What is Liturgy? Liturgy is a form or rite or a body of rites, according to which public worship is conducted. A Catholic Liturgy is essentially an action of Christ, performed by one of the ordained ministers: Deacon, Priest, Bishop, Cardinal or Pope. In so far as it is the action of Christ, the head of the Mystical Body, Liturgy involves participation of the community of Christ’s faithful. In other words, it is the whole community united with its head, Jesus Christ, that celebrates the Liturgy (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1136 & 1140).
The Risen Lord, Jesus Christ is the one who presides over the celebration. However, he makes use of his ministers to re-present here and now his redeeming sacrifice and in the life-giving effects of the Eucharist. The word Catholic signifies the universal nature of the Community. Hence, every Catholic Liturgy, even though it is celebrated by a particular community in a particular location, it is the celebration of the universal community of Christ’s faithful.
The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, in the Vatican Council II explains this truth in the following manner: “… The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated as a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, in order that … they may offer spiritual sacrifices… each of them in its own way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ… the faithful, in virtue of their royal priesthood, join in the offering of the Eucharist…” (No.10).
Even though, we say that the whole assembly of God’s people participate in the Liturgical celebration, each of the members of the assembly fulfills his/her participation in different ways: Some are called to a special service by the Sacrament of Holy Ordination, others are called to be Ushers or Lectors or Extraordinary Communion Distributors or Altar Servers or Cantors etc. In so far as the Catholic Liturgy is a celebration with the participation of every member of the Assembly, everyone of the members is expected to involve actively in the celebration.
With the Palm Sunday, we enter the Holy Week. Let us remember that during the Holy Week we celebrate the most important mystery of the Passion, Death and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hence, let us come and participate actively and meaningfully in the celebrations.
God bless you Fr. Arul Joseph V.