Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Thoughts - Liturgy, the Nucleus of the Parish

Yes, I like adjectival clauses in my titles. Anyway, down to business. This is a short reflection on the 'ideal parish.'

The nucleus of the parish should and need be the liturgy.  The Second Vatican Council calls it the "source and summit" of our faith.  It is from which we gain strength as Christians, and it directs us towards our final goal, heaven.  For most of the parish, this will be the main communal interaction of the parishioners, every Sunday.  It, then, becomes not only the source and summit but also the main tool of the New Evangelization to a people inundated with the secular, devoid of God, devoid of morality, devoid of a sense of truth, goodness, oneness, and beauty.  The liturgy provides an experience of these four transcendentals.  Hence, it should not mitigate them for "pastoral" reasons but rather let them shine forth.  The liturgy shines forth the truth of salvation history in the Liturgy of the Word, showing to all who listen that God has worked to interact with and meet man and show that he was not only created in love, but is keep in being by Love.  The homily because a central aspect in revealing this truth.  The liturgy of the Eucharist allows the drama of the salvific sacrifice of Christ to show the truth that we are offered salvation and it is through this very sacrifice that we enter into it.  Truth is so relativized in our society that stability of the same ritual every Sunday allows the truth the Church carries with Her to manifest itself.  God is unchanging and the universality of the liturgy allows man to see this in the acts of His Church. Entering into Calvary and receiving the fruit of the tree of life, allows us to see what is good and what is evil.  Our consciences are formed by the unchanging truth manifested in the liturgy, which increases our desire to pursue what is truly good, the Almighty.  Nothing brings a community together better than taking part in communion with the One God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, through the reception of the body, blood, soul, and divinity, of Jesus Christ.  Communally being directed toward the worship of God in music, interior prayer, and sacrifice manifests the Body of Christ, which unites all of the members of the Church. The flow of the liturgy, its setting, its music, its vestments give witness to symmetry, which witnesses to what is beautiful.  Beauty, I am convicted, is a great evangelizer.  It arrests the heart and allows the mind to temporarily separate itself from the lies it has attached itself to and experience something truly heavenly.   The architecture of the church should have direct the people in their worship.  Over the two millennia of the Church the cruciform, cathedral design seems to best direct the mind and the heart.  Filled with stained glass, art that is both realistic in portrayal but pious in its direction, and an altar fitting for the sacrifice that occurs on its pillars.  The sound system to should be unobtrusive and well mixed using the proper techniques in acoustics to not prevent dead spots or unnatural decay in the sound.

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