The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
united with meditation on the Word of God and the singing of
liturgical hymns, enters into the harmony of the signs of celebration
so that the mystery celebrated is imprinted in the heart’s memory
and is then expressed in the new life of the faithful.
“Holy Mother Church believes that she should celebrate
the saving work of her divine Spouse in a sacred commemoration
on certain days throughout the course of the year. Once each week,
on the day which she has called the Lord’s Day, she keeps the
memory of the Lord’s resurrection. She also celebrates it once every
year, together with his blessed Passion, at Easter, that most solemn
of all feasts. In the course of the year, moreover, she unfolds the
whole mystery of Christ . . . . Thus recalling the mysteries of the
redemption, she opens up to the faithful the riches of her Lord’s
powers and merits, so that these are in some way made present in
every age; the faithful lay hold of them and are filled with saving
From the time of the Mosaic law, the People of God have
observed fixed feasts, beginning with Passover, to commemorate the
astonishing actions of the Savior God, to give him thanks for them, to
perpetuate their remembrance, and to teach new generations to con-
form their conduct to them. In the age of the Church, between the
Passover of Christ already accomplished once for all, and its consum-
mation in the kingdom of God, the liturgy celebrated on fixed days
bears the imprint of the newness of the mystery of Christ.
When the Church celebrates the mystery of Christ, there is
a word that marks her prayer: “Today!”—a word echoing the
prayer her Lord taught her and the call of the Holy Spirit.
“today” of the living God which man is called to enter is “the hour”
of Jesus’ Passover, which reaches across and underlies all history:
Life extends over all beings and fills them with unlimited
light; the Orient of orients pervades the universe, and he who
was “before the daystar” and before the heavenly bodies,
immortal and vast, the great Christ, shines over all beings
more brightly than the sun. Therefore a day of long, eternal
light is ushered in for us who believe in him, a day which is
never blotted out: the mystical Passover.
35 St. Hippolytus,
1-2: SCh 27, 117.