First of all, what a beautiful day in Indianapolis! I hope it is the same wherever you are reading this!
Recently I purchased a book on a whim (as I usually do) from Ignatius Press called "On Being Catholic" by author Thomas Howard. I had never heard of Thomas, but the reviews by Scott Hahn, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, and Cardinal Schonborn had me interested.
A few chapters in, I am VERY impressed and I do not think Fr. Groeschel's comparison to C.S. Lewis is off the mark. I wanted to include an excerpt here, and if you like what you see, you might think about picking the book up for yourself, for someone else, or for both!
"It is often put forward in this connection that Catholic worship cannot possibly be of one piece with the spare and humble simplicity that obtained in the Upper Room, and among the apostles, the believing women, and the others who gathered after the Ascension. Look at the sumptuousness and complexity of the Mass. My word - brocaded vestments and bowing and mumbling and bric-a-brac: How can Rome possibly maintain that that is to be understood as "primitive"?
Many Christian denominations make the claim that theirs is nothing more than New Testament worship. "We just go back to the Book of Acts for our pattern", it is said.
The difficulty here is that the Book of Acts scarcely hints at what the believers actually did when they gathered. We all know Acts 2:42: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." Certainly this touches on the content of their gatherings.
But what did they actually do in these gatherings? We find presently, in the writings that we have from the Church, written, often, by men who had themselves known and been taught by Peter and John and Paul, that indeed the "bishop" expounded the Scripture to the gathered faithful in a homily that followed certain readings from Scripture. The sermon, in all Christian churches, can trace its taproot straight back to this custom.
And what shape did "fellowship" take? Newly composed hymnody? Testimonials? Sharing? Extempore prayers? All of these items form staple ingredients in many of the groups that seek to remain close to the simplicity glimpsed in the Book of Acts. But of course Acts does not spell out any of this. We Christians, late in time, have to guess here. No one can claim that such activities have undoubted biblical pedigree."
Well done, Mr. Howard!