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Liturgical Year
Liturgy and Worship
Allahabad St Pauls
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Fr Alberione

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Only worship can prevent secularization from becoming inhuman and only secularization can save worship from becoming  meaningless. Says R. Panikkar.  So Worship and secularization go hand in hand. The sacred is to be found in the secular. The two cannot be separated into water-tight categories. 

Through worship, we express our reverence and respect for God and acknowledge the supremacy of God.  It is an expression of our belief and an external manifestation of our internal faith-commitment. So without faith, worship has no meaning. Since our faith-commitment is made manifest through symbols our worship is expressed in symbolic actions, which transcend the concrete action. For example prostration is more than lying down. It symbolizes surrender. Our complete expression of faith-commitment in worship springs up from the fellowship with other human beings.

When we relate with God through worship we come to know that we are limited  and dependent beings.  (eg. Tiredness, sickness, death). Though we like to be independent we are always interdependent. This interdependency is symbolic of dependency on God. The more we acknowledge our limitedness and dependence, the more we grow.  Thus our worship starts with human action.

This human actions consists of signs and symbols, gestures and postures. These symbolic actions transcend the immediate action and becomes Divine Action because God himself  interacts with us.  In other words we offer our homage, praise and thanks to God for the marvelous things he did and does for us. This is an upward movement as we open up in prayer.  God interacts with us, blesses with His graces. He shows us some signs of acceptance of our worship and transforms us.  Our worship brings transformation at the level of our relationship with God and others.

Liturgy is also a symbolic action as it consists of signs, symbols, gestures and postures in which we communicate our faith in the Paschal Mystery of Christ.  So Liturgy is the celebration of Paschal mystery through sacramental sings and symbols by the Church until the Lord comes.  It answers the following questions:

What are we celebrating?

Paschal Mystery (life, death and resurrection of Jesus)

How are we celebrating?

Through sings and symbols (Sacraments)

Who is celebrating?

The Christian community (Church)

Until when do we celebrate?

Until Jesus comes again in glory.

Paschal means Passover: a transition or passage. We find it in creation. There was a transition from chaso to cosmos, from disorder to order, from darkness to light, from lifelessness to life. Because of disobedience there was a reversal. As a result there was a need for a re-creation and for a new pasch. This pasch is realized  in three stages:

-         Life and choice of Abraham who stands out as the father of faith.  By Gods intervention humanly impossible becomes possible. There is transition from incapability to capability. We find transition from helplessness to help and hopelessness to hope in the sacrifice of Issac.

-         In exodus where Israelites in Egypt were leading a miserable life.  There was a transition from inhuman to human, misery to dignity, slavery to freedom, oppression to liberation, darkness to light and death to life.

-         In Jesus by his birth, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection we find transition from sin to grace, from flesh to spirit, from law to love, from slavery to freedom, from oppression to liberation, from darkness to light and from selfishness to selfless giving.

So the paschal mystery of Christ is the mystery of Christs passion, death, and resurrection.  As Christ sacrificed himself for our sake like a Passover lamb and  `passed over from the slavery of this world into the freedom of Gods glory we too are called to do the same.

It is this core belief the paschal mysterythat we celebrate every Sunday in the Eucharist.  By celebrating it, we enter more fully into the saving death of Christ. Thus the paschal mystery becomes an event in the Church  by proclaiming the death and resurrection of Christ to the world. It gives joy and hope to humanity. We die every day by becoming more and more selfless in our interaction. We die more completely to ourselves. We become less and less, and Christ becomes more and more.  We go out into the world and live the mystery we have just celebrated. By joining to Christ in death, we learn to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the people. We become authentic witnesses to Christ by doing works of justice and living the lives of peace.



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