Sacrosanctum Concilium 2

This section is worth digesting in pieces:

For the liturgy, “through which the work of our redemption is accomplished,” (Secret of the ninth Sunday after Pentecost.) most of all in the divine sacrifice of the eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church.

Note the first conciliar reference to the Mass is as a “divine sacrifice.” Christians express Christ as well as reveal it to others, and the liturgy is considered “the outstanding” way in which this is done. The focus on Christ and the reference to sacrifice are surely not coincidental.Yet the situation on earth possesses four delicious paradoxes:

It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek (Cf. Heb. 13:14.).

We could unpack this for days, but note number two, “eager to act and yet intent on contemplation.” Is the contrast more on action versus contemplation or is it also on eagerness and intensity?

While the liturgy daily builds up those who are within into a holy temple of the Lord, into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit (Cf. Eph. 2:21-22.), to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ (Cf. Eph. 4:13.), at the same time it marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations (Cf. Is. 11:12.) under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together (Cf. John 11:52.), until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd (Cf. John 10:16.).

Liturgy does not exist as an end to itself, we read, but also has a purpose in the world. I would say that some things we have done well with in the post-Vatican II church: eagerness, Christian unity, a presence of social justice. And while it is true these aspects were well known in preconciliar days, there were many positives for the 60’s and 70’s, and even today.When I use these passages for reflection with my liturgy committee or other groups, I always ask how the parish has measured up to these goals in the past forty years. What about your parish?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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