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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

divine grace.

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

musical instruments.

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