Mediator Dei 25-27

Let’s start with two misconceptions about liturgy:

25. It is an error, consequently, and a mistake to think of the sacred liturgy as merely the outward or visible part of divine worship or as an ornamental ceremonial. No less erroneous is the notion that it consists solely in a list of laws and prescriptions according to which the ecclesiastical hierarchy orders the sacred rites to be performed.

Does worship have meaning in the interior life? If not the Church judges worship as less than worthy:

26. It should be clear to all, then, that God cannot be honored worthily unless the mind and heart turn to Him in quest of the perfect life, and that the worship rendered to God by the Church in union with her divine Head is the most efficacious means of achieving sanctity.

We also know from repeated Scriptural witness, very prominently Micah 6:6-8, that God does not think highly of worship ungrounded in a virtuous and just life. Does this mean we earn our way into liturgy? Definitely not.

But recall worship defined as the loving response of the Son to the Father, and keep in mind also the Lord’s initiative and personal emphasis on healing, listening, and love. If we believers are unwilling to engage the world in union with and congruent to Christ, then we will likely never achieve our highest ideals.

A traditional note:

27. This efficacy, where there is question of the eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments, derives first of all and principally from the act itself (ex opere operato). But if one considers the part which the Immaculate Spouse of Jesus Christ takes in the action, embellishing the sacrifice and sacraments with prayer and sacred ceremonies, or if one refers to the “sacramentals” and the other rites instituted by the hierarchy of the Church, then its effectiveness is due rather to the action of the church (ex opere operantis Ecclesiae), inasmuch as she is holy and acts always in closest union with her Head.

Remember this document was addressed not to laity or even clergy, but to the bishops. Even they needed a reminder, I suppose.

Your comments are welcome.

Mediator Dei on the Vatican web site.

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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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2 Responses to Mediator Dei 25-27

  1. Todd says:

    “I have decided to stop writing congregational music for the Catholic Church.”

    If a person isn’t any good at it, this can be a good discernment. Mr MacMillan is a great contemporary composer. But not everyone can be a RVW. Or a Tony Alonso.

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