Thursday, February 7, 2013

Making the Liturgy Meaningful

"Active Participation in the liturgy is the way to a mature faith life" is the headline of the front page article in the Catholic Times. Even though the Year of Faith has motivated many dioceses to conduct surveys, schedule workshops, seminars and lectures, the article focuses on the importance of liturgy, which over the past ten years has become less important in the life of  the ordinary Catholic. During this time there has been a significant decrease in those coming to Mass and frequenting the sacraments. All agree that this sign of  weakness in Catholic faith life should be a primary concern of the Church.

If attendance at Mass is limited mostly to Sundays to fulfill the obligation to do so, and if the liturgy is not fully understood and received passively, the rewards will also be limited. However, there are many in the Church who feel that the fault lies less with lax Catholics and more with a liturgy that is no longer speaking to today's Catholic, and that this is a contributing factor to the large numbers who leave the community and become tepid.

For some Church observers the solution is a return to the Latin Mass, but here in Korea the movement for the pre-Vatican II Mass is not strong. The Novus Ordo Mass  that came after Vatican II is what most Catholics, having entered the Church after Vatican II, are familiar with. How then does one prepare the congregation to participate actively in the liturgy?

Critically important, according to the article, is the need to examine the way the Mass is celebrated and to awaken a desire on the part of both priests and parishioners to devote more time to grasping the full meaning of the liturgy, the "source and summit" of the Christian life. Toward this end, The Congregation for Divine Worship and The Sacraments is preparing a booklet to help priests celebrate the Mass more effectively so that everyone in attendance will be able to follow along. The prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Canizares, summed up this current effort to revitalize interest in the liturgy in the most forceful manner when he said that "the renewal of the Church will come with a renewal of the liturgy."

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