Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XVIII.: THE REASONABLENESS OF THE CEREMONIES OF THE CHURCH. - The Triumph of the Cross
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CHAPTER XVIII.: THE REASONABLENESS OF THE CEREMONIES OF THE CHURCH. - Girolamo Savonarola, The Triumph of the Cross 
The Triumph of the Cross, trans. from the Italian, edited, with an Introduction by the Very Rev. Father John Procter, S.T.L. With a frontispiece portrait of the author (London: Sands & Co., 1901).
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THE REASONABLENESS OF THE CEREMONIES OF THE CHURCH.
Having shown that the Sacraments of the Church are in accordance with reason, it will not be difficult to prove that other ecclesiastical ceremonies are equally rational. But as we cannot, for the sake of brevity, discuss them all, we will confine our attention to a few of the most important.
First, then, the homage paid by Christians to the Cross, and to representations of Christ and of His Saints, may seem to some people irrational. We must, however, remember that images may be looked upon from two points of view. We may consider the material of which they are made, gold, silver, wood, or stone. Certainly, Christians do not honour images on this account. Or, we may consider images as representing some thing or person. And this is the light in which Christians regard them. They pay homage not to the image itself, but to the thing or person represented thereby; just as, when subjects honour a picture of their sovereign, they honour, not the picture itself, but him who is depicted thereon. Therefore we pay to images the honour due to those whom they represent. We give to the Cross and Crucifix the worship of latria, which is the worship that we pay to God. We honour an image of the Virgin Mary with an inferior honour, yet with greater honour than that which we give to representations of the other Saints. We honour the Saints as the blessed friends of God. We erect their images in order to recall them to our memory, to excite ourselves to virtue by their example, and to raise our hearts in prayer to God, through their intercession. There can be no doubt that pictures and statues, representing holy objects, are as helpful as books, especially to unlettered and simple folk.
And as we know invisible things by means of such as are visible, we build and consecrate material churches—thereby symbolizing the spiritual Church, and enabling ourselves, by the sight of earthly things, to raise our minds to the contemplation of Divine mysteries. The stones of the church signify Christians united in Faith; and the lime which cements them is charity, which joins the hearts of the faithful together. The foundation-stone is Christ; and the stones around it represent the Prophets and Apostles. The high walls symbolize the sublimity of the contemplative life; the roof the active life, exposed to the storms of temptation. The spiritual temple differs from an earthly edifice in that its foundation is in Heaven. In the length of the church, we behold the permanence of the true Church; in its height, the difference of merit among its members; and in its breadth, the number of the faithful throughout the world. The sanctuary recalls to us the Virgins of Christ, and the naves those living in the married state; for as the sanctuary is narrower and more holy than the naves, virginity is holier and rarer than wedlock. The cemetery in front of the church reminds us of false Christians buried in sin. The altar represents Christ, on whom we offer our sacrifices, saying at the end of every prayer, “Through our Lord Jesus Christ”. The belfry signifies the Holy Scripture, by means of which, (if we take our stand upon it), we shall be able to discern the snares of our enemies, and to fight against them. The bells are preachers calling together the Church militant and triumphant. The windows we may take to represent the holy doctors who pour the light of their teaching into the Church. From the whiteness of the interior walls we learn purity of heart and external decorum. The twelve candles, burning before the crosses of consecration, represent the twelve Apostles, who have enlightened the world by preaching the Cross of Christ throughout it. The doors signify the Sacraments, by means of which, especially of Baptism, we enter the Church. The lamps symbolize the continual illumination of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Water may remind us of the tears of penitents. Finally the sacred vestments and vessels, the psalms, hymns, and the whole order of ceremonies, represent the Divine mysteries, which time will not permit us to explain. But from what has been said, it is evident, that nothing contained in Christian doctrine is either incredible or unreasonable.
If any one desires further instruction, and will read, and carefully reflect on, the works of the Doctors of the Church, he will understand that our religion is the work, not of men, but, of Him “who enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world”. Daily experience proves to us, that many good men, reflecting upon these mysterious rites, forget themselves, are raised above worldly thoughts and earthly things, and that their “conversation is in heaven”.