Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ritual and Sacraments

I was reading a sermon by Edwin Hubbell Chapin, one of the finest orators of his time, and he was describing the different ways that people worship, and this paragraph, on those that find meaning in Ritual and Sacraments, I found interesting. I have walked into a Catholic church a few times in my life and was taken by the grandeur and sensed a reverence within the beauty. In this piece he flushes out those feelings I had.

There are those who can find peace only in the arms of an hereditary Faith: who can feel the inspiration of worship only among forms that have kindled worship in others for a thousand years: with whose earliest thoughts and dearest memories is entwined a Ritual and an Established Church, so that personal affection and household sanctity, as well as religious feeling, demand that every great act of life -- as well as joy or sorrow-- should be consecrated by the familiar sacrament. For that church, too, their fathers have died in darker times, and beneath its chancels, sainted mothers moulder into dust. All, too, that can exalt the ideal, or wake the pulses of eloquent emotion, is connected with such a church. To them it opens a traditional perspective, the grandest in all history.
Behind its altars, sweep the vestments of centuries of priests, and rises the incense of centuries of prayer. In its stony niches, stand rows of saints, who have made human life sublime, and who, through all the passing ages, look down upon the turmoil of that life with the calm beatitude of heaven; while its flushed windows still keep the blood-stain of its own martyrs, plashed against it ere yet it had become an anchored fact, and while it tossed upon the stormy waves of persecution. I can understand, then, how an imaginative and reverential mind can find the truest religious life only in connection with Ritual and Sacrament.

In the following paragraph he describes those that find satisfaction in the discipline of a spontaneous devotion; also the faith of the Puritans with their rugged independence of soul, that faithfulness to the individual conscience, that sense of the Divine Sovereignty, which could kneel at no man's altar, and to God alone. And other modes of worship as well.
Let them all continue.

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