Monday, June 15, 2020

Biblical Types or Anticipations of Traditional Catholic Worship

Photo by Ramses Sudiang on Unsplash
With unabashed admiration for medieval allegorical commentators on the Mass who did not stop at the level of practical or historical explanations but went for deeper significance, playing like children in the garden of spiritual meanings that spring forth from the original literal seeds, I share with readers today certain suggestive Scripture verses that support or at least add additional weight to practices familiar in the usus antiquior. I do not claim, of course, that the human authors of these verses had in mind a future Christian liturgy of Europe in its fully-developed medieval condition. But we know that the Primary Author of Scripture did have in mind the many ways in which He would inspire the Church to glorify Him worthily in her traditional rites.

Separation of Sanctuary from Nave

“And Aaron was separated to minister in the holy of holies, he and his sons for ever, and to burn incense before the Lord, according to his ceremonies, and to bless his name for ever.” (1 Chron. 23:13)

“The chambers of the north, and the chambers of the south, which are before the separate building: they are holy chambers, in which the priests shall eat, that approach to the Lord into the holy of holies: there they shall lay the most holy things, and the offering for sin, and for trespass: for it is a holy place. And when the priests shall have entered in, they shall not go out of the holy places into the outward court: but there they shall lay their vestments, wherein they minister, for they are holy: and they shall put on other garments, and so they shall go forth to the people.” (Ezek. 42:13–14)

“The priests, and Levites, the sons of Sadoc, who kept the ceremonies for my sanctuary, when the children of Israel went astray from me: they shall come near to me, to minister to me: and they shall stand before me, to offer me the fat, and the blood, saith the Lord God. They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and to keep my ceremonies.” (Ezek. 44:15–16)

“Christ, being come an high priest of the good things to come…by his own blood, entered once into the holies, having obtained eternal redemption…. For Jesus is not entered into the holies made with hands, the patterns of the true: but into heaven itself, that he may appear now in the presence of God for us. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holies, every year with the blood of others: for then he ought to have suffered often from the beginning of the world: but now once at the end of ages, he hath appeared for the destruction of sin, by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebr. 9:11–12, 24–26)

“And it came to pass, when he [Zachary] executed the priestly function in the order of his course before God, according to the custom of the priestly office, it was his lot to offer incense, going into the temple of the Lord. And all the multitude of the people was praying without, at the hour of incense.” (Luke 1:8–10)

Incensation of the Altar

“And I saw seven angels standing in the presence of God; and there were given to them seven trumpets. 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. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.” (Rev. 8:2–4)

“And Aaron was separated to minister in the holy of holies, he and his sons for ever, and to burn incense before the Lord, according to his ceremonies, and to bless his name for ever.” (1 Chron. 23:13)

“Who then can be able to build him a worthy house? if heaven, and the heavens of heavens cannot contain him: who am I that I should be able to build him a house? but to this end only, that incense may be burnt before him.” (2 Chron. 2:6)”

“Our fathers have sinned and done evil in the sight of the Lord God, forsaking him: they have turned away their faces from the tabernacle of the Lord, and turned their backs. They have shut up the doors that were in tile porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burnt incense, nor offered holocausts in the sanctuary of the God of Israel. Therefore the wrath of the Lord hath been stirred up against Juda and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, and to destruction, and to be hissed at, as you see with your eyes. Behold, our fathers are fallen by the sword, our sons, and our daughters, and wives are led away captives for this wickedness. Now therefore I have a mind that we make a covenant with the Lord the God of Israel, and he will turn away the wrath of his indignation from us. My sons, be not negligent: the Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, and to minister to him, and to worship him, and to burn incense to him.” (2 Chron 29:6–11)

“Let my prayer be directed as incense in thy sight; the lifting up of my hands, as evening sacrifice.” (Ps. 140:2)

Facing the Altar as Mediators, Not Towards the People

“And the priests went in, and stood before the face of the altar and the temple: and weeping, they said: Thou, O Lord, hast chosen this house for thy name to be called upon therein, that it might be a house of prayer and supplication for thy people.” (1 Macc. 7:36–37)

“And the priests prostrated themselves before the altar in their priests’ vestments, and called upon him from heaven…” (2 Macc. 3:15)

“And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the sight of the assembly of Israel, and spread forth his hands towards heaven; and said: Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee in heaven above, or on earth beneath: who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that have walked before thee with all their heart…. And it came to pass, when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication to the Lord, that he rose from before the altar of the Lord: for he had fixed both knees on the ground, and had spread his hands towards heaven.” (1 Kg. 8:22–23, 54)

“Our fathers have sinned and done evil in the sight of the Lord God, forsaking him: they have turned away their faces from the tabernacle of the Lord, and turned their backs.” (2 Chron. 29:6)

“And they have turned their backs to me, and not their faces: when I taught them early in the morning, and instructed them, and they would not hearken to receive instruction.” (Jer 32:33)

The Silences During Mass—especially in the Canon

“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven, as it were for half an hour.” (Rev. 8:1)

“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: If you return and be quiet, you shall be saved: in silence and in hope shall your strength be.” (Isa. 30:15)

“It is good to wait with silence for the salvation of God.” (Lam. 3:26)

“Hear in silence, and for thy reverence good grace shall come to thee…. In many things be as if thou wert ignorant, and hear in silence and withal seeking.” (Sir. 32:9, 12)

“For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thy almighty Word leapt down from heaven from Thy royal throne.” (Wis. 18:14–15)

“But the Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him.” (Hab. 2:20)

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