The Liturgy

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 1066-1112, 1135-1209:

  • Liturgy comes from the Greek leitourgia, “public work,” which often referred to a service performed by a benefactor on behalf of the people.
  • The term was readily employed by the New Testament writers; aside from its obvious connection to charitable works, it was also applied to the proclamation of the Gospel and to the celebration of divine worship.
  • Liturgy, in the sense of divine worship, is the ultimate public work: it is the work of Christ and His Church, serving to glorify God and to sanctify the faithful who take part in it.
  • The liturgy brings us into the mystery of salvation: through the Mass and the sacraments, Christ communicates His work of redemption.
  • Our liturgy on earth mystically shares in the heavenly liturgy, the eternal chorus of the angels and saints before God’s throne; as a result, the liturgy is not private, nor does it belong to us, but is rather the work of the whole Body of Christ.
  • Christ presides over every liturgical celebration, drawing us up into the prayer that He Himself prays to the Father, in the Holy Spirit; hence the Church’s liturgy is profoundly Trinitarian.
  • Through Christ, we adore and praise the Father for His blessings, both spiritual and earthly; we offer our gifts, and ourselves, in loving return to Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Holy Spirit works intimately in the liturgy, preparing us for our encounter with God, and binding us in communion with God and with each other.
  • Described as the “Church’s living memory,” the Holy Spirit stirs us to recall the events of salvation history, embrace their meaning in faith, and respond in praise and thanksgiving, in a loving dialogue.
  • This is not simply a human act of remembering: through the Holy Spirit, God’s saving action is made present, and actualized, in the liturgy.

Live Your Faith

Vatican II called us to “full, conscious, and active participation” in the liturgy, but how well do we actually participate at Mass? Do we find Mass boring? Only if we lose sight of its awesome mystery!

The early Church understood that the very ways we worship – our actions and prayers – all reflect the truths of the faith; hence the ancient expression, Lex orandi, lex credendi: “The law of praying is the law of believing.” The more we understand our faith, the more we appreciate the liturgy.