Summary: Our action in the Holy Mass is to become one with Christ, to become holy through His grace, and to preach the truth of the Gospel.

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Monday of 7th Week in Easter

Spirit of the Liturgy

At Ephesus, there were some disciples. They were probably emigres from Palestine who had settled in Asia Minor. They had received the baptism of repentance that John the Baptist had preached three decades earlier. This shows that there was a “John movement” running parallel to the “Jesus Movement” or “the Way” which we know as the Catholic Church. Baptism in the name of Jesus is not another way to baptize. It means a baptism that is the first of a series of sacraments of initiation that is the new way of life Jesus taught. It contrasts with baptism in John’s name, which is merely a decision to turn away from sin and follow the Jewish law. Jesus’s baptism culminates in the receipt of the Holy Spirit and the exercise of spiritual gifts to bring the world to faith in Christ. It is clear from Matthew’s Gospel that the form of baptism has always been in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We are disciples of Jesus Christ, spirit, soul and body. In Liturgy, we have for the past 48 years lived with the Latin term participatio actuosa. It is often translated “active participation,” but that is a misleading English phrase. It seems to imply that we have to be “doing something” in every moment of the Mass. But that is a superficial and misleading interpretation. The word “part-icipation” refers to a principal action in which everyone has a “part.” (171) To understand our “part,” we must first “determine what the central actio is in which all the members of the community are supposed to participate.”

The Holy Father, writing in The Spirit of the Liturgy, says that the central action of the Mass is the Eucharistic Prayer, called the “oration.” This means a “solemn public speech [that]. . .attains its supreme dignity through its being addressed to God in full awareness that it comes from him and is made possible by him.” But that’s only part of the meaning of “oration.” The priest, in the Eucharistic prayer, “steps back and makes way for . . .the action of God.” And, more than that, the priest actually assumes the person of Christ, is in fact caught up into Christ, and speaks the very words of Christ, the words of praise and sacrifice. He does not say “this is Christ’s Body.” He says this is MY Body. This is MY Blood. The oratio is the prayer of Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, to the Father. The priest “knows that he is not now speaking from his own resources but in virtue of the Sacrament that he has received, he has become the voice of Someone Else, who is now speaking and acting. This action of God, which takes place through human speech, is the real ‘action’ for which all of creation is in expectation. The elements of the earth are transubstantiated, pulled, so to speak, from their creaturely anchorage, grasped at the deepest ground of their being, and changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord. The New Heaven and the New Earth are anticipated.”

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