Tuesday, September 30, 2014

(Class 3) Liturgy: Action of Christ

Why Consider Liturgy before the Sacraments? Because the sacraments are the power source for the action of identity with Christ: self-gift. But they have historically and existentially been cut off from the ascetical dynamics of personal holiness that is the liturgy.

History of the separation of sacramental theology and the life of the Church (and its liturgy).

The CCC teaches “The New Evangelization” by presenting Liturgy before the Sacraments. Background:. Ratzinger writes: “Alberigo [‘Sviluppo e caratteri della teologia come scienza,’ in Cristianesimo nella storia (Zurich, 1992, 25, 81, 130] demonstrates  how at the close of the 12th and 13th centuries theology rushed as impetuously as a flash flood from its traditional centers – the bishop’s residence, the monastery and the chapter of the canons regular – to a new, ecclesiastically neutral center, the university, and in so doing radically altered its spiritual and scientific complexion. Alberigo also shows clearly the inevitability of this process, considering the exhaustion of patristic and monastic theology. He draws out the gain which accrued to theology thanks to this shift, a gain which consisted not least of all in ‘greater freedom for theological research.’ But this well-known historian also brings to light the reverse side of this ‘dislocation,’ of teaching… which led away from ‘the most vital centers of the Church,’ the diocese and the monastery, and thus signified a removal from the pastoral and spiritual context of local church realities. The orientation of theology toward a scientific status initiated a movement tending to divorce theology from the life of the Church: an ever more pronounced ‘hiatus develops between the Christian community and the institutional Church herself, herself, on the one hand, and the guild of theologians , on the other….(It) severed theology from vital contact with spiritual experiences….(It) distanced Christian thought drastically from the pattern of the first millennium and from Oriental and  Greek culture. ‘Scientific theology soon found itself Western and Latin, far beyond its conscious choice.’ [1]
Louis Boyer: Result of the Separation 15th to the 18th century: Opera.

Liturgy during the Renaissance Baroque and Romantic period of the 15th – 18th centuries in the West had become pure externalism. “for there was a time, - not so far from our own (1958), and not yet entirely past, - when it was taken for granted by many Catholics that the liturgy was sometimes to be performed, but that to understand it was, at best, optional, never necessary or highly desirable, and, occasionally, considered even objectionable. That the liturgy was not anything in which the common people were to participate, of course went without saying…. Now it is from the sixteenth and seventeenth century idea of court life that Catholics of this kind derived their false notions of public worship. An earthly king must be honored daily by the pageant of court ceremonial, and so also the heavenly King. The courtly atmosphere around Him was to be provided by the liturgy. The liturgy, as many handbooks of the period actually say, was considered to be `the etiquette of the great King.’ … The lack of any intelligible meaning in so many rites and even in the sacred words themselves, was, therefore, praised as enhancing the impression of awe to be given to the dazzled multitude;” Louis Bouyer, Liturgical Piety, UNDP (1954) 3-4.
J. Ratzinger: Recovery of the union of liturgy and sacraments: “Current Doctrinal Relevance of the CCC,” October 9, 2000”:
Since it is completely determined by Vatican II, the newness of the second part [of the CCC] which deals with the Sacraments is immediately visible in its title: "The Celebration of the Christian Mystery". This means that the sacraments are envisaged entirely in terms of salvation history, based upon the Paschal mysterythe Paschal center of the life and work of Christas a re-presentation of the Paschal mystery, in which we are included. This also means that the sacraments are understood entirely as liturgy, in terms of the concrete liturgical celebration. In this the Catechism has accomplished an important step beyond the traditional neo-scholastic teaching on the sacraments. Already medieval theology to a large extent had separated the theological consideration of the sacraments from their liturgical realization and, prescinding from this, treated the categories of institution, sign, efficacy, minister, and recipient, such that only what referred to the sign kept a connection with the liturgical celebration. Certainly, the sign was not considered so much in the living and concrete liturgical form, as it was analyzed according to the philosophical categories of matter and form. Increasingly, liturgy and theology were ever more separated from one another; dogmatics did not interpret the liturgy, rather its abstract theological content, so that the liturgy appeared almost to be a collection of ceremonies, which clothed the essentialthe matter and the formand for this reason could also be replaceable. In its turn, the "liturgical science" (to the extent to which one can call this a science) became a teaching of the liturgical norms in force and thus came closer to becoming a sort of juridical positivism. The liturgical movement of the 1920's tried to overcome this dangerous separation and sought to understand the nature of the sacraments based upon their liturgical form; to understand the liturgy not simply as a more or less casual collection of ceremonies, but as the development of what came from within the sacrament to have its consistent expression in the liturgical celebration.
Mandate of Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Liturgy highlighted this synthesis in an excellent, if very modest, way and so, based upon this connection, offered to theology and to catechesis the mandate of understanding in a new and deeper way the liturgy of the Church and her sacraments.”
John Paul II: 
“What did the renewal envisioned by Sacrosanctum Concilium bring to the Church? It brought her, above all, a new concept of liturgy. Previously, people had an idea of liturgy that regularly did not go beyond external aspects: ceremonies, rubrics and norms for properly carrying out liturgical actions. While those aspects are also worthy of respect, the constitution told us that the liturgy is something more. In it we find the very action of Christ the Priest, in which he associates his very self with the Church. It is the action of the Head and the members (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium n. 7). Thus, the liturgy becomes the privileged `place’ of meeting between Christians and God and with him whom God sent, Jesus Christ.[2]
            “Throughout the entire Constitution, the leitmotif is participation. Liturgy is not assisting at an action that others carry out; it is celebrating something, or better, Someone. And in that celebration, all are and must be involved.
            “This new concept of liturgy brought many fruits to the life of the postconciliar Church. It led to a deeper theological consideration of Christian worship. It helped to overcome formalism and reduced the distance between clergy and people during the celebrations. This encouraged initiatives in favor of active and personal participation, freeing the Christian from the role of mere `spectator’ and leading the Christian forward towards unity with God and his brothers and sisters….
            “It is clear that the Mass is something more than a feast of fraternal unity. It is much more than a meal among friends or a free supper for the poor. Nor is it a time for `celebrating’ human dignity and purely earthly accomplishments and hopes. It is the Sacrifice that makes Christ really present in the Sacrament….
            “The primary function of all liturgy lies in this: `To lead us untiringly back to the Easter pilgrimage initiated by Christ, in which we accept death in order to enter into life” (Vicesimus Quintus Annus, 6. Origins, May 25, 1989, Vol. 19, No. 2).
            “The liturgy is the authentic expression of the universal Church’s faith…” (faith as the moral act of the whole person making the gift of self in obedience to God’s Revelation of Himself).


1066 In the Symbol of the faith the Church confesses the mystery of the Holy Trinity and of the plan of God's "good pleasure" for all creation: the Father accomplishes the "mystery of his will" by giving his beloved Son and his Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world and for the glory of his name.1

1067 "The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament were but a prelude to the work of Christ the Lord in redeeming mankind and giving perfect glory to God. He accomplished this work principally by the Paschal mystery of his blessed Passion, Resurrection from the dead, and glorious Ascension, whereby 'dying he destroyed our death, rising he restored our life.' For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth 'the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church."'3

For this reason, the Church celebrates in the liturgy above all the Paschal mystery by which Christ accomplished the work of our salvation. [Me: therefore the sacrament of the Eucharist is introduced as the liturgy of the sacrifice of Christ’s death]
1068 It is this mystery of Christ that the Church proclaims and celebrates in her liturgy so that the faithful may live from it and bear witness to it in the world:

For it is in the liturgy, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, that "the work of our redemption is accomplished," and it is through the liturgy especially that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church.4

What does the word liturgy mean?

1069 The word "liturgy" originally meant a "public work" or a "service in the name of/on behalf of the people."
In Christian tradition it means the participation of the People of God in "the work of God."
5 Through the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church.

Notice the meaning of liturgy is “opus Dei” which is the Mass.

1070 In the New Testament the word "liturgy" refers not only to the celebration of divine worship but also to the proclamation of the Gospel and to active charity.6 In all of these situations it is a question of the service of God and neighbor.
In a liturgical celebration the Church is servant in the image of her Lord, the one "leitourgos";
7 she shares in Christ's priesthood (worship), which is both prophetic (proclamation) and kingly (service of charity):
The liturgy then is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ.
It involves the 
presentation of man's sanctification under the guise of signs perceptible by the senses and its accomplishment in ways appropriate to each of these signs.
In it full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members.
From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others.
No other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same 

Liturgy as source of life:

1071 As the work of Christ liturgy is also an action of his Church. It makes the Church present and manifests her as the visible sign of the communion in Christ between God and men. It engages the faithful in the new life of the community and involves the "conscious, active, and fruitful participation" of everyone.9

1072 "The sacred liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church":10 it must be preceded by evangelization, faith, and conversion. It can then produce its fruits in the lives of the faithful: new life in the Spirit, involvement in the mission of the Church, and service to her unity.

St, Josemaria Escriva N.B. Our Father called the Mass “the center and root” of our lives interior and exterior.
Prayer and liturgy: 1073 The liturgy is also a participation in Christ's own prayer addressed to the Father in the Holy Spirit. In the liturgy, all Christian prayer finds its source and goal. Through the liturgy the inner man is rooted and grounded in "the great love with which [the Father] loved us" in his beloved Son.11 It is the same "marvelous work of God" that is lived and internalized by all prayer, "at all times in the Spirit."12
Catechesis and liturgy

1074 "The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows."13 It is therefore the privileged place for catechizing the People of God. [That is, they know [consciously] Christ only by doing Christ (= self-gift). Again, it is GS #24.

"Catechesis is intrinsically linked with the whole of liturgical and sacramental activity, for it is in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, that Christ Jesus works in fullness for the transformation of men."14
1075 Liturgical catechesis aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ (It is "mystagogy.”) by proceeding from the visible to the invisible, from the sign to the thing signified, from the "sacraments" to the "mysteries.

Such catechesis is to be presented by local and regional catechisms.
This Catechism, which aims to serve the whole Church in all the diversity of her rites and cultures,
15 will present what is fundamental and common to the whole Church in the liturgy as mystery and as celebration, and then the seven sacraments and the sacramentals.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
II. Christ's Work in the Liturgy

Christ glorified . . .

1084 "Seated at the right hand of the Father" and pouring out the Holy Spirit on his Body which is the Church, Christ now acts through the sacraments he instituted to communicate his grace. The sacraments are perceptible signs (words and actions) accessible to our human nature. By the action of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit they make present efficaciously the grace that they signify.

1085 In the liturgy of the Church, it is principally his own Paschal mystery that Christ signifies and makes present. During his earthly life Jesus announced his Paschal mystery by his teaching and anticipated it by his actions. When his Hour comes, he lives out the unique event of history which does not pass away: Jesus dies, is buried, rises from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father "once for all."8 His Paschal mystery is a real event that occurred in our history, but it is unique: all other historical events happen once, and then they pass away, swallowed up in the past. The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is - all that he did and suffered for all men - participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all. The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life.

Explanation (me): The “I” of the Son continues to be the Son of the Father outside of time while He dies on the Cross in time and place. Since the cosmic death on the Cross in time is the action of the eternal Son, that action of the divine “I” – that took place in time and place - is “instantiated” wherever and whenever bread and wine are trans-substantiated into His Body and Blood. The Paschal mystery perdures because the divine “I” of Christ perdures.

. . . from the time of the Church of the Apostles . . .
1086 "Accordingly, just as Christ was sent by the Father so also he sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This he did so that they might preach the Gospel to every creature and proclaim that the Son of God by his death and resurrection had freed us from the power of Satan and from death and brought us into the Kingdom of his Father. But he also willed that the work of salvation which they preached should be set in train through the sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves."9

1087 Thus the risen Christ, by giving the Holy Spirit to the apostles, entrusted to them his power of sanctifying:10 they became sacramental signs of Christ. By the power of the same Holy Spirit they entrusted this power to their successors. This
"apostolic succession" structures the whole liturgical life of the Church and is itself sacramental, handed on by the sacrament of Holy Orders.
. . . is present in the earthly liturgy . . .

1088 "To accomplish so great a work" - the dispensation or communication of his work of salvation - "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, 'the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,' but especially in the Eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments so that when anybody baptizes, it is really Christ himself who baptizes. He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised 'where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them."'11

1089 "Christ, indeed, always associates the Church with himself in this great work in which God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is his beloved Bride who calls to her Lord and through him offers worship to the eternal Father."12

[1] J. Ratzinger in his “The Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian” in  The Nature and Mission of Theology, Ignatius (1995) 115-116.
[2] Consider that the way Simon experienced and became conscious of the divine Person of Christ was to pray (Lk. 9, 18: “And it came to pass as he was praying in private, that his disciples also were with him, and he asked them…But who do you say that I am?’… Simon Peter answered and said, ‘The Christ of God.”)

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