The Worship of Beauty, and the Beauty of Worship

Johann Jakob Zeiller, Saint Benedict in Glory (1748)
Johann Jakob Zeiller, Saint Benedict in Glory (1748)

A frequent source of in-fighting amongst Christians involves beauty. How beautiful should our churches be? How beautiful should our Liturgies be? And why? In these discussions, there are two points that often go overlooked:

  1. We Worship Beauty.
  2. Created Beauty Points towards Divine, Uncreated Beauty.

Obviously, we don’t worship created beauty, but we literally do worship uncreated Beauty. God is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. And so just as truth and goodness point beyond themselves towards God, so too, beauty. In the words of the Psalmist (Ps. 19:1-4),

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech,     and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

It’s this “voice” that St. Paul speaks of as going out to all the world, even those places which haven’t yet heard of the Bible (Romans 10:18). And this is the voice of created beauty, the voice of a Creation that our Creator called “good” (Genesis 1:10). Creation rightly serves as a sort of “road” leading to its Creator: beauty below points to Beauty above.

This is a voice that at least some of the Gentiles heeded. The message of Diotina to Socrates in Plato’s Symposium comes quite close to recognizing this reality, seeing how the point of earthly beauties isn’t for their own sake, but to draw us into eternal contemplation of Divine Beauty:

Beginning from obvious beauties he must for the sake of that highest beauty be ever climbing aloft, as on the rungs of a ladder, from one to two, and from two to all beautiful bodies; from personal beauty he proceeds to beautiful observances, from observance to beautiful learning, and from learning at last to that particular study which is concerned with the beautiful itself and that alone; so that in the end he comes to know the very essence of beauty. In that state of life above all others, my dear Socrates,’ said the Mantinean woman, ‘a man finds it truly worth while to live, as he contemplates essential beauty. This, when once beheld, will outshine your gold and your vesture, your beautiful boys and striplings, whose aspect now so astounds you and makes you and many another, at the sight and constant society of your darlings, ready to do without either food or drink if that were any way possible, and only gaze upon them and have their company. But tell me, what would happen if one of you had the fortune to look upon essential beauty entire, pure and unalloyed; not infected with the flesh and color of humanity, and ever so much more of mortal trash? What if he could behold the divine beauty itself, in its unique form?

In a more specifically Christian context, this is precisely how St. Augustine was led, a journey of conversion which he recounts beautifully in his Confessions, culminating in his prayer:

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

If Augustine is right that God is Beauty, then a Church without beauty would be as absurd as a Church that rejected truth or goodness. A full-fledged rejection or disregard of Beauty would literally be rejecting and disregarding God. So it’s not an option, or a perk. We need to take beauty seriously. And created beauty helps us by pointing us towards the true Divine Beauty.

Writing from a very different perspective, Edgar Allan Poe (of all people) also proclaimed this same awesome reality, in his essay The Poetic Principle:

An immortal instinct, deep within the spirit of man, is thus, plainly, a sense of the Beautiful. This it is which administers to his delight in the manifold forms, and sounds, and odors, and sentiments, amid which he exists. […] We have still a thirst unquenchable, to allay which he has not shown us the crystal springs. This thirst belongs to the immortality of Man. It is at once a consequence and an indication of his perennial existence. It is the desire of the moth for the star. It is no mere appreciation of the Beauty before us, but a wild effort to reach the Beauty above. Inspired by an ecstatic prescience of the glories beyond the grave, we struggle, by multiform combinations among the things and thoughts of Time, to attain a portion of that Loveliness whose very elements, perhaps, appertain to eternity alone.

This point holds for all beautiful art, and Poe particularly was focused upon the beauty found in poetry. But think about the implications for Liturgy and for religious art. If the art-adorned walls of an art gallery point beyond this world towards God, how much more should the walls of a church?

II. The Role of Beauty in Israel, the Church, and Heaven

Understanding these dual realities – that God is Beauty, and that created beauty reflects Divine Beauty – helps us to understand the Old and New Testament message all the more. The perennial risk for the Israelites was idolatry: of settling for the worship of created goodness and beauty rather than their Author. And so you might think that God would demand that worship take place in a bare, whitewashed Temple, or at least something so sufficiently bland that no one could be lost in its beauty. But that’s not what He does at all.

Listen to just a handful of the instructions for the Temple of Solomon, for example (1 Chronicles 28:11-19):

Then David gave Solomon his son the plan of the vestibule of the temple, and of its houses, its treasuries, its upper rooms, and its inner chambers, and of the room for the mercy seat; and the plan of all that he had in mind for the courts of the house of the Lord, all the surrounding chambers, the treasuries of the house of God, and the treasuries for dedicated gifts; for the divisions of the priests and of the Levites, and all the work of the service in the house of the Lord; for all the vessels for the service in the house of the Lord, the weight of gold for all golden vessels for each service, the weight of silver vessels for each service,the weight of the golden lampstands and their lamps, the weight of gold for each lampstand and its lamps, the weight of silver for a lampstand and its lamps, according to the use of each lampstand in the service,the weight of gold for each table for the showbread, the silver for the silver tables, and pure gold for the forks, the basins, and the cups; for the golden bowls and the weight of each; for the silver bowls and the weight of each; for the altar of incense made of refined gold, and its weight; also his plan for the golden chariot of the cherubim that spread their wings and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord. All this he made clear by the writing from the hand of the Lord concerning it, all the work to be done according to the plan.

It’s elaborate, beautiful, even extravagant. To take just one example, the statues of the cherubim are mounted on chariot made of gold. The priestly vestments were equally extravagant (see Exodus 39) as was virtually everything associated with the worship of God. All this remains true in the New Testament and for all eternity. It’s Judas who rejects Mary of Bethany’s extravagant outpouring of perfume in honor of Jesus Christ, and it’s Christ Who rebukes Judas and commends Mary (John 12:3-8):

Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. Jesus said, “Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

These two approaches towards the worship of God continue down to today. You’ll still find people who bemoan the Church spending money on beautiful art or ornate churches (since that money could have gone to the poor!), even while they dwell in beautiful homes. But it’s the approach of extravagant beauty that Christ commends.

As I said, this extravagance is true for all eternity. The heavenly Jerusalem, for example, is described in this way (Revelation 21:18-21):

The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.

And the Liturgy described in Revelation is an elaborate affair, too (Revelation 8:2-4):

Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.

If you want to understand the Mass, then, and why there’s such an emphasis on beauty (instead of the stripped-down worship services and whitewashed churches of some Protestant denominations), look at Old Testament Israel, consider how Jesus was to be treated in His earthly life, and look at the New Jerusalem in Heaven. All of this evidence points to the reality that we should embrace beauty without hesitation, even to the point of extravagance, all for the glory of God.

20 Comments

  1. “We Worship Beauty.
    Created Beauty Points towards Divine, Uncreated Beauty.”4

    Amen. I remember reading the divine comedy before I became a Christian and meditating upon how each book ends with the word “stars.” I was given the unshakable idea that when I see the stars and see that no soul can deny their beauty, that beauty is an universal ideal, objectively part of reality. And, if there is beauty, there must be Beauty.

    “If Augustine is right that God is Beauty, then a Church without beauty would be as absurd as a Church that rejected truth or goodness.”

    Augustine did not take this view, however. He wrote in Confessions Book X Par 53:

    “What numberless things, made by various arts and manufactures, both in our apparel, shoes, vessels, and every kind of work, in pictures, too, and sundry images, and these going far beyond necessary and moderate use and holy signification, have men added for the enthralment of the eyes; following outwardly what they make, forsaking inwardly Him by whom they were made, yea, and destroying that which they themselves were made! But I, O my God and my Joy, do hence also sing a hymn unto You, and offer a sacrifice of praise unto my Sanctifier, because those beautiful patterns, which through the medium of men’s souls are conveyed into their artistic hands, emanate from that Beauty which is above our souls, which my soul sighs after day and night. But as for the makers and followers of those outward beauties, they from thence derive the way of approving them, but not of using them. And though they see Him not, yet is He there, that they might not go astray, but keep their strength for You, and not dissipate it upon delicious lassitudes. And I, though I both say and perceive this, impede my course with such beauties, but Thou dost rescue me, O Lord, Thou dost rescue me; for Your loving-kindness is before my eyes”.

    He likewise speaks of good tasting food as a distraction from his worship in par 43, 47:

    ” But now is necessity sweet unto me, and against this sweetness do I fight, lest I be enthralled; and I carry on a daily war by fasting, oftentimes bringing my body into subjection, 1 Corinthians 9:27 and my pains are expelled by pleasure….Placed, then, in the midst of these temptations, I strive daily against longing for food and drink. For it is not of such a nature as that I am able to resolve to cut it off once for all, and not touch it afterwards, as I was able to do with concubinage. The bridle of the throat, therefore, is to be held in the mean of slackness and tightness.”

    So, Augustine does not reject these things as good, as he sees God’s hand in them, but he teaches that they are a distraction from a pure devotion to God…meditating on the lesser instead of the higher things.

    “It’s Judas who rejects Mary of Bethany’s extravagant outpouring of perfume in honor of Jesus Christ, and it’s Christ Who rebukes Judas and commends Mary…You’ll still find people who bemoan the Church spending money on beautiful art or ornate churches (since that money could have gone to the poor!), even while they dwell in beautiful homes.”

    Very good connection here, and I like how you expose the hypocrisy of the anti-ascetics.

    God bless,
    Craig

    1. But life is precious, infinity, immortal and eternal. But man takes delight in enjoying the momentary pleasures of the world, instead of drinking at the nectarine sweetness, peace and injoy.

  2. If we truly love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength, I think it only natural that we would desire to create beautiful Churches for Him as part of our divine worship. What a shame it would be to have our own homes filled with granite and stainless steel, swimming pools and jacuzzi’s, marble and hardwood floors, innumerable and costly electronic gadgets and sound systems, and impeccable landscapes, all the while worshipping God in a run down ex movie theater or gymnasium, sitting on worn out and food stained folding chairs. But this is how many Christians hold their services.

    The creation and care for beautiful churches and sacred art is a sign of true devotion and love on the part of the congregations that build and care for them. In this respect we can note the great love, piety and faith that our many Church fathers have had, through their multitudes of breathtaking Cathedrals, monasteries and monuments, constructed throughout the world over the last 1700 years.

    1. Al,

      “What a shame it would be to have our own homes filled with granite and stainless steel, swimming pools and jacuzzi’s, marble and hardwood floors, innumerable and costly electronic gadgets and sound systems, and impeccable landscapes, all the while worshipping God in a run down ex movie theater or gymnasium, sitting on worn out and food stained folding chairs.”

      To what extent can Christians even justify having so many creature comforts?

      But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. (1 Tim 6:6-8)

      For the grace of God has appeared, [a]bringing salvation to all men, 12 [b]instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age (Titus 2:11-12).

      Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:27).

      You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4)

      Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15).

      1. “To what extent can Christians even justify having so many creature comforts?”

        It’s a complex question as there is a great deal of cultural and economic relativity to consider. After living in a third world country for various years, I can understand that what might be considered a luxurious house in an impoverished country, is considered just a normal, or ‘poor’ house, in the USA. Many of these 3rd world houses had only dirt floors which the women swept on a daily basis. And yet, the inhabitants seemed content and joyful in their circumstances… if not even more joyful than most people I deal with today in the USA. Also, this was a tropical country (Dominican Republic), and so the citizens were accustomed to a very warm and comfortable climate, similar to Hawaii. There, if one had a cheap electric fan, he could ‘get by’ in a fairly comfortable manner in their easy going climate.

        In the far northern hemisphere, on the other hand, we need to deal with rain and snow, shorter periods of daylight and shorter growing seasons. And, so life is very different between the two environments.

        Some people are blessed with natural wealth. Others need to create it, and modify their environment to make up for their deficient natural amenities. So, again, I think there is a lot of relativity to consider when judging what is ‘luxury’ and what is ‘necessity’.

        But as far as churches go, we have an examples of both Moses and King Solomon to contrast. In a time of instability, such as was the time of the ‘exodus’, a mere tent was used for sacred purposes. As the Israelites were in a transient state, they were to be satisfied with a low level of artistic expression in their liturgical practices. But when the nation was sufficiently settled, after centuries of war and strife, King’s David and Solomon were capable of giving more suitable and public expression to their devotion and love for God via the First Temple in Jerusalem. The magnificence of the temple has been an example for all generations for how to liturgically worship God in a time of material abundance, by making use of natural resources and wealth to create beautiful works and architecture for the honor and worship of God.

        So, I think we have two ways. The transient and unsettled way wherein it is suitable to largely ignore artistic expression, and the settled and abundant way, where such luxury lavished for God’s sake is a an expression of love for the stability, talents and natural gifts that God has provided that society. And, it might be considered, that when we lavish rich works of art and beauty for God’s divine worship, we also give spiritual benefits to the poor. This is because a beautiful church is inspirational to both rich and poor, as both are welcome therein without distinction. So, a poor man might have a dirt floor in his own house, but can enter a splendid marble filled cathedral anytime he wants to pray or meditate.

        But, yes, it is a complex issue, considering the example given by Christ and His profound poverty. There’s a lot to consider regarding this, and many ‘desert fathers’ and saints (such as St. Francis), have followed this example of Christ’s poverty, and patterned their lives living in extreme necessity as their norm.

        So, I think there is benefit for the Church with both ways and examples.

  3. Contrary to the iconoclasm of Calvin in the early 1500’s, the teachings of Christ command that we zealously create and promote beautiful works in this life below Heaven. He does this when He teaches :

    “You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

    “Let your light shine before men” includes every beautiful and holy expression: a good example, a holy word or teaching, an act of mercy or charity, a sacrifice of ones self for ones neighbor or family, a holy creation of art or music, the creation of a holy society of fellowship, etc…

    John Calvin and other Protestant reformers, on the other hand, promoted the destruction of beautiful and holy expressions of sacred art:

    “Some of the Protestant reformers, in particular Andreas Karlstadt, Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin, encouraged the removal of religious images by invoking the Decalogue’s prohibition of idolatry and the manufacture of graven (sculpted) images of God. As a result, individuals attacked statues and images. However, in most cases, civil authorities removed images in an orderly manner in the newly reformed Protestant cities and territories of Europe.

    Significant iconoclastic riots took place in Zurich (in 1523), Copenhagen (1530), Münster (1534), Geneva (1535), Augsburg (1537), Scotland (1559), Rouen (1560) and Saintes and La Rochelle (1562).[12] In 1549, radical Protestant preachers in London incited a mob to destroy many of the interior decorations in Old St Paul’s Cathedral.” (Wikipedia on iconoclasm)

    1. I think you are, in part, making a false equivalency. One can have beautiful art, and honor Beauty Himself, but avoid making pictoral representations of the Father, Christ, angels, etcetera. The Synod of Elvira in 304 AD stated, “There shall be no pictures in the church, lest what is worshipped and adored should be depicted on the walls.”

      So, there are reasons specific to the socio-cultural context for the Church enforcing this discipline in some times and not others. In Elvira, there was not only the threat of syncretism due to images of pagan gods, but also a concern that worship and adoration would be given to God and the martyrs in an inappropriate way.

      When I was in Saint Patrick’s cathedral, I felt that it was highly inappropriate that photography of the statue of Mary in the front is forbidden, but the many representations of Jesus were fair game (it was Christmas, so there were a lot of baby Jesus statues.) So, I can easily see where the rules in saint patrick’s are inappropriate and implying higher honor should be paid to Mary than even Christ.

      So, perhaps some sort of analogue existed in Elvira, I do not know. But something tells me in 16th century Europe, a lot of the ignorant masses literally did worship (and not adore) statues. So, Calvin and others reacted or over-reacted accordingly.

      Being that your own church just recently published that Luther was a “witness to the Gospel” and “witness to Jesus Christ,” it would seem that this is a tacit recognition of 16th century abuses and distortions in the faith. So, even if you may take banning statues of Jesus Christ to be a disciplinary measure of Calvin’s a bridge too far, it wasn’t back in the fourth century and Calvin’s concerns, inasmuch as they are like Luther’s, are recognized as important by the RCC today.

      http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/lutheran-fed-docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_2013_dal-conflitto-alla-comunione_en.html

      1. Thing is though, once you’ve moved beyond unitarian Christianity (Jesus as son of God only in the sense of being Messiah) to Arianism (Jesus as Great Angel or Platonic logos) or Trinitarianism (Jesus as God) then the concern for not making representations of God evaporates, since you are now literally worshipping a human being. So how can you be so picky and pretend to be following yhr 1st commandment so strict? Its laughable.

      2. Craig I think the difference is that Calvin (correct me if I’m wrong) didn’t think it was a matter of discipline. He thought it was unbiblical to have statues of saints. There is a huge difference. I could see a temporary ban if there are issues with a certain practice. At one time the Church banned cremation, because of abuses not because it was unbiblical.

        There are many things when done properly are Biblical and lead one closer to God. They can also be abused and lead one away from God. The Church’s job is to educate the masses so they can use these tools to bring them closer to God, not take it away permanently or worse claim that its unbiblical. I understand the Church has moved slow at times and that Luther had a legitimate reason to be upset.

        Biblical tools that can bring one closer to God but that are bannedby some Protestants because it might lead to sin or they claim it’s unbiblical. Praying to saints and angels, no graven images, drinking, dancing, repetitious prayer, liturgy, religion.

        Of course all of these issues could be resolved if they used another tool God gave the faithful to resolve differences in these kinds of opinion. They could take it to the Church. Unfortunately they walked away from His Church 500 years ago so it can’t be resolved.

        1. “Unfortunately they walked away from His Church 500 years ago so it can’t be resolved.”

          Would you say the same of the Eastern Orthodox or admit that the manifest heretic Francis proves they were righ to reject the papacy?

          1. I see traditionalist catholics all the time saying francis is a manifest heretic yet defending papal infallibility at the same time. Its plain if you have a brain however that this does not work.

        2. Fair enough CK, I was trying to be charitable with my interpretation of Elvira. Being that they did not give us a rationale (like Eusebius perhaps), we cannot know with confidence whether they were proto-iconoclasts or dealing with a temporary disciplinary issue.

        3. Most of the canons of the Synod of Elvira, including the one Craig cited (canon 36), are unbiblical. The Church wasn’t hyper focused on the authority of scripture at that time, as they considered THEMSELVES the authority. The Bible was never given the ability to ‘loose and bind’, the successors of the Apostles did…though they might use Biblical principles to exercise their authority. In this respect, the Synod of Elvira is an excellent resource for understanding the nature of the early Church. Every canon is very revealing on how the Church hierarchy viewed it’s own authoritative powers of Church governance.

      3. Craig,

        The Synod of Elvira is a great example to cite regarding the ability of the Church to make in numerous ecclesiastical decisions whether they be moral, doctrinal or disciplinary in nature. It shows how the most mundane concerns of the Church at that time might merit a canon, so as to resolve a current defect in the practice of the faith during that time. In some ways, these canons are similar to the admonitions found in the Book of Revelations regarding specific defects or sins, i.e… the items relating to ‘Jezabel’ and the ‘Nicolatians’, which were very ‘church specific’ in nature. As such disciplinary canons are specific to their time, they might be amended later, but however always having teaching value for the future Church that is more general in nature. This is why we can profit greatly by reading these canons, so as to give us a better understanding of the general nature of the Church and faith at that time, and particularly of this ability of the Church to ‘loose and bind’ via these very canons.

        For instance, an example of loosing and binding at that time we can read canon 30: “Those who sinned sexually as youth may not be ordained as subdeacons. This will guard against their being promoted to higher offices later on. If they have already been ordained, they shall be removed from their office.”

        This canon 30, if it was not amended or adapted int he future, would have disallowed St. Augustine( in the next century) from holding any ecclesiastical position in the Church, as everyone knows of the youthful life and habits of Augustine as he described in the ‘Confessions’.

        So, this is how we must read these canons, including the one you cited (canon 36), regarding works of art in Churches. They are culture specific, and can be adapted in the future should the Church decide to do so.

        So, even as the Church was able to restrict something that might be scandalous for a generation, it also had the ability to promote other items, such as the artistic expression found in icons, in other generations. The canons of Elvira in this respect are an excellent example of the gift of ‘keys’ provided to Peter by Christ, and which still exists in the Church today.

  4. Bishop Jerome Racozonus of Venice at the Council of Trent:

    Since such is the nature of man that he cannot easily without external means be raised to meditation on divine things, on that account holy Mother Church has instituted certain rites, namely that certain things be pronounced in a subdued tone (canon and words of consecration) and others in a louder tone; she has likewise made use of ceremonies such as mystical blessings, lights, incense, vestments, and many other things of this kind in accordance with apostolic teaching and tradition, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be commended, and the minds of the faithful excited by these visible signs of religion and piety to the contemplation of the most sublime matters which are hidden in this sacrifice.

    Well, then, has the nature of man changed since Trent?

    No.

    And so what does it mean for Catholic man to have a Bishop of Rome who will institute a mean minimalism in worship?

    The results will be obvious – an ever-decreasing appreciation of The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and an ever-decreasing appreciation of the Holy Eucharist as the Real Presence of Jesus and, further, there will be an ever-decreasing appreciation of our Sacramental System as our Bishop of Rome will be speaking about the poor in a materialist manner and not in a spiritual manner.

    Service and Ecumenism has supplanted Sin and Salvation in the new dispensation that was the still birth of Vatican Two.

    As the inertia into Indifference intensifies, ABF half expects the Bishop of Rome to be standing in front of a huge red kettle in Saint Peter’s Square during Advent, ringing his little bell and talking about Tiny Tim.

    Apparently, we are headed for a poor minimalist materialistic Church with a poor minimalist Mass offered by a Bishop of Rome wearing poor vestments.

    Even he who was involved in the Concilium of the execrable Annibale Bugnini, Fr. Joseph A. Jungmann, S.J. knew the mystical value of beautiful vestments.

    Here he is on page 280 of his first volume, The Mass of the Roman Rite describing The Mass Ceremonies in Detail when he pens this most beautiful description of the Vestments worn at Mass:

    Actually of course, there is a certain symbolism in the liturgical vestments. The fact that the priest wears garments that are not only better but really quite special, distinct from the garments of ordinary civil life, enhanced where possible by the preciousness of the material and by decoration – all this can have only one meaning; that the priest in a sense leaves this earth and enters another world, the shimmer of which is mirrored in his vesture.

    The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the Sacramental representation of The Holocaust and because we know that the pluperfect Salvific Sacrifice was the self-sacrifice of the King of Heaven and Earth,where His boring love substituted for the material fires of the OT, those ministers through whom Our Old and Saviour acts in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ought be arrayed as apt for one acting in the place of Royalty, Jesus, King of Heaven and Earth

    1. The Council of Trent is a perfect example of how the Church hierarchy continued to govern Church affairs in a similar fashion as found in the Synod of Elvira (300-309 AD), as cited by Craig. Anyone who reads the canons of Elvira, and then the canons of the Council of Trent (1545-1563), will easily notice the continuity inherent in the style of ecclesiastical authority and governance. Where is such historical continuity found in the Protestant denominations? At least the Catholic Church, and it’s highly detailed creed, canon law and catechism, has been consistent throughout the last 20 centuries.

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