LITURGY MATTERS: The Liturgical Year Matters

The Season of Lent is almost upon us and parishes and many other groups are busy organising Lenten Groups so they are in ‘ready, set, go’ position by the time Lent starts.  The associated promotion of these groups leads me to reflect on whether our Lenten groups gather and pray according to the wisdom of our liturgical year.  Let’s reflect together.

The rhythm of the Liturgical Year shapes our Christian and Catholic identity.  It reminds us of who we are and forms us in our Catholic way of life and prayer. 

So who are we? Essentially we are disciples of Jesus, the People of God who have chosen to respond to God’s invitation to live by faith, discerning our way according to the movement of the Holy Spirit.  Disciples therefore are in the first instance people who listen to the Word of God proclaimed in the liturgy, so our ears are attuned to the Word of God echoing throughout the world. 

While listening as individuals is important, our most significant listening happens when God speaks to the Assembly of the People of God on Sunday. On Sunday we hear a Word of God that is our food for the week. Sunday is the first day of the liturgical week.   Last Sunday was the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time and this is the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time.  We cannot chew on, ponder and reflect on a word that we have not first listened to as the People of God.  We cannot respond to a Word we have not heard.   

This is the rhythm of the Liturgical Year that shapes our identity as a people who in the first instance listen to God’s Word.  To attune ourselves to this rhythm is particularly important when we are initiating people into our Catholic way of life; a way of life that is a response to the revelation of God.  The initiative is always with God. This is why mystagogy is the Catholic way of faith formation, including liturgical formation.  We reflect on the experience of God in order to find meaning and to be changed by the living Word.

It is worth reflecting on what motivates us to make plans to study and reflect on the Word before we have heard it in the liturgy? What do you think? Are we wanting to understand the word intellectually? Study it exegetically?  Feel that we are ‘all over it’ and have control of it?  The Word of God is a spoken word.  We hear the Word differently when we listen to it proclaimed in the context of liturgy, with songs and rituals and prayers that support our listening.  This is why it is so important that the Word is proclaimed well.  Pope Francis’ recent declaration of the ‘Sunday of the Word of God’ highlights all this.

In one parish bulletin I noted that the Lenten Groups start on Tuesday Feb 25.  One can only surmise that this group will be reflecting in advance of hearing the Word of God on the First Sunday of Lent which is March 1.  The world is not going to end if Lenten groups function like this.  However this pattern is not true to the way of discipleship and therefore does not shape us in our Catholic way of life and prayer.  How do you pray with the Sunday Scripture?  Are you reflecting on the readings from the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time this week?  If you are in a prayer group does it function according to the rhythm and wisdom of the Liturgical Year? Let us all keep pondering as we endeavour to align our practice to the way of revelation and faith.

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Louise Gannon rsj Image
Louise Gannon rsj

Louise Gannon rsj is the Diocesan Co-ordinator of Liturgy.