Chapter 14. The Celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ • 171
nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people . . . have a right
and an obligation by reason of their Baptism” (CCC, no. 1141). The
faithful are called to come to the liturgy consciously prepared to make
their thoughts agree with what they say and hear, and to cooperate with
Within the assembly, the ordained have a unique function of service.
“These servants are chosen and consecrated by the sacrament of Holy
Orders, by which the Holy Spirit enables them to act in the person of
Christ the head, for the service of all the members of the Church” (CCC,
no. 1142). Thus, for example, priests preside at the Eucharist, in which
the elements of bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of
Christ. Priests act in the person of Christ, the Head of the Church, and
in the name of the Church when presenting to God the prayers and self-
offering of the people and when offering the Eucharistic sacrifice, above
all as they proclaim the Eucharistic Prayer.
How Do We Celebrate?
The Church celebrates the liturgy using an abundance of signs, symbols,
and rituals. We celebrate the Sacraments with scriptural readings, homi-
lies, music, processions, blessings, bread, wine, oil, arms outstretched
in prayer, gestures of peace, bowed heads, kneeling, standing, sitting,
incense, holy water, flowers, candles, colors, ritual vestments, choirs, and
We do this in a holy environment in which architecture, sculpture,
paintings, icons, and stained glass lend an ambience that speaks of the
mystery of God and divine transcendence on the one hand, and the unity
of God with the worshiping community on the other. Since the Son of
God honored us by becoming incarnate—the true visible image of the
invisible God—we use these signs and symbols to help us experience
God’s invisible presence.
The Liturgy of the Word is part of all sacramental celebrations. The
reading of Sacred Scripture is meant to awaken a response of faith in the
listeners. When the word is proclaimed, Christ himself speaks. Having
encountered Christ in the word, the people enter with a deeper appre-
ciation into the heart of the celebration. The signs that accompany this