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Catholic Northwest Progress
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April 16, 1965     Catholic Northwest Progress
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April 16, 1965
 

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8--THE PROGRESS Friday, April 16, 1965 Christian Culture Series (Unit 2, Chapter 15) "THE most pressing duty of Christians is to live the lliturgical life, and increase and cherish its super- natural spirit" (Mediator Dei, Article 197). When Pope Plus XII published this injunction almost 20 years ago, Lt must have sounded strange to many ears. There was much misunderstanding then about the word "liturgical," much confusion of the liturgy with things only remotely or incidentally connected with it. Now, undoubtedly, many m o r e people understand what the Pope meant. He was urg- ing us to live the life of the Church, the full life of the Christian community He was reminding us that we were to be ecclesiastical in our piety, i.e., our piety was to be inspired and nourished by the Church herself; hence it would be fully Catholic. It would thereby be fully Christian, too, inas- much as the Church is Christ extended in time and space, and the only way to become wholly Christian in our attitudes and actions is to be formed by the Church. I. What did Plus XII mean by the statement quoted aboe? In Union with Christ and the Church This means in the first place that we should strive to unite ourselves more and more perfectly with the prayer of the Church. We should remind ourselves of what we have already seen in the teaching of the Council (Article 7): "Christ is always present in his Church, espe- cially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass . . . He is present in the sacraments... He is present in his word... He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings... Christ indeed always associates the Church with Himself in this great work wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is his beloved Bride who calls to her Lord, and through Him offers worship to the eternal Father .... From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, be- cause it is an action of Christ the Priest and of his body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpass- ing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by' the same title and to the same degree." Our effort must be to add our individual contri- bution to the worship so offered. We do it externally by reciting or singing the prayers of the community, by adapting our bodily postures to theix theme, and especially by receiving the sacraments. Even more important is our internal contribution, which:is made through our effort to be attentive, to understand, and to make the experience of prayer deeply felt and willed. The Council (Article 11) lays special emphasis on this: "In order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, Life Between Liturgies and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain." 1. Explain how every liturgical celebration is an action o[ Christ and his mystical body. 2. Why must our contribu- tion to public worship be both internal and external? Overflow from Worship into Daily Life It would be a poor liturgical life, however, that would be somehow suspended as we went out of the church, not to be resumed until we entered again. Everything we have seen and heard and done in our worship of God should have had its formative influ- ence on us. We should go out from our community prayer new men, determined once more to publish Christ by our manner of living. If we listen to the word of God humbly and reflectively, will it not instruct us, shape our basic attitudes, establish for us genuine Christian values? Can we identify ourselves with the priestly sacrifice of Christ at Mass and then go on living ut- terly selfish lives? Or how can we sincerely ask for pardon for our sins and then refuse to grant pardon for offenses committed against us? The community worship, in other words, is not offered in a vacuum, but in the living context of our everyday concerns: There should be an overflow from that brimming reservoir of intimacy with God into" our individual prayer, and into the vigor with which we confront the world, the flesh, and the devil. 1. What is meant by the statement that community worship is o/[ered "in the living context of everyday con- cerns".  Formative Power of the Liturgy It seems probable now that the total number of Christians will continue to grow smaller in propor- tion to the number of people in the world. This means that if an effective witness to Christ is to be given, we must work for quality rather than quantity. But how may Christians of high quality be formed? We haven't the manpower or the financial resources to educate them all in our schools. Much is accomplishd, to be sure, by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, and the outlook is bright for this work as more and more laypeople devote themselves to it. But the obvious means of formation is the liturgy. Our people come to liturgical celebrations regu- larly all through their lives; in additbn to weekly Mass there are baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals, first communions, confessions, anointings, ordinatmns and first Masses. If all of these were in- telligible to the people, if the people took an active part in them, would the effect not be deep and lasting? The liturgy teaches powerfully because it ap- peals to every sense, it leads us steadily from the known to the unknown, it repeats Lts lesson over and again in a thousand varied ways. It relates its teach- ing to our dearest desires and our most secret aspir- ations, it treats each of us as a distinct and most precious indLvidual, it appeals to the heart as well as the head. "No man ever spoke as this man speaks," the people said after listening to Christ (Jn. 7:46), and in its measure the same could be said of the liturgy. If we want to inculcate an abiding outlook, a culture that will be the well-spring of Christian virtue, we have the instrument to hand. The Communists and others who seek to indoc- trinate the multitudes must envy us its possession. I. Why will Christians of high quality be increasingly needed, and how are they to be formed? 2. Why does the liturgy preach so powerfully? The Liturgy Inspires Humility We ourselves, of course, must have an active dis- posLtion to receive what the liturgy has to give. This disposition is largely effected by the liturgy itself, which produces in us a sense that we are in the divine presence, where we have no choice except to ac- knowledge our spiritual poverty. This is a salutary effect because it corresponds so exactly to the reality, and because God demands it as a condition before He gives us his grace. The Church begins every rite with a plea for divine aid: "O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me." At Mass, even before the Scripture is read, and long before the sacrifice, she puts on qur lips the Kyrie Eleison, the Collects that beg for mercy. Each year she assembles us in certain seasons like Advent and Lent, and on special days of penitence, robing her ministers in sombre violet and crying "Let us kneel down!" She shepherds us toward her confessionals, and then to the table where we are given the food with- out which we have no life in us. She never flatters us, or lets us think we are self-sufficient. This disposition, of course, is fundamental to the Christian outlook. "What do you have," asks St. Paul, "that you have not received?" (1 Cor. 4:7). The richest among us is a beggar who must sue daily even for the gift of continued life. The strong- est among us cannot say that he will not fall tomor- row. And the holiest among us must acknowledge himself a wretched sinner: "We have all offended in many ways" (Jas. 3:2). These realizations do not induce gloom, because they turn our thoughts toward the blood of Christ and the endless mercy of our Father in heaven; nonethe- less they must accompany us, as it were, to any cele- bration of the liturgy, and remain with us afterward. The more vivid they are, the more we shall see our need to throw ourselves on God's goodness, and the likelier we are to obtain J.t. II I I II I = 1 II III I. How does the liturgy cultivate in us a spirit of gen- uine humility? 2. Explain why humility "is fundamental to the Christian outlook." A Thirst for God Our life between liturgies, then, should be marked by a thirst for a share in the holiness of God. It will be evident, for example, in our unrelenting efforts to pray, in spite of distractions and seeming fruitless- ness. It will be evident in the Christian moderation with which we use the good things of the world, and of course in the self-denial and almsgiving we prac- tice during penitential times It will give rise to a greater sincerity and thoughtfulness about our re- ception of the sacrament of penance. It will help us to look on the less satisfying aspects of our daily labor as an offering we can make in atonement for our sins  and the same is true of suffering, mental or physical, and of death itself As our thirst grows, we shall be prompted to spend more time in reading about God (especially from his own inspired word) and about what St. Paul calls his "mystery"  his plan for the salvation of men. A truly Catholic spirituality, learned from our Mother the Church, requires this attitude. It is com- pounded of reverence for the all-holy God and con- sciousness of our as yet incomplete redemption. The liturgy both cultivates it and demands it as a condi- tion for fruitful participation. 1. How will "a thirst for a share in the holiness of God" manifest itself? 2. How does the liturgy both cultivate and demand the attitude required for fruitful participation in the sacred liturgy? Some Things To Do (I 1. Read thoughtfully Pope Pius XII's great Encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy. 2. Try sincerely to cultivate the spirit of humility that is so necessary for a truly Catholic spirituality. HIIlI]HlIj[[IlmIji]lHLN!!JlNiF[iH'.liIi![HH][[][N]lHll!iNIIl[N1]1IHl]iIIlrHlIl1lljIilnlINfl 4 (New Horizons in Catholic Worship, a booklet from which the discussion text for the 1964.65 Christian Culture Series is taken, was written by Rev. William J. Leonard, S.J., and Rt. Rev. Msgr. Leon A. McNeiU, M.A. Published in 1964 by the Liturgical Commission, 445 N. Emporia, Wichita, Kas., 67202, the booklet is available for one to nine copies for 75 cents each or for 10 or more copies for 60 cents each. The booklet is also sold at all Catholic book stores in the Archdiocese.) St. Matthew's Fourth Graders Present Liturgical Play A LITURGICAL play, depicting the "Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Mother," Tuesday was presented by the fourth grade class of St. Matthew's School in" Seattle. Directed by Sister Marilyn CSC, the play was the product of two Weeks of extensive rehearsals by 44 pupils. The costumes were made by parents of the cast. 'The Scene below depicts the "Holy Women of :Jerusalem" at the "Way of the Cross." :::::::::::::::::::: :. ',: ::: :.::::::::ii .i':i:.::::: .!i . .:: :::: .::::. ::: :i:;:: " ::: :: :: i!iii: SIX "Roman soldiers" salute the cross in acknowledgment of Christ's Passion on the Cross. The wooden swords also were made by parents and the boys themselves. THE DESCENT from the Cross" w;is one of the most poignant scenes in the play. Playing the role of the Christus was Steven Seagle. The role of the Blessed Mother was taken by Diane McNerney. THE PREPARATION for the "Burial of Christ" is shogn here with members of the fourth grade class portrayml a solemn moment. The entire 30-minute presentation was pre- sented in the rectory basement meeting room. i (Photos by Joseph 1. 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