Religion Magazine

Time for a “Liturgical Examination of Conscience!”

By Stjohnpa @faith_explorer
Time for a “Liturgical Examination of Conscience!”

Last week you learned that we would be having a "type" of mini-liturgy course in our parish bulletin spanning a number of weeks - and the course begins today! Remember: no tests, no assignments . . . just authentic information that covers a wide range of liturgical topics that are often easier to understand when revisited. Saint John Paul II called what we are doing a "liturgical examination of conscience." Now, what in heaven's name does that mean?

The saintly Pope pointed out the fact that the practice of making a liturgical examination of conscience helps to reinvigorate within oneself an awareness of the power that the Sacred Liturgy has and IS. And the benefit? Well, our understanding and appreciation of the Mass will undoubtedly grow and therefore prevent the Mass from becoming routine or boring. So, if you hear someone, perhaps a child, boldly proclaim: "Mass is boring. Why do I have to go?" This reveals a great deal. For, you see, when I make a liturgical examination of conscience I recognize, just a little bit more, what the Liturgy is, how and why we celebrate the Liturgy, and very importantly, how I live the Liturgy in my daily life. The only way I can love the Liturgy AND live from it is to immerse myself in the Mystery. And so, the question: What is the Liturgy?

The word, liturgy, typically refers to the official public service of the Church - the Mass as well as the Liturgy of the Hours, the Divine Office which is prayed daily by priests, religious, and some lay faithful. This word is derived from the Greek, leitourgia which, loosely translated, means the work of the people. Centuries ago the word would have been used to describe acts of public service, usually initiated by a private benefactor. For example, a wealthy person might have built a temple or a town hall and footed the bill; but the work itself was for the community. It is work and it is about people. But it is not the people's work. It is work that is for the people and intended to transform the wider world. So, if we apply this definition to liturgy, we could say that liturgy is the work for God that transforms our world and benefits people. The liturgy isn't mine nor is it yours alone. In short, it is not about me or you. It is for and about God! Now, after all that, I still need to know what the Liturgy, the Mass, IS! You see, you really cannot define the Mass; you must describe it.

So, here goes: The Sacred Liturgy, the Mass, is the celebration of/and our participation in the Divine Event - the Paschal Mystery. The Mass is the sacrifice of Jesus, dying on the cross and rising from the dead. We remember what Jesus did for us, his saving action. And, the sacrifice of Jesus is not only remembered but is made present. This is the very same sacrifice of Christ as on Calvary. What and who Jesus was for us on the Cross happens over and over again. The Liturgy is the actual dying and rising of Christ on the Cross. It is an action that is always in the present. Unlike every other action that is and passes away, the sacrifice of Jesus is always in the present. It is NOW!

We have a lot to ponder if we take all that has been said to heart. If you can, try to spend a little time this week reflecting on this and maybe even discuss it with a family member or a friend. You will discover that the Mass will never be the same if you keep on making a liturgical examination of conscience - exploring within yourself what the Mass is and what Jesus accomplishes in and through the Sacred Liturgy. God bless you!


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