Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The very scriptural nature of Catholic worship


I seem to remember having lots of arguments with (evangelical) Protestant students at university about how 'unbiblical' Catholicism was, especially Holy Mass.

It strikes me, that had I been better equipped I could have swatted away their arguments like so many bothersome flies. Think about it. When properly celebrated (i.e. using the texts rather than the four-hymn pattern that is usual at Sunday Mass) Holy Mass, (EF or OF) consists of the following:

Introit antiphon (Biblical text)
Confiteor
Kyrie (Derived from phrases in the gospels)
Gloria (A hymn of praise based on the hymn of the angels at Christmas)
Liturgy of the Word (OT, NT and psalms)
Creed (formula based on the bible)
Offertory antiphon (Biblical text)
Sanctus (derived in large part from OT & NT)
Eucharist prayer/Roman Canon(a long prayer of ancient proveneance with Christ's words at the Last Supper at its core, full of allusion to the bible)
Rite of Communion (a largly biblical prayer based around the Pater Noster)
Communion Antiphon (Biblical text)
Dismissal

How biblical do they want it to be?
Likewise the Office, essentially just the psalms and biblical readings (with some gems from the Fathers at Vigils/Office of Readings). The rosary? Prayers all based on scripture (the Angelic Salutation, the Pater Noster, the doxology).

My Baptist former colleague just came back from a holiday in the West Indies. She attended a Protestant service there that lasted 3 and a half hours - most of which was preaching by the pastor. Now, compare that with a Low Mass where the worship is of Almighty God - directed solely at Him, and composed largely of words from the bible. Which then is biblical Christianity? Which then is more reliant on a mediator between God and man - the one where a chap barks at his audience for hours on end or where God's own words are addressed to him by a priest on behalf of his people after the biblical pattern of worship in the Temple by a priest secundum ordinem Melchisedech.
Why do we let Protestants criticise Catholic worship on scriptural grounds?

11 Comments:

Blogger Sixupman said...

The best example being the Epistles, et al, daily throughout Lent - not to mention the concentration in the Holy Week Manual, especially pre-Vatican II.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Anagnostis said...

It's even more evident in the Byzantine rite that the Divine Liturgy is nothing other than the "realisation" of Scripture - "worship in spirit and in truth". It is saturated to a miraculous extent in the imagery of Old and New Testaments, extending into every little detail and particular. Its texts are substantially nothing other than Scripture, arranged as Worship.

Somebody did an analysis of scriptural content in Christian worship quite recently: the Evangelical Protestant sects came out bottom, and the Orthodox top, by margin of about 50%.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous berenike said...

I was at the Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine rite a couple of times this weekend, first time for a while - does the % of Scripture in the liturgy count the whole psalms recited before and after?

10:30 AM  
Blogger Anagnostis said...

Dunno, Berenike. I think it was just the Divine Liturgy, without the Hours. I could well believe it - practically every other phrase is taken straight from Scripture. I keep coming across more sentences in OT and NT and thinking "Aha! That's where that comes from!"

10:31 PM  
Blogger Anagnostis said...

Then there's the architecture of the Church building, the arrangement and furnishing of the altar and the Holy Table, the siting of the icons, etc, etc...the calendar, the fasts, the feasts...

10:34 PM  
Blogger Toyin O. said...

This is very interesting, thanks for sharing.

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Ebomania said...

I can recall how a former co-worker of mine (now an Evangelical Church Pastor) was gobsmacked having attended his first every Catholic Mass.

He admitted that he had fallen for the myth that Catholics avoided anything Biblical and was astounded at The Liturgy of The Word when compared to the place of scripture in his normal Sunday Service.

He even admitted that he would be reading parts of Revelation totally differently in light of having witnessed the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

(He also admired the role that youngsters took in Seving Mass and "doing" the readings. His church's youth involvement was the Sunday School kids walking up to the front with a few post-it notes stuck on a large bit of paper and few verses of "Once more off into the World I go".)

I'm sure there are plenty like him who dislike what they think they know about faith and Holy Mass.

If only we had a thought through, concerted way of reaching out to them.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Anagnostis said...

Fr Hunwicke has an excellent piece here:

http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2008/09/whats-mass-for-jewish-view.html

7:52 PM  
Blogger Auricularis said...

If you compare the so-called EF with the OF, you'll see the former has even more scripture in the ordinary, than the latter.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous berenike said...

I didn't mean the liturgy of the hours!

8:21 AM  
Blogger Mike Cliffson said...

Look , in a silly way they're right: the mass is OLDER than the new testament, and some bits still show how this is so: St Paul QUOTES "through him and with him and in him..." Naturally the words of the consecration will have been used how many thousands of times before being witten down !
Biblical or unbiblical is playing it their way on their turf. I am liklier to go to the bad place thru my own sins than to heaven on our forebears merits rather than my own, but the fact remains:THEY weren't, WE WERE the Early christians who worshipped (inter alia, at mass) and wrote down and copied holywrit, time and again, burning by burning, from memory even with wormy fragments (acts is the bigest textaul mess as a result) prosecution by prosecution,generation after generation, Dioceletion especialy wanted to wipe out the very memory of christianity, especially bookadge (which is the background to the donanatist heresy, the scandalous selection to
Bishop had not apostasized to save his life, but HAD said where the books were buried.)
The mass , even some of its earliest liturgical words, comes direct from Christ Jesus.

7:42 AM  

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