Beautiful liturgy and the poor and hungry

At the New Liturgical Movement, Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP, shared pictures of artwork and vestments commissioned on the occasion of his ordination. Each is a worthy piece, crafted with great care by a skilled artisan, and will enhance the beauty of liturgies for years to come.

Fr. Lawrence wrote, in part:

…it may be well to remind ourselves that the beauty of art and material things in the sacred liturgy is meant to lead us to contemplate God who is beauty…As such, as we reflect on the holiness of beauty in the liturgy, let us pray that it leads to the beauty of holiness in our lives. Let us recall too the warning of St John Chysostom that if we adorn our liturgies with precious items and artworks, we should be all the more mindful to also cloth the naked, feed the hungry, and extend mercy to those in need.


  1. A sidenote: he refers to “my first public Mass” on the day after his ordination. Actually, no.

    An ordinand’s first public Mass as a priest is the one at which he is ordained and at which he concelebrates. The so-called “First Mass” the following day would more correctly be described as “First Solo Mass”, or “First Mass as Presider”. Our seminaries have a lot of work to do.

  2. A couple of weekends ago one Sunday morning, we had a mission priest asking for donations for his work of helping the poor in foreign countries. There was nothing wrong with that; but then he celebrated Mass. I was offended by it. The attitude seemed to be the informality of the early 1970’s, of those times when beauty had no place in the worship of God. I cannot judge the fellow, but it felt as if God was second fiddle to helping the poor, when it should have been the other way around.
    Like for so many who get involved with helping the poor, the great commandments become reversed sometimes. The love of the poor should follow from the love of God. St Paul warns us that even the pagans help the poor, and even better at times than Christians do. But what is first and foremost as the duty of the Christian is the love of God, and as St John Chrysostom reminds us above from there the love of the poor as the image of God flows. The beauty of the liturgy is so much part of that love of God.

  3. Reminds me of some very big and costly ordinations – pressures from parents/family; religious community, bishop/diocese that happened years ago. The family/parental gift of a chalice seemed to be the cultural expectation. Years later in gatherings, some wished they could have a “do over.”

    Yet, can also remember the disconnects leading up to ordinations….the liturgy describes an ordinand called from the people (does that really happen – it is a seminary/clerical process that may have some diaconate, ministerial experiences before ordination); do ordinations include or emphasize that the ordinand(s) come from the people of God who confirm and vouch for that ordinand? We use language such as “First Mass” and, depending upon the ordinand’s decisions, that may be at a ministerial site; it may include the people he is called from (again, he was placed there usually to minister) if the First Mass is at the home parish (but, again, the ordinand has probably been gone from that parish for years).

    Do remember seminary directors trying to emphasize the nature of the ordination liturgy; trying to keep the ceremony in focus (talking about costs; what the point of ordination was, etc.) and that works to a degree for the ordination ceremony (especially if it is a class and not just one ordinand) – because the bishop and his staff will have input.

    First Masses, tho, all too often are where the “culture” takes over – expensive gifts, vestments (some made just for this event), lavish dinners/parties… can be overwhelming in terms of the months of preparation; the family/parental expectations…it reminds one of a person getting their PhD or MA. Is that really the point of the sacrament?

    Many, in retrospect, look back and feel that the ordination/First Mass is disconnected from both seminary preparation/community and first assignment….it becomes like a “dream”.

    Called from a community; the poor; service seem to lose out – “cultural relativism”… the disconnects are real.

  4. Great homily by John Chrysostom he refers to, in the Office of Readings for Sat of the 21st week of the Year. Go JC!!

  5. Is it possible that Fr Lew celebrated a “private Mass” — with that new maniple, burse and chalice veil — before celebrating his first “public Mass”?

  6. Who were those who ‘passed by on the other side’? The liturgically correct (ritually pure) if I recall correctly. Is there a lesson for us?

    1. (“Liturgically correct” = “ritually pure”?)

      That people who “say the black and do the red” prefer to “look out for number 1”? That they aren’t pastoral? That they don’t care about the poor or oppressed?

      Is that really the lesson?

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