The Guéranger Blog

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! You have stumbled across the notebook I use to record my thoughts as I read through Dom Prosper Gueranger's 15-volume set, The Liturgical Year. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of Catholic theology and an enthusiasm for Gueranger's magnum opus. Think of it as the Liturgical Year fan site!

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Jesus and the Ark of the Covenant

Canisius | 11 March, 2006 17:42

I am continually impressed by how many of the differences between Catholics and Protestants boil down to the fact that Catholics see a much greater continuity between Old and New Testaments: we still have a priesthood, and a sacrificial system, ceremonies of cleanings, and the whole nine yards. Many of the elements of the Old Testament that have dropped from Protestantism are elements that man's nature desires; in this regard, I think they would have to admit that the New Testament is in some ways inferior to the Old!

Gueranger's discussion of the priesthood in V,183 got me to thinking about this subject again. In the OT, the locus of God's presence was the ark of the covenant, and it was strictly forbidden to make an image of the deity lest he be confused with a creature of any kind. The priest had many duties towards the people, but his primary reason for being was to be the caretaker of the divine presence and to offer the sacrifices. The ark of the covenant was lost after the destruction of the temple in 587 B.C., and when the temple was destroyed for good in 70 A.D. this whole system ceased and Jews were left to worship at synagogues--a Scripture-centered service with readings, sermons, praying of psalms, etc. (A friend recently remarked to me that Protestants have "synagogue worship" rather than "temple worship".)

Thought experiment: suppose God takes on a human nature, so that he is fact identified with a particular creature. What then? The ark of the covenant would have to be replaced with this divine man, would it not? And we would have to have some kind of visible image, would we not?

Enter the Eucharist. Our priests are still caretakers of the divine presence and in charge of the sacrifical system, but the divine presence has a new way of presenting itself: now we have a visible object to gaze at instead of an empty space over the ark. God became man in Jesus to give us his definitive presence, and so the divine presence in the center of our temple worship could only be the presence of Jesus!


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