Ministry of Liturgy
Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully [or: full,] conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people” (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #14
Second Vatican Council, 1963
In the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy (CSL), the bishops gathered at the Second Vatican Council affirmed that the public worship of the Church “is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows” (CSL #10). They stressed that every member of the community has the right and responsibility—by virtue of his or her baptism—of consciously and actively participating in the liturgy (CSL #14). There are to be no spectators in the liturgical assembly; we are all called to join as the Body of Christ with Christ our Head in offering our sacrifice of praise to God the Father. In liturgy, we participate in Christ’s Paschal Mystery.
“Since Christian worship, in which the common priesthood of the Christian faithful is carried out, is a work which proceeds from faith and is based on it, sacred ministers are to take care to arouse and enlighten this faith diligently, especially through the ministry of the word, which gives birth to and nourishes the faith.” (Canon 836).
“Liturgical actions are not private actions but celebrations of the Church itself which is the sacrament of unity, that is, a holy people gathered and ordered under the bishops. Liturgical actions therefore belong to the whole body of the Church and manifest and affect it; they touch its individual members in different ways, however, according to the diversity of orders, functions, and actual participation” (Canon 837 §1).Liturgy is not celebrated in a vacuum, but by a particular people: this assembly in this place at this time. Therefore, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states: “The celebration of the liturgy… should correspond to the genius and culture of the different peoples. In order that the mystery of Christ be ‘made known to all the nations…to bring about the obedience of faith’ (Rom 6:26), it must be proclaimed, celebrated, and lived in all cultures in such a way that they themselves are not abolished by it, but redeemed and fulfilled” (#1204). At the same time, “… ‘it is clear that diversity must not damage unity. It must express only fidelity to the common faith, to the sacramental signs that the Church has received from Christ, and to hierarchical communion’” (CCC #1206). As Pope St. John Paul II noted in his Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini (On Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy): “Each community, gathering all its members for the ‘breaking of the bread,’ becomes the place where the mystery of the church is concretely made present” (#34).
The liturgy is the privileged place of encounter with the Divine. Christ is truly present, not only under the forms of bread and wine at the Eucharist, but in the word proclaimed, in the assembly gathered, and in the person of the ordained presider (CSL #7). In this divine encounter, we are transformed. Transformed, we are sent to life lives of sacrificial service, of “constant self-offering to God” (Sacramentum caritatis [SC] #72). Because of our intimate encounter with God in the Eucharist, we are able to see others—not with our own eyes and feelings—but with the eyes of Christ, who has compassion for all (SC #88).
Our communities, when they celebrate the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him to become ‘bread that is broken’ for others,
and to work for the building of a more just and fraternal world…. Each of us is truly called, together with Jesus, to be bread broken for the life of the world”
Sacramentum caritatis (On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission), #88
Pope Benedict XVI, 2007
The liturgy is the work of the whole Christ, head and body. Our high priest celebrates it unceasingly in the heavenly liturgy, with the holy Mother of God, the apostles, all the saints, and the multitude of those who have already entered the kingdom.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1187