Friday, May 4, 2012

Mass Engages All of Our Senses

There’s a great post at Shameless Popery by Joe Heschmeyer. Here are the introduction and conclusion; read the interesting details of Old Testament, Early Christian, and heavenly worship here.

One of the most beautiful things about Catholic worship, particularly when it's done well, is that it's a full-body experience.  We smell the incense, we sing Psalms and hymns (and hear these being sung), we listen to the Scriptures and the homily, we see the Sacrifice of the Mass (and the priest's liturgical gestures are loaded with meaning), we kneel, sit, stand, we taste the Blessed Sacrament, we embrace at the sign of peace.  The Liturgy reflects the Catholic view of the body, and of matter, and our deep-seated belief that Creation should give glory to God.  It's also consistent with the worship of the Old Testament, of the early Christians, and of the apparent Heavenly Liturgy described in the Book of Revelation.

Old Testament, early Christian, and heavenly worship are remarkably similar: all five senses are engaged.  This worship avoids two extremes. On the one hand, the senses aren't violated or overwhelmed, like eating Limburger cheese at a rock concert.  But on the other hand, the senses aren't shunned or ignored, as if we were beings of pure spirit, or as if the body were inherently evil.  Instead, the senses are exalted, in that they are drawn up into the worship of God.  And they're engaged in very similar ways: through sacred art and architecture, religious vestments, anointing oil, incense, sacred music, and partaking of the sacrifice through eating.  I would suggest that these things are not merely incidental, but are important elements of drawing our whole being, body and soul, into the worship of God.

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