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The [Partial] History of the Liturgy


For one of our classes her at the seminary, we were assigned a book by Marcel Metzger entitled ‘History of the Liturgy’ that purported to display the development of the Catholic Church in her 2000 year history. What it actually accomplished was much less, to my disappointment. It did well in covering the first 400 years in about 120 pages; this section was full of quotes from various ancient documents and Church Fathers that really showed how many things we see even today were already established. It discussed some interesting facts and traditions that were part of the Church in her early years. When the author got to the year 500 though, it just seemed to take a nose-dive real quick. It was clear from his writing that he wasn’t a fan of the state of the liturgy for about 1600 years when the ‘savior council’ of Vatican II came around and fixed all the things that the Church had messed up or failed to do since the days of the Fathers. In all, I enjoyed the first four chapters because they had interesting facts such as – at one point they would pour hot water into the precious blood to make it warm like true blood and to show the ‘life’ that it brought to those who drank of it. Also, in one tradition first communion after baptism consisted of the Sacred Body and Precious Blood, as well as water and honey, signs of the cleansing they had received and the promise of eternal life for those who dwell in Christ and His Church. In all, I would suggest reading the book for the first four chapters. The last two comprise only 26 pages anyway…so there isn’t much to miss. 🙂

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