The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
For this reason the Church, especially during Advent and
Lent and above all at the Easter Vigil, re-reads and re-lives the great
events of salvation history in the “today” of her liturgy. But this
also demands that catechesis help the faithful to open themselves
to this spiritual understanding of the economy of salvation as the
Church’s liturgy reveals it and enables us to live it.
Jewish liturgy and Christian liturgy.
A better knowledge of the
Jewish people’s faith and religious life as professed and lived even now
can help our better understanding of certain aspects of Christian liturgy.
For both Jews and Christians Sacred Scripture is an essential part of their
respective liturgies: in the proclamation of the Word of God, the response
to this word, prayer of praise and intercession for the living and the dead,
invocation of God’s mercy. In its characteristic structure the Liturgy of the
Word originates in Jewish prayer. The Liturgy of the Hours and other
liturgical texts and formularies, as well as those of our most venerable
prayers, including the Lord’s Prayer, have parallels in Jewish prayer. The
Eucharistic Prayers also draw their inspiration from the Jewish tradition.
The relationship between Jewish liturgy and Christian liturgy, but also their
differences in content, are particularly evident in the great feasts of the
liturgical year, such as Passover. Christians and Jews both celebrate the
Passover. For Jews, it is the Passover of history, tending toward the future; for
Christians, it is the Passover fulfilled in the death and Resurrection of Christ,
though always in expectation of its definitive consummation.
liturgy of the New Covenant
every liturgical action,
especially the celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments, is an
encounter between Christ and the Church. The liturgical assembly
derives its unity from the “communion of the Holy Spirit” who
gathers the childrenof God into the one Body of Christ. This assembly
transcends racial, cultural, social—indeed, all human affinities.
The assembly should
itself to encounter its Lord
and to become “a people well disposed.” The preparation of hearts
is the joint work of the Holy Spirit and the assembly, especially of
its ministers. The grace of the Holy Spirit seeks to awaken faith,
conversion of heart, and adherence to the Father’s will. These
dispositions are the precondition both for the reception of other
graces conferred in the celebration itself and the fruits of new life
which the celebration is intended to produce afterward.
The Holy Spirit recalls the mystery of Christ
The Spirit and the Church cooperate to manifest Christ and
his work of salvation in the liturgy. Primarily in the Eucharist, and by
analogy in the other sacraments, the liturgy is the
mystery of salvation. The Holy Spirit is the Church’s living memory.