In his latest installment of his bi-weekly article in The Rhode Island Catholic, my bishop, the Most Rev. Thomas Tobin shared his experience of visiting an Islamic school “My Visit to the Islamic School.” Bishop Tobin was impressed with the many similarities between the Islamic school and our own Catholic schools. The truth is, children are children. Dress them all p the Sam and put them in a room and no on will know who is who, their religion, ethnic backgrounds and the like.
As I read the article, I was struck by two of the Bishop’s experiences. The Bishop writes:
“I was also impressed to find one group of students learning Arabic so that they could read the Koran in its original language. The school has a prayer room where the students gather each day, and there are sayings from the Koran – some of which are very similar to Bible passages – attached to posters outside of the prayer room.”
Today, many Catholics cringe at hearing any semblance of Latin in the Holy Mass. Latin is our Sacred Language, as Arabic is for the Muslims, Hebrew for the Jews and other languages for other religions. However, we are the only ones who reject our sacred heritage. Before asking why our Catholic school children are not learning Latin, I must ask a more fundamental question. Why don’t our seminarians learn Latin? I know they get a few classes, but why don’t they get a very intensive education in the official language of the Church and the sacred language of our Faith?
The second point that struck me was this.
“Muslims are devoted to Salat, prayer, which consists of five daily prayers offered at designated times of the day. Muslims typically recite their prayers while facing Mecca and the prayers are accompanied by set postures including bowing, standing, prostrating, and sitting.”
Again, our Muslim friends put us to shame. For 1,950 years, the common direction of the Liturgy was to the east. Today, we call it ad orientem. That means that we, both priest and people turned towards Our Lord for the Eucharistic Prayer, a practice that was never abandoned by the Eastern Rites, both Catholic and Orthodox. You can read more about this ancient practice here.
I firmly believe the time has come for the Roman Rite to rediscover Her sacred heritage and embrace it wholeheartedly. These external practices have the power to effect the depths of a person’s souls and lead them int a more profound experience of the mystery of God.
You can read the Bishop’s whole article here.