Regulations for Worship…
The Jewish regulations for worship were as beautiful as the Mass is today:
Now (even) the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was constructed, the outer one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of offering; this is called the Holy Place. Behind the second veil was the tabernacle called the Holy of Holies, in which were the gold altar of incense and the ark of the covenant entirely covered with gold.In it were the gold jar containing the manna, the staff of Aaron that had sprouted, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the place of expiation. -Hebrews 9:1-5 NAB
The author of Hebrews gives us a small glimpse at the beauty of the Jewish sanctuary, as given to Moses by God starting in Exodus 25:8. God gave Moses exact details on how it was to be constructed.
The description continues on for multiple chapters in Exodus – describing every minute feature to be included. For some, this may seem like an overly structured form of worship, but there is a lot of beauty to be found in that structure.
In many ways, it reminds be of my hesitance to become Catholic. Catholicism has very exact regulations for worship, and in my days as an evangelical Christian, I preferred a more modern, free-form approach. I had a difficult time seeing the beauty in Catholic worship.
When I first started taking Catholicism seriously, it was because of the long theological history of the Church – not its style of worship. I still struggled with this. It was not until I studied and learned more about the Mass itself that I truly began to appreciate it.
Now, with a better understanding of the Mass (the reason behind every Scripture reading, prayer, and the Eucharist itself), I can see how having regulations of worship can enhance the beauty of it. The Mass has taken on a whole new meaning for me, and it is the cornerstone of my life.
The Catholic Tradition is full of regulations for worship, and for an outsider, it may be overwhelming. But for someone deeply, madly in love with the Church, the beauty is in the details.