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Orthopraxy- The Holy Qurbana (or Mass) as a Rule of Faith

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  • Fr Jim Colburn
    A principle which guided the original Church contends that right belief accompanies and is accompanied by right worship. Later in history, that sentiment
    Message 1 of 1039 , Mar 15, 2003
      A principle which guided the original Church contends that right
      belief accompanies and is accompanied by right worship.

      Later in history, that sentiment became the maxim: lex orandi lex
      credendi; or, the way you worship determines the way you believe.
      Right belief keeps our worship right, and right worship keeps our
      beliefs right. Right belief and right worship must be in unity with
      each other. This spiritual principle from the Early Church (St.
      Prosper of Aquitane, circa 415 A.D.), has been a rule the Church has
      used to probe the deepest roots of its orthodoxy.

      Orthopraxy, especially the right practice of worship, is required by
      God. It is the means by which God reminds us, confirms for us, and
      renews for us the Covenant He has made with us. Right worship
      sustains that Covenant.

      Man has never been given the option to invent from whole-cloth his
      worship forms. Do we need to be reminded of what happened because of
      Cain's chosen form of worship? The free exercise of such license
      leads eventually and everywhere to false worship and idolatry.
      Towards the end of the Old Testament era, the prophet Malachi is
      given a vision of the worship which will occur in the Covenant which
      is coming, that is, the New Covenant in Christ. Through Malachi, God
      castigates the corruption of worship which has overcome his priests:
      The son honors his father, the slave respects his master. If
      I [Yahweh] am indeed father, where is my honor? If I am indeed
      master, where is my respect? Yahweh Sabaoth asks this of you,
      priests, you who despise my name. You ask, "How have we despised
      your name?" By putting polluted food on my Altar. You ask, "How have
      we polluted it?" By holding the table of Yahweh in contempt. When
      you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you
      bring the lame and the diseased, is that not wrong? Try offering
      this to your high commissioner, and see if he is pleased with this
      or receives you graciously...I am not pleased with you, says Yahweh
      Sabaoth, from your hands I find no offerings acceptable. (Malachi

      At which point, Malachi envisions that day in the New Covenant when
      pure sacrifice will once again be offered from the table of the
      Lord, the Altar of sacrifice, and prophecies:
      But from farthest east to farthest west my name is great
      among the Gentiles; and everywhere a sacrifice of incense is offered
      to my name, and a pure offering, too, since my name is honored among
      the nations, says Yahweh Sabaoth. (Malachi 1:11)

      The fulfillment of this prophecy in our times is seen in every
      nation. From the Altar in churches that celebrate the Eucharistic
      sacrifice (of the New Covenant in Christ), is offered the most pure
      of oblations: the Body and Blood of God's Son.

      Continuing, Malachi condemns the priests and their false worship as
      a breach in the Covenant itself:
      But you [priests], you profane [my name] by thinking of the
      Lord's table as defiled and by holding in contempt the food placed
      on it...Am I to accept this from your hand? Says Yahweh Sabaoth...If
      you do not listen, if you do not find it in your heart to glorify my
      name, says Yahweh Sabaoth, I will send the curse on you and curse
      your very blessing...Then you shall learn that it is I who have
      given you this warning of my intention to abolish my Covenant with
      Levi, says Yahweh Sabaoth...But you, you have strayed from the way;
      you have caused many to stumble by your teaching. You have destroyed
      the Covenant of Levi, says Yahweh Sabaoth...I, Yahweh, do not
      change. Since the days of your ancestors you have evaded my statutes
      and not observed them. Return to me and I will return to you, says
      Yahweh Sabaoth. (Malachi 1:11-14; 2:1-17; 3:1-7.)

      God is most specific in the worship requirements which keep us true
      to Him. One needs only to note that every word of Exodus chapters 25
      through 31 reveals the almost obsessive nature of God's concern for
      right worship, and its role in maintaining right belief. In all the
      books of the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses), the most minute
      prescribed detail carries enormous symbolic significance as a part
      of and a reflection of God's Covenant.

      An example would help. One would wonder, today, of what possible
      significance could a tassel be to our worship of God? Consider this
      passage from Numbers, chapter 15:37-41:
      Yahweh spoke thus to Moses and said, "Speak to the sons of
      Israel and tell them to put tassels on the hems of their garments,
      and to put a violet cord on this tassel at the hem. You must have a
      tassel, then, and the sight of it will remind you of all the
      commands of Yahweh. You are to put them into practice then, and no
      longer follow the desires of your heart and your eyes, which have
      led you to make wantons of yourself. This will remind you of all my
      commandments; put them into practice, and you will be consecrated to
      your God. It is I, Yahweh your God, who have brought you out of the
      land of Egypt so that I may be your God, I Yahweh your God."

      The imperative of conforming to God's mindset about prescribed
      worship is summed up in God's instructions to Moses in Exodus. A
      reading of these Scriptures will not permit the eternal mindset of
      the Unchanging God to be misunderstood. Here are just a few of
      hundreds of additional examples showing God's particularity about
      our need to follow His will and design for human worship:
      - about the sacred space for worship, "Build me a
      sanctuary so that I may dwell among them. In making the tabernacle
      and its furnishings you must follow exactly the pattern I will show
      you." Exodus 25:9.
      - "...you are to make sacred vestments to give
      dignity and magnificence." Ex 28:2
      - "This is the ritual you must use when you
      consecrate them to serve me in the priesthood..." Ex 29:1.
      - "...by offering an atonement sacrifice for sin you
      will take away sin..." Ex 29:36
      - "You must make an altar upon which to burn
      incense...You must make these offerings of incense unfailingly from
      generation to generation." Ex 30:1,8.
      - "You must also make a bronze basin on a stand, for
      washing...When they are to enter the Tent of Meeting they must wash
      in water for fear they die, and when they have to approach the altar
      for their service, to burn the offering burned in honor of Yahweh."
      Ex 30:17-20.
      - "These [choicest fragrances] you are to compound
      into a holy chrism [oil], such a blend as the perfumer might make;
      it is to be a holy chrism. With it you are to anoint the Tent of the
      Meeting and the ark of the Testimony, the table and all its
      furnishings, the lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of
      incense, the altar of holocaust with all its furnishings, and the
      basin with its stand. These you are to consecrate. Thus they will
      excel in holiness, and whatever touches them will be holy...Then you
      are to say to the sons of Israel, You must hold this chrism holy
      from generation to generation...It is a holy thing. You must
      consider it holy...Whoever copies it or uses it on a layman shall be
      outlawed from his people." Ex 30:25-33.
      - "Take sweet spices...and compound an incense...
      You must regard it as most holy. You must hold it to be a holy
      thing, reserved for Yahweh. Whoever copies it for use as a perfume
      shall be outlawed from his people." Ex 30:35-37.
      - "See, I have singled out Bezalel son of Uri
      [...and many others] and endowed them with the skill, perception,
      and knowledge for every kind of craft...for them to carry out all
      that I have commanded you...In this they are to do exactly as I have
      directed you."
      - "Speak to the sons of Israel and say, "You must
      keep my sabbaths carefully, because the sabbath is a sign between
      myself and you from generation to generation to show that it is I,
      Yahweh, who sanctify you...the man who profanes it is to be put to
      death." Ex 31:12-15.

      These commandments of God are not optional to the Old Covenant with
      God: God Himself has made a particular and prescribed form of
      worship a necessary component of the Covenant and an immediate means
      to remind those who believe in him of that very contract God has
      established between them and Himself. Right worship is the corporate
      means to maintain the collective right relationship of the people
      with the Covenant and with God.
      - "You must keep all my laws, all my customs, and
      put them into practice: thus you will not be vomited out by the land
      where I am taking you to live" (Leviticus 20:22).

      In Scripture, where is the living presence of "covenant" among the
      people? The living covenant is enshrined in worship according to
      prescribed forms and practices. The contract between God and God's
      people is known, lived, and sustained in the rituals He has
      prescribed. In each and every covenant (Abraham's, Noah's, Moses's,
      and Jesus's) God sets the terms, and He sets the benefits which
      derive from the keeping of the terms. These ritual practices remind,
      confirm, and renew God's promises. God perfects and transforms His
      people by means of miracle and Grace through these rituals and

      These are not dry observances. They serve to keep each new
      generation of His people in profound connection to, and in seamless
      continuity with, the reality of the Covenant. And to confirm His
      Presence in our worship, through it He continues to fulfill the
      promises of His Covenant among the people. (In the New Covenant,
      these rites of Grace are termed "liturgy" and "sacraments." They are
      veritable rivers of Grace into the hearts and lives of God's
      people.) Indeed, when His people fail to worship in the way God
      prescribes, God considers this as a breach or break in the Covenant
      on our part, and often responds by sending prophets to the people to
      admonish them and persuade them to repent.

      Let us be aware that during the long period in Exodus when Moses was
      receiving these detailed instructions from God on Mount Sinai, the
      Israelites lost faith in Yahweh. "Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, "Go
      down now, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have
      abandoned their faith" (Ex.32:7). As an inevitable corollary to
      their failed faith, they slipped into false worship. "They have made
      themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshiped it and offered
      it sacrifice!" (Ex. 32:8).

      Can it be held that Christ came to abolish the Covenant obtained
      through Moses? Can anyone contend that the mind of the God of Moses
      is any different from the mind of the God of the second Moses, our
      Lord Jesus Christ? Or is it rather more consistent with our
      understanding of God and God's plan for humanity to acknowledge that
      the God of the Old Testament is indeed the same God of the New
      Testament, and that the New Covenant does not destroy the Old
      Covenant, but rather fulfills it?

      As the Old Covenant enfleshed the way Jews worshiped, the New
      Covenant is enfleshed in the way Christians worship. This has been
      so from the very beginning of Christianity. The celebration of the
      Christian Synaxis and the Eucharist was universal before the New
      Testament itself came into being. Thus, St. Paul commands his
      hearers: " I appeal to you, for the sake of our Lord Jesus
      Christ...be united in your belief and practice" (1 Cor 1:10). And,
      again, "Stand firm, then, brethren, and keep the traditions that we
      have taught you, whether by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thes
      2:15); "You have done well in remembering me so constantly and in
      maintaining the traditions just as I passed them on to you." Of
      course, Paul is referring to the traditional belief, worship and
      practices of the faith which he had himself received, and then which
      he had passed on to his hearers much prior to the writings he is now
      sending them. These words of Paul testify that the traditions of
      which he speaks pre-date by years the formation of the New
      Testament! Later on in his life, St. Paul writes to the Hebrews a
      command to continue to honor the principle of worshiping not
      according to human whim, but according to what God Himself wants.
      After describing the liturgy at which Christ presides as High Priest
      in heaven (Hebrews chapters 7,8,9) as being the same liturgy which
      we attend on earth, Paul commands us to hold on to this, for we must
      worship in the manner that pleases God:
      "But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the
      city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of
      angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church in
      which everyone is a `first-born son' and a citizen of heaven. You
      have come to God Himself, the supreme Judge, and been placed with
      the spirits of the saints who have been made perfect [that is, the
      dead in Christ]; and to Jesus, the mediator who brings a new
      covenant and a blood for purification which pleads more insistently
      than Abel's. Make sure that you never refuse to listen when he
      speaks. The people who refused to listen to the warning from a voice
      on earth could not escape the punishment, and how shall we escape if
      we turn away from a voice that warns us from heaven? ...We have been
      given an unshakable kingdom. Let us therefore hold on to the grace
      that we have been given and use it to worship God in the way that He
      finds acceptable, in reverence and fear. For our God is a consuming
      fire...Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday and as he
      will be forever. Do not let yourselves be led astray by all sorts of
      strange doctrines...We have our own Altar from which those who serve
      the tabernacle have no right to eat...Through Him let us offer to
      God an unending sacrifice of praise, a verbal sacrifice that is
      offered every time we acknowledge his Name...Obey your leaders and
      do as they tell you, because they must give an account of the way
      they look after your souls..." Hebrews 12:22 - 13:17.

      St. Paul is clearly saying the traditional practice of the Church,
      under the leadership of the Apostles, is the way of worship and of
      faith which must be maintained until Jesus comes again. This
      tradition is being passed to those who obey their apostolic leaders.

      The "content" of the life of Christians...their practices and their
      faith...must remain faithful throughout history, staying pure and
      undefiled. The Church, pure and undefiled by this kind of
      faithfulness, is then the same pure Bride Jesus takes to Himself
      when he comes again (Ephesians 5:25-27).
    • Jaison
      Dear all I could not open this controversial letter, Anybody can help in this regard regards Jaison
      Message 1039 of 1039 , Sep 21, 2011
        Dear all
        I could not open this controversial letter, Anybody can help in this regard

        --- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Malankara Voice wrote:
        > 1. Full Text of the controversial letter written by
        > Rev.P C Yohannan Ramban (Pampady Dayara), questioning the
        > integrity of Yuhanon Milithios (Trichur)
        > http://www.geocities.com/malankarav5/20030203YohannanRambanMilithios2.htm
        > For more Links visit:-
        > http://www.geocities.com/malankarav5/news_section.htm
        > http://malankaravoice.cjb.net
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