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Waiting in Joyful Hope

Why is Easter always on a Sunday when Passover isn't always on a Sunday?

From a faithful reader:

Since Easter is the celebration of the Crucifixion & Resurrection of Christ which took place during Passover why do we not celebrate it at the same time as the celebration of Passover? When did the change take place and why?

First, a bit of background. The feast of Passover, in the Jewish calendar, is on a fixed date, the 14 day of the month of Nisan. Just as Christmas can fall on any day of the week, so can Passover.

That being said, the timing of the Passover that was connected to the death and resurrection of Christ meant that Jesus died on a Friday, that the Passover also fell on a sabbath, and that Jesus rose on a Sunday.

We therefore have a double meaning regarding the timing of the pascal mystery: it is connected to Passover, but it is also connected to the sabbath. Since the Passover does not always fall on a sabbath, however, the early church was faced with having to decide how to celebrate Easter and respect this double meaning.

Some Christians, known as Quartodecimans (meaning "14th-day-ers"), celebrated Easter on 14 Nisan, i.e. along with Passover. The early tradition in Rome, however, was to celebrate Easter on the Sunday following Passover; unlike the quartodeciman tradition, it therefore preserved (as best as possible) the double meaning.

Why is Sunday so important? It has to do with the meaning of the resurrection itself. Sunday is the first day of the week, but spiritually it is also the "eighth day" of creation itself! The Bible depicts the earth as having been created in 6 days, with God resting on the 7th. Humans (i.e. Adam and Eve) were created on the 6th day — but Christ, the new Adam, was killed on the 6th day (a Friday). God rested on the 7th day, just as Christ rested in the tomb on the 7th day. Yet on Sunday, the day after, Christ rose from the dead in a new and glorified body — it is a new state of being, a new form of existence that the universe has never seen before! In the resurrection, God has done a new thing, and every Sunday ever after is his pledge to make "all things new".

There is, therefore, a powerful spiritual connection between day of Sunday and the resurrection of Christ. The "quartodeciman controversy" threatened to divide the Church at one point, until the very first ecumenical council settled the matter in favour of the Sunday tradition.

For more on the spirituality of Sunday, I recommend the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II, entitled Dies Domini.

A sad surprise for the un-Confirmed

I just finished writing an email to a blog reader who shared a difficulty he is living. He was asked to become a godparent, and indeed accepted joyfully, but then (to everyone's dismay) discovered that he was disqualified because he had never received the sacrament of Confirmation.

Why is Confirmation necessary? It is because it is one of the sacraments of initiation, and a person can't legitimately accept responsibility to guide the Christian initiation of another person if he or she is not fully initiated him/herself. It just wouldn't make sense. On top of that, Confirmation is a sacrament that binds a person more closely to the Catholic Church, and since the baptism in question is not some sort of generic baptism but one that is taking place in the Catholic Church, it holds that a godparent should have a very explicit sacramental connection to that Church.

And yet, I feel for this fellow. He probably had no idea what the consequences of not being confirmed might be. And he is not alone — I've encountered this problem lots of times, and nobody ever walks away happy, particularly because the preparation process for Confirmation typically lasts several months at least (generally not enough time before the baptism in question). The bottom line is Confirmation should be present and it is not, and there is only one cure for that — to get Confirmed, and to get started on the process now!

And so I put out a message to all blog readers: please, please, PLEASE pass the word around regarding the importance of the sacrament of Confirmation, and that those who are not confirmed and yet who would like to one day be a godparent will want to start NOW to complete their Christian initiation. It'll do them good, and put them in a better position to do good to others if, one day, they have the honour of being asked to be part of someone's baptism in that very special way.

The analogy of the tropical island

This analogy is meant to help explain the different categories of Christian liturgy. So I want you, the reader, to imagine an island in the middle of the ocean, and then keep reading.

At the centre of this island is a tall mountain, so tall that, while it has tropical forest on its slopes, it actually has snow on the summit, from which trickle countless small streams. The mountain represents the sacrament of Eucharist, which Vatican II called the "source and summit" of our Catholic faith.

The streams join to form six rivers, flowing out from the mountain and spead out around it like the spokes of a wheel. These six rivers represent the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, Reconciliation, Holy Orders, and Marriage.

Jungle growth is all over the island, with the trees drawing their life-sustaining water from the streams and rivers. These trees produce various fruits, each according to their own kind. These trees (and their fruits) represent the various sacramentals, each of which is related to one or more of the sacraments in some way, and from which it draws its power (much as the trees draw water from the rivers and/or streams to produce their fruits).

I might add at this point that the rivers are more important than the trees to the inhabitants of the island, for the same reason that water is more important than food: you can go a long time without food, but only a few days without water. In a similar way, the seven sacraments are far more important than the sacramentals. That being said, though, we do also need the sacramentals as well, as a way to make the grace of the sacraments even more "nutritious" for us. This is why each liturgical celebration of a sacrament is actually a package of numerous sacramentals which either lead up to, or flow from, a core liturgical moment (such as, for the Eucharist, the consecration).

The island is wrapped by a fine sand beach, such that it is possible to walk around the entire island in a 24-hour period. One could start walking when the sun gets up, follow the sun in its course in the sky, be at the opposite side of the island when the sun goes down, and keep going through the night to meet the sun again as it rises the next day. This cycle of walking represent the liturgy of the hours, by which we sanctify the day through a gentle, peaceful form of prayer.

Finally, the island goes through its seasonal cycles year after year, which (of course) represents the liturgical year. Just as there is a "rainy season" (Christiams and Easter) in which water falls from heaven more abundantly (and builds up the snow pack on the mountain), there is also a "dry season" (Advent and Lent) in which the island depends on the water flowing from the mountain that much more. Each season is necessary, including even the "ordinary time" when it is neither particularly wet nor dry, although people live different rythms of life, including festival days, depending on the season in question.

Where is God? God is in the heavens, sending the rains and shining the light of the sun on the island. This represents the outpouring of his grace upon all of us, a grace which is communicated by the sacraments. Another interesting element of this analogy is that the closest we can get to "God in heaven" in this image is by climbing the mountain, i.e. through the celebration of the Eucharist! This is very true to Catholic theology.

What is the island itself? It is the Church. There are some who try and leave the island to go to other islands, and there is no question that God sends his sun and rain upon them as well. But without a similar mountain in the centre, they do not possess the rivers either, and their trees are much more susceptible to withering in drier seasons. It is the same with those who leave the Church for other ecclesial communities (or even other religions) which do not possess the Eucharist. Certainly God can act outside of the sacramental economy to bring his saving grace to people: He is not limited to acting solely over our precious island! But it is nevertheless his will that all live in unity upon this island, where life is sustained thanks to the means that he has established to communicate grace (the mountain and the six rivers, i.e. the seven sacraments).

The preservation and promotion of the rites

In the last article we looked at the various families of liturgical rites. With regards to Vatican II, we know that the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy wanted to suggest some changes to the way Catholic worship. The last sentence of paragraph 3 explains that "the practical norms which follow, however, should be taken as applying only to the Roman rite, except for those which, in the very nature of things, affect other rites as well." But what about all the other rites? What happens with those? Paragraph 4 of the text reads:

Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.

One of the most pressing questions facing any community of believers is "How shall we worship?" Worship is a community action, and so some sort of minimal order must be agreed upon. In the Catholic tradition the regulation of divine worship is the responsibility, first and foremost, of the local bishop, who is the "chief priest" of his local church with regards to the worship of God. He presides liturgical worship himself, and he issues directives on how worship is to be conducted if the people cannot attend one of his services. The responsibility to both preside and regulate liturgical worship is at the heart of the ministry of a diocesan bishop, and has been since the very origins of the Church.

Over time, however, local variations did creep in regarding the manner of divine worship, as one local church varied from another. As most people worshipped according to the rite in which they grew up, in the area in which they grew up, these local differences didn't make too much practical difference. On occasion, however, visitors from another local church would come to visit or stay temporarily, and they would notice the differences in practice. This raised questions in their minds, such as when the young St. Augustine asked the bishop of Milan, St. Ambrose, about the difference between Rome and Milan in the custom of fasting on Saturday. St. Ambrose replied, "When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the Church where you are". This last comment is the origin of the expression "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", which is actually the statement of a liturgical principle.

Such principles worked well when the number of new arrivals was small, or if they were only visiting. History shows us, however, that when larger groups of people immigrate to a new territory, they bring their worship customs with them. Given that these other customs *are* equally legitimate, the new arrivals often resist letting them go in order to "do as the Romans do". It is more than a question of mere habits: the form by which we worship is an expression of our faith, full of meaning, and for many people to abandon a traditional form of worship whose meaning they understand, for a new form of worship whose meaning they don't understand as well, is tantamount to abandoning some or all of their faith. In practice, then, many parts of the world, particularly the more cosmopolitan areas like major cities, would have more than one liturgical tradition existing side-by-side.

It is unfortunate but true, however, that difference often breeds suspicion. We see someone behaving differently from us, in a manner we do not understand, and we assume the worst. I remember once hearing of an Orthodox man who, seeing how Roman Catholics make the sign of the cross, declared it to be an indication of our elevation of Mary and the Pope as a part of the Trinity (making it....what? A "quinity"?). While this may sound crazy, there are many examples in the history of the Church where unity of faith was confused with uniformity of worship. Difference breeds suspicion, and the response is an attempt to force liturgical uniformity. And these attempts almost always turn out badly, because (as I say) for those subject to the penalties, it is subjectively felt as an demand to abandon some part of their faith life. Many times in Church history people have chosen to enter into schism over such demands — because entering into schism, as bad as it is, is not as bad as what was perceived as a demand to enter into deliberate heresy. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Many do not know it, but the Great Schism of 1054 was preceded in 1052 by a command of the Patriarch of Constantinople that all the Latins living in his territory abandon their traditions and worship according to the Byzantine rite. He denounced things like the omission of the 'alleluia' during Lent and use of unleavened bread at Mass. This latter point might seem minor, until we learn that Latin tabernacles were burst open at the command of Chancellor Nicephorus and the hosts trampled on, to condemn the use of supposedly "invalid" bread. Many Byzantine bishops and monks supported these gestures, with Leo of Achridia writing, "Anyone who thus observes the Sabbath and uses unleavened bread is neither Jew nor pagan; he resembles a leopard." The schism started two years later, and is still going on.
  • In the wake of the Protestant Reformation a number of illicit alterations were being made to the liturgy in order to communicate the Protestant ideas. Rome therefore began to impose stricter liturgical laws in order to re-emphasize the Catholic faith. This, however, had the side-effect of stamping out many of the legitimate local liturgical traditions in favour of the newly revised Roman rite. Such efforts were seen as necessary to preserve the faith, but at times were taken too far. This was especially true with regards to Catholic relations with the East, where a practice of "Latinization" took hold. When the Portuguese, for example, arrived in India, they discovered a very ancient Christian culture that dated back to St. Thomas the Apostle. One of the first things they attempted to do, however, was to require these Christians to abandon their Syriac traditions in favour of the Roman rite, through decisions taken at the Synod at Udayamperur in June 1599. Within two generations the native Christians revolted against this Latinization, and the result was a schism which also endures to this day.

Given the history of explosive conflicts over liturgical practice, we see how paragraph 4 of the Constitution is very important, acting as an indicator on how inter-rite relations are to be governed. The key points are as follows:

  1. The declaration of equal rights and dignity among rites

    The Constitution sets to rest any discussions about one liturgical rite being "better" than another. They are different but fundamentally equal, so mutual suspicion should cease (as well as any liturgical superiority complexes). The Constitution does point out, however, that this declaration of equality only includes "lawfully acknowledged" rites. As I've said before, the liturgy is a mechanism by which a collection of individuals becomes a unit of the Church and manifests the presence of "the Body of Christ" in the world. A privately-determined liturgy, therefore, is an oxymoron: the lawful acknowledgement of the liturgical ritual in question is necessary if we want to be sure the manner in which we are worshipping will not corrupt our faith, and if we want our local worship of God to be in communion with the whole of the Church throughout the world.

  2. Preservation and fostering of rites

    The statement that "holy Mother Church wishes to preserve [all rites] in the future and to foster them in every way" is, in effect, a declaration of the end of Latinization. The Catholic Church, through paragraph 4, is declaring that its liturgical policy is "unity in diversity". I submit to you, however, that there is more to this statement than simply a change of direction for Church authorities. Liturgical chauvanism, xenophobia and lack of understanding can arise just as easily in the laity and lower clergy as in the higher elements of the hierarchy. It can also arise in members of the other liturgical traditions, as we saw in the attempt at forced "Byzantization" in Constantinople in 1052. If this wish of preserving and fostering the rites is truly to be an expression of the desire of Holy Mother Church, then we as members of the Church need to get involved. Do we honour and respect the other liturgical traditions? Do we even know anything about them? Real "unity in diversity" requires more than simply a mutual benign neglect.

  3. The revision of rites

    The Council asked that the rites — all of them — be revised "in the light of sound tradition". In the case of the Eastern rites in particular, this has recently meant going back to the traditional practices by removing many of the "latinisms" that either crept in (or were forced in) to their liturgical forms. Far from being intended as an insult to the Latin ways, the Council saw it as a way for preserve fidelity to a rich spiritual heritage.

    This being said, however, there is also always the danger of an excess devotion to the past, without striving to meet the needs of the present. For this reason the Council also asked that the rites "be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times". This last statement is meant to be more than a platitude: in some ways, it represents the greatest challenge of all. How can each rite become more "vigourous"? There are perhaps many ways, but the most obvious one to me is through the advancing of a genuine liturgically-connected spirituality, so that we may celebrate the liturgy with hearts more open to the fruitful action of the Holy Spirit. And what are the "circumstances and needs of modern times", and how can the rites serve to meet them? We need to pay attention to the "signs of the time", because what is at stake is the Holy Spirit's agenda for the world, and the place of the liturgical traditions — all of them — within the advancing of that agenda.

The various families of liturgical rites

Paragraph 3 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy introduces us to the concept of "rites":

Wherefore the sacred Council judges that the following principles concerning the promotion and reform of the liturgy should be called to mind, and that practical norms should be established.

Among these principles and norms there are some which can and should be applied both to the Roman rite and also to all the other rites. The practical norms which follow, however, should be taken as applying only to the Roman rite, except for those which, in the very nature of things, affect other rites as well.

The word "rite" generally means one of two things. It can refer to a particular liturgical ritual, such a the "rite of baptism" or the "rite of marriage". It can also refer to the grouping of particular rituals into what might be called "families of rituals". Each of these families of rituals contains the same individual ceremonies — the seven sacraments, for example, are usually found in all the "families" — but the style with which they are celebrated is quite different, with each "family" placing its own unique emphasis on certain parts according to their historical and cultural tradition. The Roman rite, as the Constitution mentions, is one such "family" of rites, but there are many others. The purpose of this article is to introduce these different "liturgical families", and so the word "rite" will be used to describe, not just rituals, but the groupings of these rituals.

All rites can be basically subdivided into two categories: Eastern and Western. These subdivisions correspond conceptually to the subdivision by Diocletian of the Roman Empire into the Eastern Roman Empire and the Western Roman Empire, with the East often called the "Greek" portion, and the West called the "Latin" portion. For this reason the Roman rite is also often called the "Latin rite", although this is somewhat of a misnomer. Despite the connection to the Roman Empire proper, territories east of the Eastern Roman Empire (for example, territories that were part of the Persian lands) are still called "Eastern", while independent territories in the West (such as Ireland) are nevertheless called "Western".

  • THE EASTERN RITES

    Within the Eastern territory there were two ancient patriarchates which had the greatest influence: the patriarchate of Antioch, and the patriarchate of Alexandria. Each had its own approach to the study of Scripture, to theology, and to worship. The Eastern rites, therefore, can be broken down into two categories: the Antiochian group, and the Alexandrian group.

    • The Antiochian group

      The patriarchate of Antioch, located in Syria, generally held sway over the Eastern Christians outside of Egypt. This included, as mentioned before, those areas under Persian control. Because these latter Christians had less contact with the rest of the Christian world, they tended to develop somewhat autonomously. We therefore see the Antiochian group itself subdivided into two categories: the Western Syrian group, and the Eastern Syrian group. All are eastern, but some are more eastern that others!

      • The Western Syrian group

        The Western Syrian group comprises 4 actual "liturgical families": the Syriac rite; the Maronite rite; the Byzantine rite; and the Armenian rite.

        1. The Syriac rite

          The best-known characteristic of the Syriac rite is its continued use of Syriac, the successor language to Aramaic, in the words of the consecration at Mass. In other words, in a Syriac liturgy, one hears the words of Jesus in Jesus' own language. Syriac Christians are divided into several different ecclesial jurisdictions, including a number of Syriac Catholics who entered into communion with the bishop of Rome in the 17th century. While I cannot speak for the various Orthodox churches of Syriac tradition, those interesting in experiencing the Syriac tradition are welcome at the Syriac Catholic parish here in Montreal: Saint Ephrem parish, 3000 Edouard-Montpetit, Laval, 450-688-9579.

        2. The Maronite rite

          The Maronites constitute an autonomous church within the overall Catholic Church (i.e. they are in full communion with the Pope). There were a couple of Maronites studying at the seminary with me when I was there, and I enjoyed participating in the occasional Maronite service we would have. In particular, I remember being struck by an element of the ritual of ordination: it takes place within the Eucharistic prayer, immediately after the consecration. The bishop places one hand over the sacred species and imposes the other on the head of the ordinand as he says the prayer of ordination, to show that it is truly Christ who is ordaining. There are many Maronite parishes here in Montreal, and in fact they are organized into an independent diocese that covers all of Canada. St. Maron Cathedral is located at 1000 Gouin Est, in Montreal. The associate pastor is Fr. Sami Farah, one of my friends from the seminary. Say hi to him for me if you visit.

        3. The Byzantine rite

          The Byzantine rite is far and away the largest of the Eastern rites in terms of population of worshippers, and is often *the* rite we think of when we think of the Orthodox church or of Eastern Christians in general. It was the rite used in Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire (and later, the Byzantine Empire, from which the name of the rite is derived). This rite has a profound focus on transcendence, such that the experience of a Byzantine liturgy is meant to give the worshipper a mysterious foretaste of Heaven. The Byzantine liturgy has been adopted by many different nationalities, such as the Serbs, the Bulgarians, the Romanians, the Slovaks, etc. The two largest groups, however, are the Greeks and the Russians. There are fewer Catholics than Orthodox who worship according to the Byzantine tradition, but there are two significant populations who do: the Melkites of Lebanon, and the Ukrainian Catholics. My friend Fr. François Beyrouti is at the Melkite church of Sts. Peter and Paul, and my friend Fr. Roman Lahola is the Dean for the Montreal and Quebec region of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada. Catholics wishing to experience the Byzantine liturgy closer to Montreal can participate at the Melkite Cathedral of the Holy Saviour (Saint-Sauveur), 12325 Place de la Minerve, 514-288-7753, or at one of the several parishes listed on the website of the Ukrainian eparchy.

        4. The Armenian rite

          Armenia was the first nation to embrace Christianity as a whole, starting in 303 A.D.; it should not be surprising, therefore, that there exists an Armenian rite, one with an ancient and proud heritage. I experienced the Armenian tradition when Catholicos Karekin I (the Armenian Orthodox patriarch) came to visit Montreal. While being thoroughly Eastern, I noticed many similarities with the Western liturgy: the sign of the cross is made from left to right, the bishops wear mitres instead of the Byzantine crowns, and the bread they use is unleavened. There are also a number of Armenian Catholics, including here in Montreal: these are based out of Notre-Dame-de-Nareg parish, 858 Côte-Vertu, St-Laurent, 514-748-6435.

      • The Eastern Syrian group

        The Eastern Syrian group has 3 liturgical "families" of its own: the liturgy of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Chaldean rite, and the Syro-Malabar rite.

        1. The Assyrian Church of the East

          This is a very ancient church which sadly fell out of communion with the rest of the Christian world in 431 A.D. It was very active nevertheless, establishing the first ever Christian presence in China, and sending missionaries even as far as Indonesia. The conquest of the East by Islam, however, cut off these missionary endeavours, and the Assyrians have been in numerical decline ever since. Their liturgy is best known for an interesting particularity in one of their ancient Eucharistic prayers, known as the "Anaphora of Addai and Mari", which does not contain a formula of consecration. Nevertheless the Vatican has declared it to be a valid Eucharist prayer, and this (along with the signing of a Common Christological Declaration) has raised hopes for a re-union between the Assyrians and the Roman Catholic Church. There are very few Assyrian churches in the world, and because of persecution in their home in Iran they have had to relocate the patriarchate to Chicago, U.S.A. You can take a look at the web page for their Commission on Inter-church Relations and Education Development to find locations of nearby Assyrian parishes, should you want to experience their liturgy. I'm sure they would be delighted to find others interested in their traditions!

        2. The Chaldean rite

          While their history is different, liturgically the Chaldeans are Catholics who follow the liturgical usages of the Assyrian Church of the East, with a few modifications: all the Eucharistic prayers contain the words of consecration, and certain names are suppressed (such as "Saint Nestorious"). The Chaldeans are based in Iraq, and so their church has come under particularly hard times of late. Here in Montreal there is a small mission parish called Saint-Martyrs-d'Orient, 44 Guizot Ouest, Montreal, 514-381-2436. For more information on Chaldean Christians throughout the world you can also check out Chaldeans On Line.

        3. The Syro-Malabar rite

          Ancient tradition has it that St. Thomas the Apostle journeyed all the way to India and founded the first churches there. Over time these churches, located primarily in the present-day state of Kerala, came under the jurisdiction of the Assyrian patriarch. With the influence of the Portuguese in India (starting in the 1500's) this link was severed in favour of union with Rome. When my sister went to India several years ago for 4 months she worshipped regularly with Syro-Malabar Christians. Syro-Malabar Christians in North America now have the St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago to serve their needs.

    • The Alexandrian group

      The Alexandrian tradition of liturgy has come down to us through two major rites: the Coptic rite, and the Ethiopian rite.

      1. The Coptic rite

        The Coptic rite is practiced by both the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Coptic Catholic Church. Oddly enough I am more familiar with the Coptic Orthodox, as their parish of St. George and St. Joseph is located not far from my own parish. I remember getting into a conversation with one of their priests about their practice of the liturgy, which is very long and for which the priests stand the entire time. I said, "I hope you folks wear comfortable shoes!" He looked at me in a puzzled manner and replied, "Oh no, we never wear shoes in the sanctuary." Just like Moses and the burning bush, there is a tremendous sense of being in God's presence. The web site of St. George and St. Joseph has a live video link for those who would like to witness a Coptic liturgy and can only do so from afar. For those closer to home, I am sure our Copts would be happy to welcome you (they hosted the last ecumenical gathering this January), and there is also a Coptic Catholic church here in Montreal: Notre-Dame-d'Egypte, 3569 Lévesque Ouest, Laval, 450-682-8244.

      2. The Ethiopian rite

        Many people are surprised to discover that Ethiopia is, in fact, a Christian nation, but we should not forget that the first non-Jew to be baptized was an Ethiopian (see Acts 8: 26-39). The Ethiopian rite is celebrated in Ge'ez, an ancient language now used only in liturgical services. While there are approximately 60,000 Ethiopian Catholics, the vast majority of Ethiopian Christians are Orthodox, organized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The nearest Ethiopian Orthodox parish to Montreal is St. Tekle Haimanot in Ottawa, and the parish of Virgin Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has a well-developed web site complete with audio files of some of their hymns. (As an aside, I should mention that since the creation of the nation of Eritrea from Ethiopia an independent Eritrean Orthodox Church has also arisen. I am not sure what liturgical form they follow, but I suspect it is based on the Ethiopian form.)

  • THE WESTERN RITES

    The subdivision of Western rites is somewhat simpler than what we find in the East. This is not to say that there are not many different styles of worship — indeed there are! In general, though, there is a greater cohesion and similarity of style within the Western liturgical tradition. As well, certain liturgical traditions (such as the Gallican, or the Celtic) have disappeared, and are of historical interest only. Within the Western tradition, therefore, we find the following families of rites: the Ambrosian; the Mozarabic; the Roman; and the Anglican. There are also the various Protestant forms of worship, but these are extremely diverse and so will only be briefly mentioned here.

    1. The Ambrosian rite

      The Ambrosian rite is named after St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan in the 5th century. This ancient rite is still celebrated, although in only one diocese in the world: Milan itself. Nevertheless there is plenty of information out there regarding this rite, and a quick Google search on the term Ambrosian rite today shows over 700 sources of information. The music company Naxos has a CD of Ambrosian chant available, and small videos of an Ambrosian rite mass are available from TraditionalMass.net.

    2. The Mozarabic rite

      The Mozarabic rite is also known as the Visigothic rite, as it was established during the time of the occupation of Spain by the Visigoths. It is celebrated in only a few churches and chapels of the diocese of Toledo, Spain. Harmonia Mundi has put out a CD of Mozarabic chant, and Amazon.com offers clips of the various tracks (note the strong similarity to Eastern chants).

    3. The Roman rite

      The Roman rite, the rite used by almost all non-Eastern Catholics, is easily the largest of the liturgical traditions in the world: more Christians worship God through the Roman rite than in all other rites combined. The Roman rite is often called the "Latin rite", but this term sometimes leads to confusion: while Latin is still the official language of the Roman rite, other languages are also used. The rite is called "Roman" because of its connection to the Church of Rome and, in particular, to the Pope. While the Pope, as supreme pontiff of the Church, has the right to celebrate the liturgy in any rite, he is also first and foremost the Bishop of Rome, giving the Roman rite a special pride of place.

      The Roman rite is characterized by a simplicity and brevity in its rituals, relative to the other rites (for example, it is rare for a Roman Catholic mass to go for more than 2 hours, while an Eastern service rarely lasts less than 2, and can go to 3 or 4 in many cases). It also has a certain built-in flexibility, preserving a certain necessary core while at the same time allowing it to be easily adapted to different cultures. Within the Catholic Church the Roman rite has traditionally been one of the most powerful instruments of unity: it is possible to find, almost anywhere in the world, a Catholic church that celebrates the Roman rite, meaning that it is always possible for Roman Catholics to feel immediately spiritually at home.

      The prayers and rituals of the Roman rite come under the jurisdiction of the Vatican, which publishes the "typical edition" of each ritual book in Latin. Each national conference of bishops can then take those books and prepare local rituals in their own language and adapted to their own customs and cultures. These adapted books do not constitute their own rites, but still form part of the Roman rite, although there are some cases where the adaptations are so extensive that we begin to speak of the adapted rituals as a new rite. The "Zairean rite", an adaptation approved by the Church for use with the peoples of the Congo, is one such example, with another being a so-called "Indian rite" used in India proper.

      There are other variants within the Roman rite as well, particularly certain specialized usages within religious orders. Many religious orders have their own manner of celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours outside of the typical version found in the Roman rite. Some religious orders even have their own approved variations within the mass, such as the Dominicans, the Premonstratensians, and the Carthusians. As well, some dioceses in Europe have preserved certain ancient local variations in the litury, such as in Braga and in Lyons. The rite used in the latter see is often called the "Gallican rite", although my research indicates that this is a misnomer: it may preserve some elements of the ancient Gallican rites, but in fact it really is part of the Roman rite.

      The Roman rite underwent extensive revision after the publication of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy in 1963, culminating in a new order of service generically called the Novus Ordo. This is not the official name, but is an easy-to-use term that helps distinguish the ritual(s) from the previous publications, such as the previous edition of the Roman Missal in 1962. This previous edition is often called the "Tridentine rite", given that it was first published at the request of the Council of Trent in the 16th century, although today one typically sees the name "Traditional rite" instead. Persons wishing to experience a Roman rite liturgy need only go to their nearest Roman Catholic church, and they are almost certain to live a Novus Ordo mass; in Montreal, if you would like to experience a very classical style of worship, I would recommend visiting the magnificent Bascilia of St. Patrick, 460 René-Levesque Ouest, Montreal, 514-866-7379.; if, on the other hand, you would prefer to see a simpler "parochial style" of worship I would be glad to welcome you to the parish of St. Thomas à Becket, 4320 rue Ste-Anne, Pierrefonds, 514-626-4111.

      While the Novus Ordo form accounts for the vast majority of Roman Catholic worship, I should mention that there are some Roman Catholics who prefer to worship according to the 1962 form of the liturgy; these are known as Traditionalists, and celebrate the older rites according to the special protocol established by Pope John Paul II in the apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei. (Some Traditionalists, however, have gone so far as to declare that the Novus Ordo is an invalid way to celebrate the liturgy, and have left the Catholic Church to join so-called "Radical Traditionalist" societies.) Persons living in Montreal who would like to experience this form of worship can do so at the parish of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, 785 Brault, Verdun, 514-769-3459. Another well-known Traditional parish is St. Clement in Ottawa, which is served by priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

    4. The Anglican usage

      During the events of the Reformation in the 16th century a schism occurred in England, with Parliament declaring King Henry VIII and his successors to be the supreme head of the Church there (instead of the Pope). Within a few decades the liturgy was extensively modified, and a special ritual called the "Book of Common Prayer (BCP)" was produced to promote these new rites. While it has been modified here and there over the centuries, the Book of Common Prayer remains today the key reference point for Anglican liturgy throughout the world. Despite this unity, however, different national jurisdictions within the Anglican Communion have also begun publishing supplementary ritual books, which effectively propose an alternate liturgical form. Here in Canada the Anglican Church publishes the "Book of Alternative Services (BAS)", which has begun to replace the BCP in many areas. Despite this, there does exist a Prayer Book Society of Canada which seeks to promote this traditional form of Anglican worship. This results in a curious phenomenon in some Anglican parishes: some declare themselves to be a "BCP parish", others a "BAS parish", and some use both forms, with a BCP service at one time on Sunday and a BAS service at another time! Persons wishing to experience an Anglican liturgy might want to call ahead and find out which kind of service they will be attending.

      I should also point out that there does exist an "Anglican usage" ritual within the Catholic Church itself. Over time, and particularly within the last few decades, a certain number of Anglicans have joined with the Catholic Church, but desired to continue to worship in the traditional Anglican manner. A special Pastoral Provision was accorded, and an Anglican-usage Book of Divine Worship. The parish of Our Lady of the Atonement has produced a DVD showing the Anglican-usage liturgy in action.

As you can see, the many ways in which Christians worship are quite diverse. There are other ways as well, of course, typically found within the Protestant churches, and these are *extremely* diverse. There are Pentecostal and Evangelical churches which not only do not possess an fixed order of worship, they oppose the very idea! On the other hand, there are many "mainline" Protestant churches which do have an established liturgical practice, but because almost all Protestant churches are Western in origin these generally are rooted in the Roman rite (at least in their overall structure). Protestant theology has a very different notion of the place of worship in the life of a Christian, however, from that of the Catholic or Orthodox churches, so any discussion of Protestant worship necessarily becomes an ecumenical theological discussion as well. We will leave that discussion to a later time.

The mystery of the Church

In this article I would now like to tackle the second of the two sentences that were mentioned in the last article:

The liturgy is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives and manifest to others the real nature of the true Church.

In order to fully understand this point, we need to break it down into three questions:

  1. What is the "true Church"?
  2. What is the "real nature" of this true Church?
  3. How does the liturgy help the faithful "express in their lives and manifest to others" this real nature of the true Church?

The "true Church"

There are a great many different Christian denominations in the world today, and each has its own way of understanding the Gospel. The word "church" originally meant "assembly", so in the strict sense each of these denominations may, to a greater or lesser extent, be called a "church". The various contradictions between them, however, means that they cannot all be correct — some must be closer to being the "true" Church, and some must be further away. In addition, Jesus promised to be with his Church until the end of time, which implies that they can't *all* be wrong: this reality called "the Church" must subsist within one of these denominations in particular (and it can't be more than one or we are back to the original problem).

What criteria, then, can we use to distinguish between the various denominations, and to discover in which one the "true Church" subsists? In order to avoid setting arbitrary conditions, we can turn to the creed of Nicea-Constantinople once again, which contains the line:

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Given that these four "marks" of the Church are indicators of something which is an object of faith, they are extremely important. We will examine them one at a time, in reverse order. I should point out that this will only be an overview of each other elements, as whole books have been written discussing the meaning of these four "marks". For Catholics, a more detailed review of them can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 811–870.

For the Church to be "apostolic" means two things. First of all, it means that the Church continues to benefit from the apostolic ministry. Before they died the Apostles appointed successors, to preside the continuation of their work in the various local churches which they founded. The presence of this apostolic succession was considered from very ancient times to be essential to identifying the "true Church". In addition, the term apostolic means that the Church continues to carry forward in history the teaching of the apostles, who themselves were ambassadors of the message of Christ. Because this apostolic teaching is composed of mysteries about which our understanding can always grow, doctrine can be subject to legitimate development (and therefore there can be a legitimate diversity of doctrinal expressions). Such developments, however, must be consistent with the original deposit of faith, and must flow out of it. A "true Church", then, would be one in which the doctrines it presents are consistent with the original teaching of the apostles, even if the external expression of that doctrine has a different appearance.

The word "catholic" refers to the universality of the Church. A truly "catholic" church would strive to be present everywhere, and would include peoples of all nationalities and cultures. It also means that the Church contains the fullness of the means of salvation that Christ wills for it: a correct and complete profession of faith, the sacramental life, and the ordained ministry in the apostolic succession. The first and the last of these three latter points have already been treated, but the middle element, the sacramental life, is certainly of interest to our topic.

The word "holy" indicates not only a special gift of holiness that Christ wills for his Church, but also that the Church is meant to be a source of holiness for others. A quick look at the history of the Church, however, shows that many Christians, including many members of the clergy, have not lived up to the call of holiness. How, then, can such persons (and by extension, the Church they together compose) be instruments of something they do not themselves seem to possess? The liturgy, as we will see, has an important role to play in bridging that gap.

The word "one" refers to the unity of the true Church. Such a church would possess the means to overcome the various human pressures which tend to lead to division. Division arises from either errors of the intelligence or the misuse of the will. The true Church, therefore, would possess a teaching mechanism empowered to speak on behalf of the church, and drawing upon the guidance of God to do so. As well, it would possess an authority structure allowing for the coordination of the activity of the Church, for the common good of its members.

As it examines itself in the light of these four "marks" of the Church, the Catholic Church believes itself to possess these marks in their fullness. It possess a teaching and disciplinary authority (one), it is able to communicate holiness to others (holy), it is present everywhere throughout the world and in all cultures, and possesses the fullness of the means of sanctification (catholic), and it possesses the apostolic succession, including the line of the successors of the apostle Peter himself (apostolic).

The "real nature" of the true Church

Once again, it would be possible to fill entire volumes with a theological discussion of the "real nature" of the Church. The Second Vatican Council undertook to develop this area of doctrine through Lumen Gentium, a.k.a. the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. We will limit ourselves here to what Sacrosanctum Concilium had to say on the nature of the Church, also contained in paragraph #2:

It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek (2).

Footnote 2 refers to Hebrews 13:14. For the sake of context, here are verses 13 & 14: "These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland."

Without pretending to exhaust the content of the mystery of the Church, therefore, we need to understand that the Church, if it really is what it claims to be, is not like any other human organization. While there is a visible dimension to the Church — that which we see and encounter in daily life — there is also an invisible dimension, a spiritual dimension that operates in the order of grace. For example:

  • The Church is most certainly human, composed as it is of human beings, but it is also divine, as its true Head is Jesus Christ, who is himself both human and divine. The members of the Church, taken together, therefore do not simply form another human organization: they constitute the Body of Christ on Earth.
  • The Church is most certainly visible, and is even visibly equipped (think of the lands, buildings, etc. which it possesses). Its most important "equipment", however, is the Holy Spirit himself. If the Church *is* what it claims to be, then it possesses something that no other human organization possesses: the special guidance and action of the Holy Spirit.
  • To say that in the Church action is "subordinated to contemplation" does not simply mean that the Church undertakes its various actions but makes sure to take a periodic break to go meditate. Yes, it can operate that way, but what this really means is that the very goals of the activities of the Church are fundamentally contemplative. Fundamentally, the Church exists to offer God fitting worship, and sees the contemplation of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, as the path par excellence to this true worship and service. This is sometimes done through silent meditation, yes, but it can also be done through service to others, such as the poorest of the poor. In the scene of the last judgment, found in Matthew 25, Jesus identifies himself with those who are "least". If done with the right frame of mind — one which subordinates action to contemplation — then to offer these "least" our service in action is to simultaneously worship and contemplate Christ.
  • For the Church to be "present in this world yet not at home in it" reveals the fundamental identity and goal of a Christian. A Christian man or woman is definitely part of this world, and his or her identity as a person springs from a particular cultural background and heritage, but as a Christian he or she is called to go even further and root that identity in the fundamental identity of being a child of God. This transcends ethnicity, social status, and even gender: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) This brotherhood of all human beings even transcends the veil of death to include the saints, as well as those undergoing their final purification, and thereby reveals the fundamental vocation of the Christian: the fundamental call is the call to holiness. The Church, therefore, is a "communion of saints", not just composed of those millions of Christians who walk the Earth today, but including also all those billions whom God has seen fit to admit to everlasting life. And if we want to be counted in that number, we must enter into that same communion of holiness with those holy ones.

All these elements form part of the "real nature" of the true Church, and these elements are excellent and beautiful, and worthy to be acknowledged and celebrated. This now brings us to our final point:

The liturgy as a means to express and manifest the real nature of the true Church

The liturgy does not pretend to be the only means by which the mystery of the Church is expressed and explored in the Christian life. Nevertheless, it is one of the chief means, so much so that the liturgy can be seen as a kind of template for understanding this thing we call "Church". We see each of these dimensions of the "real nature of the true Church" both expressed and manifested in liturgical worship, such as in the following examples:

  • The apostolic dimension is particularly evident when the liturgy is presided by a bishop or a priest in communion with him, as the bishop is ordained in the apostolic succession and the priest is ordained to share in that ministry. The apostolic dimension is also visible when the Bible is proclaimed and explained in a homily: this is a renewal of the teaching of the apostles in the Church, as well as the "translation" of that teaching into terms comprehensible to modern ears.
  • The "catholic" dimension is visible in the fact that a Christian should be able to go anywhere in the world and be welcomed as a fellow Christian, a point that is most explicitly visible in the Catholic Church (hence the name). The "catholic" dimension is also visible when the seven sacraments, as means of sanctification, are at the heart of Christian life. The Catholic Church as a whole, of course, accepts the seven sacraments, and so this might seem like a moot point apart from certain ecumenical discussions. However, the Catholic Church is also a communion of thousands of "particular churches" (i.e. dioceses), and if each is to fully live out its "catholicity" then each must honestly examine its fidelity and fervour with regards to the sacraments. For example:
    • Are people delaying the baptism of their children?
    • Is Confirmation ignored?
    • Has Reconciliation fallen into disuse, perhaps replaced by an annual "general absolution" lacking the specific confession of serious sins?
    • Do people prefer communion services to Mass? Does the Mass seem to periodically get hijacked to promote the special cause of the moment?
    • Is the Anointing of the Sick still only understood as "last rites"? On the other hand, is the Anointing given too freely?
    • Are vocations to ordained ministry promoted?
    • Is the specifically Christian dimension of sacramental marriage being lived? Or do Christians cheat on their spouses, get divorced, and contracept just like everyone else?

    A fully "catholic" local church is one in which each of the sacraments is lived in full fidelity, not only to the rubrics, but to the very meaning and essence of the sacrament itself.

  • As was mentioned earlier, the dimension of the holiness of the Church must include a mechanism to communicate holiness even when the minister in question is personally unworthy. Part of the Catholic faith is that the liturgy provides a mechanism for a minister to give what he may not personally possess. The sacraments, in particular, function ex opere operato, i.e. by means of the act itself, such that when a priest baptizes it is actually Christ himself who baptizes. No matter how morally unworthy a particular priest might become, for example, we do not need to redo the baptisms he performed, as long as they were done in fidelity to the form of baptism itself. Still, not all liturgy operates ex opere operato; some operates ex opere operantis, which means that the subjective state of the minister does enter into the equation. And all graces produced by liturgical actions need to be received with the right disposition for them to be fruitful. The liturgy, therefore, is not just a source of holiness, but a challenge to live in holiness.
  • The liturgy is a powerful sign of the unity of the Church. No matter where one goes in the world, the Eucharist is still the Eucharist, even if it is celebrated according to different liturgical rites. No local church or minister "owns" the liturgical celebrations: they must be performed in fidelity to the forms approved by higher authority, in communion with the Pope and the bishops. This is not to create some sort of merely external unity, but is an aspect of the very magisterium of the Church: what the Church believes is intimately connected to how the Church prays (a principle called lex orandi, lex credendi), so any teaching authority the Church might possess must also be a liturgical authority. Beware of deviations in liturgical practice! Some may be legitimate diversity, as there is a genuine flexibility built into some parts of particular rituals, but others mask a weakening or an outright rejection of some part of the faith.
  • The subordination of the human to the divine is quite obviously seen in liturgy, in that it is worship directed to the Father through the Son in the Spirit. Still, this point is not to be taken for granted. While liturgy is meant to allow us to forget self and focus on the ultimate Other, it is easy for this transcendent dimension to be neglected. Liturgy then becomes "what I get out of it", rather than what I give. At its worst, this kind of liturgical narcissism can become a worship, not of God, but of ourselves.
  • The special role of the Holy Spirit in the Church is also seen in the sacred liturgy. All liturgies, in fact, if they are true liturgies, are fundamentally actions of the Holy Spirit. The Mass, for example, contains an important prayer called the epiclesis, by which the Spirit comes upon the gifts of bread and wine (recognizable by words like "Let you Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy"). Many rituals contain a gesture of the imposition of hands, a symbol of the imparting of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is, in fact, the final gift of the Father before the glorious coming of the Son. Think of this parable of Jesus:

    What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:11-13)

    As much as we seek God's blessings in this world, the greatest blessing we should seek — a blessing given through the liturgy — is the gift of the Holy Spirit in the world.

  • The place of contemplation within the liturgy can be seen through things like liturgical silence. Very often we try and "fill the silences" of liturgy with something: music, extra prayers, etc. But there are times when the rituals themselves call for silent prayer. At such times we should simply be quiet and pray.

    In addition, as mentioned before, the subordination of action to contemplation means that our charitable actions are done with the intention of honouring Christ. The liturgy affords many opportunities for this, particularly through actions which surround it. Many people would like to come to church on Sunday, for example, but cannot — can we offer them a lift? Perhaps they are sick or shut in — do we realise that bringing them Holy Communion is a way of extending the liturgy to them? A neighbour is gravely ill — do we suggest they call a priest for the Anointing? And even within church, do we accept those who come without leaping to snap judgments? Do we glare at crying babies? Does our parish save the last pews for newcomers who might wish to remain anonymous as they "check things out"? I cannot think of a limit to the number of liturgically-inspired ways we can serve Christ in our neighbour.

  • As a final point in this series, we recall that the liturgy takes us from focusing on "this present world" and turns our gaze towards the Kingdom. I suspect that this is the point that the powers of this world hate the most about liturgy. If you look at history, you find strenuous efforts by persecutors of Christianity to stamp out what must be, to them, the mere pouring of water, or the mere anointing with oil, or the mere eating of bread and wine. And yet such gestures seem like such a threat to them. The liturgy, by placing us in communion with those in Heaven and in Purgatory, is meant to remind us of our ultimate destiny, and thus motivate us to acts of courage that go beyond the preservation of our very lives. By creating a communion of all believers, regardless of gender, colour, caste, etc., the liturgy also shakes the false foundations of discrimination that the powerful of this world rely on to maintain their position and status. No wonder eating wafers and sipping from a cup is such a threat to so many. We must strive to ensure, then, that we live our liturgies in a way that really does remind us of Heaven, and that really does break down those barriers to brotherhood.

Obviously what I have presented here constitutes a truly massive agenda for the liturgy within the life of the Church, but then again that is why it took the whole Liturgical Movement just to get us where we are now. Acting on the small scale on which we usually encounter liturgy — as members of a parish liturgy committee, for example — how can we even begin to participate in the renewal and promotion of liturgical worship? In a word, FIDELITY. The liturgy empowers the faithful to express in their lives and manifest to others the real nature of the true Church, but for it to do that it must be the liturgy of the *Church* that is being celebrated. Fidelity is a virtue, a stable state of mind, which starts with the external observance of rules and regulations but which means much more. Fidelity to liturgical rubrics is an expression of respect for the Tradition of the Church, and shows the desire to be united with the Church and with God. Liturgical fidelity means that we forget ourselves and our casual self-centredness, and turn our lives to the ultimate Other. Even on a local scale, then, we can always examine how faithfully we, both as individuals and as a community, are living the sacred liturgy. Such a reflection helps us then live the liturgy in one of its most important dimensions: as a school for our entire spiritual life, placing ourselves under the Lordship of the One to whom we offer our worship.

The mystery of Christ

Continuing our examination of paragraph 2 of Sacrosanctum Concilium, we see that the first sentence (with the subordinate clause now removed) can be rephrased into two sentences:

The liturgy is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ.

The liturgy is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives and manifest to others the real nature of the true Church.

Each of these statements is huge, so we will take them one at a time, with this article looking at the dimension of the mystery of Christ.

Obviously, however, the "mystery of Christ" is a huge concept. The word "mystery" doesn't mean that it is unknowable, but simply that we can never exhast its full contents of the mystery — not unknowable, but "ever-knowable". It is a bit like a map: we start by looking at the mystery at a very large scale, with only the main features illustrated, and gradually zoom in. For this article the "map of the mystery of Christ" that we will use is this passage from the Creed of Nicea-Constantinople:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.

Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfilment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

I placed a division in the block of text to highlight that through these words we see that the "mystery of Christ" has two dimensions: the being of Christ (the first portion) and the action of Christ (the second portion). If, as the Constitution states, the liturgy helps us to "express in their lives and manifest to others", it will do so in both of these dimensions.

Regarding the "action" of Christ, we see this quite clearly fairly quickly, particularly through the celebrations present in the liturgical year. As I mention in article #1, all the liturgy bathes in the context of the liturgical year, and the liturgical year defines certain days when we celebrate elements of Christ's action:

  • "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven" — March 25, the feast of the Annunciation
  • "By the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man" — December 25, the feast of the Nativity (Christmas)
  • "For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfilment of the Scriptures" — Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday
  • "He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father" — the feast of the Ascension, 40 days after Easter
  • "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead" — the whole season of Advent
  • "His kingdom will have no end" — the feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday before Advent

There are many more things about the "action" of Jesus that we celebrate than these few mentioned here, but I think the idea is clear. The liturgy offers us many ways to connect our earthly life to the heavenly kingdom. Think of Christmas — at its best, isn't it a way to "express in our lives and manifest to others" something about the mystery of Christ? Think of other liturgical actions, like baptisms, weddings, and funerals — they are attempts to connect significant moments in our lives to Christ, and they can only be understood in their fullness when seen in the light of Christ, so it should be no surprise that they involve liturgy. Every time I do a house blessing, I recognize that for many people this is not just an occasion to toss some holy water on their walls: the visit of the priest, bringing this blessing, is an occasion for Christ, in a sense, to come and visit them — and please note that this blessing takes place within a liturgy.

Regarding the "being" of Christ, this is a bit more subtle. For Jesus, before he *was* Jesus, was the eternal Word of God, eternally "springing forth" from the Father. How does the liturgy allow us to express *this* in our lives, and to manifest it to others? In a nutshell, through beauty.

When we are in the presence of something that is truly beautiful, it provokes a reaction in us called the "aesthetic experience". It "takes our breath away", it causes us to be "beside ourselves". The Greek word for this experience is ekstasis, related to the English word "ecstasy", which literally means "to stand outside yourself". Ecstasy can be experienced in many forms. There is a physical ecstasy, which brings us a certain delight and comfort to the body and the emotions; there is an ecstasy of the intellect, such as the joy that comes from some sort of discovery (the kind of joy that cause Archimedes to leap from his bathtub shouting "Eureka!"); and there can be a spiritual ecstasy, which comes from the encounter with love in its highest forms, the greatest of which is the mystical encounter with God, who *IS* Love itself.

Now consider the Trinity. The higher forms of aesthetic experience are drawn out of us when we encounter the higher kinds of objects of beauty — the greatest of which is love. Love draws us out of ourselves to be at the service of others. But if God is not only one who loves, if God really *is* Love, then God *is* Beauty itself. This means that God, as the Lover-who-is-Love, is not just supremely beautiful, but is Beauty-contemplating-Beauty. God, therefore, must always be in a state of supreme "ecstatic experience": he is a God-in-ekstasis, "standing outside himself," as it were, through all eternity. And what is the name of this "God-outside-himself"? The Word, a.k.a. the Son of God, who is not separate from God, but who possess all that God is in a perfect union of Being with God. He is "eternally begotten of the Father" from the overflowing of Being that comes from the very perfection of God-as-Love. (The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as part of the same reality of the God-in-ekstasis).

How, then, do we liturgically express and manifest, not just Christ's action, but his "being"? Through beauty and through love. "Through beauty" means that the liturgy itself, in its every dimension, must be a true work of art, touching us in every way that we encounter beauty: physically, through the 5 senses; mentally; through the encounter with Truth; and spiritually, through the sense of awe and reverence and wonder and mystery that tells us we truly are in the presence of God. "Through love" means that the experience of liturgy should empower us to always seek the good of others, and to seek to respond to God's loving will for ourselves by obedience: as Jesus said, "If you love me you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). The liturgy, at its best, is a "challenge to love", and love fully.

The work of our Redemption

For the next few articles I am going to focus on paragraph 2 of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which reads as follows:

2. For the liturgy, "through which the work of our redemption is accomplished," (1) most of all in the divine sacrifice of the eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek (2). While the liturgy daily builds up those who are within into a holy temple of the Lord, into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit (3), to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ (4), at the same time it marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations (5) under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together (6), until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd (7).

Footnote 1: Secret of the ninth Sunday after Pentecost, which reads "Grant us, we beseech You, O Lord, worthily to frequent these mysteries; since as often as the remembrance of this Victim is celebrated, so often is the work of our Redemption carried on. Through our Lord, etc."

As you can see, there is a lot here! We will need to take it one step at a time. In this article we will focus on the subordinate clause found in the first sentence, which can be re-phrased as follows:

The liturgy is (a/the)* means by which the work of our redemption is accomplished, most of all in the divine sacrifice of the eucharist.

What is this "work of our Redemption"? It is the work of Christ on the cross. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches as much:

601 The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of "the righteous one, my Servant" as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin. Citing a confession of faith that he himself had "received", St. Paul professes that "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures." In particular Jesus' redemptive death fulfils Isaiah's prophecy of the suffering Servant. Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in the light of God's suffering Servant. After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles. (paragraph 601)

Christ died "once for all", as Scripture says, so that there is no more sacrifice for sin. If this is true, though, why does the Council say that the liturgy "accomplishes" the work of our Redemption? Wasn't that done already on Calvary?

Well, yes. But there is one small problem, you see: those of us alive today were not yet born. We did not even exist. Jesus therefore chose to establish a mechanism to carry forward the grace of the cross through time, to us. The liturgy is this mechanism. All of the liturgy is part of this transmission of grace, but (as the Council itself points out) how this works is clearest in the liturgy of the Eucharist, as particularly evident in the circumstances surrounding its institution.

Let us recall that Jesus instituted the liturgy during a Passover meal. This was not a neutral choice. The Passover possesses the sense that all who eat the Passover meal pass participate in the redemption of their ancestors from Egypt. Take, for example, this prayer from the haggadah:

Thus how much more so should we be grateful to the Omnipresent One for the doubled and redoubled goodness that He has bestowed upon us; for He has brought us out of Egypt, and carried out judgments against them, and against their idols, and smote their first-born, and gave us their wealth, and split the sea for us, and took us through it on dry land, and drowned our oppressors in it, and supplied our needs in the desert for forty years, and fed us the manna, and gave us the Shabbat, and brought us before Mount Sinai, and gave us the Torah, and brought us into the land of Israel and built for us the Beit Habechirah to atone for all our sins.

Note the use of the present tense! By being part of the liturgical Seder meal the participants become part of the "us" which passed through the Red Sea. This is the Hebrew sense of a "memorial", which is not just a turning towards the past, but a transcending of time so that the fruits of the past become part of our present.

Now think of the words we hear at every Mass:

Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body, which will be given up for you.

Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all, so that sins may be forgiven.

Do this in memory of me.

Through these words Jesus is instituting a new liturgical sign of memorial within the context of a rite which is already a memorial, and he directly connects those signs (the bread and wine) to his sacrifice on the cross. In other words, he is telling those gathered at the Last Supper, "When you participate in this new liturgical meal, it is the power of my sacrifice which will now be carried forward in time as the memorial."

So the liturgy *does* "accomplish our Redemption", by connecting us to the saving mystery of Christ, not by doing something apart from Christ, but by "bringing forward" that saving work through time. Each liturgical rite is meant to bring us grace by mysteriously connecting us to Christ, in some aspect of his life and ministry, with each rite doing this in its own way, and with the Eucharist doing it par excellence. Indeed, the Eucharist is the truest form of liturgy, with all the others pointing to it in some manner. All grace flows from Calvary.

Each time we attend Mass we stand at the foot of the cross, taking in the grace of Jesus' sacrifice, and we have this chance thanks to the liturgy he founded. Let's think about that the next time we celebrate Mass — it really does take things to a whole new level.


*You will note that I have not chosen which article ("a" or "the") belongs before the word "means", because the original text of the Constitution is itself ambiguous on this point. I suspect this is by design, and not simply due to the fact that Latin does not have articles. In a sense, both apply: the traditional teaching of the Church is the God saves us first and foremost through the liturgy (particulaly the sacraments), but that he is not limited to it. We will explore the connection between liturgical and extra-liturgical means of salvation in a later article.

Why did Vatican II change the liturgy?

As a priest in a parish I can tell you that one of the most delicate things to change is the liturgy. Enormous conflicts can start over things as simple as whether or not the eucharistic ministers should wear robes. Any small change is noticed, and must be explained. And yet, the Catholic Church in the 20th century made HUGE changes in the outward forms of her liturgical celebrations. Why? If things had been going well before with only minor changes here and there, why make such changes? Let's take a look at paragraph 1 of Sacrosanctum Concilium:

1. This sacred Council has several aims in view: it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.

The reforms to the liturgy, therefore, are being presented as one part of a larger strategy to accomplish 4 things:

  1. To impart an ever increasing vigour to the Christian life of the faithful.
  2. To adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change.
  3. To foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ.
  4. To strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church.

Let's unpack each of these in turn.

The spiritual goal: "To impart an ever increasing vigour to the Christian life of the faithful."

The key terms in this passage are "vigour" and "life". The Christian life is all about virtue, about acquiring new habits of life which truly become a stable part of who we are. These virtues, the stronger they become, slowly cause us to become more and more like the one whose name we bear as Christians. In a sense, every Christian is meant to become "configured to Christ" through baptism and to show the face of Christ to the world.

As we know, however, this path is not easy. Because of original sin we find ourselves with a long road to follow to attain this perfection. Receiving the Holy Spirit in baptism gives us this new potential, and infuses in us the God-oriented virtues of faith, hope, and love, but these virtues must be strengthened over time. It's a bit like learning to play a musical instrument: a truly accomplished pianist, for example, is called a virtuoso because he possess the virtue of being able to play the instrument well — but it only comes with a repetition of efforts to develop the habits of that virtue.

The liturgy plays an important part in helping a person become more and more Christ-like. How this happens is specific to each particular liturgical rite, but it involves two elements: the objective efficaciousness of the rites themselves, and the subjective efficaciousness that comes from participating in the rituals in a fruitful manner. The Council sought to both reform AND promote the liturgy, the goal being to make the whole "liturgical economy" an even more effective way to grow in our configuration to Christ.

This, then, is one of the key elements of evaluating the current status of our liturgies: is the Christian life of the people growing with an "ever increasing vigour" because of them? If not, why? Is it because the liturgies are objectively not very edifying? Is it because the people are not subjectively prepared to benefit fully from them? Is it perhaps both? These are questions we need to be willing to ask ourselves.

The pastoral goal: "To adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change."

This passage contains both a wish and a caveat. The wish is for a new adaptation to "the needs of our times". The caveat is that not just anything can be changed as part of that adaptation. For example, the Eucharist uses bread and wine as the matter of the sacrament. I know of some unauthorized "experiments" done in the 1970's with masses in which these elements were replaced by other things, like chips and Coke, in an attempt to be more "adapated". The Council wants to put us on guard against an imprudent enthusiasm for reform, which could spill over into the elements of Catholic tradition which are *not* subject to change.

Apart from this caveat, however, I think the key word in this passage is the word "needs". The Council did not say we needed to adapt the liturgy to "our times", but rather to "the NEEDS of our times". The latter shows the liturgy at its best, as a servant to the men and women of our day, seeking to help them in their most profound needs; the former simply makes the liturgy a slave to the Zeitgeist, the "spirit of the age".

I think this distinction goes quite far to shed light on certain liturgical behaviours which otherwise seem to defy explanation. Take, for example, the increasing interest of people of my generation in the Latin liturgy. Seems odd, don't you think? After all, we grew up with the liturgy in the vernacular language — why would some of us want to return to a tradition that never really was our own? Certainly the Latin liturgy is not "adapted to our times", given that nobody speaks Latin anymore. But perhaps it *IS* adapted to the NEEDS of our times. I look around at the people of my generation, growing up in this post-modern culture of ours, and I see people who have often been cheated of any solid base for their life: moral relativism, family breakdown, and spiritual agnosticism seem rampant. And often these people, these members of my generation, *feel* cheated. They *know* all they've been given upon which to build their lives is shifting sand, and they want something solid. And they look at the Latin liturgy, and they see something timeless, something that connects them to a great Tradition that stretches back centuries. This genuine and legitimate NEED for rootedness is real, and is definitely part of our times. So while I have no personal overriding interest in Latin liturgies, I am very sympathetic to those who see great value in that tradition, and I dislike when such persons are simply written-off as liturgical and spiritual dinosaurs.

If the new Liturgical Movement is to take the high ground in the ongoing renewal of the liturgy, I think the Council is, in this second point, pointing out that this will need to include the very real pastoral dimension of this renewal. What, exactly, are not simply the features, but the NEEDS of our times? Of course, some of these are common to all peoples, but each age seems to present some of those needs in a way more pressing than others. Identify these, and we will have a true roadmap for the ongoing adaptation of the liturgy for the service of our fellow man.

The ecumenical goal: "To foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ."

This passage of the Constitution expressed the wish that the new reformed liturgy be at the service of the great work of Christian unity. The beginning of the 20th century saw the start of an important movement that eventually came to stretch across all of Christianity: the ecumenical movement, whose goal was to work towards the reunification of the various Christian churches in fidelity to the prayer of Christ "that all may be one". The Catholic Church joined this movement in the 1960's, with the promulgation of the Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council.

Most importantly, however, this passage expresses the real source of unity among Christians, whether across denominational lines or within the denominations themselves: BELIEF IN CHRIST. The simple fact is that "belief in Christ" means love for Christ, and love for Christ necessarily eventually leads to the worship of Christ. The Council is reminding us that the liturgy is not meant to be focussed on ourselves, but focussed on Christ, and therefore is at the service of all who love Christ and want to worship him.

Much has been accomplished to place the Catholic liturgy at the service of Christian unity, but unfortunately all has not been smooth. Much effort has gone into trying to establish Eucharistic intercommunion with Protestants, for example, without the prerequisite communion of faith being established first. With regards to the Orthodox, on the other hand, the liturgical "craziness" of the 60's and 70's has tended to alientate them — many openly wonder how they could trust that the Catholic Church would respect their traditions when it appeared that it did not even respect its own.

Still, the original intuition of the Council is still valid: that those who truly love Christ and believe in Him can and should worship Christ together, to the extent that their unity in faith permits it. The positive experience of ecumenical Vespers services is but one example of placing the liturgy at the service of unity, in full respect of particular traditions but nevertheless giving all present a chance to worship Christ together. It is time to get past mere "cultural Christianity" and find those who cleave to Christ from the depths of their hearts, and bring them together in worship and praise. And the thing that will start to unite their hearts to each other will be the liturgy.

The missionary goal: "To strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church."

Part of Catholic doctrine is that man is essentially a religious being, with a deep thirst built into him for the Infinite. The liturgy, at its best, is meant to be a place where man can come and have that thirst satisfied. The key word in this 4th goal is the word "call". The liturgy is meant to be a beacon shining forth the light of Christ, whether in word or in sacramental action, summoning all to God. The Council is reminding us that the the liturgy has the powerful function of being a witness to the world: non-believers are supposed to look at the liturgy and be able to say to themselves, "God is there."

The liturgy is also meant to have an additional function, however, of integrating and incorporating men and women into the Body of Christ. In other words, people are not meant to only look from a distance and say "God is there," but also to say to themselves "I want to be part of what is there." The unity of those who are already Christians is already an important goal, as previously discussed, but the liturgy is meant to also be fundamentally open to actively assisting those on the "outside" to come "inside" and truly become part of God's household.

To put this in modern terms, then, we need to always review the way we celebrate the liturgy, to see if there are things which block that light from shining, and to ensure that there are things which in themselves communicate the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty that come from God. The liturgical rites themselves are very powerful, but there is little that they can do in themselves to overcome weak preaching, indifferent communities, and tacky celebrations. Grace, after all, builds on nature.

But just think of those times when we have encountered a Christian community where the Good News was boldly proclaimed without compromise, where people knew one another and cared for one another, and where the beauty of the worship just lifted us out of ourselves. It might be the same Mass book and the same Bible readings, but the spirit is so very different — as though we were already touching a bit of Heaven on Earth. Indeed, that is liturgy at its very best.

A personal reflection

As I reviewed these 4 objectives for the renewal of the liturgy once again, I couldn't help but think that the work of renewal didn't end with Vatican II, but has only just begun. We should not underestimate the power of the liturgy, even in its most simple of forms. I once was undertaking visits to a prison where the prison warden decided to forbid the distribution of communion at Christmas. Her reason? In giving communion to the prisoners we might be seen to possess an "alternative authority" to that of the guards, thus leading to a breakdown of prison discipline. Imagine, the powers of the world being scared of the distribution of a few wafers! Well, there are Powers at work in this world, and they also know of the true power of the liturgy; they have been quite busy of late distracting us with petty concerns, preventing us from unleashing the true power of the liturgy at its best. My prayer is that the continuing Liturgical Movement will see itself guided by these 4 important principles of Vatican II, for the sake of our Church and our world, and all for the glory of God.

What is the liturgy? What is the Liturgical Movement?

The renewal of our liturgical worship has to be one of the key pressing concerns of today's Catholic agenda. Now the most significant Catholic document of recent memory regarding the liturgy has to be Sacrosanctum Concilium, a.k.a. the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican II. I plan of doing a running commentary of the various paragraphs of that document, but before doing so I thought I'd cover a few background points about the document itself. After all, what the heck is a church "constitution" anyway? What's Vatican II? And for good measure, what does the word "liturgy" mean?

What is the liturgy?

To put it simply, the word "liturgy" refers to the acts of public worship that the Church, as the Church, offers to God. Obviously there are many forms of prayer which exist in the Church, and many of these (such as the Rosary) are explicitely promoted by the Church as wholesome and good. Not all of them are liturgy, however. We recognize liturgical prayer by its explicit and profound connection to the mystery of the Church. Whether it is because the rite in question is presided by an ordained minister, or simply because the ritual book is published officially by the Church, the liturgy takes a group from being just a bunch of praying individuals to becoming a manifestation of the Body of Christ in our world.

With regards to the specific list of acts of public worship, these are:

  • The sacrament of the Eucharist, which is at the very heart of Christian liturgy, and is even itself called the "Divine Liturgy" in some traditions.
  • The other six sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Marriage, Holy Orders), which, while having their own value, are nevertheless oriented to the Eucharist in some way.
  • The various "sacramentals" of the Church, which are instituted by the Church but which are oriented towards the sacraments, whether specifically (such as the use of Holy Water, which is connected to Baptism), or generically (such as the various rites for Blessings, or the rite of Exorcism).
  • The Liturgy of the Hours, a.k.a the "Divine Office", which encapsulates the rest in a process of unceasing prayer which is meant to sanctify, not just moments in time, but time itself.

I should point out that all the rituals of the liturgy "bathe", in a sense, in an overall context called the "Liturgical Calendar", by which the various feast days (like Christmas) and spiritual seasons (like Lent) are defined. The Liturgical Calendar isn't a ritual per se, but it *is* the interface between the rhythms of the liturgy and the rhythms of our daily life.

What is the Liturgical Movement?

Prior to the Protestant Reformation, there were many local variations in how divine worship was offered by the Church, without causing any great difficulty. During the Reformation, however, this lack of uniformity opened the door to a number of problems. There is an ancient theological principle called Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, which means that the way the Church prays is a reflection of what the Church believes. The Protestants, as part of their movement, proposed a number of changes to the liturgy of the Church, some of which were cosmetic, but others of which reflected their desire to alter Catholic doctrine.

The Catholic Church developed its response to the Reformation through its own Counter-Reformation, which included clamping down on the permitted local variations to the liturgy. Bishops, for example, were no longer allowed to adapt the liturgy in any way, and a new Roman Congregation (called the Congregation of Rites) was established to supervise the liturgy. All this was necessary to avoid allowing heretical propositions to creep into Catholic worship, but it also had the effect of arresting the natural process of development of that manner of that worship. The world, however, did not stop changing, which meant that over time the liturgy became more and more the specialty of the "professionally religious", with the ordinary people often following things only from afar.

The Liturgical Movement began in the mid-19th century as an attempt to rediscover the richness of the liturgy as a source for Christian life. It began with the Benedictine monks of France and their abbot, Dom Guéranger, who placed liturgical worship and Gregorian chant at the centre of their spirituality. The movement began to spread to parish life through the publication of translations of the liturgical texts in the language of the people, allowing people to understand better what was actually going on. This eventually led here and there to greater participation by the people in the liturgy itself, particularly through offering the various responses (which until then was only done by those around the altar, such as the altar boys).

The Liturgical Movement was encouraged by the leadership of the Church, particularly by Saint Pope Pius X and Pope Pius XII, who undertook certain limited and cautious reforms. But it was the Second Vatican Council, called by Blessed Pope John XXIII, that undertook the task of spreading positive liturgical reform throughout the Church everywhere in the world. Vatican II met from 1962-1965, and gathered over 2000 Catholic bishops from every continent. And its very first published document, promulgated on December 4, 1963, was the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which crowned, in a sense, the efforts of the Liturgical Movement up until that time.

This Constitution spurred a reform in almost every liturgy of the Roman Rite, and all in a very short time, which placed enormous pressure on those leading the task of reform. We must also not forget that this was the 1960's, and a spirit of rebellion against any and all authorities, whether political, ecclesiastical, or historical, was in the air. Some problems quickly arose. In anticipation of the expected liturgical changes many people began to change the liturgy on their own, and not always in a way consistent with Catholic teaching or tradition. Once the new liturgical books and instructions did come out, there was great controversy over how to implement them. Many churches, for example, were gutted of their liturgical art: painted ceilings were whitewashed over, vestments were literally thrown into the garbage, liturgical music of an often dubious quality was introduced, and a general cheesiness and bad taste seemed to reign in many places. This extreme produced its opposite: a Traditionalist movement sprung up to re-affirm the value of the pre-conciliar liturgy, but some of the more extreme branches of the movement wound up leaving the Church! Apart from these extremes, however, a whole liturgical cottage industry seemed to spring up, with so-called experts solemnly declaring that certain practices were "wrong" and needed to be replaced by practices which were "right" — until the next batch of experts came along a few years later, declaring the opposite.

Today many people are calling for a renewal of the Liturgical Movement, such as in the Oxford Declaration of 1996, and the foundation of the Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy. Opinions vary as to how far this renewal needs to go, and of what it should consist.

A personal reflection

I was born in 1970, making me a child of the reforms of Vatican II. I did not grow up with the pre-conciliar liturgy, and I have no nostalgia for it. At the same time, I am not sure the goals of the original Liturgical Movement have yet been met. The Liturgical Movement sought to place the riches of liturgical worship of God at the heart of Christian life, and yet statistics show that a large percentage of Catholics stay home on Sunday, preferring their own personal prayers to those of the Church in the liturgy. How can it be, for example, that the percentage of Quebec Catholics attending Mass in French is 1/10 of what it was when the Mass was in Latin? It seems like an odd statistic, given that very few understood the Latin (or, because of the way Mass was celebrated, could even hear most of it!)

As for those who *do* join in our liturgical worship, I am not sure that even they are always doing so fully conscious of the meaning of the liturgical actions. I don't blame them, mind you...I must confess that until I got to the seminary, my own liturgical education was sorely lacking, and I think many if not most people would be quite open to learning and understanding more about the way we pray as Catholics. As a pastor I feel my own responsibility in this area, to help people discover the beauty and joy of what it means to worship God in the heart of the Church. My hope is that these reflections can be just one more contribution to re-discovering a true liturgical dimension to our common Catholic life — even if only for myself. So please stay tuned!

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