This insight into our Catholic life can be referred to in slightly different ways such as The Church believes as she prays and The Eucharist makes the Church. These are different ways of saying something profound about who we are as a Catholic Community.
Liturgy matters because it is in the liturgy that together we encounter the dying-rising paschal mystery of Christ. It is our full, conscious and active participation in Christ’s dying-rising pattern of life which forms us in faith and shapes us for discipleship and ecclesial life. By joining ourselves to Christ in the liturgy we are shaped for everyday life that embodies the love, mercy, compassion, justice and forgiveness of God. In the liturgy Christ shapes us as God’s pilgrim people, always in need of renewal and reform.
Liturgy matters. Really!
Several things over recent weeks keep bringing me back to this key insight that grounds us as a Catholic community. I’m focusing on one of those.
Like you I have been reading a lot on synodality. A synodal Church takes seriously the sensus fidei which refers to both the ‘sense for the faith’ given to all the baptised and the faith held by the People of God as a whole. Being synodal places a huge responsibility on all of us together to participate in ecclesial life. One particular article stood out. It talked about the synodal imperative for us all to be serious about developing our ‘sense of the faith’ through our participation, firstly in liturgical prayer and also in faith formation opportunities.
For this reason, I would like to draw your attention to the following formation opportunities. They are but an example of the feast now readily available online.
- Australian Catholic University Centre for Liturgy’s next online public lecture is on Ars Celebrandi. It is one in an excellent series which is still available to view on their website.
- Australian Catholic University is also offering a new online training course for Extra-ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Click here to view the flyer and on the website for more information.
- Liturgy Brisbane offers a range of online courses for Liturgical Ministers.
- Many of you would be familiar with The Summit, a liturgy journal published by the Melbourne Archdiocese. It is now available free and online. Click The Summit Online.
- Prayer with the Sunday readings in the week following their proclamation is the essential first step for anyone who wants to focus on formation. Many do this via Lectio Divina and there are endless resources available for that. In this diocese we are encouraging people to become familiar with Mystagogical Reflection which is our Catholic way for formation embedded in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. You will find an increasing array of resources on our diocesan website. Click on the ‘Mystagogy' drop down menu.
- You might like to participate in Mystagogy Mondays organised by Rose McAllister.
- Many other formation resources are available on the diocesan website.
- Reading is also a very formative experience, especially when you read as a group. We recommended an excellent book in a recent Liturgy Matters.
If you would like some support, particularly with practicing Mystagogical Reflection please contact me. I will organise for someone to sit with your group and guide for a couple of session.
Ideally, all formation is grounded in the liturgy and invites us to reflect on the meaning of what we celebrate in order to deepen our faith and strengthen our sense of how to live as missionary disciples.
Much of the formation listed above is directed to liturgical ministers. If the liturgy is indeed the source of our Catholic faith and life, then we need to ensure that it is celebrated the very best it can be in our given context. As a celebration of the faith of the church it is best to follow the simple advice of Fr Paul Turner, ‘Do what is says! Don’t do what it doesn’t say.’ It is sometimes tempting to change things that aren’t meant to be changed. I’ve learnt that usually when I think I know better, I am missing some critical insight and I can act to veil the mystery of Christ which the liturgy is meant to reveal.
Remembering the ancient insight – As we pray, so we believe, so we live – keeps me grounded and enables me to critique my ministry as well as my participation in the liturgy as a member of the Assembly. I hope reflecting on it enriches your journey as we move towards Holy Week and the celebration of the Paschal Triduum that most deeply shapes our faith and life.
Liturgy matters. Really!