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The liturgy is a service and participation in God's action

· At the General Audience the Pope recalls the first document promulgated by the Second Vatican Council ·

The liturgy is a service “on behalf of the people and participation in “God's action”. The Pope said this at the General Audience on Wednesday, 26 September, in St Peter's Square, recalling that the Second Vatican Council began its work 50 years ago “with the discussion of the draft on the Sacred Liturgy which was then solemnly promulgated on 4 December 1963”.

What at first sight might seem only a coincidence, turned out in fact to be “the best decision”: in starting with the topic of the liturgy, in fact, the Council Fathers shed very clear light on the primacy of God and on his absolute priority. First of all God: “God in the very first place”, Benedict XVI emphasized, “this itself explains to us the Council’s decision to start with the liturgy”. Moreover, he added, “Wherever the gaze on God is not conclusive, everything else loses its orientation”. The fundamental criterion for the liturgy is therefore “its orientation to God, to be able thereby to take part in his action”.

But what is God's action? The Pope answers by framing his definition in the synthesis of two explanations of the Council: the works of God “are his actions in history which bring us salvation” and which culminated in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; just as “the celebration of the liturgy” is an “action of Christ”. These are obviously two meanings that “are inseparably linked”, Benedict XVI emphasized; and they constitute the essence of “the liturgical theology of the Council” at whose centre is the Paschal Mystery of Christ's Death and Resurrection. And citing Blessed Pope John Paul II, he reaffirmed that liturgical celebrations made possible the enactment of the Paschal Mystery since “Christ is ever present in his Church, especially in liturgical celebrations”. They therefore become “the privileged place for the encounter of Christians with God”. It is in this encounter, the Pope concluded, that the dialogue between God and the human being takes place through prayer. Not mere words, the Pope recommended, but as an expression of that attitude of the heart invoked by the celebrant at the beginning of the Eucharist: sursum corda , which means, Benedict XVI explained, lifting up our hearts, “above the confusion of our apprehensions, our desires, our narrowness and our distraction”.

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 17, 2019

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