My Dear Ones,
May the Grace of Our Lord remain always with us!
Today’s celebration of the birth of Saint John the Baptist places before us many wonderful images: God’s faithfulness (remember, Zachariah and Elizabeth were old and considered barren); the life of a prophet – to prepare the way for the Lord; and, Zachariah’s proclamation that the dawn from on high will shine upon us and in His Dawn we are set free. These great images give us pause to recall all what God does in our lives and how blest we are to be His Children. We especially celebrate these gifts in the Sacred Liturgy.
As I have often talked about with you, our Parish Life has three main pillars: worship, learning and service. It’s hard to believe, but almost 2 years ago (February 2011) I wrote to you about developing a culture of worship, learning and service. Beginning today, I would like to revisit these three key areas and see how we may be able to continue to develop these important cultures.
Let’s review the definition of culture we discussed before: culture helps to form us in ways of understanding, living and growing. Culture assists the human person in always developing into the fullness of our human potential.2 For the Christian, and especially for a Dominican, life is about developing our potential into actuality. As we recently read in the bulletin, “Christ says to us, ‘In taking up your nature I am made like unto you; I do not cease to labor to make you like Myself.’ Where is, then, this accomplished divine labor of assimilation? Most prominently in the celebration of the liturgy, of which the sacrifice of the Mass is the center.”3 The importance of the Liturgy and the entire culture that surrounds the manner in which we pray can never be underestimated.
The worship of the Triune God is the center of our life at Saint Catherine’s. As we are taught through the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, the Liturgy, and especially the Mass is the source and summit of the Christian life; all things flow from the Liturgy and all things lead to it.4 How does Saint Catherine’s embrace the Liturgy, and especially the sacrifice of the Mass as the source and summit of all we do and are? I would like to offer the following points for your prayerful consideration:
- “Christ communicated to us His whole Person in the Liturgical celebration of His Mysteries and in the celebration of His saints, who prolong Him across the ages.”5 The desire of our members to know, love and serve Christ become more and more apparent each day. This is evidenced by the way our parishioners engage in the corporal works of mercy in the hospitals and in the many ways people assist and care for others. The effects of the Liturgy are prolonged in the way our Parishioners thirst to know God through Bible Study, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and attendance at the many fora that are offered through the Siena Forum for Faith and Culture. And, the effects of the Liturgy are prolonged through our consistent effort to care for our Parish through our consistent giving of time, talent and treasure.
- “The mysteries of Christ in the Liturgy are reproduced not only that we may render God homage of worship and gratitude, but that the grace of the renewed Mystery make came to us. As Saint Augustine says, ‘That which we know has been accomplished in a Divine Reality is the very same thing which the Liturgy renews in souls.’”6God’s mercy and His Grace are renewing us! This is evident in our growing numbers, and the way new members are drawn to Saint Catherine’s by the way we celebrate the Liturgy. Our renewal is evident in the ways our hearts are being changed, and changed to wrestle with the difficult questions of our time. Our renewal is evident in the many ways we acknowledge that we are dependent upon God for what we need. God’s mercy and His Grace are renewing us as we grow in our appreciation of and love for the Eucharist, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in our midst.In what ways can we deepen the culture of worship? Recalling the definition of culture once again we read, Culture assists the human person in always developing into the fullness of our human potential. I offer the following as ways in which a greater culture of worship can help all of us develop into the fullness of our human potential:
- As much as we have grown, has our potential developed to the point that when planning our weekend we put God first? Very simply, in planning the day (either Saturday or Sunday evening or Sunday morning), do we always include attending Mass? Our faithful and regular attendance at the Sacred Liturgy is much more about what God knows we need, rather than the necessary fulfillment of the Third Commandment. God knows what we need, and we need to hear His Word; be fed by His Body and His Blood; and, be strengthened by the witness of others who believe what we believe. When we simply forget or deliberately plan to keep God out of the weekend we are thwarting the development of our human potential. Sunday is for God.
- Has our attitude about a culture of worship changed the way we approach Mass? Simply put, is Sunday Worship simply one more thing to check off the “to – do – list” or is it really the source and summit of our living? This is a great challenge for all of us today – myself included. We live in a time where everything is so rushed; when we are pulled in so many ways that to see the necessity of Sunday Worship as the source and summit of our week is a cultural shift that will not happen over night, but one in for which God constantly gives His Grace. To achieve this change, I pledge to you that the Friars of the Parish will do their utmost to offer prayerful, thoughtful celebrations with preaching that reaches the core of our being.
Take time this week to pray about the ways in which you understand, live and grow within the “culture of worship”.
O Mary, conceived with out sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!
In the Lord,