Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
Yes. We are taught to be humble. And Christian humility orders a man to be unassuming and gentle. But it does not forbid a man to worship God as befits God. In fact, the more humble a man is, the more he magnifies and glorifies God, and depreciates self. The Catholic Church says, "God certainly deserves the best we can give Him. Whatever else we may do, let us not be mean in anything where God is concerned. We personally deserve very little, and if by our gifts God's worship is magnificent and we the poorer, that is how it should be." Christ Himself commended the poor widow for giving all she had to the Temple. Yet He was the one who taught humility.
No. Christ was God, and in the Old Testament God dictated a ceremonial every bit as lavish as Catholic ceremonial. So that it cannot be against His principles. And Christ never condemned ceremonial. He instituted the ceremonial of Baptism with water. With ceremony He breathed upon the Apostles when giving them th<$ power to forgive sins. He came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it. But above all, He founded His Church, giving into her care the guardianship of His religion, and conferring upon her the power to regulate its worship. Whatever the Church has sanctioned in this matter she has done in virtue of the commission given her by her Founder.
You won't find the leaves of an oak tree wrapped up inside an acorn. Christ sowed the seed, and said that the small seed He planted would grow into a vast tree. Such growth supposes external changes without loss of identity. Because an acorn has no branches or foliage, will you deny its identity with the tree into which it grows?
The essential rites of the Mass are exactly the same as those of the Last Supper. Remember that before the simple Last Supper Christ had fulfilled the full ceremonial of the Jewish Feast.He ceremoniously washed the disciples' feet.And the growth of the surrounding rites in the Mass has been in accordance with principles dictated by God to the Jews, and by the actions of Christ throughout His public ministry, when He used so many ceremonies in the miracles He worked.
In Exodus, XXVIII., 2-3, we read of God's prescriptions of the vestments befitting the dignity of His religion. "Thou shalt make a holy vesture for Aaron thy brother; for glory and for beauty. And thou shalt speak to all the wise of heart, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom: that they may make Aaron's vestments, in which he being consecrated may minister to me. And these shall be the vestments that they shall make." Throughout the rest of the chapter God deigns to give the most minute directions as to the various vestments Aaron was to use. Not for a moment would Christ have condemned the principle of vestments after such a sanction by the infinitely wise God. He would be contradicting Himself. There can be nothing wrong with vestments in principle.
Priests also dress with simplicity. They are not always in vestments. As for Christ, he too went to the Temple, and took part in its worship, never condemning its ritual. With the establishment of His own Church in fulfillment of the Old Law, He ordained His own Priests after the Order of Melchisedech in place of the Levitical Priesthood, and left it to the Church to regulate the ceremonial surrounding the substantial form of worship He had prescribed. As I have said, He would have been the last to condemn a dignified ceremonial, and Anglican Protestants of the High Church group are rapidly trying to resume the vestments prescribed by the Catholic Church, vestments their forefathers so eagerly got rid of; mistakenly, now say the High Church Anglicans.
There is nothing wrong with processions. Christ entered Jerusalem with a procession of the populace crying hosanna, waving palms and strewing their garments on the roadway, making it as elaborate as they could. And He rebuked those who would have prevented it. Remember that Eucharistic Congresses are not in honor of ourselves, but of Christ, and love of Him suggests that nothing can be too good for Him.
Such an objection recalls the words of Judas, "Why was it not sold and given to the poor?" Jn. XII., 5. In any case, the lavish generosity of the Catholic Church in the worship of God does not interfere with her work for the poor. She is the most active of all Churches in that work. No other Church has so many institutions, hospitals, homes, and orphanages; and in many parishes there is a weekly distribution of money and food to the poor through the St. Vincent de Paul or some other society.
The ritual of the Catholic Church is not intricate, save to those who are unfamiliar with it. It is certainly symbolical of many mysteries "hidden from the ages and generations, but now manifested." Col. I., 26. It also involves sensible and visible rites, but in no sense can it be called sensual.
It would be. But no mingle mangle occurs in the baptism of children. Mingle mangle means a meaningless jumble of formulas. But every least item in the baptismal rite is full of meaning and significance. And it is to God's honor and glory to use the holy ceremonies instituted by the Church of Christ with the authority of Christ. Was it mingle mangle when Christ touched the blind man's eyes with spittle before curing him?
That you were highly amused at a Requiem Mass which you did not understand only proves that you are devoid of the power to sympathize with what is sacred to other people. Had you understood it, and then been amused, there might have been some excuse. You say that the whole ceremony was a gabble and a mumble to you. Were you to attend a session of the German parliament in Berlin, you would probably say the same. "But then," you will reply, "I am not a German. It was all right for them. I knew that well enough, and was not amused, because they were not talking my language, and because it is to be expected that their ways would differ from my ways." So I say in turn, "You are not a Catholic. Every Catholic understands a Requiem Mass. But you should have known that a Protestant would not be likely to understand a Catholic ceremony. That would have checked your amusement. I am a Catholic. But I have never felt like ridiculing the religious services of sincere Protestants.
The Catholic Church does not surround death with gloom. But her liturgy is in keeping with man's nature as God intended it to be. Despite all spiritual joy and consolation, whilst hearts are human they break. Even God does not expect us to be hard and inhuman, unmoved when some dear one is taken from us. Our Lord wept with those who mourned the death of Lazarus. And He knew that He was going to bring him back to life again! It is natural to man to find relief in expressing his feelings. St. Paul says, "Be not sorrowful as those who have no hope." But he does not say, "Be not sorrowful." In fact he tells Christians to comfort one another. We do not go up to a man who has just lost his mother, and congratulate him, our faces beaming with joy. That would be inhuman, and the Catholic Church is never inhuman. Near relatives instinctively wear mourning and dress in black when a loved one dies. Very close friends do the same. And the Catholic Church is the dearest friend any Catholic has, a friend who identifies herself with his feelings in his great loss. It is all in keeping with what is best in man. Death is a solemn thing, and the Catholic Church treats it with solemnity. She does not ask us to sorrow as those who have no hope, but she will not turn a funeral into a wedding feast, and ignore genuine and deep sorrow as if we were so spiritual that we had ceased to be human. We are not in heaven yet.
But man would not love so much! You fail to grasp a fundamental point. It takes two to make a religion, God and man. God is a pure Spirit, but man is not. Man is a composite of the spiritual and the material. And he must worship God according to his twofold nature. Man not only possesses spiritual thoughts; he gives them expression in speech, writing, music, art, and architecture. And, where God is concerned, he dedicates all these things to God's service in religion.God Himself ordered the Jews to do so, commanding the erection of the glorious Temple at Jerusalem. God wants the service, not of half our being, but of our complete being.
The present-day poverty is not due to the Cathedrals which were built long ago by others, who gave their time and services as a voluntary offering to God. The poverty due to modern industrial conditions should not be attributed to buildings erected in other and happier ages. Meantime those beautiful Cathedrals do no harm to men. If the poor pulled them down stone by stone, they could not eat the stones. And even if they could sell them for thirty pieces of silver, the relief would be of a very temporary nature. Believe me, future generations would be just as poor temporally, and much poorer spiritually, with no inspiring Cathedrals.
No. They are gifts of the people, and if people wish to dedicate tokens of gratitude to the House of God, no one has any right to their possession. People are not free to distribute what is not their own to the poor. There were many poor in Israel when God demanded the dedication of a richly ornamented Temple to His worship.
The Scala Santa, or Holy Staircase, consists of twenty-eight marble steps. They are said to have been brought to Rome from Jerusalem by St. Helena, the mother of Constantine, in 326 A.D. At Jerusalem they led up to the one-time court of Pilate, and the feet of Jesus had trodden them as He went down to be crucified by men. With no idea that such an act will of itself save his soul, the Catholic ascends them on his knees out of reverence for Christ, and you have not much reverence and love for Him if you ridicule such a tribute. We Catholics, after all, believe that He is God. We are quite prepared to kiss the very ground whereon He stood. The Pharisees once ridiculed a woman who went on her knees and washed His feet with her tears. But Christ justified her act of loving reverence. Cold Protestantism will never understand the warm-hearted love of Catholicism for the Person of Christ and of all connected with Him. I do not belong to the emotional and demonstrative Latin race. I do not live in the middle ages. I do not suppose I would be ranked as illiterate. Yet whilst in Rome I myself ascended those same stairs on my knees, and I experience no flush of shame as I say so. I have seen a Protestant kiss the pages of the Gospel. He kissed a printed sheet of paper. I admired him for it, and so would you, for we know what it meant to him. I certainly would not ridicule him and ask him sarcastically whether he thought that the smearing of his lips on a piece of paper would help to save his soul! Yet such a remark would be similar to that of a Protestant who suggests that Catholics believe they can be saved by crawling up a staircase on their knees. However you would not have asked such a question had you realized the nature of the subject and the motives prompting such reverence for Christ.
Other actions could certainly be more pleasing to God. But one has not only to go up a staircase sanctified by Christ. In fact, it is not necessary to do this. Life consists of a series of actions, not all of equal value. If I am in circumstances which give me an opportunity of showing my love and reverence for Christ, the question here and now is, "Is it better or not to offer this action?"No question arises as to whether this is the best possible action, or the only action, which can be performed for the love of God. It is the best now, although if afterwards I were to go and relieve some poor beggar in distress, that might have more value as a proof of my love for God.
Yes, certainly. Every Christian believes in the value of grace before meals, asking God's blessing on both food and partakers. That bricks and mortar can contribute to man's welfare is already a blessing of God, and there is no reason why we should not ask God's additional blessing upon the use of the house. St. Paul speaks of "every creature" as being sanctified of the word of God and prayer. 1 Tim. IV., 5.
Catholics kiss the Pope's ring out of reverence for the office which the Holy Father holds. No one has ever died from such a procedure, and a man who feared risk of infection from that might just as well give up eating, drinking, and breathing, for all the time he is taking in germs by the thousand. There is much more risk in kissing people of the opposite sex, yet people do not give up doing that! In any case, you are not called upon to kis3 the Pope's ring, and have no reason to complain.
The Pope is not carried in procession like some Eastern tyrant. He is carried in procession according to the custom proper to Popes. Would Christ permit Himself to be treated in such a way? Christ never refused any tribute to His divinity. He let people worship Him; a woman anoint His feet; the people of Jerusalem enter Jerusalem with Him in solemn procession midst waving palms and cries of Hosanna. When some protested in this latter case He replied, "If you do not let them, the very stones will cry out." And because the Pope succeeds Christ, and is His Vicar, he allows those who regard it as a privilege to show their love for Christ in a similar way. The people honor Christ in His Vicar, and the Pope is not in the least unlike Christ when he permits it. No Pope is so foolish as to think that it is for himself. He knows that if he were not Pope those present would simply ignore him. It is a tribute to his office, not to himself. State honor given to a governor of a colony is a tribute to a king, not to the governor in person.
The passage you quote tells us that "When Peter was come in, Cornelius came to meet him, and falling at his feet, adored." Peter saw that Cornelius was giving him a worship more than could be permitted, and said, "Arise. I myself am also a man." If the Pope detected the same dispositions in those who came to honor him he would utter a similar warning. He would be the first to say, "I too am but a creature of God. You must not worship me like this." But kneeling is a sign of respect and reverence. When Sir Francis Drake knelt before Queen Elizabeth, he was not adoring her. In the good old days of chivalry, men proposed to the ladies of their choice on their knees, but that did not imply divine worship! Kneeling, therefore, can be a sign of ordinary respect, or of divine worship according to the intentions of the one offering such a tribute. As divine worship it cannot be offered to anyone less than God, and in this sense the Pope would forbid it as did St. Peter. But the same act can be offered as a sign of respect for the authority vested in the minister of Christ, and the utmost respect is due to Christ's Vicar, the Pope.