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Pope Francis meeting members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Pope Francis meeting members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.   (Vatican Media)

Pope: Liturgy is encounter of People of God with the Lord that brings change of heart

Pope Francis on Feb. 14 met participants in the plenary assembly of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments that is discussing the liturgical formation of the people of God.

By Robin Gomes

Pope Francis is urging the liturgical formation of the People of God so that they may rediscover the beauty of meeting the Lord in the celebration of His mysteries and through change of heart have life in His name.

“We know that it is not enough to change the liturgical books to improve the quality of the liturgy. For life to be truly a praise pleasing to God, it is necessary to change the heart,”  Pope Francis told some 80 members of the plenary assembly of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.  

“The Christian celebration is oriented towards this conversion, which is the encounter of life with the ‘God of the living’.”  

The Feb. 12-15 plenary assembly is discussing the liturgical formation of the people of God. 

Reality vs idea, “We” vs “I”

Speaking about the challenge of formation, the Pope said one should keep in mind that “liturgy is life that forms, and not an idea to learn”. 

In liturgical formation, the Pope said, it is important to keep in mind that “reality is more important than idea ”.  One needs, first of all, to recognize the reality of the sacred liturgy, which is a living treasure that cannot be reduced to tastes, recipes and currents but must be welcomed with docility and promoted with love, as an irreplaceable nourishment for the organic growth of the People of God.

Liturgy, he continued, is not a “do-it-yourself” activity but the “epiphany of ecclesial communion”. Hence, in prayers and gestures, the "we" resounds and not the "I"; the real community, not the ideal subject.

Liturgy as conversion

In the liturgical formation of the People of God, the Holy Father said, one must keep foremost in mind the “irreplaceable role that liturgy plays in the Church and for the Church.”   Then the People of God need to be concretely helped in interiorizing better the prayer of the Church, to love it as an experience of encounter with the Lord and with one's brothers and sisters and, thereafter to rediscover its contents and observe its rites.

Since liturgy is an experience aimed at the conversion of life through the assimilation of the Lord's way of thinking and behaving, the Pope said, liturgical formation cannot be limited to simply offering knowledge or even to safeguarding the proper fulfilment of ritual disciplines.

Ongoing formation

In order for the liturgy to fulfil its formative and transforming function, the Holy Father said, pastors and laity need to be taught to grasp its meaning and symbolic language, including art, song and music in the service of the celebrated mystery.  

But things should not stop at that.  There is also need for the ongoing formation of clergy and laity, especially those engaged in ministries at the service of the liturgy.

14 February 2019, 13:54