Kneeling before love’s fire

Christianity is often viewed as outdated. Admittedly, from unusual musical chant to burning incense, the Mass looks at times like something that has been dropped onto planet Earth from another world.

At the heart of the criticism is the false premise that suddenly everything that ever happened before was incorrect and everything new is enlightened. Jesus once said that those who understand His teachings are “like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

Catholic liturgy attempts to instruct believers even through the way we worship. For nearly the entire second half of the Mass, the congregation kneels. In an age where firm conviction is described as, “taking a stand,” kneeling may appear hopelessly outdated.

Kneeling is something found throughout the Scriptures. In 2 Chronicles, King Solomon prays that God returns to the rebuilt temple. Solomon kneels in prayer before the God who is so powerful that fire comes down from heaven and consumes the people’s sacrifice.

The Israelites fell to their knees in reaction. Things grow sour as the Israelites later forget God. Through Isaiah, God asks the people to return to Him for protection by saying, “By myself I swear, to me every knee shall bend.” Perhaps this influenced Jesus’ kneeling as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, pleading with the Father to let His impending suffering pass.

The ancients knelt before their monarchs because they believed God Himself had bestowed temporal authority. The Apostles saw Jesus’ rule in spiritual terms when they heard the voice from heaven say, “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him” at the transfiguration.

The first Christians began to organize their worship maintaining this secular-spiritual understanding. The Apostles were commis-sioned to go forth at the Last Supper with Jesus kneeling while washing their feet. St. John’s heavenly vision in Revelation says all there fell to their knees in worship of the slain Lamb who was worthy to open God’s scroll of revelation.

If it’s good enough for Jesus and those in heaven, it was good enough for those who wished to go there. In the mid-20th century, Catholics were in some places discouraged from kneeling at Mass. They were suddenly a “resurrected people.” Despite somehow already being presumptuously “resurrected,” many of these Catholics have since passed on. Once raised, death is powerless.

In a society devoid of reverence, medical doctors will casually eat while describing the crunching sound they try to avoid when har-vesting the organs of the unborn; the young, holding their whole lives ahead of them, will murder innocent souls in a church, or attempt to sneak off for training to wage jihad against the infidel.

Perhaps a deeper sense of reverence for the One from whom all authority comes will be a balm to heal civilization’s ills. Carnage-filled fantasy games won’t do it; holocaust disguised as health won’t either; kneeling before the God who sends down His fire-filled Spirit to change elements into His flesh and blood may be a start.