During this Year of Grace, we have been invited to revisit the constitutions of the Second Vatican Council, which began fifty years ago this year. The first of these constitutions was on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. In the opening paragraphs of the constitution, the Church sought to make clear some foundational principles.
Firstly, the liturgy is the work of Christ and his Church. In the liturgy, we, the people of God, are made holy through “signs perceptible to the senses” (such as bread and wine which become the Body and Blood of Christ). Christ is made present in the Mass, not only through the consecrated bread and wine, but also through the proclaimed Word, the entire people of God assembled, and the person of the priest.
In the celebration of the liturgy here on earth, we are given a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy, to which we all aspire and journey towards.
One of the key statements made in the constitution is that the liturgy is the source and summit of Christian life. We come to Mass to celebrate and give thanks to God for all that we experience in our lives. We are also nourished and inspired to go out into the world again and live out the mission of Christ. Other aspects of Christian life may help to sustain us outside of the liturgy, but nothing else is as essential as the liturgy, particularly the Mass.