Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Why I Am Catholic, VIII

I truly worship in the Mass, because the Mass is worship - a higher form of worship than that formerly available to me:

"Protestants, in their worship services, offer songs and praise and prayer to God; this is their highest form of worship. Since they don't have a priesthood, they have nothing else they can offer. Catholics on the other hand, offer the Sacrifice of the Mass to God. Our offering of sacrifice is made only to God and is our form of worship. This allows us to give lesser things such as songs and praise and prayer to those who can pray in our behalf before God: the saints and especially the Blessed Virgin Mary. When the Protestants see us offering what is their highest form of worship to someone other than God, it appears to them that we are worshiping someone other than God."

St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church

This quotation does not necessarily address a Catholic's nearness to God - there are countless Protestants who are nearer to God than I am - but it addresses, rather, the offering itself. And Protestants are unable to offer the true and proper sacrifice of the Mass, the Eucharist (Malachi 1.11). This reality left me questioning myself as an evangelical - If Christ is here, why am I not?

(And through the transition this quotation provides, I will next enter into the following reasons why I am Catholic: the Eucharist, which is the primary reason for my catholicity, and the communion of saints.)


Dan said...

The Mass is certainly beautiful, and I would add to that, that the world of music would be sorely lacking if it weren't for the liturgical compositions written for the Church. Mozart's Requiem tops the list in my book.

But that begs the question for me about the beauty of the Mass, and the Church today. I find it tragic that Catholics have no real connection with the wealth of liturgical music written to glorify and praise God throughout the centuries. The music of Palestrina and Monteverdi, from the Renaissance, for example, is truly sublime. Profound, serene music that elevates the spirit, and glorifies God at the same time. One could even argue that the liturgical music of Bach is "Catholic," though he was writing in the vernacular and in the Lutheran church. Regardless, the liturgy was essentially the same, and had its roots in Catholicism.

I don't believe that the Church would necessarily agree with the person who was answering these questions at St. Charles Borremeo Church. (This coming from a non-Catholic, of course). Does the church really view worship in the way he describes? "This allows us to give lesser things such as songs and praise and prayer to those who can pray in our behalf before God: the saints and especially the Blessed Virgin Mary." God forbid, is all I say in response to his statement.

Of course, I know one of the major criticisms hurled at Protestantism is the focus on sentimentality and emotion in worship. I believe it's a valid criticism, and I find a lot of worship in Protestant churches nauseating. The Praise Song, as a genre of music, in my opinion is one of the most saccharin inventions of religion. Trash and drivel, for the most part, and it's always focused on "me" as much as it is on God ("I will praise him," "Lord, I lift your name on high," etc.). The Catholics, on the other hand--they have the GREAT music! They have spectacular music, music that transcends the human condition and that elevates us to heaven, in my opinion. They don't take advantage of that wealth very often.

I find it sad that this writer would relegate music and worship as something "lesser." Unfortunate label, even if it is true. But to even imply that it is less, or that it's hardly needed, is tragic to me. Of course, that's coming from a musician, so take it for what it's worth. But I think this guy, with that comment, is loopy, and I have a few CD's I'd like to recommend to him.

I'm enjoying your series, by the way, and please understand that this isn't a debate with you about the merits of Catholicism--I think the guy's a knucklehead to write a line such as that.

Scott said...

It's an excellent point, Dan. I would agree that Catholicism does not often take advantage of the great wealth of music it has. I do not either, so I would love to hear your CD/mp3 recommendations.

And this quote, as well, makes it sound as if music and praise and prayers are not integral parts of our worship of God - which is obviously not the case.

Part of the problem is my ripping the quote out of its context (Protestants confusing prayers to or songs about Mary as being worship/adoration). And part of the problem is exactly what you stated.

truevyne said...

Scott, I hope we have a strong enough blog relationship for you to hear my heart when I say I disagree. For me, Jesus is in the Mass, the Eucharist, the Lord's Supper, Communion. The priest nor myself put Him in there- He just is because scripture says so. I don't believe I have less of an experience of Christ in me through the wine and the bread, because I do not take Catholic Mass but rather protestant communion.

And just so you know, I'll be fine in Parousia if God tells me I've been wrong about this all along, but this is where I am now.

Like any good protestant girl, I immediately looked up Malachi and considered if this made Mass the only means to Christ. Instead I saw pure sacrifice which indicates to me the manner in which it is done. Maybe I don't have eyes to see things the Catholic way.

Scott said...

I understand your disagreement, True - and you do not need to agree with me to continue to be a blog friend : ). And I would agree with you that neither the priest nor I make Him truly present in Holy Communion. But we would disagree about whether a priest or bishop was necessary for the Holy Spirit to do so. And that's fine.

What is overwhelmingly compelling for me, True, is not just the biblical support of real presence (which you obviously recognize) but the consistent teaching of the Church about the Eucharist. As St Vincent says in my 9th post in the series - this is the faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all.

I understand that not everyone is there with me in accepting these kinds of teachings and statements made by people some of us have never heard of - but it's compelling for me. And that's enough, of course, for me.

Also, let me say, that ultimately this is not something which we can completely reason through, though reason plays an important role - it requires faith, and it is a journey.

Embrace where you are, True. It is God's gift to you.

Thanks for continuing to read.

truevyne said...

You betcha I'm reading. Yours is always the first blog I visit on my journey.