Most of us think of liturgy as something that happens inside the Church building. Here’s a short quiz. Don’t worry because we will tell you the answers. It’s easier than making rock sculptures at the beach and there are no smashed thumbs. (Really.)
Question 1: Liturgy is the “work of the people.”
- Maybe both
- Don’t know
Generally, we look at the Greek word “leitourgia” which referred to a public event or ceremony put on by the local population. People would worship various gods, offer sacrifices, or worship the emperor with parades, games, and feasting. ACTUALLY, our worship happens to us as Christians when we allow ourselves to get caught up in the life of the Trinity.
Question 2: The liturgy is the Mass.
- I wonder
- I think that there is something else
Well… Liturgy usually refers to the official worship of the Church. This includes the Mass and the Sacraments, as well as the Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the breviary or the office.
Question 3: Everything else is private prayer and is not “officially” Liturgy.
- Used to be true
- The times they are a’changing
This diagram shows how we generally think of the liturgy and other prayers or ways that we connect with God.
Taking a closer look at Vatican II’s teaching on the liturgy in Sacrosanctum Concilium, we find a broader understanding of Liturgy as something more than the Mass and the Sacraments. Liturgy is more than focusing on all of the little red marking in the margins of the book that tell you how to perform the ceremony. Liturgy is the encounter with God who is the source and summit of our life. This obviously happens in the Mass and the Sacraments. But we also encounter God in our lives and the prayers and devotions we say in church, at home, or in public – like saying the rosary, lighting a candle, or saying grace before meals. We also encounter God in nature and exploring the stars. Since our life in the Trinity is one continuous whole we experience a liturgy of life.
- All of the time.
- Some of the time.
- Not if I am clueless.
- Only if I let it.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)