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Gathering together works from Dr. Arthur C. Piepkorn and Rev. Charles McClean, this book is an invaluable resource for conducting the liturgy of the Church as it serves to teach reverence and encourage uniformity and beauty in worship.
The following is an excerpt from the first section, entitled “Notes on Reverence”:
There is really only one basic rule of good form: “Be courteous!” And similarly there is really only one basic rule of altar decorum: “Be reverent!” Every other rule is simply a practical amplification of this basic charge.
To be reverent we must first of all be humble. We are ministers — ministers of Christ, serving Christ in the room and in the name of fellow-sinners. We minister not because of any virtue in ourselves. Our sufficiency is of God. We minister as temples of the Holy Ghost, as being bound in sacramental union to the Lord of the Church, as kings and priests living in mystic communion with the Most Holy Trinity, as those whom Christ has chosen that we might be with Him and that He might send us forth to preach (St. Mark 3, 13). We minister under the aspect of eternity and in the Presence of the Divine Majesty. Wherever we stand, we are on holy ground. In such a ministry there is no room for pride, only for all-pervading humility.
To be reverent we must be prepared. We must know what we are doing, and why we are doing it. The physical preparations, as far as may be, should be taken care of well in advance. There should be no last-minute running to and fro, no hasty final preparation, no distressed paging about. A meditation, brief if need be, but as long as the time permits, ought never to be overlooked; spiritual preparation is more essential to reverence than the proper ordering of the physical adjuncts.
To be reverent we must be calm. The unforeseen, the accidental, the disturbing must not be permitted to distract us. We are God’s ambassadors and God’s servants. We are speaking for and to God. Our entire lives ought to be, and our public ministry must be en Christo – in Christ! So must the calm peace of the changeless Christ in our souls be reflected in our outward demeanor.
-Dr. Arthur C. Piepkorn, p. iii