?

A. The ceremonies are to represent the mysteries of faith, to explain them to the eye, for the benefit of the illiterate and ignorant, and capable of exciting them to piety.

Q. Do not ceremonies destroy the substance of inward devotion? Are they not sometimes superfluous, sometimes ridiculous, sometimes superstitious ?

A. They are so far from destroying the substance, that they preserve it, as leaves do the

fruit, from the inclemency of the season, and for that reason are not superfluous; and as to the superfluity of their number, they are all tending towards piety, and on that score very profitable. If any religious ceremonies appear ridiculous, it is owing to ignorance or scoffing; and as to superstition, there can be none, where no other effect is ascribed to them than what God or nature has ordained.

Q. Who was the first author and contriver of religious ceremonies ?

A. God himself, in the law of nature, the law of Moses, and the law of grace.

Q. What religious ceremonies were there in the law of nature ?

A. We read of few, besides sacrificing of beasts, to acknowledge God's supreme power, which was attended with ceremonies of altars, etc. Gen. xv. And we may justly suppose, that prayer was attended with the ceremonies of time, place, and kneeling, lifting up hands, etc. Again, circumcision was a ceremony of the law of nature.

Q. What ceremonies were appointed by the law of Moses?

A. An infinite number, in general regarding the consecrating of their kings, priests, and sacrifices, their temple, etc. Ex. xxix. et xl. which were ordained to declare God's majesty, and prefigure the law of grace, as the sanctum sanctorum, the manna, the paschal lamb, the shew-bread, the curing of the leprosy, the priest's vestments, images of cherubims, their cleansing from legal impurities, their feasts, etc.

Q. Did Christ, in the new law, make use of or appoint religious ceremonies ?

A. Yes, several, he was circumcised, presented in the temple, baptized by St. John, performed the ceremonies of the pasch, ordered fasting, and water baptism, used clay and spittle in curing the blind, lifted up his eyes, and prostrated himself, washing feet, etc.; St. Mark vii. St. Luke viii.

Q. Did the Apostles use and ordain religious ceremonies ?

A. Yes, several, viz.: Imposition of hands, the anointing with oil, abstaining from certain meats, the matter and form of the sacraments, which were delivered by Christ, during the forty days, between his resurrection and ascension, etc.

Q. Has the Church authority to ordain ceremonies, and does she not ordain those that are superfluous ?

A. Yes, she has power to add or diminish, as being the proper judge, which are significant and instructive. And though we are to adore God in spirit, this does not exclude ceremonies, but only directs us to attend to their spiritual meaning.