Francis Liturgy

Pope Francis addresses participants in Italy’s National Liturgical Week. – AP

After this teaching, after this long path we can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible. Pope Francis to the 68th Italian National Liturgical Week.

In Pope Francis’ message to the Liturgical Week, the Pope noted that reform of the books was one thing, renewing the church is related: “it is not sufficient to reform liturgical books to renew the mentality.”

And this is happening beyond the Roman Catholic Church:

Finally, we cannot forget hat the wealth of the Church in prayer, inasmuch as she is “catholic”, goes beyond the Roman Rite which, although the most extensive, is not the only one. The harmony of traditional rituals, of East and West, by the breath of the same Spirit gives a voice to the single prayerful Church, for Christ, with Christ and in Christ, to the glory of the Father and for the salvation of the world.

There seem, to me, to be two directions to be reactionary to the Spirit’s renewal in worship: (1) is to abandon the often-laborious renewal and revert to the pre-Vatican II models, be they Latin, Elizabethan English, or the equivalent (and this movement can include presiding ad orientem, praying in a low voice, with the faithful as “strangers or silent spectators”, and so on), and (2) is to abandon the often-laborious renewal (and with it the inherited liturgical life traceable through the Church’s history to the Synagogue and earlier) and create a worship life ex nihilo, de novo (with no robes, lectionary, symbolic life,…and this movement can also include the sense of concert with the faithful as “strangers or silent spectators”). The Pope is urging that we do not give in to either extreme.

Pope Francis models the worship life he is advocating: where worship is a means to union with God in Christ.

The liturgy is life for the entire people of the Church.[13] By its nature the liturgy is indeed “popular” and not clerical, being . as the etymology teaches us – an action for the people, but also of the people. As many liturgical prayers remind us, it is the action that God Himself performs in favour of His people, but also the action of the people who listen to God Who speaks and who react by praising Him and invoking Him, welcoming the inexorable source of life and mercy that flows from the holy signs. The Church in prayer brings together all those whose heart listens to the Gospel, without discarding anyone: small and large, rich and poor, young and elderly, healthy and sick, righteous and sinners. To the image of the “immense multitude” that celebrates the liturgy in the shrine of heaven (cf. Ap. 7: 9), the liturgical assembly overcomes, in Christ, every boundary of age, race, language and nation. The popular reach of the liturgy reminds us that it is inclusive and not exclusive, an advocate of communion with all but without homologating, as it calls to each one, with his or her vocation and originality, to contribute in edifying the body of Christ. The Eucharist is not a sacrament “for me”, it is the sacrament of many who form a single body, the holy faithful people of God.

The Pope leaves us, certainly my church, with a strong challenge: “the liturgical education of Pastors and faithful is a challenge that must always be faced anew.”

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