Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Liturgical Footnote #1
By Fr. J.C. Garrett

As we mentioned when we told you about the “changes” in the Mass as we implement the Third Edition of the General Instructions of the Roman Missal (GIRM), this is an opportunity for all of us to reflect more deeply on the liturgy so that we can have a better understanding of the various signs and gestures used during the Mass. The hope of this little column is to go step by step through the liturgy of the Mass, explaining why we do what we do.

The proper celebration of the Sacred Liturgy is central to our lives as Catholics. In fact, the first document issued by the Second Vatican Council was on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. One of the key phrases from that document is that all the people attending the Mass should have a “full, conscious, active participation” in the liturgy, each according to their proper order (as an aside, this English translation is a little inaccurate, for in the official Latin the word “actuoso” is used which is more correctly translated as “actual” not “active”. This is important because we Americans often take the word “active” to mean to be doing something, but the Church considers being attentively silent, say in reflecting on God’s Word, as “doing something.”).

For all of us to participate in the Mass as the Church wants us to we need to have an understanding of the gestures, the symbols, even the environment that makes up the Liturgy. This understanding allows us to join ourselves more fully with all that is happening during the Mass. And what, you might ask, is happening at Mass? Fr. Francis Randolph, in his guide to the Mass entitled, Know Him in the Breaking of the Bread, beautifully puts it, “Here in the Mass we meet our Lord Jesus Christ; we share in his birth, death, and Resurrection; we are nourished with his Body so that we may become the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church. Be aware of that, and whether the Mass is in the new rite or the old or another yet to come will not matter.”

(poster's note: Fr. Garrett has Blogger vs. Mac issues so I will be posting these Liturgical Footnotes for him weekly. - Steph)

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