By Robin Gomes
Spreading the "liturgical formation", in order to help the People of God love the liturgy as "an experience of encounter with the Lord and with their brothers and sisters", aims at conversion that enables one to love and serve others like Christ. Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, underscores this message in a letter he sent on behalf of Pope Francis to participants in the 70th National Liturgical Week of Italy, which kicked off on Monday in Messina.
The theme of the August 26-29 event is “Liturgy: a call for all to baptismal holiness.”
In the letter addressed to Bishop Claudio Maniago Castellaneta, who is president of the Centro di Azione Liturgica (Center for Liturgical Action), which is organizing the 4-day gathering, Cardinal Parolin is particularly urging that “communities be helped to interiorize better the prayer of the Church", by rediscovering its contents and observing its rites.
According to the Vatican’s top official, a better understanding of the meaning and symbolic language of the liturgy, particularly Holy Mass, will help Catholics encounter the Lord and grow in holiness.
The liturgy will be “capable of forming and transforming those who participate in it, if pastors and laity will learn ever better to grasp its meaning and symbolic language, including art, song and music in the service of the mystery celebrated, including silence.”
Holiness and liturgy
The purpose of organizing the National Liturgical Week is to underscore the importance of deepening the liturgical renewal as desired by the Second Vatican Council.
“The theme of holiness immediately and directly invokes the liturgy,” writes the cardinal, referring to “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, the Council's constitution on the sacred liturgy. The Council Fathers "insist on the fact that the liturgy, at the moment in which it celebrates holiness, sanctifies those who participate in it" - something with which Pope Francis agrees when he says, "the liturgy is the life for the entire people of the Church".
“In the liturgy,” he says, “the inaccessible holiness of God”, in fact, becomes a tangible reality in Christ which is present in and communicated with the face of mercy, ‘agape’ and gratuitous love that the Father pours into the hearts of believers through the gift of the Spirit, making them live his own life.
Cardinal Parolin says that the Holy Father wishes that this liturgical week be able to create the awareness that the liturgy is a privileged place where the holiness of God draws us to Himself.
In the Eucharist, the Holy Spirit makes us share in the divine life that "transfigures our entire mortal being, making it capable of loving" as Christ did, offering our lives in the service of our brothers and sisters.
The liturgy is, in fact, "an experience aimed at the conversion of life through the assimilation of the Lord's way of thinking and behaving", Cardinal Parolin continues, recalling the words of Pope Francis in February to Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Pope recalled that the liturgy is not something of "do-it-yourself “, but the manifestation of the ecclesial community, where prayers and gestures resound with “we” and not “I”.