Recently there has been comments about the ethicality of members of the Orange Orders attending Catholic (Roman/Latin Rite) liturgical services which, I understand, are deemed to be blasphemous, in particular the celebration of the liturgy of the Eucharist (referred to as the Mass; the word “Mass” is derived from the Latin phrase ending the celebration), in the eyes of Protestants.
I would have wished that clerics of the Catholic Church in NI had clarified what is entailed in the celebration of the liturgy of the Eucharist to assist those good Protestants whose scruples might deter them from attending.
In the early Christian Church the liturgical celebration was divided into two parts: the first part would have consisted of preaching and readings from the Old Testament (and the new Testament when it became available); believers and non-believers attended.
The second part consisted of the Eucharistic liturgical celebration which is based on early apostolic tradition and the New Testament; only believers attended. This two-fold division of the Mass pertains. The Mass is not a continuous re-enactment of Christ’s Passion and Death. This seems to be a mistaken understanding.
Because Christ is God, he (sorry ladies) is eternal (outside of time), and the Eucharistic liturgical celebration is the same one and only sacrifice that took place 2,000 years ago on Calvary.
The problem in understanding this seems to be that people do not fully appreciate Christ’s Godhead, and, wrongly, assume that like us he is within and bound by time.
I have a few suggestions that may assist the scrupulous: the readings in the first part of the Mass are taken from the Bible, this should not present a major problem to Protestants who wish to attend.
The second part (used to be announced by the ringing of bells) is the Eucharistic celebration; scrupulous Protestants could have removed themselves immediately after the Biblical readings and so avoid being present at the Eucharistic part.
However, if they wish to stay, they could turn what they deem to be sacrilegious celebration into a beautiful Godly prayer by asking the good Lord to forgive their Catholic brethren for their error in scriptural understanding and plead, using Christ’s words, “forgive them for they know not what they are doing”.
Micheal O’Cathail, Fermanagh
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