I thought this week I would present for you some quotes concerning the Liturgy to awaken in all of us a deeper sense of the depth, beauty, and seriousness of what we participate in every Sunday in our parish church. Note the theme of “present” in all three of the following statements.
The first statement was written by Fr. Adrien Nocent, O.S.B., in volume II of his remarkable commentary entitled The Liturgical Year: Lent and Holy Week, First Edition. This work has now been revised and improved by Fr. Paul Turner (Liturgical Press, 2014). I offer this text for your meditation:
“The liturgy, after all, is not simply a play. We do not take part in the liturgy in order to recall past events in an atmosphere of spiritual emotion. We take part in it in order to celebrate a mystery that the liturgy itself renders present”(Fr. Adrien Nocent, The Liturgical Year: Lent and Holy Week, First Edition, Liturgical Press 1977, p. 187).
Again, in the same line of thought, we find this statement uttered sometime early in the fifth century by Pope St. Leo I, speaking of the Liturgy:
“All those things which the Son of God both did and taught for the reconciliation of the world, we not only know in the account of things now past, but we also experience in the power of works which are present” (On the Passion, 12 [Sources Chrétiennes 74, 82]).
Finally there is the statement from Vatican II (Sacrosanctum Concilium #7), accenting the mystery of Christ’s presence:
“To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,’ but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’” (Matt. 18:20).