Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 98.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada

Q. When and wherein are particular ceremonies made use of?

A. In adorning Churches, in celebrating mass, in administering the sacraments, in priest's vestments, in celebrating Sundays, in celebrating feasts of our Lord, in celebrating feasts of the blessed Virgin, in celebrating feasts of the saints, in the devotion practised in holy week, in observing fasts, in consecrating and blessing several of God's creatures, in postures of the body, etc.

Q. Which are the chief ornaments in churches ?

A. Pictures, images, crucifixes, altars, tabernacles, and candles.

Q. For what use are pictures, images, and crucifixes ?

A. They are the books of the ignorant, and illiterate, to put them in mind of several mysteries and passages belonging to religion.

Q. Are they to be honored, worshiped, and prayed to?

A. We neither pray to pictures nor images, nor do we believe any perfection inherent in them; we only pay them a relative honor, on account of the things and persons they represent; as we honor the king, and a friend, by keeping their pictures, and placing them decently: yet with this difference, that pictures in churches are regarded with a religious honor, because it is paid on account of some religious qualification; but the honor we pay to the pictures of others, is called civil honor, because it is paid on account of some natural or acquired perfection.

Q. Was it always customary, to place pictures and images in churches?

A. In the law of Moses such things were ordered, as the brazen serpent in the desert, and the figures of seraphims, cherubims, and other images to adorn the tabernacle. As to the law of grace, for the first three ages, the Christians not being permitted to have public churches, there was no occasion for that ceremony, nor was it much practised upon the conversion of the world, in Constantine's days, that the heathens might not be scandalized, who placed idols in their temples; but by degrees, as idolatry was abolished, it was customary to set up the images of Christ crucified, and the pictures of saints and martyrs.

Q. What are altars, and why are they placed in churches?

A. They are tables on which the Christian sacrifice is laid and offered, viz.: The body and blood of Jesus Christ; and they represent Mount Calvary, where the bloody sacrifice was offered.

Q. What is the tabernacle ?

A. As the Jews formerly were ordered to-make a rich chest, to preserve their manna; so Christians have one, to keep, or preserve the blessed sacrament in, for the benefit of the sick r and whereof the Jewish tabernacle was a figure.

Q. Why are candles exposed and lighted?

A. To signify the light of the gospel, and the light that will shine eternally in heaven, not to give light to the eye.

Q. What is the mass? why performed in Latin? was it always performed with so much ceremony, and what is the meaning of the chief of those ceremonies?

A. It is the Christian sacrifice, which our Saviour offered at the last supper, viz.: His body and blood, accompanied with certain prayers, which are usually said in Latin, that being a public language, the best known of any other, in order to preserve unity among different nations. It is true, our blessed Saviour did not use all these ceremonies, at the first institution, which by degrees were appointed by the Apostles, and their successors, for greater solemnity. The chief whereof are, the lessons taken from the gospels, and other parts of the holy Scriptures, with prayers suitable to the purpose. As to the meaning of every particular ceremony, they are instructive, and represent some passages of our blessed Saviour's life, and passion, viz.: The priest standing at the steps of the altar, and bowing, represents Christ humbling himself in the garden, to prepare for his passion. His turning to the people, and saying, dominus vobiscum; that is, the Lord be with you, puts them in mind to be attentive and to join with him in that oblation. Standing up at the gospel, imports their willingness to profess and defend it. The priest washes his fingers, to represent the cleanliness from sin. He kisses the altar, to signify Christian peace, and willingness to embrace the cross.

Q. Why is there always a crucifix upon the the time of mass?

A. That as the mass is said in remembrance of Christ's passion and death, the priest and people may have always before their eyes the image that represents his passion and death.