On July 17th at our town hall meeting, we heard St. Mary’s new mission statement as a “Next Generation Parish:” “In unity with the Holy Spirit, our purpose is to foster a love for the liturgy which encourages compassion for people, inspires holiness, and nurtures an intimate relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is beautiful to note that at the core of our mission statement is a recognition of the liturgy and its essential role in the life of our parish. As the Second Vatican Council reminds us, “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed [and] the font from which all her power flows.” In other words, the liturgy is not merely an aspect of the Christian religion, but rather the very source of its existence. When we discuss the liturgy, particularly the Eucharist, we are not simply talking about an aspect of our Catholic faith; it is not just one of the things that we do as Catholics. The Eucharist, which is the piercing of the Trinity’s love into space and time, is what sustains the life of the Body of Christ. The Eucharist is what constitutes the beating heart of the Church and safeguards her from becoming a purely historical institution or strictly political entity. With this in mind, we are going to begin the Splendor of our Faith series with a collection of reflections on the sacred liturgy and the indispensable role it plays in Christianity. The word “liturgy” comes from the Greek word leitourgein which means “an act of the community”. Particularly, it refers to a sacred action performed by one who is properly designated and consecrated as a representative of the people. However, unlike the invented ceremonies of our ancient pagan predecessors which sought to break through the heavens and appease dominating deities, our liturgy has been revealed and given to us not by man but by God Himself. For, “the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup…” (1 Cor. 11:23-25). Jesus commands, “Do THIS in memory of me…” meaning, “Celebrate the Eucharist in memory of me”. With these words the Lord makes clear what lies at the center of Christian discipleship. Let us open our hearts to this great mystery of love in the upcoming weeks of study so as to more deeply understand the source and summit of our Christian faith; the Sacred Liturgy.