The Liturgy of the Church
“The liturgy is like entering a forest of doctrines, symbols, metaphors, and poetry. We may take delight in the loftiness of a doctrine or in the beauty of a symbol, but we should not lose sight of their deeper spiritual meaning. In the liturgy every metaphor hides an aspect of divine reality; every piece of poetry conveys the message of salvation.”
Fr Anscar Chupungco OSB
The Liturgy is invitation into a deeper communion with the God of holiness, life and love…our Immersion into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ.
The word liturgy comes from a Greek term meaning “public work or work done on behalf of the people.” Liturgy always referred to an organised community. A work, then, done by an individual or a group was a liturgy on behalf of the larger community. In the Church, all worshippers are expected to participate actively in each liturgy, for this is holy “work,” not entertainment or a spectator event. Every liturgical celebration is an action of Christ the High Priest and of his Mystical Body, which is the Church. It therefore requires the full, active and conscious participation of the People of God in the work of God
When we use the word liturgy, we are referring to more than the Mass. When we are speaking of liturgy we are speaking of the whole sacramental church in its Trinitarian prayer. The Liturgical Year helps us to journey more profoundly into the presence of the risen Christ, allowing our lives to be transformed by the celebration of the liturgy which communicates the life of the Trinity to us. At every liturgy the action of worship is directed to the Father, from whom all blessings come, through the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit. We praise the Father who first called us to be his people by sending us his Son as our Redeemer and giving us the Holy Spirit so that we can continue to gather, to remember what God has done for us, and to share in the blessings of salvation.
Through the liturgical celebrations of the Church, we participate in the ‘Paschal Mystery’ of Christ, that is, his passing through death from this life into eternal glory, just as God enabled the people of ancient Israel to pass from slavery to freedom through the events narrated in the Book of Exodus (cf. Ex 11-13). The liturgies of the church are encounters with the risen Christ and an actual immersion into the mysteries we are celebrating.
The great Constitution on the Liturgy of Vatican II, reminds us that Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptises it is really Christ Himself who baptises. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt.18:20) .
The Liturgical Cycle
The Liturgical Year helps us to journey more profoundly into the presence of the risen Christ, allowing our lives to be transformed by the celebration of the liturgy.
The very celebration of the liturgy transforms us! In fact through the yearly cycle the Church unfolds the entire mystery of Christ and keeps the anniversaries of the saints who strove to live this life of Christ
What is the Liturgical Cycle
The Liturgical Calendar begins every year during the month of November on the First Sunday of Advent and runs through to the Solemnity of Christ the Universal King.
The “Lectionary,” the Mass readings from the Holy Scriptures, follows a Sunday cycle and a weekday cycle. The Liturgical Calendar follows a three-year cycle, each year being represented by the letters, A, B, and C. During the year A cycle, the Gospel of Matthew is the primary Gospel that is used for the readings. In year B, Mark is the primary Gospel. In year C, Luke is the primary Gospel. The Gospel of John is proclaimed on particular Sundays in each of the years.
Seasons of the Liturgical Calendar
In each cycle of the Liturgical Calendar, you will find six Seasons:
- Ordinary Time
During the year, in addition to the Sunday worship, the Church also celebrates Solemnities, Feasts, and Memorials, which may be on any day of the week. These occur during the year to commemorate Christ’s Paschal Mystery or lives of the Saints.
The Liturgical Day
The liturgical day runs from midnight to midnight, but the observance of Sunday and solemnities begins with the evening of the preceding day (the “vigil”) from the Jewish tradition. Each day is made holy through the liturgical celebrations of the people of God, especially through the eucharistic sacrifice and the divine office of Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer. Through this daily cycle we sanctify time and all human activity.
Sunday: The Day of the Lord
The Church celebrates the paschal mystery on the first day of the week, known as the Lord’s Day or Sunday. This follows a tradition handed down from the apostles and having its origin from the day of Christ’s resurrection. Thus Sunday must be ranked as the first holy day of all.
Christ’s saving work is celebrated in sacred memory by the Church on fixed days throughout the year. Sunday is a day which is at the very heart of our Christian life. Every Sunday is a weekly Easter commemoration of the Paschal Mystery, as we gather to celebrate our ‘Passover’ from death to life in Christ.
At Saint Patrick’s, we welcome you to the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. May the liturgy increase the love of God within us and conform us to Christ so that we can carry Him into the world as his disciples.