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CATECHISM OF PERSEVERANCE ;
AN HISTORICAL, DOGMATICAL, MORAL, LITURGICAL,
EXPOSITION OF RELIGION,
BEGINNING OF THE WORLD DOWN TO OUR OWN DAYS.
BY MONSIGNOR GAUME,
APOSTOLIC PROTHONOTARY, DOCTOR IN THEOLOGY, VICAR-GENERAL OF MONTAUBAN
ACADEMY OF THE CATHOLIC RELIGION (ROME), &c.
Jesus Christ, yesterday, and to-day; and the same for ever. Heb. xii. 8.
God is charity.-1 John, iv. 8.
CATECHISM OF PERSEVERANCE.
EXTERNAL WORSHIP ; OK, CHRISTIANITY BROUGHT BEFORE THE SENSI 8.
Worship : Origin of Worship. Ceremonies, Rites, Liturgy. External
the Patriarchs, under the Law of Moses, and under the Gospel. “You are therefore an angel, you are therefore a pure spirit !" Such were the words that, though not addressed to me, fell on my ears when, one day last September,!I was taking my seat in a public coach on its way to the capital. These words, which passed from mouth to mouth, were accompanied with a sarcastic smile that quite puzzled me. I ventured to ask the meaning of the affair. One of my new travelling companions answered me thus:
“You noticed those two gentlemen who got down where we last stopped. The elder is a lawyer from Paris; the other is one of the greatest mathematicians of our day. Their superiority, their command of language, made them masters in our conversation : around them all was silence. The sight of a church that we passed gave occasion to some remarks on religion.
“ What is the use of churches ? asked the lawyer; the only temple worthy of the Supreme Being is, in my opinion, the universe. And then what is the meaning of all that outward show which Catholics make in their religious exercises ? It simply materialises religion.
“ Up to this, answered the mathematician gravely, I took you for a man; I now see that you are an angel. VOL. IV.
“ If there is any angel here, it is you, sir, replied the lawyer, politely.
“Do you then consent, said the former, to be numbered among the individuals of the human species ? If you do, I must find very great levity in your words. I would lay a wager that your religious are not to your other studies in the ratio of one to a thousand. Unless, I repeat, you are an angel, one of those pure spirits who, having nothing whatever material about them, behold truth face to face, you cannot dispense yourself from replying in the affirmative to each of the following questions :
“Is it not true that we must take man as we find him, composed of a body and a soul?
• Is it not true that our senses are the organs of our perceptions ?
“Is it not true that our soul is so dependent on our senses that it is scarcely affected by anything but what strikes them ?
“Is it not true that man owes to God the bomage of his whole being?
Is it not true that, at the bar, you daily clothe your eloquent words with sensible images, and accompany them with a beautiful variety of inflections and gestures; or, what is the same thing, adopt every means of speaking to the senses of your hearers, so as to convey your own convictions into their souls ?
“Is it not true that you wear a peculiar costume in court, that you observe certain solemn and sacred formalities there, so as to inspire a greater respect for judges and their judgments ?
“Is it not true that, instead of administering justice in the open air, you meet in large, magnificent courts, either that the voices of the authorities may be better heard, or that the parties amenable to the law may be as well sheltered as yourselves from the inclemencies of the weather ?
“Now, tell me, what is all this but the external worship of human justice? And why all this but because you treat, not with angels, but with men, that is to say, with corporeal creatures, with creatures that can hardly be led in any other way than by the senses ?
“If then, sir, you would condemn the external worship of the Church, be consistent with yourself, and begin by removing from your speeches everything addressed to the senses ; from the bar, all its consecrated rites and usages; from the administration of justice, all the external forms intended to secure respect for the judges and the laws; and from their foundations, those courts which defend you from heat, cold, rain, snow, and hail. Or rather let man be an angel, and then you may put away external worship. But as long as man is a being served and too often enslaved by organs, to try to reduce religion to something purely spiritual would be to banish it to the moon!
“While an approving laugh welcomed the sallies of the old mathematician, the lawyer, perplexed, hastened to beat a retreat, and to take up a conversation on new ground. We were at this point when the guard sounded the bugle for a stoppage. The two gentlemen got down, and we trust that the hotel-keeper's table will make peace between them."
At the risk of disturbing the digestion of the "angelic” adversary of our ceremonies, we are goirig to call him back to the combat. It is not our intention to confound him, nor those who share his prejudices, but to instruct them all, by showing them the necessity, the beauty, the sanctity, and the advantages of the external worship of the Catholic Church.
Definition and Origin of Worship. And, first, what is the meaning of the words, external worship, ceremonies, rites, liturgy ?
In all languages the world worship means honour, respect, veneration, reverence, service. In religious language we call internal worship those sentiments of faith, admiration, respect, gratitude, confidence, love, and submission which we owe to God, because we find all perfections in Him. We call external worship the sensible signs by which we manifest those sentiments, such as genuflections, prostrations, prayers, vows, and oblations. We teach that when these testimonies are not accompanied by the sentiments of the heart, there is not true sincere worship, but mere hypocrisya vice with which Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Prophets often reproached the Jews.
We recognise a supreme worship, which consists in sentiments and testimonies due to God alone; and an inferior or subordinate worship, which we render to the Angels and Saints, and by which we respect and honour in the Angels and Saints the supernatural graces that God has bestowed on them, the dignity that He has raised them to, and the power that He grants them. This inferior worship was already commanded and practised among the Jews. God said to them, Respect My aingel, because My name is in him.' We see the woman of Samaria falling down at the feet of Eliseus, who has just restored her child to life, in order to honour in him the character of a holy prophet, a man of God, and the power of working miracles.' It is thus that in the civil order that is called supreme worship which is rendered to the king, and that inferior or subordinate which is rendered, to his ministers.