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The solemnity in Catholic worship

17 Jun 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Doctrines

In John’s gospel account (Jn. 4:1-42), Jesus engaged a Samaritan woman in a discussion, it was beside Jacob’s well in a Samaritan town called Sychar. One point led to the other, and the woman brought up the issue of worship; she said to Jesus; Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus said to her, woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him (Jn. 4:20-21:23).

Today, some people juxtapose Catholicism and Protestantism and hastily conclude that Catholics are dull in their worship of God, they do not worship with “living faith.” Those with this thought about the Catholic Church confuse solemnity with dullness; being solemn is not negativity; it is not about being unhappy; it is about being serious and sincere. Such the Father seeks to worship him, in spirit and in truth.

The time for worship is not the time for amusement; it is not comic. In many Christian denominations, worship is gradually becoming an entertainment, I am not ignorant of the scripture that says Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with timbrel and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! (Psalm 150:3-6). These praises can become so empty without some level of solemnity; I mean true worship. Don’t get me wrong, we sing, dance, and use all kinds of musical instruments in the Catholic Church, but the solemnity of our liturgy is irreplaceable.

The angels praise God always in heaven; they worship in humility, with all sense of solemnity. In Isaiah’s vision of angels worshiping God, they covered their faces and their feet and cried out; Holy, holy, holy, Is the Lord of host; the whole earth is full of glory (Is. 6:1-3). Abram solemnly bowed in the presence of God (Gen. 17:3), so also did the apostles (Mt. 17:6). In our liturgy, we bow and worship with all solemnity, not dullness. Standing, kneeling, and bowing that forms part of our liturgy defines the solemnity in our worship. As the scripture says, there is time for everything; we also sing and dance in praise of God.

I am proud of being a Catholic.