Rorate Caeli

Sermon for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost: "There is remarkable continuity between the Temple Worship of the Old Testament and the Traditional Mass: We rightly mourn these attacks on our beloved Roman Rite"."

IX Sunday After Pentecost

Father Albert Marcello
Providence (RI), July 25, 2021

There is a remarkable synchronicity between the ancient Jewish and the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Almost always, on or about the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, the Jewish observance of Tish B’Av takes place – this year, about 6 days ago. This is the day when the Jewish people recall the twofold destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and is considered one of the saddest days in their calendar, along with other tragedies such as the forty-year wandering in the desert in Numbers 14. For us Catholics, the Gospel this Sunday is always that of Our Lord weeping over Jerusalem. We recall Our Lord excoriating and cleansing the Temple of those who have made it a den of thieves, and prophesying that the enemies of the Chosen People would surround them, and dash them to the ground. All of this sounds a bit too painfully familiar over the past week or so.

The book of Deuteronomy, in the Pentateuch, the Law of Moses, contains very precise and clear instructions for divine worship under the old dispensation at a central location – the Jerusalem Temple. King Ezechias carried out a religious and liturgical reform of the highest magnitude, to reorient the Jewish worship of Almighty God with the demands of the original Mosaic Law. And yet, his successor, Manasses, attempted to undo all of these reforms. Generations later, King Josias’ measures, rediscovering the Mosaic law and reinstituting Ezechias’ restoration of worship, finally ended the astral cults, necromancy, and child sacrifice and restored authentic worship. These good Hebrew kings brought back fidelity to the carefully-outlined Mosaic law regarding the worship of Almighty God, centralized in the Jerusalem temple, the outlawing of such barbaric practices, and the removal of pagan altars and idols, and destroying fertility cults.

When St. Pius V codified the Roman Rite in the bull “Quo Primum”, he, like Ezechias, wanted the worship of the Triune God, throughout the Latin Catholic world, to follow the model of the temple of the new Jerusalem, in Rome. It was a re-discovery of the Roman Rite in all its solemnity and simplicity subsequent to the Council of Trent, and in recent years, the restoration of the Roman Rite has been akin to the re-discovery of the Mosaic Law under Josias. For centuries, in seminaries and Catholic universities up until the year 1964, the celebration of Mass, the Divine Office, and the Sacraments was considered only a lesser course in the curriculum for priestly studies, typically taken as “Exercitatio Rubricarum” in the year prior to priestly ordination. It was taught simply “cookbook style”. There were different textbooks on how to properly carry out the Divine Liturgy – O’Connell, Le Vavasseur, or Van der Stappen and Croegaert – and they simply gave detailed and precise instructions on how the sacred rites are to be celebrated. These rules were to be followed carefully, reverently, and attentively. It has only been since about 1964, when education for the priesthood truly started to sour in many seminaries, that the study of the liturgy came to be seen as more of a vague, numinous, even esoteric subject, which could then be utilized as a vehicle for the self-expression of the celebrant.

And yet, now, we see so much destruction surrounding this most sacred and solemn act of divine worship. The barbarian practices of the worship of the pagan idols in St. Peter’s, and the horrific inhumanity of abortion and child abuse remain in our midst. The proper worship of God always goes hand-in-hand with the removal of these evil, barbarian, and sick practices which have zero place in any human society. May our Catholic leadership wipe out any alliances with these operations of evil.

There is a unique and evidently supernatural continuity between the worship of God in the Old Testament and the worship of God as it is practiced in the traditional liturgy of the Catholic Church. The Lord gives to us precise instructions on how He wishes to be worshipped. The sacrifice of the Mass is not something that we create or concoct, based upon our personal wishes or desires. It is to be done according to a precise set of norms and regulations, handed on from time immemorial. 

We rightly mourn these attacks on the solemnity and integrity of the beloved Roman Rite, as Our Lord prophesied and wept over the downfall of Jerusalem. But we know that the Lord Jesus Christ, the one perfect sacrifice, the same Lord Jesus Christ who will appear on this sacred altar in a few moments, is the Lord of History. He is the continuity between the Old and New Testaments. He will restore to us the right and authentic way of worship. He guaranteed us that He will be with us until the end of time. Come, Lord Jesus, and rebuild Your holy temple, Your One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, that we might worship You in peace and tranquillity.