Would Jesus Recognize Catholic Worship?


I posted a picture the other day of  worship at St Peter’s. There was a crowd of altar servers, robed clergy in procession and clouds of incense.

In the combox someone observed, “Would Jesus recognize this as worship?” I don’t know the commenter and his background, but it sounds like the comment is based on a common misunderstanding of the roots of Catholic worship and the nature of Jewish worship in Jesus’ time. I’ll be writing more on this subject later in the week as I begin reviewing Evangelical-Frank Viola’s book Theography.

However, let’s stop for a moment and ask whether Jesus would recognize Catholic worship. The assumption is that Jesus is a simple, wandering preacher–a rustic carpenter from Nazareth. Jesus is the equivalent of Pastor Bob from the Backwoods Bible Church who has studied for two years at Buckboard Bible College and then set up his church. He’s a homely country man with a sincere message and a good heart. He goes in for no frills religion–prayers from the heart not out of a book. He wanders the countryside as an itinerant preacher–sort of like an old time revivalist. If he is not this, then he is a Franciscan sort of person–wandering about in tattered robes preaching to the birds and living a life of holy poverty far removed from all the pomp and ceremony of the overblown and worldly Catholic religion.

The view of Jesus as the simple country preacher does have some connection with the real Jesus, but we also have to remember that Jesus was a first century Jew. He would have been familiar with, and shared in the rituals and traditions of synagogue worship as well as the worship of the temple. What was this worship like? First of all, the synagogue worship was formal and liturgical. They used set prayers and established readings as Catholics do with their liturgy and tables of readings. Furthermore, the worship of the ‘domestic church’ for Jews was structured around seasons and feasts. Throughout the year, as Catholics do, they celebrated certain feast days and fast days. For the feasts they had structured, ceremonial meals that they shared together. These ceremonial meals consisted of set, written prayers and psalms and Scripture readings.

In addition to the worship of the domestic church and the synagogue the Jews in the time of Jesus all worshipped at the temple in Jerusalem. The worship in this splendid and ornate structure was predicated by the temple of Solomon which was in turn established according to the instructions given by God in Exodus for the construction of the tabernacle. The tabernacle, and both the Herodian and Solomonic temples in Jerusalem were splendid, ornate and rich buildings where the worship was ceremonial and ritualistic. The priests wore ornate vestments, there were ritualistic processions into and around the temple, ornate images of angels surround the worship space and incense was burned before God to symbolize the prayers of the faithful rising to heaven.

So would Jesus recognize the Catholic worship that goes on in the great cathedrals and Catholic churches? There are clearly differences between Catholic and Jewish worship, but think of the things Jesus would recognize:

  1.  Splendid, rich and ornate temple of God
  2. Priests in rich vestments
  3. Set readings from the Old Testament
  4. the Chanting of psalms
  5. the burning of incense
  6. an altar of sacrifice
  7. golden candlesticks
  8. the bread of the presence
  9. the holy of holies (the Catholic tabernacle)
  10. the lamp of the presence
  11. processions of priests and people
  12. the offering of the holy sacrifice
  13. The laver or font for cleansing the offerings
  14. water fonts for ritual ablutions before entering worship
  15. Beautiful decorations of fabrics, carvings and embroidery

I can only assume that my commenter was a non-Catholic Christian. What, I may ask, would Jesus recognize in Protestant worship? Do Protestants actually know how first century Jews worshipped? Do they therefore know the religious world in which Jesus lived and moved and preached? From what we can glean from the Bible about Jewish worship–both in the Old Testament and from the Book of Revelation (where the worship of heaven is pictured) it all looks far more like a traditional Catholic Mass than the bare preaching rooms and long Bible lectures of the Protestants.


Primitivism is the idea that for a thing to be ‘pure’ it needs to be taken back to the original version. Protestantism is a primitivism movement–they want to get rid of all the Catholic “extra trappings” and return to the original “new testament church”. Read this article from my archived articles section: The Problem with Primitivism

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  • http://catholicwvengeance.wordpress.com/ Rachel Gohlman

    so true!

  • H. Hobbit

    What would Jesus recognize from Protestant church services? Good question. Back then, did they only sing or chant the 1st, 2nd, and 4th stanza of the psalms?

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Ladies only on verse 2?

  • A.C.

    I was wondering if the photo is from St. Francis de Sales Oratory?

  • Rick12

    Great answer Father. Now how many of those things don’t exist in many of the newer and remodeled Catholic Churches in this country. How many parishes still use incense? The alter has been turned into a table. Few chant the psalms. How many have a visible tabernacle? The number of candles have been reduced to two in most parishes I have seen. The sacrifice is now called a banquet at my local parish. Some parishes replace the water with sand during Lent. Do many parishes still have processions? I did not realize many of these things you talked about until I attended a Traditional Latin Mass. I often have reflected on what would Jesus do if he entered many of the newer Catholic Churches or walked in on rather progressive rendition of the Holy Mass with dancing girls, folk music and such. They resemble Herods Palace more than the Temple in Jerusalem. I imagine His would be very similar to His reaction to the money changers in His house. I was raised as an Independant Baptist and now attend a TLM parish. It has been a beautiful journey. God Bless Father keep up the good work, love your blog.

  • Michael Fraley

    Good column. Thinking back to my days as an evangelical, I would have said that, yes, Jesus would have recognized Catholic worship … and He would have consigned it to the dustbin of history, along with the priesthood and the need for sacrifice or an altar. The similarities between first century Jewish worship and Catholic worship would have only intensified the feeling that this wasn’t Christianity we were looking at … not at all. I would have said that Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not give us more of the same. The problem with that point of view is that we want Jesus to give us a complete and total break with the past, a Church released from even the slightest link with traditional Judaism. This is what moderns want, and we try to convince ourselves that this is what Jesus wanted too. Modern evangelicals tend to view early “Book of Acts” Christianity with both envy and disdain, as a result. We look forward to once again having a powerful Church as they did, but we look down our noses at their connection to the Jewish feasts and traditions. We convince ourselves that the kind of hierarchy in the Church that the pastoral epistles talk about could not *possibly* have been written by the real-and-for-true St. Paul, who (of course) preferred the same free n’ easy pattern of church planting that nondenominational Christians do today. It’s an interesting thing.

  • http://www.theeighthstation.blogspot.com Sue

    Now if only the Catholics in the pew would recognize Catholic worship!

  • Mark

    Not onlywould He recognize the Jewish roots of the liturgy, he would see the heavenly worship from the Book of Revelation more than anything!

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    You should come to my parish: six candles on the shelf beside the central tabernacle, six candles more on the altar, a solemn procession at the beginning of Mass, and the psalm chanted with a cantor and choir.

  • KenC STL

    Sure looks like it! One of the most beautiful churches in the Midwest!

  • Paul Rodden

    The question, ‘Would Jesus Recognise Catholic Worship?’, implies Jesus is an observer, an outsider. Something external to the liturgy itself: it sees Jesus ‘up in heaven’, ‘looking down’ on the proceedings, not right there in the sanctuary.

    The question’s meaningless to me, but if I was asked if I recognised Jesus in Catholic Worship, I’d have to say, ‘Yes! – He’s right there – can’t you see him?’.

  • Rick12

    Would love to Father, if I ever have a chance to visit my family in Greenville, SC you can count on it. My family in your area are graduates and employees of Bob Jones but have not continued the journey as you have. My comments were not directed at your parish it was just a general state of the Church. I have read your conversion story and think we are similar paths, covered alot of the same territory so to speak.

  • JL Hargus

    Yes praise God I can see Him now.

  • Amy

    This article spoke so deeply to my heart! Having tasted various “flavors” of Protestantism, I can say there are very sincere Protestants (and I used to be one) who “do church” in the way THEY interpret the first century GENTILE Christians did, i.e. home church meetings, non-Eucharistic meals together, and so forth, based solely on St. Paul’s epistles. I emphasize Gentile Christians, because these churches, in their various degrees of dispensationalism, believe the Church, the Body of Christ, to NOT have any connection with Israel at all, especially the hyper-dispensationalists. In their minds, God has set Israel aside, in ” this dispensation of Grace”; therefore, any connection to Israel, be it ceremonial, liturgical, the Law, etc. has been severed. They have, therefore, incorrectly interpreted first century Christian history through the rose-colored glasses of their own flawed Scriptural interpretation and applied it to suit themselves and how they wish to worship with total disregard for ACTUAL historical first century reality, as lived by the Apostles and their disciples, and passed down and preserved to this very day.

    Your article, Father, so beautifully shows our glorious Church’s rich, historical, Jewish roots, and for that I am deeply grateful. I have found that that which I criticized the most while outside Mother Church, ritualistic tradition, is what speaks deepest to my soul and builds and deepens my relationship with Jesus Christ as I come to know better its nuances. It’s good to be back.

  • Grandpa Tom

    Jesus would most certainly recognize the Lord’s prayer, together with the offering of Bread and Wine, in the manner of Melchizedek the High Priest; the offering at the command of Jesus found in John 6:35 where Jesus said “I am the Bread of Life.” Yes, Jesus would recognize the breaking of the Bread, the Holy Eurcharist. Further, Revelations 4 reveals ongoing worship of God in Heaven similair to our style of worship which includs robed men, and incense offered up together with prayer (Rev.8; the smoke of incense rose).

  • Bernard

    My parish also Father D. St. Catherine of Siena, Reading, Pa. We have a yound priest, ordained 3 years now and he takes his vocation seriously. A wonderful priest of Jesus Christ.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    i grew up in Reading PA!

  • John

    @Rick12, things are getting better, at least in some places. The parish I attend when in Minnesota was originally built back in the 80s and reflects all the problems of church design from that time. The Tabernacle was “down the hall,” there was no crucifix in the church, just a very stylized piece of art that could have been intended to be a cross, or maybe not. Recently I understand the diocese has required all churches to renovate to put Tabernacles in appropriate places, etc. I was in Florida when they did the work. I was a little worried at what I would find on my return – Parish design committees aren’t always where you expect to find inspiration – but oh my goodness. The abstract piece of garbage on the wall was gone and there in its place in the central place of honor (where it should have been all along) was the Tabernacle. Suspended from the ceiling and dominating the sanctuary was a massive crucifix done by a gifted sculptor that, at least for me, captures the final moments of the passion. As I knelt and gazed, I heard again and again: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” People in that church know they are in a Catholic Church – no doubt.

  • Dixibehr

    Rick12, the American Latin Church is NOT the totality, or even the standard, of the Catholic Church.

    Have you attended an Eastern Catholic church? Sung liturgy and copious incense is the norm there, as with the Orthodox.

  • Rick12

    Have not attended an Eastern Orthodox mass since I was a child, my fathers parents were Russo Carpathian. I attended mass only once or twice with them. I think those childhood memories of the grandure of the mass drew me to the TLM eventually. It is funny for years attending a Novus Ordo mass it always felt like something was missing, I will say those Novus Ordo Parsishes were a nice transition into the TLM. I believe it was a necessary step to the TLM. I sing in a scola now so I have listened some of the chant of the eastern Churches it is beautiful, no heavenly. A good friend is very fond of Russian Orthodox chant. Still learning as they say but by the grace of God I am surrounded by incredible talent that have been praising God in the language of the Church for years. I don’t have the voice of an angel but I’m working on it, my voice was designed for the lower end of the scale.

  • Paul Rodden

    Like me, then, you know that the presence of Jesus is mediated through the appearance of consecrated bread like subatomic particles are mediated through their appearance on photographic plates. As Jesus looks nothing like bread, so the particles look nothing like the traces they leave behind.

  • Paul Rodden

    …both merely signal their respective presences.

  • Rick12

    That is great news and it is great that the changes are appreciated. You folks in Minnesota put up a good fight during the election, you have been in our prayers you have a very brave and honorable Bishop, you are blessed. Keep up the good fight it was but a battle in the greater war for souls. As another blogger on the web would put it brick by brick the Church will be rebuilt to the Glory of God.

  • Rick12

    That is great news, those are wonderful changes to your parish. As another blogger would put it “Brick by Brick” the Church will be rebuilt for the Glory of God. Just wanted to say you folks in Minnesota stood strong and you are blessed to have such a strong shepherd in Archbishop Nienstedt. Keep up the good fight it is but one battle in the greater war for souls. Our prayers are with you.

  • Carl

    I agree that things are improving. When we first moved to the Rochester area (NH not Minnesota) both parishes in town had the Tabernacle not hidden but off to the side. Now both are smack dap in the middle right where they should be.

  • Paul Rodden

    I realised the above might have sounded a bit like consubstantiation, which it wasn’t mean to.

    Rather, the point was that a scientist has to have some carefully prepared elements and follow a set of very precise rubrics to ‘confect’ the real visible presence of the particle, just like a priest.

    So, why can’t I be as convinced about bread being changed substantially and Christ being made present by following rubrics of the prayer of consecration, as you are that a particle is made present when the emulsion on a plate changes substantially through the scientist following the rubrics of the experiment?

    In fact, Bernard Lonergan points out the dangers inherent in the experimentation process because, as the thing being ‘observed’ is invisible, scientists could merely be seeing what they want to see, as if wearing rose coloured spectacles really makes everything pink. In other words, if the mediator of the observation changes, the thing observed changes. Both the priest and the scientist have to have faith that their respective rubrics will bring about the desired visible presence of the invisible to be observed.

  • vox borealis

    The simply answer to the question is of course, “yes, Jesus would recognize Catholic worship as worship…he was the Son of God and as such recognized a good many things that others could not comprehend.”

    The second simple answer, addressing the spirit of the question as it were, is, “who cares?” So what if Catholic worship (as imagined in the photo from St. Peter’s)” would be recognizable to a Jew from the first century, or even a Christian from the first century? Worship is not allowed to evolve at all? We’re supposed to go back entirely to worship in house churches or catacombs? We may lament some developments, but that does not mean it is inherently necessary for liturgical forms to return to some imagined, primitive “original” form for it to have value.

  • Justme

    I live in shillington pa I pass st Cathrines on my way to work rt 562!!!! Small world

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I graduated from Gov Mifflin High…

  • Joe Blomley

    You might be interested in the Papal Encyclical from 1947 from the Venerable Pope Pius XII “Mediator Dei” in which he condemned certain excesses of liturgical reform that had surfaced in the wake of the Liturgical Movement. It can be read as a rebuttal of the fervor for “ecclesial archaeology” which has continued to grip and damage the Church to this day.

    61. The same reasoning holds in the case of some persons who are bent on the restoration of all the ancient rites and ceremonies indiscriminately. The liturgy of the early ages is most certainly worthy of all veneration. But ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity. The more recent liturgical rites [he's speaking in 1947, remember] likewise deserve reverence and respect. They, too, owe their inspiration to the Holy Spirit, who assists the Church in every age even to the consummation of the world. They are equally the resources used by the majestic Spouse of Jesus Christ to promote and procure the sanctity of man.

    62. Assuredly it is a wise and most laudable thing to return in spirit and affection to the sources of the sacred liturgy. For research in this field of study, by tracing it back to its origins, contributes valuable assistance towards a more thorough and careful investigation of the significance of feast-days, and of the meaning of the texts and sacred ceremonies employed on their occasion. BUT IT IS NEITHER WISE NOR LAUDABLE TO REDUCE EVERYTHING TO ANTIQUITY BY EVERY POSSIBLE DEVISE. Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive tableform; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer’s body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See.

    63. Clearly no sincere Catholic can refuse to accept the formulation of Christian doctrine more recently elaborated and proclaimed as dogmas by the Church, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit with abundant fruit for souls, because it pleases him to hark back to the old formulas. No more can any Catholic in his right senses repudiate existing legislation of the Church to revert to prescriptions based on the earliest sources of canon law. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.

    64. This way of acting bids fair to revive the exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism to which the illegal Council of Pistoia (1796) gave rise. It likewise attempts to reinstate a series of errors which were responsible for the calling of that meeting as well as for those resulting from it, with grievous harm to souls, and which the Church, the ever watchful guardian of the “deposit of faith” committed to her charge by her divine Founder, had every right and reason to condemn. For perverse designs and ventures of this sort tend to paralyze and weaken that process of sanctification by which the sacred liturgy directs the sons of adoption to their Heavenly Father of their souls’ salvation.

    65. In every measure taken, then, let proper contact with the ecclesiastical hierarchy be maintained. Let no one arrogate to himself the right to make regulations and impose them on others at will. Only the Sovereign Pontiff, as the successor of Saint Peter, charged by the divine Redeemer with the feeding of His entire flock, and with him, in obedience to the Apostolic See, the bishops “whom the Holy Ghost has placed . . . to rule the Church of God,” have the right and the duty to govern the Christian people. Consequently, Venerable Brethren, whenever you assert your authority – even on occasion with wholesome severity – you are not merely acquitting yourselves of your duty; you are defending the very will of the Founder of the Church.

    Mediator Dei, PIUS XII 20th November 1947

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    in future keep comments short please. A few words about this important document and a hyperlink for readers to go there is better

  • Josh Henderson

    I grew up Wesleyan and I must say our church worship styles can be a bare at times. I do appreciate prescribed worship, as it gives me something to say on the days my heart is dull or I’m under attack. I will say I think the simple services provide something less “scary” to new worshipers, but at the same, may not provide enough to the spiritually mature or the christian seeking more. One of the things that I think gets protestants on their disagreements with Catholic liturgical worship is when they don’t understand where the worship style originated from. I find when I understand the root of a practice, I’m more understanding of it. Great article, great blog.

  • Michael

    I grew up following the Reading Rifle, Carl Furillo.

  • CJ Countryman

    Roughly translated … “Wherever two or more are gathered in his name, there is Love” … “God is Love” … ergo wherever sincerity of worship is present, Jesus will be present, which is far more than just recognizing the ceremony.

  • Dave in NC

    I grew up just south of you, in Lancaster. Many Longeneckers there. There used to be Longenecker’s Drug store on North Queen St.

    We left for NC in 1977, have only been back a few times since then.


  • JIMW


    Can u give a short view on those churches that keep the tabernacle in a so-called adoration chapel, more like a glorified-closet FOR NO APPARENT REASON. I realize some churches have bon-a-fide reasons for doing so, like St. Peter’s in Rome, but how about a local parish?

  • Steve

    Jesus recognizes and knows everything. Maybe a better question is would Jesus aprove of catholic worship?

  • Bernard

    I can’t think of any reason why He wouldn’t.

  • Justme

    My son goes to St. John Baptiste De LaSalle academy in Gov. Mifflin school
    district hahahaha!!!!!!!!! May the blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit and the with spirit of your family!!!!!

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker


  • ben

    Interesting article and I agree with it but i would like you to be careful when talking to our prodestant brothers and sisters. This isn’t a competion and we can learn a lot from our prodestant brothers and sisters in faithfulness as a community which lacks at most Catholic parishes. I think Christ would recognize that more in their church than ours. We need to pray for unity not put up walls.

  • bill puka

    Well, perhaps. But as I recall, Ye’shua was not all that delighted with the Pharisees and Scribes in the Temple, precisely for their substitution of rituals and pomp for devotion. He also criticized the letter of the law and liturgy as compared to its spirit, which is often crowded out in “celebrating” mass. (I never realized that “celebrated” in mass was the same as “celebrated” in life, growing up as a Catholic, that’s how much spirit seemed involved.) Measure the distance between the Galilee area and Jerusalem in steps, and I’d guess Ye’shua didn’t worship there much in any event. Also, “recognize,” in Catholicism especially means something quite different and more than notice as familiar, but endorse, as in recognizing order X or marriage Y, no? This is the spirit of the remark as I heard it: would Jesus approve. Personally, I’d be embarrassed to take him along. And this is not just because The Torah is not even present to be taken out and read, the centerpiece of Jewish worship, it is because to be Catholic one need not feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, visit political prisoners, or love thy neighbor as thyself, not to mention loving God with one’s whole heart, soul and strength. And Catholics need not even confess these “nots” as sins. They need only attend mass, say sincere acts of contrition, and thus be square with the Church.


    You mean “Would He recognise Himself nailed to a cross, amidst all those who love and worship Him?”

    I`d say “Yeah”.

    Like a Shepperd recognising the love of His flock.

  • http://bloggingtheology.wordpress.com Paul Williams

    Fr. Longenecker, I notice that you did not put up my response to your article – do you not believe in free speech and the right of reply?

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I believe in free speech. You’re free to start your own blog if you want. This combox is a place for people to make intelligent, short and hopefully witty comments on blog posts, and for a minimal amount of discussion to go on between myself and between readers. When someone comes on and keeps repeating the same thing over and over and is clearly not engaged in conversation I usually pull the plug.

  • http://bloggingtheology.wordpress.com Paul Williams

    shame on you for running away from a challenge: it speaks volumes about the fragility of your faith if you behave in such a childish way when challenged! But I guess your devoted followers on this blog do not want their faith to be disturbed by robust questions…

    You have lost my respect!

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    You don’t seem to get it. This is my blog. It’s not an internet religious forum. It is not a debate box. It is not a place where I engage in argument with you or anyone.

    Sorry about that. I simply don’t have the time to argue with people. If you’re interested in learning more about the Catholic faith I’ll take all the time in the world. If you want to argue go somewhere else.

  • Joefen

    FWIW Paul, I responded to your “robust questions” in the previous post. Fr. Longenecker, as he said, has better things to do, and his blog combox is not the vehicle for arguments or lengthy debates.

    Sorry I assummed you were an atheist, although I’m not sure what the difference would be between an atheist and a Muslim if both have been shown the fullness of the Christian faith in the Catholic Church and then reject the Deity of Christ.

  • Marie

    Bill Puka, where did you get your ideas about being Catholic? Certainly not from the actual teachings of the Church! To be a good Catholic is to be precisely the sort of person who feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, visits the imprisoned, etc – those are known to Catholics as the “Corporal Works of Mercy” (well, three of them, there are a total of seven in the traditional list!) and we are supposed to practice as many as we can, daily, out of love for Jesus. I suggest that you read some real Catholic writings, like the Catechism of the Catholic Church to find out what’s expected of Catholics to be “square with the Church.”

  • Carl

    What an uncharitable parody of the Catholic faith. You can’t be more wrong.

  • Bradley

    True! But, also true for the Catholics on the alter.

  • Bradley

    A good question that probably has the exact same answer – preceeded by a “Yes”

  • Selah

    Yes , Jesus would recognize that the Roman Catholic system has devised a priesthood and has built in every church an altar that ” continues ” to sacrifice tens of thousands of times everyday re-inventing the Levitical priesthood.If you look at Hebrews 7:26-28 , the operative word is ” once ”,one sacrifice. There is no need for daily offering of sacrifices. Hebrews 9; 24-28 repeats this thought.
    Jesus does not need to offer Himself often . He does not need to suffer repeatedly. Ephapax ; Gr – means ” once for all time “. The act was so decisive and accomplished so much that it need never be repeated. Any effort to repeat it would discredit the achievement that happened ” once for all “.
    You wonder why you always see a crucifix and not an empty cross ?.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    This indicates a lack of understanding of Catholic theology of the Eucharist. We believe that Christ’s death on the cross was the one, full, final sacrifice. We do not sacrifice Christ again, nor do we make continual sacrifices. Instead the ‘sacrifice of the Mass’ is a re-presentation of Christ’s one, full final sacrifice–bringing that one sacrifice into the present moment and applying it’s graces to our needs here and now.

  • Rob

    I’m in PA as well…Lemoyne area near Harrisburg, although my church is in Orwigsburg PA, not terribly far north of Reading. It’s Lutheran, but we understand that what we are doing is not necessarily a reflection of what Christ did in his religious observance. It is just the translation that we choose to adhere to. I grew up Catholic, the emphasis on ritualistic actions and behaviors, in my opinion, detracts from communion with God. At least, that’s how it feels to me. But I understand that it works for some.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Most people who don’t connect with liturgy could do to have some teaching on how to connect through liturgy…

  • Gregory Wonderwheel

    Jesus was an Essene and didn’t approve of the Jewish Pharisees or Saducces worship, so it is very unlikely that he would have approved of Catholic worship.

  • Eugene LeBoeuf

    Father, May the Holy Spirit continue His blessings in your ministry!

  • (Fr.) James Dallen

    A few caveats from a liturgist with special interest in the Jewish roots of Christian worship:

    Those roots were in the synagogue (Liturgy of the Word) and at the home and chavurah table (Liturgy of Eucharist).

    We know very little regarding the structure and content of the synagogue service prior to the late second and early third century. The focus, we know, was on scripture study and prayer; generally only male members of the community participated fully; leadership and roles were fairly informal (cf. Jesus’ participation). While “synagogues” existed in the first century CE, there is little evidence of institutional organization or formalization of worship (even of the Passover seder) until after the destruction of the Temple.

    So far as the Temple itself was concerned, worship there was, as you point out, organized, formal, and elaborate. However, both as a Galilean and by personal choice, Jesus seems to have had little contact with Temple worship. He is generally considered to have been associated with movements (such as Pharisaism, which developed into Rabbinic Judaism) which stressed lay rather than priestly leadership and participation.

    Apart from the psalms (which seem to have entered into synagogue worship), Temple worship had almost no influence on Christian worship. The Jesus movement and early Christianity (apart from the Jerusalem community) had little or no contact with the Temple. By the time the two “siblings” (Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity) went their separate ways from Second-Temple Judaism, the Temple was gone. Both Hebrews and Revelation seem designed in part to counter nostalgia for Temple worship.

    Only after the fourth-century legalization of Christianity were associations made between Jewish Temple and Christian worship. For the most part these associations were made because of the allegorizing tendency of contemporary scholarship and the anti-Jewish polemics of such church officials as John Chrysostom.

    Margaret Barker and others have attempted to make more of Temple influence on early Christian worship, but liturgical historians remain unconvinced.

    Thank you for your writing ministry!

    Jim Dallen

  • J. Bob

    Perhaps you might give some references to your comment, or is it your opinion.

  • http://www.nutritionatlanta.net Leslie Strovas

    I believe Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that no longer would we worship in the temple but in spirit and in truth. I take this to mean that worship that Jesus accepts is rooted in the state of our heart and spirit at the time of worship, which according to Paul should be every moment of our lives. I’m not sure the trappings matter to Jesus as long as the intention is to love and honor our Lord, and not the trappings. If altars & candles and lofty echoing cathedrals enable that spirit and heart connection, then I think He’d be all for that. Maybe it’s nature or simplicity, or music, or ritualistic prayers and scripture readings. If it moves the spirit and heart and ushers you into awareness of the presence of our God who is always with us, then so be it. If our love is for our traditions, rituals, doctrines, and methods – be it Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox or Evangelical – rather than for Christ, then then is not worship, it is idolatry, and this we know Jesus does NOT accept.

  • https://twitter.com/Luterinho Lutherinho

    In all sincerity, would Jesus recognize as “Christian” worship? Clearly, NOT, he was a Jew. :-)

  • Debbie

    Personally, I don’t think that Jesus would recognize catholic church rituals as “Jewish” worship but rather as Mithra worship. So many pagan symbols, pagan gods/goddesses and pagan feast days were adopted and rebranded as “Christian” to attract pagans into the early 1st-century messianic church, that most believing Jews left and formed their own congregations to keep pure. I also think that Jesus would be very confused by the modern church’s observance of the winter/spring pagan feasts of Saturnalia and Estre instead of the feasts of Yahweh as detailed in the Bible. I think he’d be confused by our Bible too—in His day it was the Torah, Prophets and Writings. Most of His teachings were from the book of Leviticus.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    What you’ve written is the product of half baked anti Catholic propaganda. It is not true nor is it based on true scholarship.

  • Tom Gordon

    This is an absurd article. Jesus wouldn’t recognize anything in today’s world; he lived 2000 years ago.

  • http://bloggingtheology.wordpress.com Paul Williams

    What YOU’VE written is the product of half baked pro-Catholic propaganda! It is not true nor is it based on true scholarship. But you are too afraid to allow any criticism of your position. Some people might think you were a coward…

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I don’t argue with people.

  • Paul

    I wonder if Peter would recognize Catholic Worship? An old fisherman who apperantly started wearing robes and spoke Latin, chanted long, etc…

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Peter would recognize Catholic worship for the same reasons Jesus did.