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According to Father John Harding, scriptural types exist when “a biblical person, thing, action, or event foreshadow new truths, new actions or new events . . . A likeness must exist between the type and the archetype but the latter is always greater. Both are independent of each other.” These types can be seen in various stories and situations throughout the Old and New testaments. While much attention has been given to Old Testament people who fill typological roles, little attention has been paid to Ancient Jewish liturgy and how it was a preparation for the Catholic Mass.
One could argue that Ancient Judaism formally began with Moses on Mount Sinai. Almost immediately, the nomadic Jewish people began to develop a highly ritualized liturgy that was meant to teach the Jewish people who their creator God was, how to worship this creator God, and how to remain in communion with Him.
The Jewish people, unlike all other ancient people, were taught that man was “very good” and that life was sacred. This nomadic people learned that worship was to be communal and always done within the framework of a community–under the guidance of a sacred priesthood. Their creator God would provide this chosen nomadic people a food that is not merely “lehem” (the Hebrew word for bread) but something other than bread: “manna” (literally in Hebrew meaning, “What is it?”). Here’s the parallel: We your pilgrim church on earth today also eat something that is “other than bread,” provided by a Personal God with a sacred priesthood in a communal worship.
To worship this newly revealed “I AM,” the Hebrew people had to set up their tents and then eventually their sacred Temple according to very specific instructions. There were seven items that were intrinsic to the Jewish liturgy that still find significance in our own Catholic Mass:
- 1. The Ark of the Covenant. This was the special box, made of acacia wood covered in gold, meant to house the three sacred items of the Jewish Law: The Ten Commandments, the staff of Aaron, and a jar of manna. Every Catholic Church contains an “Ark of the Covenant”–the Tabernacle. Christ Himself in the Blessed Sacrament is present: truly, really, substantially. He is the New Law, the High Priest, and the Bread of Life.
- The Mercy Seat. In Ancient Judaism, the Kapporeth, or the top of the Ark of the Covenant, sometimes also called the seat of atonement, was a place where the high priest on the High Feast of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) would sacrifice a heifer for the sins of the whole world. It was on this day, and this day alone, that he would pronounce the unpronounceable name, the Sacred Tetragrammaton: YHWH. When the temple was destroyed and there was no longer an ark, synagogues would still retain a chair representing authority. This became known as Moses’ chair. This has two meanings: authority sees its continuity in the word “cathedra” (cathedral of a bishop and ex cathedra of the pope) meaning “chair”; and there is a special chair where the celebrant of every Mass sits. This chair is called the Presider’s chair.
- The Altar. In Ancient Judaism, there were different tables/altars for different purposes. The bronze altar was the main altar for sacrifice. It was not made of gold because bronze was stronger and would hold up against the sharp knife used in sacrifice. Although on our main altar the priest offers an unbloodied sacrifice, we still have an altar for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
- Ritual Offerings. The bronze altar was an altar of continual prayers and offerings. We, too, have an “Offertory Table.” While ours is not made of acacia wood covered in bronze, we utilize a special table on which the gifts of bread and wine are placed before being brought to the altar during the offertory procession.
- Incense. The golden altar of incense was used throughout the day as a symbolic reminder of the prayers of the people rising up to Yahweh. Today we use incense in the liturgy as a symbolic act of purification and sanctification. The smoke still symbolizes the prayers of the faithful drifting up to heaven. The use of incense adds a sense of solemnity and mystery to the Mass. The visual imagery of the smoke and the smell remind us of the transcendence of the Mass which links heaven with earth, and allows us to enter into the presence of God.
- A Water Basin. The bronze basin was also called the copper laver and was made up of the mirrors of the Hebrew women. The bronze basin would hold the holy water for ritual purification, not unlike the blessed water in our baptismal fonts and holy water fonts.
- A Sanctuary Light. The golden menorah lamp stand was originally a seven-branched candled lamp stand symbolizing the seven days of creation. The Chanukah menorah commemorates the eight days of the miracle of light found in the Book of Maccabees, and that is why it has more branches. But both menorahs were made to resemble the burning bush of Exodus, when God uniquely appeared to Moses. Jesus, the light of the world, also appears to us. We acknowledge his unique presence in the Blessed Sacrament with a Sanctuary Candle that is always lit, as long as the consecrated host is in the tabernacle.
Regina Hiney has been a catechist in the Diocese of Arlington for the last 17 years but has been teaching religious education for 22. Currently she is teaching at Saint William of York school in the diocese of Arlington. She attended Molloy College in Rockville Centre New York where she double-majored in English and Education. Regina has a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in medieval church history from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. She is married to Jason Hiney for 20 years and a mom to six great kids.
I’ve often wondered what my life would’ve been like by now had I followed the call of God’s voice as a young boy. Erroneously believing that a life of pain and hardship lay in that direction, I hardened my heart and adopted a more “realistic” attitude toward my future.
To the Heights, Mr. Brian Kennelly’s novelization of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasseti’s life (1901-1925), showed me what such a life devoted to caring and loving, begun at a very early age, might have looked like. Pier Giorgio simply and humbly believed that no one is ever too young to love and to care for others, especially for the marginalized, the poor, and the disenfranchised.
I found the life of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasseti incredibly inspiring. I admit that before reading To the Heights I had not heard of this popular third order Franciscan. Mr. Kennelly does a great job fleshing out Pier Giorgio Frasseti’s love for his family along with his passion for the Catholic Church; his pious devotions to praying the Rosary; attending daily Mass; and spending time in adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
It is important to show young Catholics the rewards of a strongly-lived faith. This book does just that. To the question: given the current state of the world, how can I believe in a God? Mr. Kennelly replies, through Pier Giorgio Frasseti’s humble actions and words: take account of all the graces in your life. How can you not believe in God?
As a Vincentian, I was heartened to read of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasseti’s work in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The spirit of caring and charity rings true on every page. In a moving passage, Pier Giorgio explains to someone seemingly indifferent to serving the poor, “There is a special light behind the poor and unfortunate, one we do not have, one that has nothing to do with riches and health. I urge you to see that light tonight, not with your eyes, but with your heart.”
There are many echoes of past saints and sanctifying grace in the young man’s life: his fondness for hiking reminded me of Pope St. John Paul II’s passion for the outdoors; Pier Giorgio’s love of the poor and the sick, and the selfless acts of kindness with which he filled his days, brought to mind St. Vincent de Paul and St. Thérèse of Lisieux (especially in his love of flowers); and his limitless charity towards the poor is exemplary of St. Francis’ concerns.
But Mr. Kennelly also shows us that the tenderhearted and pious young man was no stranger to physical confrontations. Pier Giorgio lived through WWI and the chaotic political aftermath in Italy which gave rise to Mussolini’s infamous fascist (and anti-Catholic) Black Shirts. Pier Giorgio did not back down from unjust confrontations, although he would only fight when all peaceful avenues had been exhausted. In reaction to the Black Shirts, he remarked, “It’s a sad day when Catholics cower to evil and treat the teachings of their Church as if they are merely suggestions, abandoning them without the slightest sign of a troubled conscience.” How prophetic and timely this warning, as our Church continues to face relentless assaults from the secular world.
I truly enjoyed To the Heights and I will be recommending it to everyone for years to come. Mr. Kennelly not only understood what was in Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasseti’s mind, he showed us the care, love and charity alive in the blessed’s heart. We are grateful to such a talented author for revealing these graces. I also enjoyed the book’s short chapters, and I liked that Mr. Kennelly includes some actual prayers in the text, introducing some of the Church’s treasures, such as the Tedeum, to readers.
If you know someone, especially a young person concerned about the plight of the poor or injustice in the world, you must inspire them to action with a copy of To the Heights.
JT Therrien is a Catholic Canadian fiction writer working in a variety of genres: literary; commercial; children’s and young adult; inspirational (mostly based on the Theology of the Body and traditional Catholic doctrine); art-themed; paranormal; romance and love stories. He plies his craft in short story, novella and novel-length works. Readers who enjoy Brian Kennelly’s To the Heights might also like JT’s art-themed, Theology of the Body, young adult, dystopian novella Sprainter, available at all online e-book retailers. Readers can also follow JT online: https://twitter.com/jttherrien – Twitter, https://jttherrien.blogspot.ca – blog, https://sites.google.com/site/jttherrienauthor – website, https://www.amazon.com/author/jttherrien – Amazon author’s page, and at many other social networking sites.
Review by Claire Young
Icky and CeCe and the Mysterious Mr. Thuan by Donna Piscatelli, is a fun story that sees best friends and new sixth graders, Isaac Babcock and Cecelia Manning, through their first year at Crossroads Middle. This new school year is sure to be interesting. CeCe campaigns for respect for their seemingly endless American food supply, Icky builds a rocket, and the foreign custodian the kids find more than a little weird keeps finding his way into their lives. But Mr. Thuan ends up teaching them just how much other countries are hurting and how blessed they are.
I love CeCe, first of all, because she is so real. She is appealing, but not perfect; has her faults but is still likeable. She has problems that, sadly, a growing portion of the world can identify with. Her family is the victim of a painful divorce, and she and her dad seem to be growing farther apart every year.
But the kids in the book tend to speak better than they would normally (I am, instead of I’m, you are instead of you’re, and how will I instead of how am I supposed to). In smaller amounts, this could set a good example, but it is a bit unrealistic. They also, once in a while act a little younger than they are. Take superhero day. It was a well-written sequence, but sixth graders might have been more on the oh, please side of something like that.
I liked the iPod sequence a lot, but it was never really finished. She loses it and it isn’t ever mentioned after that. DeDe could have given it back after CeCe apologizes to her, or she could have come to terms with the loss, now that she’s realized how much she has.
The scenes with CeCe’s father, mother, and with Mr. Thuan I found very touching. Kids need to know there are adults in their family they can turn to when there’s a problem, no matter how old they are. They don’t have to solve everything by themselves.
And, finally, this book has the rare and wonderful quality of being noticeably Catholic without constantly reminding you to the point of frustration or getting right up in your face. The Catholic writing industry and everybody else, for that matter, needs more books like this.
[Claire Young is a homeschooled seventh grader]
Guest Post: by Wendy Darling
I just read a headline over at Franciscan Media and it gave me pause – How many Lents?
I literally stopped what I was doing and started thinking over my long life. How many Lents indeed.
How many years of childhood when the fasting was so enjoyable because everyone was doing it together. We didn’t have our usual after school snacks of cookies and milk, but I don’t remember what Mom substituted. I don’t seem to have suffered from it, whatever it was.
We always abstained from meat on Fridays, so I’ve eaten my fair share of tuna noodle casserole, peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, and grilled cheese. We certainly didn’t go to Legal Seafoods on Fridays, but again, no worse for the wear.
There was a fish fry at my parish every Friday in Lent. The Holy Name Society had a fish fry every First Friday the rest of the year, so we were used to that, too. In fact, we looked forward to it. I’m sure the fish was some nameless brand of perch (Exactly what IS perch? I only know it’s not tilapia, cod, halibut, flounder, sole, snapper, sea bass, salmon, orange roughy or swordfish.) We didn’t care because it was obviously plentiful and inexpensive. And besides, EVERYONE was there! No Friday night movies for us because we’d go to the church afterwards for the Stations of the Cross.
My high school memories are a little more blurry. But the menu always predominates. NO MEAT! In fact, I think we abstained on Wednesdays, as well. What was wonderful about the abstinence was that it satisfied that tiny voice of conscience that always tried to rear its ugly head when temptation crossed our paths. No, thank you. I gave up candy for Lent. Even our non-Catholic neighbors respected our abstinence rules and helped us to remember when we were playing at their houses. And there were always the Stations of the Cross. To this day, I have never tired of them.
That being said, I must confess that in college, I almost gave up Lent for Lent. Sad to say, at my secular university, there was little support for it from our up-to-date Newman Center chaplain. If a ski trip came in Lent, that quiet voice became almost silent. I know I had a few hamburgers on Fridays, but I still managed to think of something to give up for the season.
Ash Wednesdays. I remember them most of all. It was truly exciting, lining up at the altar rail when I was very young, then standing to be reminded that I am dust and unto dust I shall return. Always chilling, always sobering, but also exhilarating. I was in good company after all. All of us dust-bunnies-to-be were in this together. It couldn’t be THAT bad. In fact, it wasn’t. It was wonderful to be in company with future saints. Though we really didn’t talk about it. We knew the stories by heart, though. We knew that Saint Dominic Savio and Saint Therese of Lisieux had taken their ashes, too. And where they led, we could follow.
In the world of teaching, it was sometimes a challenge to wear those ashes to the faculty lunch room. In fact, sometimes I would take my tomato soup and saltines to my office instead. Then it was just me and God over lunch. I’d apologize for my weakness. This was certainly NOT what Dominic and Therese would have done! As a result of our little “conversations”, my penances became a little different about that time. Several years, in addition to the “giving up”, I added a positive action. Besides almsgiving, I tried on a little more kindness. In addition to cheese, or eggs, or butter, I gave up being impatient. At least I tried to.
As I think back to those many Lents in the past, I look forward to my next one with borderline glee. I remember my dear mother, who, faithful Catholic that she was, went along with the changes in the early seventies, but never stopped bemoaning two things: that the rule about abstinence on all Fridays went by the wayside, and particularly, that the season of Septuagesima, or pre-Lent, had been dropped in the new calendar. She was fond of reminding her children and friends, and even my non-Catholic father, that we human beings are weak and our wills have been compromised by original sin, so the Church knowing that all too well, in her wisdom, gave us reminders and assistance along the way, among them abstinence and a prelude to Lent.
This Sunday is Septuagesima Sunday. I will rejoice at Mass and think so fondly of my mother’s affection for it, and remember why the Church offers us this wonderful season as a preview of the reasons for our upcoming Lenten penances.
How many Lents? Not nearly enough for my liking. But thankfully, here comes another one to bring us closer to the God Who lived and died for us, so that we could be together with Him forever in Heaven. And you thought only Christmas was for gifts.