This weekend, our parish is having its second meeting with Fr Stephen Hackett MSC in regards to our Church Renewal Process. We will be working together to develop guiding concepts to inform those who will work on developing plans for our church.
This work, as Fr Stephen informed us at our last meeting in March, is underpinned by some key liturgical principles. Over the coming weeks, we will explore each one in turn. Let’s take a look at the first one now.
The whole Body of Christ celebrates the liturgy
Liturgical celebrations are not private acts. Every liturgical celebration is a public action of the Church. Even celebrations where there may be few “regular parishioners”, such as baptisms, weddings or funerals are considered by the Church to be public celebrations.
So who celebrates them? Is Mass something which the priest celebrates and we observe? The Second Vatican Council very clearly disagrees with this. In the past, we may have had a sense that we couldn’t see or perhaps even understand the priest, and thus he celebrated or “said” Mass in our presence… or without us present if he so desired.
The Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stated that the liturgy is celebrated by the entire body of Christ – that is, by Christ and his Church. That means that all of us gathered together celebrate the liturgy united in and with Christ. Through this, the Church becomes the sacrament (or symbol) of unity. This means that we represent through signs that we can perceive with our senses our belief that the liturgy unites all of us as members of the Church. It is the Church that calls forth and ordains ministers to serve as leaders of the liturgical celebration. Both the priest and all of us gathered together to celebrate the liturgy make Christ present amongst us.