Michael Barber at Singing in the Reign posted an interesting piece on the apostles and their similarities to the Levites. I responded to a Protestant in the combox and will repost a portion of it here (the post is well worth the read). In the past, I have argued briefly for the sacrificial nature of the mass from the very beginning of the Church. I also compared liturgy with music and the entire story of the cosmos which is related to this topic.
One of the earliest accounts we have of the priestly vocation of the early priests (presbyters) of the Church is recorded by Hegesippus and preserved (as so many things which otherwise are lost) by Eusebius in Church History 2.23.4-6.
He alone [James, the brother of the Lord] was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people.While the Temple was still standing in the earliest days of the Church, James is acting in a priestly manner on behalf of the people. Take note of his garments and read Exodus 28:41-43:
After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.
The Christian priests are the descendants of Aaron; they are the Levites of the Church. Do you see how James not only entered the Temple and offered prayers on behalf of the people, he was careful to wear the priestly garments? This is significant.
Make linen undergarments as a covering for the body, reaching from the waist to the thigh. Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die. This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants.
We cannot remove the sacrifice from the Christian service. We do not offer new sacrifices of course, we re-present the True sacrifice of calvary. The reformers stripped the mass of its sacrificial purpose and thereby stripped their presbyters of the priestly vocation. My point in the combox there was that perhaps the Reformers were right to do this. But if we say so, how did the Reformers get Christianity right when even the Lord's kinsman, James got it so wrong? Mike Aquilina mentions this point (that the Christian priests continued wearing the Levitical vestments) on page 25 of his book, "The Mass of the Early Christians". Later, on page 31 of the same book he writes:
Some scholars believe that the first Christian liturgies were, quite simply, Jewish texts with added Christological and Trinitarian language (Bouyer 1968). Sofia Cavaletti observes that the synagogue service closely parallels the early Christian Liturgy of the Word, roughly the first have of the Mass, while the sequence of prayers in the Jewish passover meal closely corresponds to the order of the earliest Eucharistic prayers (1990:15ff)The mass is the non-bloody re-presentation of Christ's one and only Sacrifice on mankind's behalf. We receive Him and the grace necessary for salvation in the Eucharistic species. Christ's merit is received by the partaking of the precious Body & Blood. The priestly vocation has not ended with Christianity, as the Word says "This shall be a lasting ordinance". We cannot separate the sacrifice of Christ from the mass.