Sunday Reflection – 11 February 2018 – 6th Sunday of Year B – Pope Benedict and St John Paul
In liturgical prayer, especially the Eucharist and – formats of the liturgy – in every prayer, we do not speak as single individuals, rather we enter into the “we” of the Church that prays. And we need to transform our “I” entering into this “we”. Pope Benedict XVI is one of the great liturgists of our age. His seminal book, “The Spirit of the Liturgy”, written when he was still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, is required reading in most seminaries and should be read by every Catholic.
“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. This universality and fundamental openness, which is characteristic of the entire liturgy is one of the reasons why it can not be created or amended by the individual community or by experts but must be faithful to the forms of the universal Church.
The entire Church is always present, even in the liturgy of the smallest community. For this reason there are no “foreigners” in the liturgical community. The entire Church participates in every liturgical celebration, heaven and earth, God and man. The Christian liturgy, even if it is celebrated in a concrete place and space and expresses the “yes” of a particular community, it is inherently Catholic, it comes from everything and leads to everything, in union with the Pope, the Bishops , with believers of all times and all places. The more a celebration is animated by this consciousness, the more fruitful the true sense of the liturgy is realised in it.
Dear friends, the Church is made visible in many ways: in its charitable work, in mission projects, in the personal apostolate that every Christian must realise in his or her own environment. But the place where it is fully experienced as a Church is in the liturgy : it is the act in which we believe that God enters into our reality and we can meet Him, we can touch Him. It is the act in which we come into contact with God, He comes to us and we are enlightened by Him.
So when in the reflections on the liturgy we concentrate all our attention on how to make it attractive, interesting and beautiful, we risk forgetting the essential: the liturgy is celebrated for God and not for ourselves, it is His work, He is the subject and we must open ourselves to Him and be guided by Him and His Body, which is the Church.
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 XVI – Wednesday Audience 3 Oct 2012
“I have been able to celebrate Holy Mass in chapels built along mountain paths, on lakeshores and seacoasts. I have celebrated it on altars built in stadiums and in city squares….This varied scenario of celebrations of the Eucharist, has given me, a powerful experience of its universal and, so to speak, cosmic character – YES, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always, in some way, celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation!” St Pope John Paul “Ecclesia de Eucharista no 8”