When the guru sat down to worship each evening, the ashram cat would get in the way and distract the worshipers. So he ordered that the cat be tied during evening worship.

After the guru died the cat continued to be tied during evening worship. And when the cat died, another cat was brought to the ashram so that it could be duly tied during evening worship.

Centuries later learned treatises were written by the guru’s disciples on the religious and liturgical significance of tying up a cat while worship is performed.

From Anthony De Mello, The Song of the Bird

A follow-up post to Tradition

Many things in liturgy are given a disproportionate significance and importance. Burse and veil are made much of – with the burse put vertically on the altar for all to see, forming a significant ritual… with more reverence applied to the collection of money than would ever be given to the bread and wine Christ himself instituted and gives us…

It is well said: Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.

The Gospel candle never burns alone. When I once organised an altar to be moved forward from the East wall, confusion resulted: had the Gospel candle changed sides? Was it still on the priest’s left or now on the priest’s right?

Anglicans love allegorising. I don’t normally wear a cincture cord, but when once asked by a parishioner what the knots on the cord represented, she was scandalised when I responded that they represented the person wearing it not tripping up on too-long a cord. Had I said one represented the divinity of Christ and the other Christ’s humanity, or anything akin, she would have gone away satisfied.

I once upset an international liturgical scholar by declaring that the curve in Medieval cathedrals from East to West doesn’t represent Christ’s head leaning to one side at his crucifixion – it’s merely the result of the recession of the equinox. Churches are often aligned to the sunrise on their appointed feast day. But the sun doesn’t rise in the same place each year – and over a long time, that is noticeable.

You get a virtual maniple for each similar guru’s cat story…

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