DO907EE The Theology of Liturgy





This course provides an introduction to the history, theology, and praxis of the Liturgy of the Catholic Church, and explores the function of the Liturgy as an integral component of the Christian mission.  Using theological and legislative documents of the Church’s Magisterium, as well as relevant secondary and scholarly materials, the course will explore fundamental anthropological, theological, legal, and historical foundations which underlie the Church’s liturgical tradition and practice.


Course Syllabus

Pontifical College Josephinum

Josephinum Diaconate Institute

 

Introduction to Liturgy

 

Course developed by

Rev. John J. H. Hammond, M.A.

 

jhammond@pcj.edu

615-761-9967 (m)

 

Course Description

 

This course provides an introduction to the history, theology, and praxis of the Liturgy of the Catholic Church, and explores the function of the Liturgy as an integral component of the Christian mission.  Using theological and legislative documents of the Church’s Magisterium, as well as relevant secondary and scholarly materials, the course will explore fundamental anthropological, theological, legal, and historical foundations which underlie the Church’s liturgical tradition and practice.

 

 

Learning Objectives

 

Participants in the course will become conversant with:

 

  • What Liturgy is, how it is rooted in Divine Revelation, and how it is expressed in the Church
  • How and why the Liturgy of the Church has developed organically and in continuity with tradition
  • Basic signs, symbols, and structures of Liturgy, including architecture and Sacred Music
  • The fundamental elements of the most significant liturgical experiences of the Church, including Holy Mass and the Divine Office
  • The central role of the Liturgy in the spirituality of the ordained

 

 

Required Texts

 

Ecclesiastical Documents (available online):

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Code of Canon Law

General Instruction of the Roman Missal

General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours

Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy)

Musicam Sacram  (Instruction on Music in the Liturgy)

Vicesimus Quintus Annus

Letter Of His Holiness
 Benedict XVI to the Bishops on the Occasion of the Publication 
of the Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio Data” 
Summorum Pontificum
 on the Use of the Roman Liturgy 
Prior to the Reform Of 1970

 

 

Secondary Required Reading:

 

Dalmais, Irénée Henri, et al.  Principles of the Liturgy.  The Church at Prayer: An Introduction to Liturgy, edited by Aimé Georges Martimort, 1.  Translated by Matthew J. O’Connell.  Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1987.

 

Ratzinger, Joseph (Benedict XVI).  The Spirit of the Liturgy.  San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000.

 

 

Evaluation Instruments

 

Students will be evaluated according to the following schema:

 

20%                         Thoughtful Participation and Engagement in Fora and Discussions

 

15% Each             Short Response/Reflection Papers

(Further details contained below in the Module Outlines)

 

#1. Sacred Scripture and Mass.  Due during the 3rd Module.

 

#2.  Ratzinger on Images.  Due during the 7th Module.

 

#3.  The Canons and the Sacraments.  Due during the 9th Module.

 

35%                          Final Synthesis Paper.  Due at the conclusion of the course.  4-5 pages.  Over the course of the semester, read carefully through the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours.  Reflect upon how the General Instructions put the Church’s liturgical theology into action.   You may structure your reflections however you wish, but make sure to cite specific passages of the General Instructions.

 

 

 

Module 1.  What is Liturgy?

 

Assignments for this module:

  • Read Martimort pp. 7-18
  • Read Martimort pp. 229-251
  • Read Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), paragraphs 1066-1075
  • Teleconference Call (Time TBD)

 

 

Basic Themes and Topics of this module:

 

  • The Liturgy is rooted in the Incarnation.
  • The Liturgy is the work of God, and the work of the Church.
  • The Liturgy’s purposes are the adoration of God and the sanctification of people.
  • The Liturgy and the Blessed Trinity

 

 

Preliminary Remarks:

 

This module explores the most basic questions and concepts of Liturgy, beginning with the initial and definitive questions: What is Liturgy and what is the function of Liturgy in the life of the Christian Church?  The Incarnation is the foundation and the prime analogate which makes any discussion of Liturgy and symbol possible.  The reality of the God-made-flesh indicates the dignity of the material world and its potential to bear Divine significance.  The Incarnation makes the Church’s worship possible and rational.  Furthermore, every Sacramental and Liturgical experience is an expression of the Incarnation, since Liturgy makes use of earthly things and persons to capture and transmit the Divine presence.  Liturgy is therefore inherently Incarnational and inherently sacramental in the Catholic worldview.  Analogous to Christ’s two natures, Liturgy is simultaneously the work of God, and the work of the Church; it is Divine work and human work; it has Divine elements and human elements.  Liturgy is therefore a bridge between the human and the Divine.  The Liturgy’s purpose is twofold: the adoration of God and the sanctification of people.  God deserves to be adored simply for who he is, and it our duty in justice to render adoration to him who has created us and continues to hold us in being.  He is particularly worthy of adoration in light of the saving mystery of the Cross and Resurrection of the Lord, which wins our salvation despite our disobedience to God and his commands.  This Adoration is our means of attending to our fundamental relationship, namely our relationship with our creator, and is rooted in our very nature and in Divine command.  Worship of God also sanctifies us through the proximity with God that it brings and through the activity of God in our hearts.  The Liturgy is inherently Trinitarian, since the three persons of the Trinity are involved in any act of worship.  We pray to the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit.  Any act of Christian worship always has reference to the most perfect act of worship and sacrifice, namely the Cross, which is a Trinitarian act of sacrifice in which the Son sacrifices himself to the Father in the Holy Spirit.

Module 2.  Biblical Foundations of the Liturgy

 

Assignments for this module:

  • Read Martimort pp. 131-142
  • Read Ratzinger pp. 35-50
  • Initial Questions: How are the two purposes of Liturgy related?  Why does Adoration of God lead to man’s sanctification?

 

 

Basic Themes and Topics of this module:

 

  • The Word of God provides the context for Liturgy.
  • The Word of God provides the basic content and form for Liturgy.
  • Biblical Faith determines and informs Liturgy.
  • Biblical centrality of worship and the true purpose of freedom.

 

 

Preliminary Remarks:

 

Authentic worship is never invented by man, but is an act of obedience to the commands of God concerning the manner in which he wishes to be worshipped.  The Word of God therefore provides the context for Liturgy since it contains God’s revelation throughout salvation history concerning right worship.  The Old Testament is a critical resource in laying the foundations that will come to fruition in the Paschal Mystery of Christ and in Christian worship: in the Old Testament we see God’s desire to form a covenant relationship with his people, and the basic forms of Worship are established, especially the notion of sacrifice.  Various forms and ceremonies of the Old Covenant prepare for and prefigure the one definitive sacrifice of Christ.  Moments of disobedience are also illustrative, particularly the episode of the Golden Calf.  The Exodus experience is a seminal moment in the history of Divine worship, as God makes it clear to his people that their freedom is a gift from God which they receive principally for the purpose of worship: God wishes to free his people so that they can worship him in right and proper ways.  The Word of God provides the basic content for Liturgy, since the best way to worship God is by using his own words.  Therefore Sacred Scripture, particularly the Psalms, form the Church’s basic prayerbook.  The basic forms of Liturgy are also present in Scripture, as the Lord’s command directs Christian worship to the central experience of the Eucharist and to continual celebration of the Sacraments using the basic forms laid down in Scripture.  These will be explored in specific detail in a later module.  Biblical Faith determines and informs Liturgy, since Liturgy is never an invention of human creativity, but rather an expression of the Faith which we have received from Christ through the Church.  Our Liturgy expresses our Faith and is a vehicle for its exploration, celebration, and proclamation.

 

 

Module 3.  Liturgy and Mystery

 

Reading Assignments for this module:

  • Read Martimort pp. 253-280
  • Read Ratzinger 13-34, 53-61, 159-170
  • Reflection Paper Due. 2-3 pages.  Please reflect upon the following question: “Why is Sacred Scripture read at Holy Mass?”  This paper need not (but can if you wish) make reference to external sources.  Here is a chance for you to reflect briefly upon your experience of Scripture as it finds a context within the Liturgy: how does Scripture inform the Liturgy?  How does the Liturgy inform Scripture?  Why is the reading of scripture an indispensable part of Liturgy?

 

 

Basic Themes and Topics of this module:

 

  • Contemporary Loss of the Sense of Mystery and Transcendence
  • Liturgy as the expression of the Mystery of Faith
  • Liturgy as the Locus Theologicus; e. Liturgy has the Faith as its content
  • Lex orandi, lex credendi

 

 

Preliminary Remarks:

 

Modern man suffers greatly from a loss of the sense of Mystery and a lack of instinct for the Transcendent.  This makes the contemporary experience of Liturgy a challenge and presents the Church with particular difficulties.  Mystery properly understood, however, is at the core of Christian worship.  A Christian Mystery is something which has been revealed, and the depth of which can never be exhausted.  No matter what we learn and experience, there will always be more.  The Mystery of Faith is the content and form of the Christian message, and finds its expression in the Liturgy of the Church: Liturgy therefore has a special relationship to theology, since Divine Worship is the Locus Theologicus, the place where theology is situated and finds its definitive expression.  The Liturgy of the Church has the entire Faith as its content.  Therefore our manner of worship is important and has doctrinal implications; our worship can never be divorced theologically or practically from our beliefs.  Lex orandi, lex credendi: the law of praying is the law of believing.  The way in which the Church prays forms and informs the Faith of Christians.  Therefore, the Liturgy is never ours to invent or modify to suit our own tastes, preferences, or personal beliefs.  To do so would be to present the faithful with our own Gospel rather than Christ’s, and our own message rather than the Church’s.  Hence, fidelity to the Church’s Liturgy and to the Church’s teachings is critical and non-negotiable for ministers of the Liturgy.

 

 

Module 4.  History of the Liturgy, Part One

 

Assignments for this module:

  • Read Martimort pp. 21-43
  • Read Martimort pp. 113-118
  • Read CCC, paragraphs 1200-1209
  • Initial Questions: Do you agree that we have lost the sense of mystery and transcendence in our society?  What evidence or examples of that loss do you see, or what evidence would you present to suggest that our sense of mystery is alive and well?  How can our sensitivity to mystery be reclaimed and nourished in the life of the Church?

 

 

Basic Themes and Topics of this module:

 

  • Unity and Diversity are each fundamental to Liturgy.
  • The experience of the early Church is foundational but not restrictive.
  • East and West

 

 

Preliminary Remarks:

 

Christian liturgy is rooted in the experience of the Jewish people and is as ancient as the Church herself.  Christ himself institutes the sacraments and provides their basic liturgical form.  The experience of the early Church is witness to Catholic Faith and worship from the earliest days of the Church, albeit in seminal form.  The experience of the early Church’s liturgy, seen in the New Testament and the Fathers, is informative and important, but it is not restrictive.  It is an incorrect philosophy to desire a strict return to the liturgical practices of the early Church as if they were somehow purer and closer to Christ than our own: this belief is a Protestant notion, and implicitly denies the ongoing activity of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the benefits of ongoing organic development of the Liturgy in response to the activity of that Spirit and the collective wisdom and tradition of the Church.  Unity and Diversity are each fundamental elements of Liturgy.  Theological beliefs and basic forms and structures are from Christ, and therefore cannot be changed or reformed in their substance: they constitute the beating heart of the Church’s liturgy which unifies the Christian people throughout the world.  But significant diversity is also possible within the Liturgy in light of cultural circumstances; this is seen most beautifully in the complementarity between the precision and compact efficiency of the Latin liturgical tradition in the West, and the more culturally-infused ornate liturgies of the East.  Judgments concerning legitimate expressions of diversity are always the province of the authority of the Church, and can never be usurped by individuals.

 

 

Module 5.  History of the Liturgy, Part Two

 

Reading Assignments for this module:

  • Read Martimort pp. 45-72
  • Read Martimort pp. 118-129
  • Teleconference Call (Time TBD)

 

 

Basic Themes and Topics of this module:

 

  • The Gregorian Reform unifies and directs subsequent liturgical practice.
  • Diversity of Medieval Expression and the Tridentine Renewal
  • The Baroque Experience

 

 

Preliminary Remarks:

 

The liturgical reforms of Pope St. Gregory I (The Great) are an important moment in the life of the Liturgy, and represent a unification and renewed attentiveness to the integrity of worship in the Western Church.  This moment directs and informs subsequent liturgical practice, and is the point past which the Church in the West experienced a time of unity and stability in the Liturgy, which remained largely unchanged until the 20th century.  The medieval period witnessed an enrichment of the liturgy, with the outgrowth of local and order-based variants to the Roman Rite, and the development of the rich heritage of Sacred Music.  Great liturgical devotions, particularly to the Blessed Sacrament, arose, and periodic reforms ensured the stability and integrity of the Rite.  In response to the Protestant crisis, the Council of Trent strongly reaffirmed the Church’s teachings concerning the Sacred Liturgy, at the same time initiating a thorough revision and republication of the liturgical books, with some necessary revisions.  The subsequent centuries saw a certain stagnation and Baroque over-ornamentation, along with a decline in the quality of Sacred Music and liturgical life in general.  However, many great saints were also raised up in this period, nourished by the stability and integrity of the Sacred Liturgy, especially in times of great persecutions which plagued the Church in many places during these centuries.

 

 

Module 6.  History of the Liturgy, Part Three

 

Assignments for this module:

  • Read Martimort pp. 72-84
  • Read Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraphs 1-46
  • Read Vicesimus Quintus Annus
  • Read Letter Of His Holiness
 Benedict XVI to the Bishops on the Occasion of the Publication 
of the Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio Data” 
Summorum Pontificum
 on the Use of the Roman Liturgy 
Prior to the Reform Of 1970
  • Initial Questions: What elements of continuity do you see in the history of the liturgy, i.e. what has remained substantially the same?  What elements of reform do you see?  How should the Church strike a balance between continuity and renewal?

 

 

Basic Themes and Topics of this module:

 

  • The Liturgical Movement
  • Pius XII and Vatican II
  • Sacrosanctum Concilium: What it actually says and does
  • Subsequent confusions and hermeneutical keys to the way forward

 

 

Preliminary Remarks:

 

Beginning in France in the 19th century, a great “Liturgical Movement” arose dedicated to the renewal and enrichment of the Sacred Liturgy in the Church and the fostering of a genuine liturgical piety among the faithful.  The Liturgical Movement was focused upon serious scholarship and recapturing of liturgical simplicity and elegance in the face of Romantic excesses.  Gregorian Chant was “rediscovered” at the monastery of Solesmes and was seen as a corrective the prevailing operatic style of music.  A great period of renewal ensued, which included a reform of the breviary and various initiatives by Pope St. Pius X including the lowering of the age for Holy Communion, and reasserting the preeminence of Gregorian Chant in the life of the Church.  The Liturgical Movement continued to develop and influence the Church in the 20th century, and led to the great reforming pontificate of Pius XII, which featured the monumental summation of the Liturgical Movement in the encyclical “Mediator Dei,” extensive reforms of the Mass particularly with respect to the Holy Week liturgies, and the modification of various rites and rubrics.  Vatican II followed shortly, with Sacrosanctum Concilium on the Liturgy representing its first document promulgated.  The document itself was relatively unremarkable compared to previous documents, reaffirming various traditional practices and building upon the foundations of the Liturgical Movement and Pius XII.  The Concilium established by Pope Bl. Paul VI for the renewal of Sacred Liturgy in light of the Council went far beyond the text of Sacrosanctum Concilium in its initiatives and reforming spiritThis module will focus much attention therefore on what the Council actually in fact directed, and the changes which actually followed in subsequent years at the direction of the commission.  A period of great hope and energy followed upon these reforms, but also widespread confusion in which many noble and worthy elements of Catholic liturgical life and piety were jettisoned in the name of the Council.  Belief in liturgical truths, particularly the Real Presence of Christ in the Mass, the Mass as Sacrifice, and the necessity and dignity of ordained ministry, began to plummet.  John Paul II and Benedict XVI grappled with these challenges and proposed hermeneutical keys to understand the liturgical vision of the Council authentically and move forward reclaiming Catholic liturgical identity without losing the legitimate and praiseworthy reforms brought about by the Vatican Council itself.

 

 

Module 7.  Signs, Postures, and Gestures in the Liturgy

 

Assignments for this module:

  • Read Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraphs 122-130
  • Read Martimort pp. 173-202
  • Read Ratzinger pp. 171-224
  • Reading Response Paper Due. 2-3 pages.  Please read Ratzinger’s chapter, “The Question of Images” pp. 115-135 of The Spirit of the Liturgy.  Reflect upon the key insights that you discern there, including but not limited to the relationship of Sacred Images to the Incarnation.

 

 

Basic Themes and Topics of this module:

 

  • Liturgical postures
  • Liturgical gestures
  • Vestments and Insignia
  • Material Elements

 

 

Preliminary Remarks:

 

This module explores the “nuts and bolts” of liturgy.  We explore fundamental building blocks for liturgy, which have a significance rooted in the Incarnation and show forth our attitude of worship with our very bodies and with the stuff of the earth.  The theological significance of postures is explored, including standing, kneeling, sitting, bowing, prostration, procession, and orientation.  Liturgical gestures are also discussed, particularly the sign of the cross, the striking of the breast, lifting of the eyes to heaven, and the elevation and extension of hands.  Liturgical vestments and insignia are discussed, both historically and with respect to current discipline.  The meaning and construction of liturgical vestments are covered, including the meaning and assignment of liturgical color.  Finally, the use of other material elements is discussed, particularly the use of light, incense, water, vessels, crosses and images, and bells.

 

 

Module 8.  Liturgy and the Sacraments

 

Assignments for this module:

  • Read Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraphs 59-82
  • Read CCC, paragraphs 1113-1130
  • Read Canons 840-848 in the Code of Canon Law
  • Initial Questions: Why are “things” important in the Liturgy?  Why does (and should) the Church take such great care with the beauty and worthiness of buildings, materials, and the various items used in the liturgy?  How would you answer a Protestant interlocutor who objects to the Church’s integration of beauty, viz. statuary, sacred vessels, vestments, etc.?

 

 

Basic Themes and Topics of this module:

 

  • Liturgy and its relationship to the 7 Sacraments
  • Liturgy as Faith Incarnate

 

 

Preliminary Remarks:

 

This module explores the relationship of Liturgy and Sacrament.  We explore the centrality of the Eucharist as a reference point for any Liturgy and any sacrament.  We then spend the balance of time in identifying and studying the liturgies associated with the celebration of each of the seven sacraments: in particular we identify the basic liturgical structure used in the celebration of each sacrament, and the so-called “sacramental form” for each, i.e. the minimum basic requirement for the sacrament’s valid celebration.

 

 

 

Module 9.  Liturgy and the Church

 

Assignments for this module:

  • Read Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1076-1112, 1135-1199
  • Read Ratzinger 92-111
  • Canonical Analysis Paper Due. 2-3 pages.  Please select any ONE of the seven sacraments.  Then read through the canons in the Code of Canon Law which pertain to your sacrament of choice: see Book IV of the Code, among canons 849-1165.  Reflect upon how the law of the Church expresses our liturgical theology, and what the law reveals to us about the sacrament you have chosen.

 

 

Basic Themes and Topics of this module:

 

  • The Liturgy is of the Church, for the Church, and constitutes the Church
  • The Liturgy is hierarchically arranged
  • The Liturgy provides unity, particularly with the Church suffering and triumphant

 

 

Preliminary Remarks:

 

The Liturgy is a treasure of Divine Grace entrusted to the Church.  Before his departure, the Lord gave the Church her sacraments as vessels of Divine Grace and conduits of his continuing presence in the world.  The Liturgy is thus given to the Church and is central to her fundamental constitution.  The Liturgy is for the Church, since it provides her with her means of worshipping God in accordance with his commands, and provides her the means of sanctification throughout time.  The Liturgy also constitutes the Church, since she is formed around the altar of the Lord’s sacrifice and finds her fullest expression and life in the act of Divine Worship.  The Liturgy is hierarchically arranged, since God orders that each member of the Christian faithful should participate in the Liturgy according to his own station in life. The Liturgy is not homogenous or egalitarian, but relies upon hierarchical order established by Christ; each person participates in a way proper to himself, which leads to his own fulfillment and the right ordering of the Church and her worship.  The Liturgy is a primary source and expression of unity in the Church, particularly in the unity achieved by our common participation in the one Sacrifice of Christ made present in particular moments in time and space in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The Liturgy unites us with the entire Church throughout the world, and also expresses our unity with the “Church Suffering” in purgatory and the “Church Triumphant” in heaven.

 

 

Module 10.  Basic Structures in Liturgy

 

Assignments for this module:

  • Read Martimort pp. 87-111
  • Read Martimort pp. 202-225
  • Read Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraphs 102-121
  • Initial Questions: What does it mean to say that the Liturgy belongs to the Church?  That the Liturgy constitutes the Church?  Why is it so important for the Church’s ministers to be faithful to the liturgy the Church provides us, rather than to invent things from our own creativity?

 

 

Basic Themes and Topics of this module:

 

  • The Assembly and Actual Participation
  • The Celebrant and Ministers
  • The Church as Sacred Space
  • The Liturgical Year (Calendar)
  • Sacred Music

 

 

Preliminary Remarks:

 

This module builds upon the theological principles established in the previous session to contemplate the basic structures of liturgy as ceremony.  Based upon the hierarchical ordering of the Church discussed previously, we discuss the role of the Assembly and what the “Actual Participation” called for by the Vatican Council actually means, particularly in light of contemporary misconceptions.  We discuss the right and the duty of the Christian faithful to participate in Divine Worship, bestowed upon us at baptism, and the ways in which any Christian exercises a priestly function in Liturgy.  This is then contrasted with the ordained ministerial priesthood and the related ordained ministerial diaconate, and their particular sacramental orientation to the sacrifice and to Divine Worship in general.  The role of the Celebrant and Ministers in the liturgy is discussed and explored.  We also contemplate the church building itself as Sacred Space, the implications for our behavior and comportment in Church, and the manner in which the Church building is used both inside and outside of liturgical experiences.  Finally, as time permits, we begin very briefly and generally to consider Sacred Music as a liturgical reality: seeing it as an integral component of liturgical worship, Music adorns and dignifies the Liturgy and is integral to it in various ways.  We briefly discuss the Church’s treasury of Sacred Music, the official music the Church provides to us, and the various options available.

 

 

Module 11.  Fundamental Liturgical Expressions

 

Assignments for this module:

  • Read Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraphs 47-58, 83-101
  • Read Martimort pp. 142-171
  • Read Ratzinger pp. 62-91
  • Teleconference Call (Time TBD)

 

 

Basic Themes and Topics of this module:

 

  • Mass as Sacrifice of Christ made present: the fundamental reality
  • The Structure of Mass
  • The Structure of the Divine Office and its relationship to Mass
  • The Paraliturgical and Devotional Life of the Church

 

 

Preliminary Remarks:

 

This module explores the most central and important liturgical experiences of the Church, namely Holy Mass and the Divine Office, and related realities.  Though the Holy Mass receives its basic form from the Institution Narrative of the Last Supper of Holy Thursday, the content of the Mass is the Cross of Good Friday.  Therefore the Liturgy of Mass is to be understood in Catholic theology as the Sacrifice of Christ made present.  The Liturgy makes this possible through the activity of the Blessed Trinity, as God breaks the bonds of time and space to make his eternal but historically grounded sacrifice present in every time and place whenever and wherever Mass is celebrated.  We discuss the significance of being present for Mass and how our attitude at Liturgy must reflect the cosmic significance of the content of the Liturgy.  We then see how the Structure of the Mass provides the framework for the unfolding of this reality.  The Divine Office is introduced as the Church’s extension throughout the day of the pivotal moment of Holy Mass.  In the Office, the prayer of the Church continues ceaselessly and sanctifies the entire course of a day’s experience, from beginning to end.  As time permits, we also discuss the related rituals and devotions of the Church’s liturgical tradition which foster the liturgical and Eucharistic piety of the faithful and their ongoing enrichment through the experience of God’s grace at work.

 

 

Module 12.  Liturgy and the Spirituality of the Ordained

 

Assignments for this module:

  • Read Canons 273-289
  • Read Canons 834-839
  • Continue Reading and Writing for Final Assignment

 

 

Basic Themes and Topics of this module:

 

  • Consecration for the Church’s ministry
  • Obligations of law viz. prayer and participation in the Liturgy
  • Mass and Office as the structural keys to the organization of life for the ordained

 

 

Preliminary Remarks:

 

One of the pivotal questions asked in the Examination of the Candidates for Holy Orders during the Ordination Rite of deacons asks the candidate whether he is resolved to be consecrated for the Church’s ministry.  An ordained man is a consecrated person who has been blessed and set aside in a particular, sacramental, and permanent ontological way, for prayer and for a special relationship to the Church’s liturgy, in particular the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  A man prepared to be ordained a deacon, therefore, must be willing for his entire life to be changed, and the fundamental orientation of his life to be redirected in a radical and permanent way, to the example and identity of Christ the servant.  The deacon becomes a permanently liturgical person, a person with a unique and special relationship to the Liturgy of the Church.  The Law of the Church makes this consecration tangible through various obligations which deacons take on with respect to their own lives of prayer, and their relationship to the Sacred Liturgy of which they are now properly understood as ministers.  Holy Mass and the Divine Office are for the ordained the structural keys to the organization of life.  The spirituality of an ordained person therefore cannot be predominantly private, and he cannot view his participation in the Liturgy in the same manner as before.  Above all, an ordained man must have a deep and abiding love for the Sacred Liturgy, have a dedication to ongoing formation and education in the Liturgy, and a desire to foster a true liturgical piety among the faithful.  He must be a man of public prayer, and must follow the guidance of the Church in discovering the means to live this liturgical spirituality faithfully and fruitfully.

 







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