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Posted by on Dec 8, 2017

Liturgy: God’s Embrace

Liturgy: God’s Embrace

In this issue of Theologika Digest, we offer some thoughts and ideas to expand your sense of liturgy. The focus of this issue is The Liturgy of Life, by Fr. Ricky Manalo, CSP. Many times we get lost in the minutia of planning liturgies, without having the realization that liturgy is getting caught up in God's embrace, whether that happens in a church building, in our lives, or as we are silenced by the sunrise.

Summit and Source

"The liturgy of life is the summit and source of the church's liturgy and not the other way around." - Peter Phan

Phan's insight, as cited In the introduction to the Liturgy of Life by Fr. Manalo, builds on insights into Vatican II's documents on the liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium and Gaudium et Spes, the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World and Joy and Hope. Although, Phan's insight seems logical, it is startling because it presents a paradigm shift in our notion of divine worship. We are inclined to think of it as something that we do in the realm of the sacred, something divorced from the everyday or the profane. Phan suggests the opposite is true.

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Liturgy and Culture

Neotraditionalist forms of Catholicism are perhaps nostalgic retrievals that inevitably idealize the past by abstracting it from the particularities that created it and sunder it from any organic relation the present.  Interestingly, those Catholics adhering to Vatican II’s contemporary Novus Ordo liturgy can also miss the point. According to Gallardetz, choosing between a “relevant” contemporary style of liturgy and “transcendent” traditionalist one is a false dichotomy. The quests for transcendence and community cannot be separated, since liturgy is a communion with God and one another.

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Liturgy: The Language of the Body

Nathan Mitchell, in  Meeting Mystery: Liturgy, Worship, Sacraments,  explains that the  body is the locus of the liturgy, the place where it happens, the means by which it is possible. There can be no ritual. There can be no physical non-verbal language without the body. There can be no metaphor.

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Liturgy in Socio-Cultural Context

Why aren't people coming to Church? People have always found God in nature, their everyday lives, and their prayer and celebrations at home. Many people now have different maps. They have different ways in which they arrange their lives. Where is worship in today's society? How is it happening?

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Liturgy - A Flunk Proof Quiz - well almost 😉

Most of us think of liturgy as something that happens inside the Church building.  Here's a short quiz. Don't worry because we will tell you the answers. It's easier than making rock sculptures at the beach and there are no smashed thumbs. (Really.)

Question 1: Liturgy is the “work of the people.”

  • True
  • False
  • Maybe both
  • Don’t know

Generally, we look at the Greek word “leitourgia” which referred to a public event or ceremony put on by the local population. People would worship various gods, offer sacrifices, or worship the emperor with parades, games, and feasting. ACTUALLY, our worship happens to us as Christians when we allow ourselves to get caught up in the life of the Trinity.

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Liturgy Takes Place in the Body

Theologian Nathan Mitchell links Rahner’s view of the glorification of the human body with that of St. Paul. Both the human body and the human world are to be transfigured. “As Karl Rahner likes to say, we Christians are ‘the most sublime of materialists.’” The end times, eschatology, requires the presence of the body since it involves the completion or fulfillment of humanity. It is anthropological in the sense of Christian theology’s view of the meaning and purpose of human existence.

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Ask Theologika - Latin or Jazz Mass?

Dear Theologika:

My son and I have a disagreement. Like many young people, he prefers to go the Latin Mass or extraordinary form as they call it.  I don’t like it because it is such a throw back to the days before Vatican II. I really find God in a rousing type of Mass. In Vatican II’s Novus Ordo, I feel like we are all in it together. My son likes the quiet, the candles, the incense and a language he can’t understand. He says that it makes him feel like he is touch with the majesty of God. Is there a common bond we can find?

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Las Posadas - A community liturgy

Singing echoes through the softly lit streets of the towns, cities, and neighborhoods of Mexico as residents prepare for Christmas, through the para-liturgical tradition of Las Posadas. Processions of townspeople, led by a couple dressed as Mary and Joseph, wind their way through the streets, going from home to home asking for “posada” (shelter). Finally, the procession is welcomed into a home, and the people pray together as the “fiesta” commences.

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Chardin's Prayer ...

I know we cannot forestall, still less dictate to you, even the smallest of your actions; from you alone comes all initiative – and this applies in the first place to my prayer…

Receive, O Lord, this all-embracing host which your whole creation, moved by your magnetism, offers you at this dawn of a new day.  This bread, our toil is of itself, I know but an immense fragmentation; this wine, our pain is no more I know than a draught that dissolves. Yet in the very depth of this formless mass you implanted – and this I am sure of, for I sense it – a desire irresistible, hallowing, which makes us cry out, believer and unbeliever alike: “Lord, make us one.”

-          Teilhard de Chardin from “The Mass on the World”

We Recommend:

For readers interested in reading more technical materials, we have these suggestions:

Ricky Manalo - The Liturgy of Life: The Interrelationship of Sunday Eucharist and Everyday Worship Practices

Nathan D. Mitchell - Meeting Mystery

Thomas M. King, S.J. - Teilhard's Mass: Approaches to "The Mass on the World"

Celebrations of Love

Thanks to Our Contributors and Sources of Inspiration

Our featured image is from the National Park Service - Photo taken of the Posada at John Muir National Historic Site

Thank you to Rose Pozos-Brewer for her insights into the celebration of Las Posadas and Eucharist.

The image of the banner for Mass on the World was taken at the Santa Clara Faith Formation Conference in November 2017.

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