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The word worship [from the Saxon weorthscipe, "honor"; from worth, meaning "value", "dignity", "price", and the termination, ship; Latin cultus] in its most general sense is homage paid to a person or a thing. In this sense we may speak of hero-worship, worship of the emperor, of demons, of the angels, even of relics, and especially of the Cross. This article will deal with Christian worship according to the following definition: homage paid to God, to Jesus Christ, to His saints, to the beings or even to the objects which have a special relation to God.


There are several degrees of this worship:

  • If this worship is addressed directly to God, it is superior, absolute, supreme worship, a worship of adoration, which is called by the consecrated theological term: latria. This sovereign worship is due to God alone; if it is addressed to a creature it would become idolatry.

  • When worship is addressed only indirectly to God, that is, when its object is the veneration of martyrs, of angels, or of saints, it is a subordinate worship dependent first on the supreme worship of God, and is thus relative, in so far as it honors the creatures of God due to their special relations with Him; this kind of worship is designated by theologians by the term: dulia, a term denoting servitude, and implying, when used to signify our “worship” of these distinguished servants of God, that it is by their service to Him that they merit our veneration [cf. Chollet, loc. cit., col. 2407, and Bouquillon, Tractatus de virtute religionis, I, Bruges, 1880, 22 sq.].

  • As the Blessed Virgin Mary, as the Mother of God, has a separate and absolutely super-eminent rank among the all of the saints, the “worship” paid to her is referred to by the term: hyperdulia.


Most often and most appropriately, we refer to worship as the act of adoration of Almighty God: Father, Son and Holy Ghost; and we refer to the acts of love and respect to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels and Saints as veneration and devotion. Thereby distinguishing by word, what we distinguish by action and belief.


In accordance with these principles it will readily be understood that a certain “worship or veneration” may be offered even to inanimate objects, such as the relics of a martyr, the Cross of Christ, the Crown of Thorns, or even the statue or picture of a saint. There is here no confusion or danger of idolatry, for this "worship or veneration" is subordinate to and dependent upon the worship of Almighty God. The relic of the saint is venerated because of the link which unites it with the person who is thus venerated; while the statue or picture is regarded as having a relation to a person who has a right to our homage or devotion — as being a symbol which reminds us of that person and of their service to God.


Interior worship is to be distinguished from exterior worship. The former is not manifested by external acts, but consists in internal adoration; but when this inner sentiment is expressed by words or actions: e.g. prostration, genuflexion, the sign of the cross, or any other gesture, it becomes exterior worship. Worship is also either private or public; the former, which may be an act of external worship, is performed unseen by men or seen by only a few; the second is official worship rendered by men assembled for a religious end and forming a religious society properly so called. This is not the place to show that Christian worship is a worship at once interior and exterior, public and private. It should be interior, otherwise it would be mere comedy, a purely Pharisaical worship such as Christ condemned when He told His disciples that they should worship in spirit and the truth. But it should not be purely interior worship, which certain groups of Christians and most Deists, maintain; for man is not a pure spirit but composed of body and soul, and he should adore God not only in his soul but also in his body. This is the justification of all external manifestations of worship — genuflexion, prostration, kneeling, standing, the sign of the cross, the lifting-up or imposition of hands. Furthermore, on the same principle it will readily be understood that, in rendering homage to God, man may have recourse to animate or inanimate creatures (sacrifice of animals, incense, lights, flowers, etc.). Neither is it difficult to prove that, since man is a social being, his worship should be public and in common with others. Worship in private or even individual worship in public, is not sufficient. Society as such should also render to God the honor due to Him. Furthermore, it is natural that men who believe in the same God and experience towards Him the same sentiments of adoration, gratitude, and love should assemble to praise and thank Him.


The fact that Christ founded a Church, that is, a society of men professing the same faith, obeying the same laws united with one another by the closest bonds, implies the existence of the same worship. This religious society founded by Christ should have one and the same worship — "one Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all" (Ephesians 4:5-6). Hence Christian worship is the worship of the Church, the expression of the same faith, and exercised under the supervision of the ecclesiastical authority. Thus understood worship depends on the virtue of religion and is the manifestation of that virtue. Finally, theologians usually connect worship also with the virtue of justice; for worship is not an optional act of the creature; God is entitled to the worship of intelligent creatures as a matter of justice.


In Christianity the worship offered to God has a special character which profoundly differentiates it from Jewish worship, for it is the worship of the Trinity, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Our worship is directed to God, Who is one, omnipotent, magnificent, sovereign, King of kings, Lord of lords, and God of gods. Prayer is addressed to Him as the living God, the Lord God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, or simply to the Lord our God. But ordinarily God is conceived of by Christians under other titles and with another form. In the worship which Christ paid to God He shows Him to us as the Father. He adores Him as His Father: "I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth" (Matthew 11:25; cf. Luke 10:21); "Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me" (Mark 14:36); "Father, sanctify me . . . Father glorify me . . . Just Father" (John 17). Already He seems to claim for Himself a worship of adoration equal to what he gives the Father: "If two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:19, 20). The Apostles and even those who were not His disciples prayed to Him during His life-time: "Lord, if it be thou, bid me to come to thee upon the waters" (Matthew 14:28); "Lord, save us, we perish" (Matthew 8:25); "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean" (Matthew 8:2; cf. Mark 1:40; Luke 5:12); "Have mercy on me, O Lord . . . But she came and adored him, saying: Lord, help me" (Matthew 15:22; 25), etc.


Worship is the foundation of faith for everything we do. For Catholics, worship stands at the center of our life of faith. Through God’s Sacred Word, and in the celebration of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in the Seven Holy Sacraments and by prayer we are nurtured in our faith and sent out into the world as missionaries and emissaries of God.


Connected with and central to everything we do, worship unites us in prayer, adoration, thanksgiving and communion and it helps us grow in faith. It grounds us in our Christian and Catholic roots, while demonstrating practical relevance in and for today’s world.


While some of the approaches to worship may differ between the Roman Catholic Church and the Old Roman Catholic Church, we hold certain things in common. Central to our worship life is the presence of God through His Word and His Sacraments. The Sacred Word proclaimed and the Holy Sacraments are called the means of grace. We believe that Jesus Christ is present in these means through the power of the Holy Spirit.


There is also a basic pattern for worship among Catholics. We gather together to worship God as a community of believers, as members of His one Mystical Body, as His Church. We encounter God’s Word to us. We share a fellowship and communion with each other as we approach the Altar of Sacrifice and there receive our Blessed Savior: Body, Blood Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion. And we are then sent into the world to make His loving message of mercy forgiveness, salvation and redemption known to all men. We do not think about worship so much in terms of what we do, rather worship is fundamentally about what God is doing and our response to God’s action. Worship is an encounter with God, who saves us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior and our Redeemer.


The North American Old Roman Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church, while sharing a common liturgical origin, have, since the Second Vatican Council, parted and developed in different directions. The Roman Catholic Church introduced in the 1960's a new form of the Mass under the pontificate of Pope Paul VI (called appropriately the Novus Ordo) in which the position of the altar and the priest where changed and new translations and compositions of prayers and even alternate Canons of the Mass were composed and made obligatory within that jurisdiction. In recent years a permission to return to the older liturgy has been expanded and the ancient Tridentine Rite, which is now available at limited opportunities and occasions as determined by the local Bishop, is termed the Extra-ordinary Rite of the Mass for Roman Catholics.


The Old Roman Catholic Church has continued to worship and to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the ancient and revered Tridentine Rite as it has since its separation from the See of Rome. This Tridentine Rite is the common possession, heritage and patrimony of both Roman Catholic and Old Roman Catholic faithful, and is preserved with great love and care by the Old Roman Catholic Communion. While it was common in times past to celebrate this Rite of the Mass in the Latin language solely, the tradition and now immemorial custom of the Old Roman Catholic Church is to permit the Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular tongue while conforming in all things to the accurate translation of the ancient prayers and to observe the traditional rubrics in its celebration. The only modifications permitted are those which have been canonically authorized by the College of Bishops of our jurisdiction. In the same way, the celebration of the Sacraments is also performed according to the traditional Tridentine Rite. All of the traditional devotions of the Catholic Church, such as the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, various novenas and other extra-liturgical or para-liturgical devotions and practices are maintained by the Old Roman Catholic Church with fidelity and reverence.


The North American Old Roman Catholic Church, as a true Old Roman Catholic body, in accordance with The Principles of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church, conforms strictly to the liturgical works of the Roman Catholic Church prior to 1964. We adhere strictly to the Missale Romanum, Rituale Romanum, Pontificale Romanum, Martyrologium Romanum, and the Cæremoniale Episcoporum, and their lawful vernacular translations, variations, and emendations as approved by our College of Bishops. In accord with the principle of “Salus animarum suprema lex” (The salvation of souls is the highest law), The North American Old Roman Catholic Church retains the right to approve, authorize or establish other liturgical texts for groups of Christians who unite with us from other traditions, always ensuring that such alternate texts are in strict conformity with the doctrine of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church.


The Mass, the administration of the Sacraments, the Divine Office and other ceremonies and rites may be conducted in either Latin or in the vernacular language of the country or people of the parish, as pastoral requirements dictate and according to local custom and the local Ordinary’s instructions, but in all cases such linguistic renderings shall be uttered with precision. The use of the Latin Canon in Masses offered in the vernacular, as well as the use of Latin for the essential form of the administration of the Sacraments, may be determined as appropriate by the local Ordinary.


The Calendar of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church conforms to the essentials of the Calendar extant prior to Vatican Council II, with the provisions that saints canonized since that time shall be included and that all special Holy Days and Observances of this Church are also included.

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