Sunday, November 4, 2012

Liturgy is more than mass

I remember when I was first learning about the Catholic faith it seemed there was another language I had to learn. Greek being the language of the New Testament and early Christianity, the Church continues to use lots of Greek terminology. One of the key words is Liturgy, literally the work of the people. It refers to the work of praising God.

Many cradle Catholics think only of mass but the word liturgy refers to many of our rites of worship. Mass is actually a conjunction of two liturgies: the liturgy of the word, and the liturgy of the Eucharist celebrated in succession.

There is also the Liturgy of the Hours by which we stop and pray at appointed times each day to sanctify the entire day. It is also called the Divine Office, office here is used in the Latin sense to mean duty. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours is one of the duties of clergy and religious in particular.

Among the Hours, besides the keystones of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer is what is called the Office of Readings which includes a longer scripture passage and a passage from another important Church writing.

This week we begin reading 1 Maccabees, the story of the Maccabean revolt . As the companion piece the Church assigned the following passage from Guadium et Spes. Given our present situation these words seem most apt.

"Peace is not the mere absence of war or the simple maintenance of a balance of power between forces, nor can it be imposed at the dictate of absolute power. It is called, rightly and properly, a work of justice. It is the product of order, the order implanted in human society by its divine founder, to be realized in practice as men[ hunger and thirst for ever more perfect justice. The common good of humanity finds its ultimate meaning in the eternal law."