Thursday, May 19, 2011

Brief Meditations on the Sacred Liturgy

The sacred liturgy is the solemn and public worship of the Church. In the sacred liturgy we offer worship to God the Father, through Christ the Son, in the Holy Spirit.

1073. The liturgy is also a participation in Christ's own prayer addressed to the Father in the Holy Spirit. In the liturgy, all Christian prayer finds its source and goal.

-- Catechism of the Catholic Church

In the sacred liturgy, all prayer finds it source and goal, and "in her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God." (CCC 335)

The sacred liturgy is "the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed" and "the font from which all her power flows." (Sacrosanctum Concilium 10). "It is therefore the privileged place for catechizing the People of God." (CCC 1074)

In the liturgy the sanctification of the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members.

From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.

-- Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7

Our liturgies should be beautiful, echoing and giving us foretaste of the heavenly liturgy.

Our earthly liturgies, entirely ordered to the celebration of this unique act within history, will never fully express its infinite meaning. Certainly, the beauty of our celebrations can never be sufficiently cultivated, fostered and refined, for nothing can be too beautiful for God, Who is Himself infinite Beauty. Yet our earthly liturgies will never be more than a pale reflection of the liturgy celebrated in the Jerusalem on high, the goal of our pilgrimage on earth. May our own celebrations nonetheless resemble that liturgy as closely as possible and grant us a foretaste of it!"

-- Benedict XVI to priests at Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, September 13, 2008

Beauty, far from being shallow or a barrier, has the power to draw us from the visible to the invisible. As St. John the Damascene says, quoted in paragraph 1162 of the Catechism, "the beauty of the images moves me to contemplation, as a meadow delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul with the glory of God."

The sacred liturgy: source and summit, foretaste of the heavenly liturgy, the Church's solemn and public worship of God.

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