quod pro nobis traditum est

Friday, April 25, 2008

the real content of the liturgy

"In the liturgy we find the whole Church at prayer. The word liturgy means the participation of God’s people in “the work of Christ the Priest and of His Body which is the Church” . . . What is that work? First of all it refers to Christ’s Passion, his Death and Resurrection, and his Ascension -- what we call the Paschal Mystery. It also refers to the celebration of the liturgy itself. The two meanings are in fact inseparably linked because this “work of Jesus” is the real content of the liturgy. Through the liturgy, the “work of Jesus” is continually brought into contact with history; with our lives in order to shape them."

(Pope Benedict XVI, Address to seminarians and youth, April 19, 2008)


Dcn. Muehlenbruch said...

When "this work of Jesus" is correctly understood as expressed in this address, referring to the Liturgy as "The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" takes on a whole new meaning.

Fr. Timothy D. May, S.S.P. said...

As expressed here, the "work of Christ" refers first to His Passion, Death, Resurrection, Ascension. Second, it "refers to the celebration of the liturgy itself." Thus the "work of Christ" moves beyond "the Paschal Mystery" to the altar and liturgy. Lutherans understand this using language of "gift" and "benefits" (Small Catechism) (ie, "divine service") but nowhere does Scripture separate the gifts or benefits from the one-time sacrifice of Christ on the cross. So too is "The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" understood. Indeed the Church "participates" in this one- time sacrifice of Christ, for if she does not she does not receive the "gifts" nor the "benefits" of forgiveness, life and salvation nor does she proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. He remembers His faithfulness and mercy to us in Christ and we remember His faithfulness and mercy in Christ. A "Holy Sacrifice" indeed and we do participate in it just as we participate in Jesus' death and resurrection in Holy Baptism. The one-time sacrifice of Christ is now more than a true historical event from the past, it is made true to us now as a means of God's own grace. All of this that takes place in the Mass is certainly the "work of Christ." If we are "in Christ" then there is a sense here that in the Mass we also "participate" in this work and its benefits. We are aware of the certainty and, in addition, there remains the mystery.

Schütz said...

When you read the Catholic Catechism on the liturgy, again and again you come across the emphasis that it the ACTION of Christ and POWER of the Holy Spirit. This is such an antidote to the activism that may be found among those who like to interpret the word "liturgy" to mean "the action of the people".

Fr. Timothy D. May, S.S.P. said...

Can't say it better than that. Thanks!