I wanted to be finished with this study of the Year of Faith by Pentecost. We are about a week behind, so we should finish by Friday. I will be praying over what to do next. I was leaning toward the Epistle of St. James because there are about 50 parallels between St. James and the Sermon on the Mount. Or, we could do Matthew 25? If you have any ideas, let me know.
Before we begin, let’s read Jesus Institutes the Eucharist in Luke 22: 14-20.
At the Last Supper, Jesus gives His Body and Blood to the apostles in the Eucharist so that they can have eternal life. Then, He commands the apostles to “do this” so that they can bring eternal life to us. He simply requires us to believe in Him and His words, and to believe that He truly gives His flesh and blood for us to have eternal life.
Early Christian Worship
“The Acts of the Apostles shows that the early Christians continued worshiping in the Temple, much as Jesus had done. Yet, Jesus’ new ritual was also practiced by these Christians from the beginning of the Church. ‘ All who believed were together. . .attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising god and having favor with all the people’ “ (Acts 2: 44, 46-47)
The structure of the Eucharist was influenced by Jewish ceremonies. Some of our Mass prayers come from the synagogue service. i.e. the dialogue before the Preface. In the synagogue, this was followed immediately by the Sanctus—a quote from Isaiah 6: 3.
Later Christians continued to develop the prayers of the liturgy in different parts of the world and in different languages. The amazing things was the similarity of structure throughout the various rites. (Pentecost truly reversed the Tower of Babel.)
Eventually the structure became set in each rite. This had a couple of advantages. First, the community knew what to expect and how to participate. Secondly, the liturgy could refine the various expressions of faith in each prayer. These prayers could then teach doctrine while the community was worshiping. For instance, the Creed reminds everyone of the teaching of our faith.
The Liturgical Calendar
“Another element of Christian liturgy derived from Judaism is the notion of the liturgical calendar. Jews celebrate four main feasts – Passover, Pentecost, Yom Kippur, and Tabernacles. Other holy days are also celebrated—New Year, Hanukkah, and Purim. Furthermore, the rabbis had developed a lectionary cycle for the synagogue. Its core consisted of readings from the Torah, plus readings from the Psalms and the prophets.
Christians have imitated both elements. A liturgical year begins with Advent, flowing to Christmas, Epiphany, Lent Eastertide, Pentecost and Ordinary Time, plus a variety of feasts celebrating the events of salvation and the lives of the saints.
Also, a liturgical cycle existed early, with the core being the four Gospels as requisite, plus readings from the epistles and other New Testament books, the Psalms, and other books of the Old Testament. Just as the covenant sacrifice was preceded by reading the Ten Commandments and the laws, so is the liturgy of the Eucharist preceded by the liturgy of the word of God. This is meant to stir up faith to further believe the words of Jesus in the Eucharist.”
Next time: Why some lose the faith.
Meditation: Spend a few minutes after Mass thanking God for the gift of faith.