Friday, September 16, 2011

The Catechetical Dimension of Liturgy

Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone gave this address to the 62nd Italian Liturgical Week, in behalf of the Holy Father. Here are salient points:

"The Church, especially when she celebrates the divine mysteries, recognizes and manifests herself as a reality that cannot be reduced to a solely earthly and organizational aspect. It must appear clearly in these mysteries that the beating heart of the community should be recognized beyond the narrow yet necessary limits of ritualism, because the liturgy is not what man does, but what God does with his admirable and gratuitous condescendence. This primacy of God in the liturgical action was highlighted by the Servant of God Paul VI at the closing of the second period of the Vatican Council, when he announced the proclamation of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: "In this event we observe that the correct order has been respected of the values and duties: thus we have recognized that the post of honor is reserved to God; that as first duty we are called to raise prayers to God; that the sacred Liturgy is the primary source of this divine exchange in which the life of God is communicated to us; it is the first school of our soul, it is the first gift that must be made by us to the Christian people." (Paul VI, Address for the Closing of the Second Period, December 4, 1963, AAS [1964], 34).

"In addition to expressing the absolute priority of God, the liturgy manifests its being "God with us," since "being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." (Benedict XVI, encyclical Deus Caritas Est, 1). In this connection, God is the great educator of his people, the loving, wise, tireless guide in an through the liturgy, the action of God in the today of the Church."

"From this foundational aspect, the 62nd National Liturgical Week is called to reflect on the educational dimension of the liturgical action, in as much as it is a "permanent school of formation around the Risen Lord, educational and relative place in which the faith acquires form and is transmitted" (Italian Episcopal Conference, Educare alla Vita Buona del Vangelo, n. 390). For this purpose, it is necessary to reflect ever better on the relation between catechesis and liturgy, yet rejecting all undue instrumentalization of the liturgy with "catechetical" ends. In this regard, the living Patristic tradition of the Church teaches us that the liturgical celebration itself, without losing its specificity, always has an important catechetical dimension (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 33). In fact, in as much as it is the "the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit" (ibid., 14), the liturgy can be called the permanent catechesis of the Church, the inexhaustible source of catechesis, precious catechesis in act (cf. Italian Episcopal Conference, Il Rinnovamento della catechesis, Feb. 7, 1970, 113). As an integrated experience of catechesis, celebration and life, it expresses in addition the maternal support of the Church, thus helping to develop the growth of the believer's Christian life and the maturation of his conscience.

ZENIT - Papal Message on Liturgy as Source of Catechesis

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