Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On the continuity of religious ritual

I've been wanting to write something up about how at Mass we worship God just as Homer described his guys doing 3000 years ago, and how this is essentially different from Protestant worship and is cited as proof that them Catlickers are a bunch of pagans, etc.; but the continuity of the human "how" of divine worship is a powerful proof that we've got it right - we worship the way mankind has always worshiped.

From the beginning of book 3 of the Odyssey in Fitzgerald's translation:

The sun rose on the flawless brimming sea
into a sky all brazen --- all one brightening
for gods immortal and for mortal men
on plowlands kind with grain.
                               And facing sunrise
the voyagers now lay off Pylos town,
compact stronghold of Neleus.  On the shore
black bulls were being offered by the people
to the blue-maned god who makes the islands tremble:
nine congregations, each five hundred strong,
led out nine bulls apiece to sacrifice,
taking the tripes to eat, while on their altars
thighbones in fat lay burning for the god.
See what he did there? That's a bare outline of the liturgy of the Eucharist. The congregations face east, the people offer a sacrifice to a god by placing it on an altar and burning it, and they eat part of the sacrifice. While Homer wasn't writing a liturgical handbook, he has captured the essence of how mankind has always worshiped the divine.

The differences: our offering is a man who is also the God being worshiped; our sacrificial victim died once and not at every offering; and we eat the victim.

Now, I was gonna scour Homer and the other ancients for other instances of divine worship and write up some more stuff in this vein, but it's 1:57 a.m.

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