Liturgy, The Work of the People
Liturgy is work of the people, the worship and praise of the baptized, and in our work, we focus on the great love and sacrifice of Jesus in the celebration of the sacraments. The liturgy is the way through which the work of our redemption takes place, especially in the sacrifice of the Eucharist.
We work together, not to become worthy creatures or to gain everlasting life, for we have already been given the gift of salvation, but rather, we gather to give praise and thanks to God for this grace and to commemorate the paschal mystery of the suffering, resurrection and glory of Jesus our Lord, by listening to the Word, and sharing the sacrifice of the most holy and healing sacrifice of the altar. It is our way to express our thanks for the gracious gift of new life given to us through Jesus, the Christ.
By the very nature of liturgy, we The Church, are called to full, conscious and active participation, as opposed to us attending and waiting to be entertained as spectators. We are called, as God’s chosen race, God’s royal priesthood, a holy nation, a saved people, and temples of the Holy Spirit. We have a right, duty and privilege to celebrate by reason of our baptism.
Liturgy is not personal prayer, but community prayer. It is an ancient tradition, handed down through the generations. Christian worship developed out of liturgical customs of Judaism and religious practices of the Greco_Roman world. Christians were expelled from synagogues, but inspired by the Spirit, strengthening their faith, their call to praise and worship God was so true and strong, that they continued to meet in homes and eventually Roman Basilicas.
For Roman Catholic Christians, we celebrate “Mass”, with its many rites and liturgies. The liturgy is to promote our unity in prayer and in song, giving thanks and praise to God. And from our Mass, we are sent forth to express through the actions of our daily living, the promise and mystery of Christ, having been nourished and empowered and encouraged through the presence of one another, the proclaimed Word and in the reception of the Holy Eucharist.
Through the Liturgy of the Word, the proclamation of the scripture, the Good News, calls us to conversion.
In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, God offers us Jesus to take, bless, break and give. God offers himself into our hands by becoming human, and we are called to great dignity to offer the sacrifice of Jesus back to God. We offer the bread and wine which becomes the material thing through which we offer Jesus. God then offers it back to us in Communion, through which we share in his divinity. We too are called to be broken and poured out to bring all of humanity to Christ.
Vatican II was a major turning point in the life of the Church. The steadfast invitation of the powerful Holy Spirit was answered by the openness of the people present at the Council, and it brought forward a new Theology of Worship, and presented convincing reasons for undertaking reform and promotion of liturgy. One of the first documents developed from this council’s gathering is Sacrosanctum Concilium – "Constitution of the Liturgy".
There was a time when the Lay Faithful were not allowed to be involved in Liturgy. They were deprived of an active role in the liturgy, and the clergy became the only class that celebrated the sacred rites. This is how "private devotions’ developed. Today, there are many ministries present in the Litgurgy, each one unique and important , giving each of us the opportunity to help in the building up of the body of Christ.
By reason of our baptism and our anointing in Christ, we have been called to be priest, prophet and king. We are invited to bring the essence of who we are – with our strengths and with our weaknesses _ to our liturgies and offer our unique giftedness to enhance our worship and praise of God.
Jesus’ real presence imbues all of creation. The challenge as Christians is whether we choose to exercise this grace – to express, to be aware of, to recognize and reverence the presence of the mystery of Christ in our daily lives and to share this Good News with others.
May we be open to God’s Spirit to continue our worship and praise together, our work… to unbind, encourage and empower one another to express the truth of salvation in our daily lives beyond the four walls of our church building.
May we be nourished through the celebration of our liturgies by God’s ever faithful presence to us in the proclaimed Word, in each other and in all of creation, to be reconciled and healed by the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, and empowered by the Spirit of our Holy God, who calls us each by name and invites each of us to take our own, proper role.
Our work…our Liturgy, as God’s pilgrim people, journeying together.