Time to Restore the Sense of the Sacred: To Love the Liturgy is to Love the Lord
The Holy Mass does not belong to the celebrating priest; it belongs to Christ the High Priest in whom he stands
The Church is made visible in many ways: in its charitable work, in mission projects, in the personal apostolate that every Christian must realize in his or her own environment. But the place where it is fully experienced as a Church is in the liturgy: it is the act in which we believe that God enters into our reality and we can meet Him, we can touch Him. It is the act in which we come into contact with God, He comes to us, and we are enlightened by Him. (Pope Benedict XVI)
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Pope Benedict XVI is one of the great liturgists of our age. His seminal book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, written when he was still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, is required reading in most seminaries and should be read by every Catholic. Last October the Pope gave a series of instructions on the Liturgy. On October 3, 2012, he reminded the pilgrims in St Peters square:
"It is not the individual - priest or layman - or the group that celebrates the liturgy, but it is primarily God's action through the Church, which has its own history, its rich tradition and creativity. This universality and fundamental openness, which is characteristic of the entire liturgy is one of the reasons why it cannot be created or amended by the individual community or by experts, but must be faithful to the forms of the universal Church."
"Dear friends, the Church is made visible in many ways: in its charitable work, in mission projects, in the personal apostolate that every Christian must realize in his or her own environment. But the place where it is fully experienced as a Church is in the liturgy: it is the act in which we believe that God enters into our reality and we can meet Him, we can touch Him. It is the act in which we come into contact with God, He comes to us, and we are enlightened by Him."
"So when in the reflections on the liturgy we concentrate all our attention on how to make it attractive, interesting and beautiful, we risk forgetting the essential: the liturgy is celebrated for God and not for ourselves, it is His work, He is the subject, and we must open ourselves to Him and be guided by Him and His Body which is the Church."
The older I get the more I appreciate the profound gift and mystery that is the Eucharistic Liturgy, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As a Deacon of the Catholic Church, I understand the immense amount of time and catechesis spent in preparing the faithful for the implementation of the Revisions to the Roman Missal last year. It has borne such good fruit. As one who has spent years studying Catholic theology, I welcomed the revisions and I saw them as a kind but motherly act by the Church to set the ship on a straight course and raise the water level of all Catholic worship. The faithful deserve it.
For too long some priests took it upon themselves to "wing it" with the canon and the liturgical prayers of the Holy Mass. The Holy Mass does not belong to the celebrating priest; it belongs to Christ the High Priest in whom he stands. I know that some priests meant well in their efforts. I am not opposed to spontaneity in its proper form and proper place. Just not in the canon of the Sacred Liturgy, the Holy Mass. The faithful have a Right to receive the Liturgy as Holy Mother Church has preserved it under the continual inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
As a revert to the Catholic Church who was drawn home to the fullness of Christianity found within the Catholic Church - including the beauty of the Liturgy - I deeply appreciate serving at the Altar as a Deacon. I also respect the holy priesthood. However, I must be honest; the notion that innovation equaled some kind of "anointing" was way too prevalent among some priests.
This past week I was pleased to read two reports, one from Rome and the other from New York. One concerned a cardinal and the other a deacon. The first was written by H. Sergio Mora of the Zenit News Agency and entitled "Vatican Preparing a Manual to Help Priests Celebrate Mass: Prefect Warns Against Making Liturgy Into a 'Show'. The Prefect for the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, Cardinal Antonio Caņizares explains the booklet and the purpose. It is encouraging and bodes well for the continued movement toward recovering the full beauty that is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The second was written by one of my favorite Catholic Bloggers, Deacon Greg Kendra. It was entitled Communion Rails: Restoring a Sense of the Sacred. Communion Rails: Restoring a Sense of the Sacred It asked the question "Would a change of posture at Holy Communion help to sharpen our perspective, as well?" It is well worth reading. Both articles reflect the growing - and much needed - attention and reflection which is being given to the Liturgy.
There is a Latin maxim that addresses the centrality of worship in the life, identity and mission of the Church; "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi". The phrase in Latin literally means the law of prayer ("the way we worship"), and the law of belief ("what we ...
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