Last week we spoke about the fact that the sacred liturgy is essentially the constant communion of Divine Love which is taking place perpetually within the Persons of the Trinity. Furthermore, we learned that this love is not self-enclosed but rather, through Christ’s Resurrected and Ascended person, has been opened to the entirety of creation. Now, the very essence of creation is a song of praise to the Lord. As it says so beautifully in the canticle from the Book of Daniel: “You heavens bless the Lord; Let the earth bless the Lord; Everything growing on the earth [and] all beasts wild and tame, bless the Lord!” (Dan. 3:59, 74,76 &81). The 6th century priest and poet Venantius Fortunatus shares a similar sentiment in a poem written to celebrate Easter Sunday: “The seasons blush with flowery fair weather; the fruitful earth pours forth its gifts with varied increase; the gleaming brightness of the flowers comes forth; all the herbs smile with their blossoms. Behold, the favor of the reviving world bears witness that all gifts have returned together with its Lord. Behold, He who was crucified reigns as God over all things, and all created objects offer prayer to their Creator!” In these few lines, Fortunatus summarizes the key mission of Christ’s Incarnation and Paschal Mystery: the restoration of all creation into communion with the Father. Christ is the New Adam who rights the failure of the Old Adam. The weeds of sin which engulfed the Garden of Eden are overcome by the blooms of life which flower in the Garden of the Resurrection. But, where do we come into the picture? How does the human person join creation in this universal anthem of praise? The answer is given to us beautifully in the preface of the Third Eucharistic Prayer: “You are indeed Holy, O Lord, and all you have created rightly gives you praise, for through your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, you give life to all things and make them holy, and you never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.” Humanity’s role in the order of creation is to join Christ in making a pure sacrifice to the Father. Next week’s article will focus on defining “sacrifice” and how we participate in it with Jesus.
The Sacred Liturgy – Part II