THE IMPORTANCE OF LITURGICAL FORMATION

 

 

 

prayer-incense-iconThe well known explanation of liturgy as “the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed and the fount from which all her power flows” (SC 10) announces the centrality and the vitality of liturgy in the Christian life. Having finished about fifty years of the Second Vatican Council, it is a disappointing experience that the Church is not yet come to the realization of the above mentioned statement. It is an undeniable fact that the importance and the significance of the liturgy is being sidelined or even ignored in the contemporary ecclesial milieu. It is mainly due to the lack of seriousness paid to the liturgical formation or catechesis in the parishes and in the formation centres.

The new generation trends getting emerged in the society find its safe place even in the ecclesial spheres. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI warns us: “Confronted with the fact that many people are deaf to divine matters, it is just as unthinkable for us to hide from the momentous questions of faith and escape into an anthropology or to try to justify the existence of the Church on the grounds of her social usefulness; as important as her social action is, it dies if the centre of the Church, the mystery, vanishes.”(Pope Benedict XVI, A New Song for the Lord).What is the importance of liturgy? YOUCAT reminds us its importance. “Just as man breathes air in order to stay alive, so too the Church lives and breathes by celebrating the liturgy. God himself is the one who breathes new life into her day by day and enriches her with gifts through his Word and his Sacraments. We can use another image, too: every Liturgy is like a rendezvous of love that God writes on our calendar. Anyone who has already experienced God’s love is glad to go to church. Someone who from time to time feels nothing and goes nevertheless shows God his faithfulness.” (No. 166)

 The dangerous emergence of the new sects compels the leaders of the Church to be more cautious and conscious with regard to the biblical interpretation. The Church proposes numerous hermeneutical principles not to violate the boarder lines. If it is so in the biblical realm why don’t we think of the hermeneutical principles for the liturgy, that is, an attempt to explain and elaborate the liturgical truths? There is a tendency today among the pastors of the Church that ‘anything can be’ in the liturgy. No one is interested in following the directives and instructions given from the part of the Church authority. Each one is doing according to their own whims and fancies. This has to be stopped in the Church. This situation invites us to have a proper and deep liturgical formation among the clergy and faithful. There should be awareness that in the liturgy we are handling the mysteries of our Lord just as we handle the word of our Lord in the Bible. So the same seriousness and discipline is needed in the liturgical matters as we have with regard to the Bible. Bible is studied extensively; in the same way the liturgy must be “exegeted”. So there comes an urgency and necessity of liturgical formation in the Church. This, as we know, was the main thrust of the Fathers of the Church. The theological methodology of the Fathers was basically mystagogical. What is needed today is to reinstate the liturgy as “the true font of spirituality”. The directives for the formation of the future pastors are worth mentioning here. “They(future pastors) are to be perfectly formed toward a precise, in depth and well- founded knowledge of the holy liturgy in its theological, spiritual and ceremonial aspects” (Roman Documents on the Syro Malabar Liturgy). There intrudes a certain type of allergy towards the liturgical matters today. How it will become enthusiastic? This is a relevant question. Pope Emeritus answers this in the YOUCAT as follows. “ A Liturgy is not an event that depends on good ideas and great songs. No one makes or invents a liturgy. It is something living that grew over millennia of faith. A Mass is a holy, venerable action. Liturgy becomes exciting when one senses that God himself is present under its sacred signs and its precious, often ancient prayers.” (No. 167)  Here we find the need of the understanding of the liturgical prayers and liturgical traditions that is nothing but the liturgical catechism. Let us not forget the inspiring words of St.Benedict of Nurcia: “Nothing may have priority over the liturgy”.

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