Wednesday, March 08, 2006

You can't tell me how to worship!!!

For us traditionalists, one of the most mind-numbing and frustrating exercises in discussion with those outside the traditionalist movement has to deal with the issue of liturgical worship. One constantly hears “Well I can’t participate in the Latin Mass, so I won’t go, I’ll worship God in my own way.” This seems to be something that you can’t criticize today, but we are going to do just that.

Now there is definitely a hint of truth to this assertion. Holy Mother Church has cherished and prized the diversity of worship throughout the years. There are numerous liturgical Rites within the Church for people to worship according to, and if they have been afforded those rights by the Church, they are free to use them.

As with most true statements, they have their limits. One of the most noted insights I’ve ever received from a friend was that in today’s crisis in the Church, almost all the problems have a hint of truth to them, but are taken way out of perspective. This legitimate form of diversity is twisted into the concept that worship is all about what we want, and God demands nothing, or next to nothing from people in worship. These two opinions are sorely mistaken.

All too often today we hear about what we want out of worship, but not what God wants. Worship for us is “getting fed.” If we are not “getting fed” then we are not worshipping correctly. It is the worship of self, and even those in the Church are obsessed with it.

The Christian journey has a goal in mind. We are to become less like this world, and conformed more to the image of the Son. As far as we deny our fallen natures and affirm Christ, one is walking the Christian path. Yet when we focus worship on what we want, and overemphasize it, this is opposed to the Christian Message. It is as different from Christianity as night is from day.

The problem one faces is that they must first figure out what God wants from worship, and how to conform ourselves to Him. It is not about what we, the created being, wants to give, but rather what the Divine Being requests from us. We see this principle very clearly in Sacred Scripture, where God gives very strict instructions for how the temple is to be built. Exodus 25 is very strict and precise about how everything should be built. It was not about what man wanted, but what God wanted.

Lest anyone attempt to say that the Old Covenant practices are no more under the New Covenant, in several places I believe this is reconfirmed. Hebrews 9 makes clear that the temples on earth are meant to be copies of the heavenly temples. Therefore, when one builds a temple (or Church as we view it) it’s not up to you to decide how you want it to look. While there can be some room for artistic license, Biblically speaking, you are confined to a certain set structure.

There are several reasons why the very structure of worship is fitted towards the heavens. One it is meant to remind us of our true destination, where we truly belong. When we worship at Mass, it I just a small taste of what eternity shall be. The other main principle is one so important, it deserves it’s own column, which we will do next week.

Kevin M. Tierney