Rubrics, Legalism, and Prescriptions of the Law

Divine Praises

Father Daniel Reehil kneels before the Blessed Sacrament  for Divine Praises Saturday February 8, 2020 – Saint Edward, Nashville, TN 




….the altar should occupy a place where it is truly the center toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns…. (299 – General Instruction of Roman Missal)

I am not a Liturgist, nor am I schooled in knowledge of exactly how architecture in a church should be laid out.  But what I do know is that there is a reason certain things are prescribed in the Mass and in the building.  And I certainly know monstrous architectural, art and liturgical abuses when I see them.

My point in writing this post is not actually to bash any people or to state that I know what their intentions are.  My point is simply to point out what makes sense to me and what I feel the Lord has spoken to me in prayer and it has to do with the law.

We all know the Pharisees were rebuked by Jesus for their legalism.  But we often mistake this rebuke as a total disregard of the law, however, that is not what Jesus was saying.  In fact Jesus said to follow the law.

So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. Matthew 23:3

You see Christ could see their hearts.  The Pharisees did not love the people more than the law.  They idolized the law.  He was trying to teach them the proper order of things.

Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.  Mathew 5:17

Jesus was teaching us that love comes first.  Love of God compels love of neighbor.  Love of God also compels following the law.

If you love me, obey my commandments. John 14:15

God sees the intention in our heart, and it is why, even when we sin, He is merciful.  We often have good intention when we commit sin.  He is trying to teach us though that committing sin is not the way to a life of abundance.  But he is always merciful and He always loves us.

Here’s the thing though,  God is not a legalist, but the demons are.  They could care less about your intention.  They are looking for you to open a door to let them in so they can speak to you and you will listen.  This is important to understand because if we disregard rubrics, architecture, beauty, and the law, we are letting the demonic in to gain a stronghold where they can relentlessly attack us.  This is why following the rubric of the Mass is so important.  It isn’t because God won’t love us if we don’t, it is because we aren’t protected if we don’t.  This is why rubrics regarding liturgy and laws of how architecture should be laid out matter.  Once we open that door to the demonic, our perception gets twisted, and our eyes get taken off of Christ.  The demons come to steal, kill and destroy, and they use every means available to them to accomplish this, including means inside of our churches.

When we place things in front of or over the altar that distract from the sacrifice of the Mass we are giving the demonic a foothold.  We miss the importance of the Eucharist and suddenly the demonic speaks to us telling us the Eucharist doesn’t matter.

altar sweater

When our choirs are placed too near the altar or in the front of the church where the people’s eyes get placed on them and they become the center of attention for their concert like music, our eyes are taken off of the sacrifice. The demons sling poison arrows that seem like a good (oh, but the music is so good, it makes you feel good) but suddenly you miss the importance of the Eucharist and your eyes haven’t looked at Him and your heart doesn’t recognize that He is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity and suddenly the Eucharist doesn’t matter.



When our artwork is ugly and doesn’t compel us to look to the altar or the heavens, our eyes are taken off of the Eucharist and the demons whisper and suddenly the Eucharist doesn’t matter.

mary ugly art

Beauty should never become our God and the law should never make us be unmerciful but we are gravely putting ourselves in peril when we disregard how things should be done.  Everything we do should be a movement towards our God who is Love and can infuse us with His love when our eyes remain on Him.  We know beauty that lifts us to heaven when we see it.

Assumption church

**Church of the Assumption, Nashville, TN

For our Shepherds out there, be gentle with those who have good intention, but do not be afraid to correct them as to why we have rubrics and prescriptions for how we do things.  It is actually for their protection.  I know I am grateful for the Shepherds who have corrected me along the way.  These acts help make a person holy.  If you are a Shepherd who has allowed these abuses in the name of “love”, I beg of you to reconsider what love actually is.  True love protects the sheep from the guile of the demonic.

Scripture has throughout it God telling people exactly how things should be done.  Christ left us a church to instruct us.  We would do well to listen.  Listening with love ushers in the Kingdom of God.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Matthew 6:33

**Assumption parish was severely damaged in the storms and tornado that hit Nashville March 3, 2020.  This is the church where Latin Mass for the Diocese is held.  All the people are okay, but the church building is not.  From what I understand the sacristy was destroyed, the northern transept partially collapsed, the steeple is leaning, stained glass is destroyed and the rectory lost it’s chimney.  I am sure they will need prayers and please consider a donation.

And please pray for them.

Church of the Assumption


1227 7th Ave North 

 Nashville, TN  37208

But Hope springs eternal as Father Bede Price, who had rescued the Blessed Sacrament during the storm, celebrates Mass in the wreckage the following evening;





About veilofveronica

I am a mother and wife as well as an RCIA and Adult Faith Formation catechist at a parish in the south. I have 3 children and a great husband.
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35 Responses to Rubrics, Legalism, and Prescriptions of the Law

  1. James Ignatius McAuley says:

    Sue, I will be emailing a picture to you that will reinforce your point.

  2. Robin A Spaks says:

    Thank you! Always in prayerful hope that newly constructed parishes and those undergoing reconstruction will tilt away from the coliseum style and back toward an architecture that undeniably focuses the faithful and their focus toward the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass I know I need all the help I can get to stay focused and close the door to any unwanted evils that are always prowling about!!

  3. Thank-you for this. Shepherds need to gently correct. Our church assembly was singing beautifully, unaccompanied by any instruments. One of our members decided that we needed an organ, so he bought a used one at a garage sale for twenty dollars. It was a bargain because the volume control was broken, and its sound was deafening.
    The shepherd did not offer correction, in charity, and eventually the noise of the organ kept me away from Mass.

  4. Thomas Augustine says:

    I pray that you and your loved ones are safe from last night’s storm. My daughter lives in Carroll County and was awakened by the storm moving through her area. Fortunately there was no damage where she lives. Thanks be to God.

    May the Lord bless you and keep you.

    • My family and I are safe. In fact I slept through the whole thing. I just couldn’t believe that the parish I had cited as the example of beauty in this post was partially wrecked the same night as I posted this. I am so glad your daughter is okay. God Bless.

  5. megbski says:

    That pic of the Divine Praises takes my breath away! Did you take that?

  6. colleendrose says:

    Very strange that the Church of the Assumption should so soon after this post be damaged in the tornado that hit Nashville.

  7. James Ignatius McAuley says:


    Regarding the Church of the Assumption. Never forget that Tennessee has had the problem of demons associated with masonry since the settlement in the late 18th century as well as the infamous Bell Witch. The devil will never hesitate to strike at a Church building, especially if the Lord allows it. The fact that the Church that provides the EF liturgy suffers an attack is telling on Satan’s particular dislike of the older form of the Roman Mass.

    In any event, the Lord will allow the Church to be rebuilt. I hope you can also take the picture I provided you as a sign of hope found in the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty.

  8. B. Polus says:

    “Law of the Holy Spirit” is for today!

  9. Robert Sperry says:

    Why is it that our priests never say the Divine Praises at adoration anymore, like they once did? Why could a member of the Church not say them? Do I need the pastor’s permission to do so?

    • I think anyone can say the Divine Praises as a prayer, but not everyone can expose the Blessed Sacrament and do Benediction. Why not ask your Priest to do it? You could tell him how much it edifies your faith.

  10. John Francis says:

    Well said Father.
    The choir should be off to side or best in a loft.
    If members join for pride, let them join a nightclub group.
    I’m tired of music with drums and horns, etc.
    I honestly feel like I’m at a concert or need to ask a woman to dance.

    • My name is Susan Skinner. I am not a Priest, just a wife, mom and Director of Adult Faith. I posted pictures of the Priests in my area. Thanks for the comment. God Bless you.

  11. MyronM says:

    The tornado pushed the stained glass window into the presbytery. If you wrote what characters this stained glass window depicted, then we could know the meaning of this unexpected event in the Church.
    What saint is on the stained glass window in the southern transept?

  12. Amy says:

    Oh, I am so sorry! I will trust the Lord to bring good out of this event, as only He is able to do.
    The picture that brought tears to my eyes (not tears of beauty and joy) was the purple shirt hanging above the altar. It looks exactly like a long sleeve shirt!

  13. Mike B says:

    Thank you for this article.

    I have made a practice the past few years of dropping in on local churches when we travel just to check the architecture. We are very fortunate to have been able to locate in a small community with a truly wonderful Old World style European church that was recently upgraded with cleaning, extensive repairs and enhanced paint trim. Carved wooden confessionals (two) side alters, appropriate statuary, a choir loft that is actually used and which has a real pipe organ – even hat clips in the pews! The stained glass illustrates Biblical characters as opposed to merely serving as ornamentation. The Stations are small statue scenes, very much like the ones in Nashville – still titled in German. This is St. Mary’s in Remsen, Iowa.

    Too many churches have been ‘modernized’ and I believe this contributes to declining attendance. My home town is one such place – they even took out the choir loft because the Diocese told them to. Instead they now have a piano next to the alter area, and drum sets and cymbals along with guitar amps immediately adjacent. The Tabernacle is now in the rear in the former cry room. Small wonder why the attendance trends far closer to retired than young, even with an elementary school attached.

    Beautiful churches such as these have been declining since the Vatican II era and we need to celebrate widely those that remain true.

    • Thanks for the comment. I have been in my share of both beautiful and not so beautiful. I do try to have a reverent disposition no matter where I am as it is my disposition God judge’s mes on. But I do so prefer the well thought out architecture and beautiful art and a reverent liturgy. But again we cannot make beauty or the law our God.


    Is the Church of the purple shirt Catholic? What was the meaning behind it? Why did they put this up? What state and city is this Church in?

    • Yes it’s Catholic. It’s actually in Austria. I don’t know the meaning behind it.

    • Victoria says:

      The covering of statues is a Lenten tradition, in my home parish all the statues and crucifixes are covered with purple cloth around the 5th week of Lent to help the faithful enter deeper into the mystery of Lent. I was in Europe during Lent in 2018 where I saw many of the great cathedrals and churches (including Vienna’s) covering their altar’s statues with large pieces of purple cloth instead of individually covering each statue as is the custom in my parish. It wasn’t until two years ago where I realized this practice wasn’t common throughout the United States.

      • From what I understand The large cloths were originally called hunger cloths – and would depict stories on them for those who couldn’t read, while also veiling the sanctuary for Lent. The Bishops can decide how things are done in their diocese. For the US The Third Edition of the Roman Missal states,

        In the Dioceses of the United States, the practice of covering crosses and images throughout the church from this Sunday may be observed. Crosses remain covered until the end of the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, but images remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil (Fifth Sunday of Lent, p. 256).

  15. I all am for good church architecture, following the rubrics, and beauty, in fact I just build a beautiful church that any traditionalist minded person would admire. But this line is exactly what a person suffering from scruples, or is psychologically obsessed with ritual over substance should never read. “It isn’t because God won’t love us if we don’t, it is because WE AREN’T PROTECTED if we don’t.” – This article needs to be better thought out.

    • I can understand why you would say that. People who are scrupulous generally don’t feel loved by God. They may intellectually know it in their head, but not in their soul, the deepest core of who they are. The demonic flings poison arrows at them using the law to set a false expectation (that is worldly) that God Himself hasn’t asked them to reach. In trying to reach that bar of false expectation that they can’t possibly reach the spirits of anxiety and depression attack them. But God is waiting to set them free and heal them. How do I know this? Because I had suffered from this false expectation. I used to feel as though God didn’t love me unless I completed my checklist of things that were overwhelming. I was delivered and my work in my work in deliverance ministry I have seen others delivered as well because our process of discipleship deliverance teaches a person about these false expectations.
      I appreciate your feedback Father and because of it I removed the all caps. I believe it may have seemed like I was screaming at people, when I was just trying to emphasize a point, as I have seen so many just toss aside the law and sin ensue. The statement I wrote is still true, that the law protects us, but my delivery could have been better. I pray for Priests so I will add you to my prayer list. God Bless.

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