Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Impact of Liturgy Celebrated Well

A few weeks ago, I happened to be listening to a CD by Scott Hahn on Advent, which is available from Lighthouse Catholic Media. Some of you who read this blog may realize that I used to work for Scott several years ago. So you'll understand when I say that this is the first recording of his that I've listened to in a long time! In fact, I was listening, and at a certain point I got a little bored with it, and I put in on pause and went about other business. But the next day, I realized it was still on pause, and I hit play. It just happened to be at this following section. Listening to it was one of those "peeling the paint off my soul" moments. It struck me so hard that I went back to listen to it over again, and then went back again and transcribed it all.

I share it here as I continue to ponder it. He is talking about what Pope Pius XI wrote on the occasion of establishing the Feast of Christ the King.

"There is no better way to establish Christ's kingship than to institute this special feast in honor of Christ the King. For people are better instructed in the truths of faith and brought to appreciate the interior joys of religion far more effectively by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by even the weightiest pronouncements of the teaching of the Church." Catch that? We learn the truth of Christ more profoundly, more personally, in a more life-changing way through entering authentically into the liturgy and the liturgical calendar whereby we celebrate the Mass, the glorious sacrifice, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the different seasons that correspond to the redemptive work and the cycles of Christ. He says that this is more profound and lasting, the changes this brings, than if the Church made all of these weighty pronouncements. "For such pronouncements," Pius XI says, "reach only the few, and these generally the more learned. Whereas the faithful are stirred by the celebrations and feasts." Amen. Especially if they are done well. Pronouncements speak only once; celebrations, he says, speak annually and forever. Pronouncements affect the mind primarily, celebrations have a salutary, a saving, influence on the mind and the heart, on the whole man. Man, being composed of body and soul is so moved and stimulated by the external solemnities of festivals and such is the variety of beauty of the sacred rites that he drinks more deeply of divine doctrine, he assimilates it into his very system and makes it a source of strength for progress in the spiritual life.

I'd encourage you to throw yourself, body and soul, not only into the spontaneous worship that the Holy Spirit inspires but into the liturgical worship of the Church, which the Holy Spirit has also inspired. The Holy Spirit can inspire you in the moment and the Holy Spirit can inspire us through the ages, according to the natural cycles and the seasonal festivals that our fathers established. For what family grows strong that doesn't celebrate anniversaries and birthdays with a lot of vim and vigor? When we enter into the season of Advent, this is the greatest birthday celebration of all....

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