Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yet another reason the Catholic Mass is always the same is...

...is it's had the same structure since the dawn of Christianity.

The basic structure of the Mass is the Liturgy of the Word where we hear the Scriptures proclaimed and the Liturgy of the Eucharist where we break bread and share communion. The exact details of how this is done have been refined over the centuries (Vatican II changed a few things, for example) but the two-part liturgy has been around since ancient Israelite times.

We see Christ affirming it on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35) where he interprets the Scriptures for two disciples and then breaks bread with them. Right after Pentecost the apostles devoted themselves to studying the scriptures and to breaking the bread (Acts 2:42).

These are bare-bones descriptions to be sure by by the middle of the second century Christians were worshiping in a way that would've made any modern Catholic feel right at home. Below is a link to St. Justin's First Apology. Chapters 65-67 are a great read; see how many elements from what he describes remain in today's Mass.

That the Mass has remained structurally the same since the very beginning of Christianity is yet another reason Catholics are content leaving it alone.


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