Chapter Three treats “Theological Principles for an Evaluation and Renewal of Popular Piety.” How can we interpret that title? That the institutional church wants to steer people to piety, but a piety that is based on official stuff, like liturgy.
The subtitle reminds that we are a Trinitarian religion, citing “The Life of Worship: Communion with the Father, Through Christ, in the Holy Spirit.” Let’s read, then discuss:
76. In the history of revelation, (human) salvation is constantly presented as a free gift of God, flowing from His mercy, given in sovereign freedom and total gratuity. The entire complex of events and words through which the plan of salvation is revealed and actualized (Cf. Dei Verbum 2), takes the form of a continuous dialogue between God and (people). God takes the initiative, and (a person) is asked for an attitude of listening in faith, and a response in “obedience to faith” (Rm 1,5; 16,26).
The Covenant stipulated on Sinai between God and His chosen people (cf Ex 19-24) is a singularly important event in this salvific dialogue, and makes the latter a “possession” of the Lord, a “kingdom of priests and a holy people” (Ex 19, 6). Israel, although not always faithful to the Covenant, finds in it inspiration and the power to model its life of God Himself (cf Lk 11,44-45; 19,2), and the content of that life on His Word.
Israel’s worship and prayer are directed towards the commemoration of the mirabilia Dei, or God’s saving interventions in history, so as to conserve a lively veneration of the events in which God’s promises were realized, since these are the constant point of reference both for reflection on the faith and for the life of prayer.
This is what I read here: God has a plan for a people in need of salvation. Dialogue implies a relationship (good, troubled, or otherwise). And remember the first sinners remained in dialogue with God, even a murderer. Despite disloyalty on our part, God has high ideals for his people, according to Exodus 19. That hasn’t changed.
The question going forward is this: does popular piety reflect God’s regard, acknowledge human failure, and keep us mindful of our history?
The full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, is online at the Vatican site.