Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Case for Traditional Principles Part VI: The Importance of Worship

I'm sure most people seeing this title will think "Tierney, of course worship is important, why we worship every Sunday at Mass." However, I believe in many circles of the Church today, a far too limited concept of worship is placed. I'm not talking about just the Mass. Worship itself is far more than just Mass.

When we worship at Mass, we give God the honor and reverence that is due Him. Not only do we give Him our prayers and our praise, we also give him the Sacrifice of His son, offered for the salvation of the world. No worship is complete without a sacrifice. Yet is the sacrifice of Christ the only acceptable offering one can give to God? If we are referring to sacrifice for sin, the answer is yes. Only the Blood of Christ is acceptable nowadays before God to forgive sin. Yet are sacrifices offered simply for sin? Certainly not.

If one looks throughout the Old Testament, sacrifice was offered for a myriad of reasons. Of course there was the sacrifice for sin, which was probably the most important and pressing sacrifice offered. Yet there were sacrifices of praise, of thanksgiving, of supplication, of many different reasons. While in the New Covenant we don't sacrifice animals, we still offer our own sacrifices for various reasons. They may involve fasting from 3 meals a day. Eating fish on Fridays, giving up something prized for the benefit of others, etc. These sacrifices, far from taking away from the Sacrifice of Christ, are added onto it, and those offerings are only effective when united to Christ's offering. Whether or not we realize it, these acts are true and proper sacrifices, and hence acts of worship. They are just sacrifices of a different aspect, never taking the place of the primary sacrifice, that being the sacrifice of Christ made present to us on the altar every Sunday at Mass.

There is however far more than just these ideas of sacrifice that go into worship. Worship also involves giving praise to God, whether through hymn, prayer, or both. (Many hymns are just as well prayers.) You don't need a Mass for this. Despite the views some may have on groups such as the Charismatic movement (and trust me I'm one of em!), I think they understand this aspect. They would have their weekly or sometimes several day a week praise and worship services in addition to the Mass. People in monasteries would (and in many places still do) chant the Breviary (known as the Liturgy of the Hours in modern terminology) daily. I see families attend Eucharistic Adoration together. Groups of people gather often to recite the Rosary. All these, even devotions such as the Rosary, are ultimately acts of worship to God. The Mass is not meant to be the one aspect of Christian Worship. Rather, the Mass is the summit of Christian worship. It is it's highest aspect. Not only are all other aspects of worship joined to the ultimate sacrifice being offered, but because of so great a sacrifice, it's merits strengthen the other aspects of worship in our lives.

In the end, this is another defining mark of the Catholic, that they strive for using their entire lives as an act of worship before God.

God Bless,
Kevin M. Tierney