Why Does the Catholic Church Have Pomp and Celebration?


Some non-Catholics have a hard time understanding why the Catholic Church has so much pomp and celebration. Assuming that their resistance has nothing to do with jealously or envy how do we explain this to those who are taken aback by it?

Looking at two passages below from the Bible which may seem contradictory at first is helpful.

Matthew 6:5-6
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

6 But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.
16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

The key to understanding how these passages are to be reconciled is to understand and evaluate them from the perspective of one’s heart. A person’s actions can be good or bad depending on one’s intentions and motives. On this we must be careful. We are not our own judge and if we try to judge another’s heart we would be committing a sin.

If we do something to glorify ourselves that is wrong, but if we are celebrating the work of God, so much the better.

Consider the quote below from the book : MY BROTHER, THE POPE.
Cardinal Ratzinger explains the nature of the celebration of the people to his being elevated to becoming a bishop :

MY BROTHER, THE POPE by Georg Ratzinger
**Pages **212 - 213

… *** Just as he said later as pope, he thought then, too, that the jubilation with which he was greeted had ****nothing to do with him personally: "I was being greeted as bishop, as *bearer of the Mystery of Christ, even if the majority were not explicitly conscious of this. The joy of the day was something really different from approval of a particular person, whose qualifications still had to be demonstrated. It was joy over the fact that this office, this service, was again present in a person who does not act and live for himself but for Him and therefore for all" (M 153)•

And then he said something that by all means could be cited three decades later as the program for his pontificate as well: "The bishop does not act in his own name but, rather, is the trustee of someone else, of Jesus Christ and his Church. He is not a manager, a boss in his own right, but rather the delegate of someone else, whose place he takes. Hence he cannot arbitrarily change his opinion and advocate one thing today and something else tomorrow, depending on how promising it seems. He is not there to spread his own private ideas but, rather, is an envoy who has to deliver a message that is greater than he. He is measured by this fidelity; that is his task" (H 208).*

John 12:3 -8
“Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus † and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
4 Then Judas the Iscariot, one (of) his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said,
5 “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages † and given to the poor?”
6 He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.
7 So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. †
8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

I don’t see why Matthew 6:5-6 and Matthew 5:13-16 need to be reconciled. The former is about prayer while the latter is about good works. They are about two different things and neither is about liturgy or worship.

Our rituals and ceremonies reflect heavenly realities and point us to those realities. This is why God gave the Israelites temple worship. Everything about the Temple and it’s worship was a reflection of God and pointed to realities in heaven. Look at the worship which takes place in Heaven in the Book of Revelation. Worship on earth should be similar to worship in Heaven. When I look around at the Churches on earth, I see the worship described in the Book of Revelation most clearly in the Catholic Church.

I’ve been to Evangelical Rock and Roll worship, fire and brimstone Baptist worship and Messianic Jewish worship. If these are copies of heavenly realities then I hope Heaven has ear plugs because there is going to be a lot of noise and yelling.


Seriously? A lot of protestant masses are like parties.

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My small offering is Exodus where God gave precise instructions on the Ark, altars, priestly vestments etc (chapter 39 describes the clothing of the priests). Solomon acting on God’s instruction built a magnificent temple. However, when people built things to glorify themselves i.e. the tower of Babel, God was not happy.

Jesus worshiped at the Synagogue as did the early Christians. From my understanding Jesus repeated the teachings from the Old Testament about worshiping God with your whole heart and body. He was more concerned about people using worship to glorify themselves instead of drawing others to God.

Why not have pomp and celebration, if it draws us and others to God and is for the glory of God. What is wrong with a building that draws all focus towards God? Personally I would love to have exterior reminders of God everywhere, it helps keep my brain focused.

People have lots of pomp and celebration at high school and college graduations. Also there is lots of pomp if the President or Prime Minister comes to visit your town, or if your favorite Pro sports team wins a championship. Just so, the Church, at every Mass, is celebrating the presence of the King of kings.:slight_smile:

Because when you consider who is being honored - the Lord of the Universe and creator of all things - isn’t it understandable that people want to offer their very best to Him?

Singers want to praise him in song, musicians want to play to his glory, seamstresses weave and sew their finest clothes for vestments and altar cloths, etc.

In heaven, it gets even better.

Just out of curiosity, ask your friends if they’ve ever attended a wedding, and if so, why the bride and groom are dressed in expensive dresses and tuxedos.

Because there was Pomp and Celebration among the Priestly system in the Old Covenant System in the Old Testiment and the New Covenant System which is the Catholic Church fulfils the Old Covenant System.

Well, at least I think there was Pomp and Celebration in the old testament.

On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem with as much pomp and circumstance as could be managed by a poor oppressed people.

RE: Your footnote about referring to John Paul 2 as “John Paul The Great” It may take me a little time to get used to that, much the same as it took getting used to the changes in the Mass a couple years ago:blush: But I will try:shrug::slight_smile:

It’s been like that as far as I can remember :smiley: I think it’s the same person anyway

Thanks. It’s gonna be an uphill effort. There have been only three “The Great” Popes, and the last one was St. Nicholas the Great, who died in 867 AD. So I think it’s high time we had another!!!

It is the same person. I’m just used to referring to Pope John Paul 2:shrug:


Not to nit pick, but…isn’t “Saint” and “the Great” a bit redundant? Shouldn’t it be either “St. Pope John Paul II” (or would it be “Pope Saint John Paul II”), or “Pope John Paul II, the Great”?

For that matter, is the “II” still operative, or does ‘the Great’ displace the “II”, since there’s only one “John Paul, the Great”? (I noticed you eliminated the “II”).

Can we abbreviate: “St. JPII”, “JPII-G” or such?

Just wondering–and wasn’t sure if it was thread worthy.

(Perhaps we should get to the official/proper titular–took me about 8-9 years to finally get around to referring to the 00’s as ‘the oughts’, rather than ‘this decade’, or ‘last decade’, or such–the decade was basically over by the time I figured out how to refer to it properly…would rather incorporate the proper title sooner, rather that bumble around with 15 different mutilations for several years, before finally settling on one… ).

…just say’n… :slight_smile:

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