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By Deacon Keith Fournier

9/1/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (

There is reciprocity between worship and life.As We Worship, so we will believe and so we will live.

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 reciprocity between worship and life."Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. Lex Vivendi". As We Worship, so we will believe and so we will live.

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.

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.


By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (

9/1/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Revised Roman Missal, Revised Mass, Liturgy, Divine liturgy, Catholic worship, Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi, Deacon Keith Fournier

CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - This weekend Catholic parishes throughout England and Wales will begin to use the Revised Roman Missal at Mass. It will be implemented in the United States of America on the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011. The United States Conference of Catholic bishops has a wonderful site available for all parishes in the United States to assist in the implementation. 

Even the anticipation of the implementation has provided a rich moment for Catholics to focus on the centrality, beauty and mystery of the Liturgy of the Catholic Church. It has provided a teachable moment for Bishops, priests, deacons and lay catechists. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles offered helpful insights recently in a column in "The Tidings" entitled "Welcoming the new Mass translation" The entire article can be read here. This is the first of a series of four articles the Archbishop will offer. His insights help us focus on what this moment can become. Here are some excerpts: "This is not a new Mass. It is a new translation of the ancient Latin prayers of the Mass. This new translation continues the liturgical renewal envisioned by the Second Vatican Council (1963-65). ...This new translation restores the beauty of the original Latin. It lets us hear the many Scriptural allusions that are woven into the fabric of the Mass. And it helps us to experience how our worship on earth unites us in love to the liturgy of heaven. "The new translation of our Mass prayers will give us the strength we need for our Christian mission of the new evangelization. And it will inspire us to see the vital connection between the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist and his presence among us in the poorest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. "...Implementing this new translation means much more than simply memorizing new prayers. I really believe this new translation offers us a special moment of grace. It is a fact of life that anything we do over and over again can become routine, something we just do without paying too much attention. But we can never let the Mass become routine for us. We need to love the Eucharist! We need to live the holy Mass! Our Christian life, our whole life, must be centered in the Eucharist. "That is why this new translation is such a wonderful gift. It gives us the opportunity for a new Eucharistic catechesis. It gives us the chance to reflect more deeply on the meaning of our worship - on what we do when we celebrate the Eucharist, and why. All the words and actions in the sacred liturgy reflects the ancient faith of the Church and are carefully arranged to bring us to the encounter with the living God who comes to us in these sacred mysteries. "There is an ancient principle in the Church: lex orandi, lex credendi - the law of prayer is the law of faith. That means that the words we pray - and how we pray them - shape what we believe and how we live out our beliefs. We become what we pray. The prayer of our Eucharistic worship is meant to make us become more like Jesus Christ. It meant to make us the Eucharistic people that he intended us to be. "Jesus commanded us: "Do this in memory of me." In our worship, we remember his example of love and self-offering, how he gave his Body and Blood as bread for the life of the world. In our Eucharistic worship, we join our own sacrifices to his. We make our lives a prayer of self-offering - as he did on the cross. In union with Jesus, we offer ourselves to the Father as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. "And through our worship, we become more and more committed to living as Jesus did - in generous service to others. We come to live the Mass - working in everything we do to bring Jesus Christ to our brothers and sisters. The promise of this new translation of the Mass is that we will enter more deeply into the mystery of the faith - the mystery of God's love for the world, a love he wants to spread through each one of us." With the Revised Roman Missal we are presented with an invitation to rediscover the heart of Catholic worship - and be changed in the encounter. The Archbishop pointed to the Latin maxim that addresses the centrality of worship in the life, identity and mission of the Catholic Church; "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi".  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. The 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 reciprocity between worship and life. The Revised Roman Missal more fully captures the spirit of the original language and restores a depth and beauty to the Sacred Liturgy. The implementation is an opportunity for an authentic renewal of liturgical worship, which is the very heart of our Catholic faith. 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; for sign, symbol and mystery, for a connection with the ancient Church in her divine worship, some parts of the 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 may have begun as a sincere effort to simplify - itself an invitation into beauty when properly achieved - has too often devolved into a form of liturgical minimalism.  The liturgical minimalism I speak of begins when you enter what is sometimes called the "worship space" of some contemporary church buildings. There are very few symbols anywhere. There are few if any icons or images reflecting the heavenly touching the 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", 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 two 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 forward and toward eternal worship. 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 the term can speak to this contemporary problem of liturgical minimalism and the loss of the sense of the Sacred in our Churches. 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 some who think that the symbols of our worship, our faith and our life are a problem. While they stripped our sanctuaries and made our liturgical experiences barren, they thought they helped us by somehow making the faith more 'relevant", "meaningful" or "contemporary". They were mistaken and have done the Church and her mission a disservice. They failed 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... 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 his 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." "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. Lex Vivendi". As We Worship, so we will believe and so we will live. The Implementation of the Revised Roman Missal is an opportunity for authentic liturgical renewal and a renewal of the Catholic Church throughout the world. The Archbishop of Los Angeles is correct, we will become what we pray. 


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