Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

1/20/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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)

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/20/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Liturgy, Mass, Eucharist, Sacred liturgy, Divine Liturgy, Lex orandi, lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi, Pope Benedict XVI, Deacon Greg Kendra, Liturgical reform, Deacon Keith Fournier


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 believe"). It is sometimes written as, "lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi", further deepening the implications of this truth. How we worship reflects what we believe and determines how we will live. Worship is the heart of the Christian vocation. The highest form of Worship is the Divine Liturgy.

The Catholic Church has long understood that part of her role as mother and teacher is to watch over worship, for the sake of the faithful and in obedience to the God whom she serves. How we worship not only reveals and guards what we believe but guides us in how we live our Christian faith and fulfill our Christian mission in the world. Liturgical Worship is not an "add on" for a Catholic Christian. It is the foundation of Catholic identity; expressing our highest purpose. Worship reveals what we truly believe and how we view ourselves in relationship to God, one another and the world into which we are sent to carry forward the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ.

How the Church worships is a prophetic witness to the truth of what she professes. Good worship becomes a dynamic means of drawing the entire human community into the fullness of life in Jesus Christ. It attracts - through beauty to Beauty. Worship informs and transforms both the person and the faith community which participates in it. There is a reciprocity between worship and life.
 
I have spent decades in ecumenical work. Perhaps that explains why I find it odd that right when so many of our Christian friends in other confessions and communities are searching for a deeper encounter with the beauty of the Lord in formal liturgical worship, many Catholics so easily succumbed to novelties.Our fellow Christians everywhere are hungering for sign, symbol and mystery in worship. As many Children of the Protestant Reformation are considering the safe harbor of the Catholic Church in order to experience a connection with the ancient Church, too many Catholics have lost their sense of what it really means to be a Catholic Christian.
 
As many Christians in communities of the Protestant reformation are suffering from the sad loss of what CS Lewis called "Mere Christianity", too many Catholics have no idea of the treasure they have in the ancient but ever new faith. As our Christian brethren are experiencing the barrenness of their own worship, many in our Catholic Church are discarding the very treasures that make her formal liturgical worship so beautiful, full of mystery and so compelling and attractive to those seeking a deeper experience of worship and Christian life.

Sadly, what for some may have begun as a sincere effort to simplify the Liturgy in the Catholic Church too often devolved into a form of liturgical minimalism. The liturgical minimalism I speak of begins when you entered what was often called the worship space of some contemporary church buildings. There are few symbols of the ancient yet ever new Catholic faith anywhere. There are few icons or images reflecting heaven touching  earth, drawing the worshipper into a transcendent encounter with the God who we receive in the Most Holy Eucharist and in whom we are invited to live and move and have our being.

I am not a traditionalist Catholic, although I understand and respect those who are. I am just a Christian who chooses to live my faith in its fullness, as a Catholic. I love the Tradition, with a capital T. I am a revert, I returned to the Church as a young man. I was drawn back to that fullness of Christianity that is dynamic, orthodox, faithful Catholic life and practice. I have respect for my brethren who are Protestants in each of their various confessions and communities. However, I am not one, by choice. I do not want a Protestant looking church building or a stripped down Catholicism whose worship seems more protestant than Catholic. I do not want barren liturgy and symbol-less Catholicism.

Over the last few decades, some who purported to be liturgical experts too often stripped away the richness and the depth that draws so many to the treasure that is Catholic worship and life. Their numbers and influence are dwindling. The Catholic seminaries that are full (and their number is increasing) are filled with candidates who want the vibrant, symbolic, faithful, richly liturgical, devout fullness of Catholic faith and life. The movement toward dynamic, symbolic and beautiful Liturgy is not about going backward but going forward and toward the eternal worship. 

The ecclesial movements are flourishing in the Church, drawing men and women who also want the fullness of Catholic worship, faith and life in all of its rich beauty. The new Catholics, coming into full communion from other Christian communities, are flocking to the dynamically orthodox and faithful Catholic parishes. The symbols are coming back into our sanctuaries and new ones are emerging. It is all happening because of the young. The move toward recovering thesense of the Sacred in the Liturgy is a youth movement in the Church. The future of the Church is Tradition, rightly understood. The liturgical innovators are aging and their reign is coming to an end. 

There was a movement called Iconoclasm ("Image-breaking") in the eighth and ninth centuries in the Eastern Church. It became a full scale heresy. The term has come to be associated with those who rejected icons, but it speaks to a contemporary problem, liturgical minimalism and the loss of the sense of the Sacred in our Churches. Icons are meant to put us in touch with the transcendent mysteries of our faith. I pray with icons and have for many years. I cherish their liturgical role in the Eastern Church. In fact, one would never find an Eastern Church, Catholic or Orthodox, without icons. The contemporary "iconoclasts" are those who seek to de-mystify Christian faith, life, worship and practice. They are not the future of the Catholic Church but the past.

There are still some who think that the symbols of our Catholic worship, faith and life are a problem. While they strip our sanctuaries and make our liturgical experiences barren, they think they have helped us by somehow making the faith more 'relevant", "meaningful" or "contemporary". They are sadly mistaken and have done the Church and her mission a disservice. It is the Church which makes human experience more relevant, by revealing its full meaning and mystery. And the Liturgy helps to bring heaven to earth and earth to heaven. They also fail to grasp that, by nature and grace, human persons are symbolic. Man (and woman) is created in the image of God, and is a divine icon. Jesus Christ is the Icon of the Father. Symbols touch us at a much deeper level than words or emotive or affective participation can. They touch us at the level where authentic religion and deep worship truly begins. It is there where we hunger the most for God.

On April 15, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Bishops of Brazil in Rome. He told them that the Eucharist constitutes "the centre and permanent source of the Petrine ministry, the heart of the Christian life, source and summit of the Church's mission of evangelization. You can thus understand the concern of the Successor of Peter for all that can obfuscate this most essential point of the Catholic faith: that today, Jesus Christ continues alive and truly present in the consecrated host and the chalice." He warned the Bishops that "Paying less attention at times to the rite of the Most Holy Sacrament constitutes a sign and a cause of the darkening of the Christian sense of mystery, such as when Jesus is not the centre of the Mass, but rather a community preoccupied with other things instead of being taken up and drawn to the only one necessary: their Lord."

Pope Benedict continued, "If the figure of Christ does not emerge from the liturgy, it is not a Christian liturgy. As Blessed John Paul II wrote, "the mystery of the Eucharist is 'too great a gift' to admit of ambiguities or reductions, above all when, 'stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet'." Toward the end of these beautiful remarks Pope Benedict summarized the heart of Liturgy, "Worship cannot come from our imagination: that would be a cry in the darkness or mere self-affirmation. True liturgy supposes that God responds and shows us how we can adore Him. The Church lives in His presence - and its reason for being and existing is to expand His presence in the world."

It is time to restore the sense of the Sacred to our Liturgy. To love the Liturgy is to love the Lord.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

What really caused Apostle Paul's blindness? Scientists believe they've figured it out Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A comparison among modern celestial events may help find what caused Apostle Paul to lose his eyesight for three days. His temporary blindness is an important historical event for the Christians as it led to where religion and the world is today, making it a ... continue reading


Conference sets out to bring the Gospel to the streets

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An amazing conference striving to bring the Gospel to the streets will be held in San Clemente, CA on May 2. Speakers will focus on inspiring followers of Christ to apply the Gospel to today's social issues. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Those attending will ... continue reading


'Peace be with You'

Image of

By Tony Magliano

"On the evening of that first day of the week," according to the Gospel of John, "when the doors were locked, where the disciples were... Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' " To his closest followers, who feared that they too ... continue reading


Slaughter of Ethiopian Christians is 'a testimony which cries out to be heard,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of Depicted in a 29-minute video, entitled

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In speaking of the wholesale slaughter of at least 30 Ethiopian Christians by the Islamist State in Libya, Pope Francis declared that the blood of Christians "is a testimony which cries out to be heard by everyone who can still distinguish between good and ... continue reading


Catholic pastor warns parishioners faith is not enough for safety, encourages gun possession Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Issuing a pro-gun letter to the members of the church, Reverend Edward Fride encourages having guns and attending a concealed pistol license (CPL) classes. Through the letter, the pastor from the Christ the King Catholic Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, warned there may ... continue reading


Apostle of California, Father Junipero Serra, to be canonized by Pope during U.S. visit Watch

Image of Professor Guzman Carriquiry, Secretary in charge of the Vice-Presidency of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America recently expressed his displeasure at the news of the California Senate's wish to replace the statue of Brother Junipero with that of a NASA astronaut.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is scheduled to personally preside over the canonization ceremony of Father Junipero Serra in Washington, D.C. on September 23 during his U.S. visit. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The ceremony will take place in the open space in front of the ... continue reading


'Faith must not be turned into power,' Pope Francis warns Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis, at mass in St. Martha's House, recalled that many people follow Jesus simply out of self-interest. This "spirit, which lies behind or beneath a varnish of Christianity leads people to live like pagans," he warned. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


Oops! The Bible did not say that: 7 famous viral quotes people think came from the Bible Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Social media and the Internet has made it easier to share anything anywhere. Most of the time we spend in cyberspace, we see come across wonderful statements --- about life, love and other concerns. It assures us that we are not alone, we are going to beat every ... continue reading


The Experience of the Resurrected Christ: A Divine Dream Worth Dying For

Image of

By Deacon Frederick Bartels

The dream of God is a dream of unending, divine love. His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, sacrificed his human life for this Dream: the redemption of humankind and the gift of eternal life and perfect happiness. Heaven is the divine dream that is not but a dream, it ... continue reading


Pope Francis 'considering' visit to Cuba Watch

Image of A nun waves a Vatican flag while attending Mass with St John Paul II in Havana in 1998.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is said to be considering a trip to Cuba this coming September. The papal visit would tie into his visit to the United States. The gesture could lead to improving relations both between Cuba and the U.S. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vatican ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 4:8-12
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 21, 29
1 Alleluia! Give thanks to Yahweh for he is good, for ... Read More

Gospel, John 10:11-18
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays ... Read More

Reading 2, First John 3:1-2
1 You must see what great love the Father has ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 26th, 2015 Image

St. Cletus
April 26: St. Cletus was the third bishop of Rome, and succeeded St. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter