LITURGY CORNER # 1 (OCT. 92)
Welcome to the Liturgy corner! In order to help facilitate our ongoing liturgical formation in Christ the King parish we have decided to start a regular feature in our monthly bulletins that will deal with Liturgy. Since this is the opening installment, I would like to explore one of the most important principles of our Liturgy, especially as it was expressed by the Pope and the Bishops during the 2nd Vatican Council.
The most pivotal document concerning Liturgy was the Constitution on the Liturgy, SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM. In terms of both its subject and its practical effects, this is one of the most crucial of the Vatican documents. In it the Bishops specify a number of areas regarding the Liturgy and Sacraments of the Church that they hope to see renewed, that the full life of grace that Jesus has for His People would be better facilitated in the day-to-day life of the Church. They also set down a number of principles that are meant to guide our understanding of Liturgy. Among those principles, there is one that they describe as the most important: "Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the Liturgy...." (paragraph #14). <.font>
The three important words here are "full", "conscious," and "active." What do they mean in this context? The key is seeing that they are all used to describe our "participation." The way that we should participate at our Liturgy is fully, consciously, and actively. Conscious participation refers to us understanding what we are doing, i.e. having "a good understanding of the rites and prayers" (paragraph #48), and completely engaging our hearts and minds in what we are doing. Both aspects are necessary. If we really understand the Liturgy but are not engaged or if we are engaged but do not really understand what is going on, then we will miss some of what Jesus has for us. Full and active are spelled out by another text in the document: "The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ's faithful...should not be there as strangers or silent spectators. On the contrary...they should take part in the sacred action...with devotion and full collaboration." (paragraph #48). We are active (not mere spectators) and we are fully engaged.
To participate well in the Liturgy is crucial, especially since Jesus has taught us through the Church that the Liturgy is "the source and summit of the Christian life" (LUMEN GENTIUM, #11) and the source from which "grace is poured upon us as from a fountain..." (paragraph #10). Let us decide to continue to pray and study concerning this greatest of gifts that Jesus has give to His Church, that we may become even more in fact what Jesus intends us to be: "a holy temple in the Lord, a dwelling-place for God in the Spirit, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ." (paragraph #2).