- By Fr. Peter
- 25 April, 2012
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“The sacred Council has set out to impart an ever-increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more closely to the needs of our age 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 all mankind into the Church’s fold. Accordingly it sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.” –Sacrosanctum Concilium §1
The Vatican Council here claims to have four goals that will be addressed by the reform and promotion of the liturgy. How can we profitably understand the liturgy to address each of these goals? Let me examine them one at a time.
First of all: “to impart an ever-increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful.”
If we ask ourselves: “How best might we reinvigorate the Church?” I suspect that we would focus on the renewal of theological or Biblical studies; by a renewed emphasis on evangelical living exemplified by service to the poor; or by the promotion of personal holiness through familiar devotions such as the rosary. As I pointed out yesterday, however, the liturgy is traditional the place from which the Church’s full life and vigor flow. It is the real meeting place of the divine and human, where God touches us and refashions us.
The study of theology and Scripture, service to the poor and personal prayer are also necessary aspects of Church renewal. To be authentically rooted in the gospel, however, each of these aspects must be rooted in the liturgy, particularly in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The corporate work of the liturgy is where the Church is not only most authentically herself; it is an objective check on our personal projects, and communal re-immersion in the spiritual realities that have sustained the saints before us. These truths would require an entire book for explication, and some have done such work (I think of Fr. Aidan Kavanaugh’s On Liturgical Theology and Fr. Jean Corbon’s The Wellspring of Worship as being the best efforts I’ve read). I hope that the reality of this becomes clearer as we reflect on the liturgy through Sacrosanctum Concilium.