Pope: May the study of the liturgy lead to greater ecclesial unity
By Francesca Merlo
Addressing members of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Sant'Anselmo in the Vatican on Saturday, Pope Francis noted that their meeting, celebrating 60 years since the institution’s foundation, “came about as a response to the growing need of the People of God to live and participate more intensely in the liturgical life of the Church”. He noted that their institution's dedication to the study of the liturgy is well recognised and that experts that were trained in their classrooms promote the liturgical life of many dioceses in very different cultural contexts.
Pope Francis went on to note three dimensions that emerge clearly from the Council’s drive for the renewal of liturgical life. These are: active and fruitful participation in the liturgy; ecclesial communion animated by the celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacraments of the Church; and the impetus to the evangelising mission from the liturgical life that involves all the baptised.
Active participation in liturgical life
Speaking, firstly, of the formation to live and promote active participation in liturgical life, Pope Francis noted that it is an aspect that should encourage the members of the institution to “foster, as the Council wished, this fundamental dimension of Christian life”. He explained that here, the key is “to educate people to enter into the spirit of the liturgy” and that in order to do this “it is necessary to be imbued with this spirit….to feel its mystery, with an ever-new wonder”. The liturgy is not something you possess, continued the Pope, but rather, it is learned and celebrated, through active participation “to the extent that one enters into its spirit”. It is neither a question of rites, but rather the mystery of Christ, who once and for all revealed and fulfilled the sacred, the sacrifice and the priesthood: Worship in spirit and in truth. “Only in this way can participation translate into a greater sense of the Church, which makes us live evangelically in every time and in every circumstance”, said the Pope.
Growing in ecclesial communion
Speaking then of the second point, the institution's dedication to liturgical study on the part of both professors and students, “also makes you grow in ecclesial communion”, noted the Pope. He explained that giving glory to God in the liturgy finds its counterpart “in love of neighbour, in the commitment to live as brothers and sisters in everyday situations, in the community in which we find ourselves, with its merits and limitations”. It is the path to true sanctification, he added. Therefore, the formation of the People of God is a fundamental task for living a fully ecclesial liturgical life.
Each celebration ends with mission
The Pope then turned to the third and final aspect, that every liturgical celebration always ends with mission. “What we live and celebrate leads us to go out to meet others, to meet the world around us, to meet the joys and needs of so many who perhaps live without knowing the gift of God”, said the Pope. Genuine liturgical life, especially the Eucharist, always impels us to charity, “which is above all openness and attention to others”, he added, stressing that this dimension, then, “opens us to dialogue, to encounter, to the ecumenical spirit, to welcome”.
Faith in the mystery
Pope Francis then reiterated the importance of liturgical life and the study of it leading to “greater ecclesial unity”, stressing that “the liturgy must be studied while remaining faithful to this mystery”.
Bringing his discourse to a close, the Pope notes that “the challenges of our world and of the present moment are very strong” and that for this reason, “the Church needs today as always to live by the liturgy”. Finally, the Pope thanked the members of the institution for the service they render to the Church and encouraged them to “carry it forward in the joy of the Spirit”.