Pope Francis said: “The Catholic Church must continue to work to understand the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council and why they were made, rather than rethinking them.”
As we look at what was at the heart of Vatican II regarding liturgy, let’s keep in mind what Pope Francis said:
“The liturgy is life for the entire people of the church, by its nature, the liturgy is ‘popular’ and not clerical because it is — as the etymology teaches us — an action for the people, but also of the people.”
Liturgy belongs to and is of the populous, the people of God. Vatican II desired for us to engage as people of God, in the liturgy, and move away from the centuries of having the “Mass” be a spectator event.
In the document of the Second Vatican Council (Constitution on The Sacred Liturgy), it states:
“But so that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain. Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.”
Now reflect on that quote. Is that what you experience today?
When you read the document, you see powerful language about ‘full, conscious and active participation.’ The essence of liturgy demands it. The Second Vatican Council desired that it is the right and duty of Christian people because of their baptism, to come together and worship. This act of praying is a communal activity. It is the one and only source from which we as Christians derive the ‘true‘ spirit. Liturgy is to be vigorously promoted by the clergy in their pastoral work as shepherds.
The document on Liturgy emphasized in Liturgy, the texts, language, and rites should be in the style of the people so that the liturgy express which they signify as a people, culture, and society. It is an act of community coming together to worship in what is easily understood by the participants.
The Vatican Council wanted the gospel to speak to all people in their native languages. To be “Hearers of the Word.” Liturgy embraces and is an expression of our language, dialects, and cultures. Liturgy supports everything about us as human beings and, the liturgy in and of itself purifies us.
The council points out precisely the liturgy, especially the Eucharist, is the central focus for growth in Christian living and our capacity as Christians to interact with others and spread the Gospel.
When we participate in liturgy, think of this as our experience to come and worship our God, receive the body and blood of our savior, and we do this together with our community by bringing everything we do, everything we are, our dreams, our life experiences, the good and the struggles within our consciousness. Liturgy is the “summit” of our life. It is what makes our work-a-day world come alive.
In conclusion, reflect this week on the statement in the document:
“The church has not adopted any particular style of art as its very own; it has admitted fashions from every period according to the natural talents and circumstances of peoples, and the needs of the various rites. Thus, in the centuries, it has brought into being a treasury of art that must be very carefully preserved. The art of our days, coming from every race and region, shall also be given free scope in the church, provided that it adorns the sacred buildings and holy rites with due honor and reverence. It will thereby be enabled to contribute its voice to that wonderful chorus of praise in honor of the Catholic faith sung by great women and men in times gone by” (paragraph 123).
Come to understand and appreciate the beauty of the liturgy and why it is so vital in our prayer life.
As you reflect and meditate this week, ask yourselves, when you participate in the liturgy, do you bring everything you do, every dream, every struggle within your life?
Do you believe the litury is the ultimate “summit” of our week of our day?