Pope Benedict XVI. Credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.
Vatican City, Oct 3, 2012 / 09:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI has reminded Catholics that the liturgy belongs to Jesus Christ and his Church, and should not be changed according to individual whims.
“It is not the individual – priest or layman – or the group that celebrates the liturgy, but it is primarily God’s action through the Church, which has its own history, its rich tradition and creativity,” the Pope said during his Oct. 3 general audience in Rome.
“This universality and fundamental openness, which is characteristic of the entire liturgy is one of the reasons why it cannot be created or amended by the individual community or by experts, but must be faithful to the forms of the universal Church,” he stated.
With over 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope explained how the Church is made most visible in the liturgy where “God enters into our reality and we can meet him, we can touch him.” The liturgy is where “he comes to us, and we are enlightened by him.”
The primary importance of Jesus Christ within the liturgy has been a constant theme of Pope Benedict’s teaching during his seven-year pontificate. He has often expressed concern that bad teaching can lead some Catholics to view the liturgy “horizontally” as the creation of a parish or group in which the community celebrates itself. “The liturgy is not a kind of ‘self-manifestation’ of a community,” he told pilgrims.
Pope Benedict noted that when priests or parishioners reflect on how to make the liturgy “attractive, interesting and beautiful,” they can “risk forgetting the essential: That is the liturgy is celebrated for God and not for ourselves.”
To help counter such erroneous concepts, Pope Benedict XVI’s papal liturgies are always celebrated with a prominent crucifix placed centrally upon the altar.
The liturgy is God’s work and he is the subject, the Pope said, adding that this means when it comes to the liturgy we must “open ourselves to him and be guided by him and his body which is the Church.”
“If the centrality of Christ does not emerge in the celebration, then it is not a Christian liturgy, totally dependent on the Lord and sustained by his creative presence,” he said.
“God acts through Christ, and we can only act through him and in him.”
This conviction must grow in the hearts and minds of Catholics each day because “the liturgy is not our, my, ‘action,’ but the action of God in us and with us.”
“Let us ask the Lord to learn every day to live the sacred liturgy, especially the Eucharistic celebration, praying in the ‘we’ of the Church, that directs its gaze not in on itself, but to God, and feeling part of the living Church of all places and of all time,” Pope Benedict said in conclusion.
Cardinal calls priests to conversion as Year of Faith nears
Lima, Peru, Sep 24, 2012 / 12:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima, Peru said the Year of Faith decreed by Pope Benedict XVI should be a time of conversion for priests, so that others “may see the presence of God in us.”
“We priests and religious work with greater enthusiasm. Jesus awaits us, and the first guideline that I give you is that you live with more faith,” he told the priests of his archdiocese Sept. 19 during a monthly retreat.
Th cardinal added that during the Year of Faith – which begins on Oct. 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II – priests should express this interior conversion in the way they “celebrate the Mass, preach and prepare their homilies.”
“I encourage you to spend more time in the confessional. Always have time, never say I can’t.”
Cardinal Cipriani also asked priests to be united with their bishops, so they can be their main collaborators in motivating the faithful and encouraging them to take part in the Church’s mission.
Priests should express their faith with works, especially in the celebration of the Mass. “If you don’t have works, you are dry,” he told them.
“When a priest does what he is supposed to, people notice. And people notice in the Mass, in the confessional, in the schools he is in charge of, and they notice because Christ lives in him, and his thoughts are those of Christ,” the cardinal said.
“May Christ enlighten our senses, and for this reason let us pray the Rosary. Thus the joy of the Eucharist will convert our hearts,” he said.
Cardinal Cipriani noted that Pope Benedict XVI has decreed the Year of Faith so that “the faith may more clearly illuminate our encounter with Christ” in a world that has become “relativistic” and “has forgotten about God.”
“Nobody should give in to the temptation to say this is 'just another year,'” the cardinal said.
He called on priests to “encourage collaboration from good volunteers. May there be a greater commitment to the formation of the laity in parishes, schools, campus ministries and ecclesial movements.”
CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP
AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENT
On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided
regarding the Most Holy Eucharist