|Ark Of The Covenant|
Over the mercy-seat of God, above the ark, brooded the great gold images of the Cherubim " Holding fast," or "Those grasped." They represented the highest heavenly spirits, holding fast purest and highest truths streaming down into their minds from the Divine Son, as their wills grasp the Good of God the Holy Spirit. They recalled to the Hebrew mind the Cherubims the Eternal placed at the gates of Paradise after the Fall, *' with flaming sword turning every way to keep the way of the tree of life." 1
In ancient religions they come from Eden's gates, as winged female sphinx of Egypt, as composite creature forms of Persia, as winged bulls of Assyria and Babylonia, as Chimera of Greece, as Gryphon of Assyria, as Griffins of Northmen, and as grotesque emblems of fable and heraldry. They are still seen on coins, in sculpture, and art.
There, between the gold wings of the cherubim, on the mercy-seat rested the Shekina, the visible Presence of the Holy Spirit, a cloud by day, a fire at night, who spoke to the prophets, and gave mankind the Old Testament. Why were these golden images placed in the Holy of Holies ? To image the millions of supernal spirits ever adoring the Eternal in His heavenly sanctuary, and to foretell images of Christ, of his Mother, of angels and of saints in the sanctuary of our churches. No member of our race was then in heaven, for it was closed till Christ opened it to us, therefore no image of saint was there. The custom of placing images, paintings and statues of Christ in the church comes down to us from the Apostles. 2
Temple and church are images of heaven, dwelling-place of God. " And they shall make me a sanctuary and I will dwell in the midst of them." 3 Here the word " dwell" is in the Hebrew " I will shekina." Israel's greatest prophet in vision saw the Lord on his high eternal throne, his court of heavenly beings filled the celestial Temple, while the Seraphim " The Burning" with knowledge and love, forming two choirs, sang the tresagion, " Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts." 4 The words formed a part of the synagogue service sang at the Last Supper, and is now a part of the Preface of the Mass. The beloved Apostle saw the four living creatures in apocalyptic vision 5 who sing the same before the Eternal's throne.
|Holy Of Holies|
There were thirteen veils in the Temple—they gave rise to the veils now covering the tabernacles of our churches, behind which, in the ciborium, dwells Jesus Christ under the veils or species of bread, as under the form of the Shekina, the Holy Spirit brooded over the mercy-seat in the Temple.
The Holies not only represented the Universal Church, but also the sanctuary of our Church. Three things in the Holies also typified, in a still more striking way, what the cup of manna, Aaron's rod, and the tables of the Ten Commandments represented in the Holy of Holies.
In the middle of the Holies rose the altar of incense, which the Jews called the " Golden Altar," because it was made of pure solid gold, and to distinguish it from the great sacrificial altar outside in the midst of the Priests' Court. That gold altar was the image of Jesus Christ. At nine in the morning, and at three in the afternoon, the priest spread on it burning coals to image the burning Shekina in the inner sanctuary. On them he sprinkled incense, the ceremonial foretelling Christ, burning with fire of the Holy Ghost, offering the prayers of the Mass on our altars in our sanctuary by the ministry of his clergy. The altar in our Church is a type of Christ, and for that reason the altar is incensed at solemn services, as was the golden altar of the Temple. 7
No animal was sacrificed on that golden altar, to foretell that in the Church, on our altar, Christ is not sacrificed in a violent, bloody or painful manner, but in the mystic ceremonial of the Mass. But on the Day of Atonement, the high priest reddened the four corners of that altar with the blood of the sacrifices, held out over it his hands dripping blood, to foretell the cross of Christ reddened with his blood, and to foreshadow that the sacrifice of Calvary and of the Mass are one and identical. 8
|Bread Of The Face|
Oriental Christians build their altar the same shape and size of the gold altar of incense in the Holies. They allow nothing to rest on it but the liturgical books, not even candles. Thus the Holies, with its altar in the middle, the credence table on your right, and the great candlestick on your left, foretold the altar, credence table, and Easter candlestick in our sanctuary.
|gold altar of incense|
The middle shaft of the candlestick ended with a gold cup, having at each side a straight row of three cups of the same shape and size, making seven lamps. The central lamp burning day and night bent towards the Holy of Holies. The others were always lighted from it, which, with striking ceremony, foretold that while Christ's life was taken, his Divinity lived, and that he was to rise from the tomb. 10
This great solid gold candelabrum, purest metal offered to God alone, was six feet high, Christ's stature. It could not be cast, but was made by being beaten, to foretell the flagellation. Its seven lamps, Josephus says, typified the the seven planets, but they foretold the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, godliness and the fear of God poured out on Christ. 11
While the stone tables having the engraved Ten Commandments were within the ark and showed Christ resting in heaven after teaching mankind religion, the candlestick showed him " The light enlightening every man who cometh into the world," 12 glorified in heaven, while his Church preaches the light of his Gospel. The lamps were lighted each morning and extinguished at night. 13
The Rabbis wrote before the Incarnation, that the candles and lights of Temple and Passover, especially the great candlestick, with its seven lights, foretold the Messiah, who would come and kindle for them " The Great Light." They wrote that he was " The Lord our Righteousness," " The Branch," " The Comforter," " The En-lightener," " The Light of the nations," etc. For that reason, when presented in the Temple, Simeon took the Child-Christ in his arms, and filled with the Holy Spirit burst forth into the prophecy and poetry written in this candelabra.
Now thou dost dismiss thy servant,
O Lord, according to thy word, in peace ;
Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared.
Before the face of all peoples,
A Light to the revelation of the Gentiles,
And the Glory of thy people Israel. 14
This was why John wrote: " And the Life was the Light of men, and the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." 15 The Holies was emblematic of this world with Christ burning with the fire of the Holy Ghost, filling men with the light of his teachings, enlightening souls with faith and heavenly truth.
It foretold the church building. In the center of the Holies was the gold altar from which twice a day rose the smoke of incense ascending before the Lord, as from our altar, resting in the center of our sanctuary, ascends the Liturgy and prayers of the Mass.
Each of the seven branches of the golden candlestick ended in an olive oil lamp with wicks of worn-out priestly vestments; about a wine-glass of oil was poured into each every day by a priest chosen by " lot" for the function; the lamps were lighted from the central lamp turned toward the Holy of Holies ; thus it represented the Messiah the Christ—Hebrew and Greek words meaning " The Anointed "—by the Holy Ghost who was represented by the oil; thus the candelabrum foretold God made man through the Spirit of God illuminating the world, enlightening men's minds by his teachings.
This is the meaning of numerous words and figures found in the Old Testament and Temple ceremonial. Many lamps of olive oil, hundreds of beeswax candles, burned during Temple worship, and before the Torah, " the Law," the first five books of the Old Testament, in Temple and synagogue hung an ever-burning lamp and this lamp and these candles have come down to us in the Church.
What became of the golden candlestick? That of Solomon's Temple was carried away into Babylonia when the first Temple was destroyed and was never heard of more. That of the Temple of the time of Christ was carried away to Rome, after Titus took the city in the year A. D. 70, and was borne before the conqueror in his triumphal entry into the Eternal City. 16 Its image is still seen on his triumphal arch, with the incense chests still standing in the upper part of the Roman Forum.
The candlestick was deposited in the Roman temple of Peace. One writer says it was thrown into the Tiber from the Milivial bridge during Maxentins' flight from Constantine, but another account says it was carried by Genseric to Carthage in A. D. 455, recovered by Belisarius, brought to Constantinople in 533, and placed in a church, but it has never been heard of since.
The great gold candlestick of tabernacle and Temple representing Christ is still seen in our churches 17 in the Easter candlestick. It is lighted with long ceremony on Holy Saturday, and used during High Mass, till the Ascension, when it is quenched after the Gospel, to signify at the Ascension Christ finished his work of teaching the world religion. 18
The candelabrum, bearing seven or more burning candles during our services, were copied from this famous Temple candlestick. The thirteen candles used while chanting the Tenebrse during Holy Week, are quenched as the Psalms are sung, while the highest is hidden behind the altar to signify the prophets the Hebrews killed, and the one hidden for a moment and brought forth represents Christ buried and risen from the dead.
Each Jewish synagogue has many seven-branched candelabrum, which they light during the services to remind them of the great candlestick of the Temple. But they do not light the central one, burning only six lights. It seems singular, for the central light foretold the Messiah in Temple ceremonial. The priest chosen each day trimmed and lighted the great candlestick. The Jewish laity never entered the Holies—only a priest, chosen day by day, burned the incense on its golden altar, prototype of the priest now offering in the Mass the prayer of Christ on our altar. 19
The candlestick lighting up the Holies, emblematic of Christ the Light of his Church also foretold the bishop, light of his diocese. 20 Therefore the Pontiff places his episcopal throne on your left, where the candlestick stood in the Temple Holies, and there he sits " a light to the revelation of the Gentiles," reflecting the light which shines on him from the Fisherman's Throne. The Son of God told John his beloved Apostle to write to the seven Churches of Asia, that if they did not do penance he would remove their candlesticks—that is, their bishops. We have seen the sad state of these cities where now Moslem fanatics rule.
The priest is placed as a light to the congregation. 21 Where in the Holies the candlestick stood, on the side where now the Gospel is read in our churches, there rises the pulpit from whence is preached the sermon. Down from the Catholic Church, of which he is an officer, comes the bishop to his diocese, bringing with him all the lights and glories of the Universal Church. Down from the society of the priests of the diocese, comes the priest into the church bringing Avith him the Mass, Bible, sacraments, and wealth of doctrine. He is, in teaching and example, as a lamp for the people, a candlestick with the seven lamps of the Holy Ghost, with his seven-fold gifts of salvation for the members of the parish.
Ten gold candelabra, each with seven gold cups of olive oil, each forming a lamp, divided the Priests' Court from the Holies. They were united by gold chains, and they formed a railing for the sanctuary, like our sanctuary railing, to which they gave rise. These lamps were lighted on great Hebrew feasts.
Thus stood the Temple at the time of Christ, which he so often visited,—his " Father's house," where he so often worshiped when he came to the feasts of his people. Gold-walled within and without as well as roofed, every object of purest massive gold, adorned with religious objects, it was a sacramental emblem of the foretold glories of the Catholic Church. The Temple Herod had spent forty-six years building was famed in all the earth for its worship, its holiness, its glories and its wealth.
People of our day, when money-making has become a craze, when the whole object of this life is to get rich, find fault because they are asked to support religion, and grumble when they see our churches adorned with costly altars, statuary and works of art. Let them go back in thought to that time of dying David, who inspired of God prepared the means for his son Solomon to build the Temple, and they will find that he gave $19,349,260, besides other treasures of almost equal value to erect a building which was but an image of one of our churches.'
From - How Christ said the first mass, or, The Lord's last supper. The rites and ceremonies, the ritual and liturgy, the forms of divine worship Christ observed, when He changed the passover into the mass (1908) Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
1 Gen. iii. 24. See S. Augustine's Question, in Exod. L. ii. 2, cv. etc.
2 St. Thomas, Sum. iii. q. 35, 3 ad 4.
3 Exod. xxv. 8.
4 Isaias vl. 1 to 4.
5 Apoc. iv. 7.
6 Apoc. viii. 3, 4.
7 S. Aug., Question in Exod. L. ii. Qu. cxxxiii. et cxxxiv.
8 For a description of the altar of incense, see Edersheim, Temple, 133, 134, 377 ; Migne, S. Scripturӕ, 11, 169, 170, 1301 ; 6, 446, 447, etc.
9 Migue, Cursus Comp.S. Scripturӕ, ii. 1300, vi. 305.
10 Lightfoot, Works, II. 399.
11 Isaias ii. 2, 3; Migne 2, 168-1018.
12 John i. 9.
13 Migne, Cursus Completus, S. Scripturae ii. 168.
14 Luke ii. 29-32.
15 John i. 4-5. See Edersheim, Life of Christ, i. 198-200.
16 Josephus Jewish Wars, VII, v. 5.
17 See S. Augustine, Sermo in cereo Paschali; Sermo—182 de Verb. Ap 1 ; Joan. 4, n. X ; Sermo 317. de S. Stephano, ix.
18 Sec S. Aug. Sermo. 338 n. 1.
19 See Augustine, Enar. in Psal. cxxxviii. 15 in Psalm cix. n. 1.
20 See S Augustine, Sermo. 1, De cereo Pashali.
21 See S. Augustine, Enar, iv. iu Psalm ciii. Sermo iv. n. 2.