Signs and Ceremonies

I just finished reading Teaching Truths by Signs and Ceremonies or The
Church, Its Rites and Services Explained for the People
by Rev. Jas. L. Meagher
(1882, New York: Russel Brothers). I acquired a second edition copy from my grandfather’s
estate in 1998. He was one of the very few Catholics in my family. It’s too bad
I didn’t convert until two years after his death. I’d love to have a family member
to fully share my faith with.

This book is full of nuggets of wisdom and I’ll be posting some of them for the
next few days. Some of them are eternal Truths, others are sad reminders of the
damage done by “progress”.

“In this Ritual [of the Mass], every sign recalls a doctrine, every movement has its meaning,
and every action breathes of mystery.” (Preface)

“Thus all in the Church, the plan, the foundation, the music, the ornaments,
the style, all point to the altar, telling of the unchanging faith, the belief of
past ages in the Real Presence, of God in the Sacrament of the altar.” (Ch.
1, p. 9)

“[S]how me a religion without rites and ceremonies, and I will show you a people
drifting rapidly toward infidelity and the denial of all religion.” (Ch. 1,

“Sometimes you will see the Church as a great building on a rock in the sea.
That is the true Church built by Christ on the rock, that is on the Papacy, in the
sea, in the midst of the changing governments and institutions and peoples of this
world, who are ever fluctuating like the waves of the sea, but the Church is on
an impregnable rock, for the Church never changes. You see the waves dashing against
the rock-bound shores, but beaten back. Thus the Church built on Peter and his successors
stands alone in the world; it never changes; it remains the same; it is attacked
on all sides by the waves of error, the storms of persecution, the roar of the elements
of passion, of governments, of politics around it; it is attacked by these, but
they are driven back; they go down. Governments may change, nations may rise and
fall, people may change their forms of laws, their idea, their manners, but the
Church alone, as an institution founded by Jesus Christ, stands to-day and ever
will, a thing that can never be destroyed. “And the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it.” (Ch. 3, p. 51, quote from Matthew