Confusing Rituals of the Catholic Church


#1

Hi all…
I am new to this board and had a simple question…
It seems to me that the Catholic church is very ritualistic in what it does. It seems very hard to follow for an outsider and almost cult like (not trying to be rude so please do not take it as such) Why is it that the catholic church is so big on the rituals and hard to follow services…


#2

wic, Welcome to the Boards.

Yes, the Catholic Church has many rituals, and all of them are filled with deep, deep meaning. They are easy to find out the meaning of, typically a priest could help you if a parishioner couldn’t.

Take for instance, the Easter Vigil.

As the Mass begins, the whole Church is shrouded in darkness (the Mass begins after sundown). Everyone in the congregation is given an unlit candle before Mass. The priest, who is outside, blesses the Easter Candle and lights it for the first time. The Easter Candle represents the the Risen Christ. Then the priest uses the Candle to light other candles as he processes up the aisle. As each person lights their candle, they turn around and light the candle of the person next to them, until the entire congregation is lit up with the light of the candles.

The significance behind this is that Christ is the Light of the World. We receive our light from HIm and we bring His light to those in our lives.

Isn’t that beautiful?

There are numerous resources online that help explain the meanings behind the Mass. The priest obviously can’t explain them every week at Mass or it would become redundant.


#3

Yes, these rituals and elements of the Mass date back to the first century and the first Christians. Let’s not forget that Christianity has its roots in Judaism-- and the rituals are a natural progression from the Hebrew liturgy.

Hard to follow, possibly. Cult-like, not at all. A cult is secretive. The Catholic Church prints its liturgy in books for anyone to access.

You can obtain the Order of the Mass by purchasing a book (called a Missal) or by using the free ones (called Missalettes) provided in the pews.

Because we follow the teachings of Christ and the example of the Apostolic church. The hymns and prayers and the form of Mass come down to us from the earliest days.

Only hard to follow because you have not become familiar with the order or the prayers. That is why the missal is available at the church.


#4

As NotWorthy said, there’s meaning to it; you can’t just pop in to Mass and expect to understand it all right away. But you are welcome there and if we can be helpful in answering your questions, great.

What specifically do you have a problem with? Were you at Mass and found that some things bothered you? Or is it ritual in general that bugs you and if so, why?
Peace in Christ,
Ann


#5

Well I’ve only been to one Catholic Mass years ago with a girlfriend. And it struck me no offense as rather cult-like due to everyone breaking into a Latin chant by some unknown to me cue. I didn’t hear the Priest say and let us pray to which would signal me to prey or such, everyone just seamed to bust into Latin via some unknown cue and then the Chant was sort of deadpan as if repeated so many times know one cared why they where saying it only that they say it at this time every time. Leading me to write it off as a cult and never set foot into one again. Little more open minded now. So my question is why. Why break into a verbal chant every few minutes every mass, what purpose does it serve? Granted I don’t know Latin so I don’t know what everyone was saying.


#6

You seem to think that ritual is a bad thing. Why? What is a “better” substitute?


#7

Non-Catholic services are harder to follow than Catholic Mass. They are all different and teach different things. At least the Mass is the same wherever you go.

And, everything in Mass has a meaning. It is not vain repetition, its meaningful prayerful worship. Something I find impossible to find at any protestant service. Though, I agree as an outsider who knows nothing of Catholic faith, it is very confusing. I was very critical after my first Mass, but once I learned what it all meant and why it was done…I realized there could be no other way to truly worship for me.

Welcome, and I hope you like it here.:slight_smile:


#8

I’ve never seen this before, but I’m post Latin Mass - Post Vatican II, I should say.

I can think of only a couple of songs we’ve done in Latin in all my years, but it doesn’t sound like this is what you’re talking about.


#9

One of the things I love about the Mass is that it is universal. I could go to another Mass in a language I don’t understand, and I will still know exactly what’s going on - even responding in my own language.

Being Catholic is great!!!


#10

The chants you heard are actually prayers, recited in Latin. There sometimes does not appear to be a cue, but there obviously must be a cue for everyone to respond, right?

Basically, there are certain prayers that are said at every mass. People who attend these masses every week (or every day for some people) are quite familiar with them. Everything at the mass has a reason behind it. The mass does not involve the same type of spontaneous prayer that you may be familiar with. Catholics do not view the mass the same way other Christians might view a service. The mass is the celebration of Jesus’ death on the Cross and His Resurrection.

The basic parts of the mass are described in the Roman Missal. Here is a link to the section on the Mass.%between% It will explain the procedure and the meaning behind it better than I can.


#11

I’m sure it was a prayer. Catholics pray their prayers together as one body, not spontaneously and all different. Its true, it can sound dry and boring sometimes but thats because everyone knows the prayer so they don’t have to think very hard about what it is. Those saying it mean it and it is heartfelt even if it isn’t a big show of emotion. Catholics aren’t the kind to jump up in the aisle and pour their heart out:p Their way of prayer is more private and reverent. Quiet. Not showy. It can seem weird and hollow to those who do not know whats going on, but believe me it isn’t. And it definitely isn’t a cult! Though I did grow up being taught it was, once I actually researched what they teach…I learned its quite far from that! I don’t know Latin yet myself, but when you know what they are saying it is all quite beautiful display of worship. I’m surprised the parish you went to did not have a missal for you to follow along with.


#12

How long ago was “years ago”? It would have to be about 40 years ago or more unless your friend took you to one of the still-celebrated Latin Masses available in some cities.

While the prayers may have been unknown to you, if you do not know any Latin, and may have seemed random they are not.

As I mentioned, all of the prayers of the Mass are written in a book and available for anyone who wants one. In English or in Latin or in any other language.

Unknown to you. The responses and the prayers are not unknown to those who attend Mass regularly.

Your friend should have shown you how to follow along in her Missal, or prepared you.

They are not “chants” they are prayers. And, just because you did not know what they were saying does not mean that they did not know what they were saying. And, going from you not understanding to them not caring what they were saying or why is a huge, unsubstantiated leap on your part.

Well, shame on you for not following up with research to substantiate things one way or the other.

If I walked into the middle of a physics lecture I might not understand what the professor was saying either. That would not lead me to write physics off as something quacky.

Well, that’s progress.

It’s prayer, Smith. Simple as that. Why pray? To adore and worship God Almighty.

Why use those specific prayers? As I said, they have come down to us from the first Christians.


#13

Ritual worship was established by God in the Old Testament. Scripture gives much of it, but not all. (eg. not the words of the prayers recited by the high priest and priests as they carried out their rituals.) The New Covenant is the completion of the Old, and flows out of it so to speak. The NT rituals express the completion, whereas the OT rituals expressed a foreshadowing.

If you have a Catholic friend, why don’t you ask them get a missalette from Church and show you the procedure. It shouldn’t take too long. Then attend Mass with him. I think, if you are given a little help ahead of time, it will be very understandable and you can begin to grasp its meaning.

Nita


#14

Ritual worship was established by God in the Old Testament. Scripture gives much of it, but not all. (eg. not the words of the prayers recited by the high priest and priests as they carried out their rituals.) The New Covenant is the completion of the Old, and flows out of it so to speak. The NT rituals express the completion, whereas the OT rituals expressed a foreshadowing.

If you have a Catholic friend, why don’t you have them get a missalette from Church and show you the procedure. It shouldn’t take too long. I think, if you are given a little help ahead of time, it will be very understandable and you can begin to grasp its meaning.

Nita


#15

Sorry for the double post. Tried to delete the second one but it didn’t work. :frowning:


#16

Hi there:wave:
I agree that the mass is difficult to follow if you’re not used to it. There are lots of good books that explain what’s going on - if there’s a Catholic bookstore in your town, you could check it out.

Once you get used to it though, it’s really easy to follow. My four year old knows most of the prayers.

Welcome to the forums! If you have any other questions, this is a great place to ask.

God bless,
CM


#17

There is no way to get people to pray together unless:

a) you use preset prayers and rituals,

b) you sing your prayers in song, but this is basically the same as a),

or

c) The preacher does the praying and the congregation simply responds “Amen”.

I like option a) (or even b)) because “The family that prays together, stays together”!!!


#18

Unless you went to Mass in the 1960’s, the Latin that everyone broke into as if on cue was probably the Kyrie Eleison which means “Lord have mercy,” and the Angus Dei which means "Lamb of God."
newadvent.org/cathen/08714a.htm
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnus_Dei

These prayers are said at the same time in every Mass. So, if your girlfriend was a cradle Catholic she didn’t need a cue. It’s like if someone says, “How do you do,” you know to respond, “fine, thanks” without being prompted. Most parishes today use English, but some Churches still use Latin for these special prayers.

You can look here to see the Order of the Mass.

catholic-resources.org/ChurchDocs/Mass.htm


#19

saintmaryparish.net/ordo_missae.htm

Hi, here is a Translatation From Latin to English.:thumbsup:


#20

Define “ritualistic.” Everyone has rituals. Ritual is a basic human activity.

It seems very hard to follow for an outsider

Why shouldn’t it be? If people are interested, they will take the time to learn. If they’re not–well, they can pass right on by.

Why should somethiing worthwhile be easy? Do you want to be spoon-fed everything in life?

and almost cult like

Define “cult.” Elsewhere you talk about Latin. What does Latin have to do with a “cult”? And why is being a “cult” bad?

Edwin


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