Liturgical Formation and Enrichment (LIFE) Seminar 1: Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy

LIFE (Liturgical Formation and Enrichment) Program for Altar Servers, Commentators, and Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Communion.  Venue: Nativity of Our Lady Parish, Major Dizon St., Marikina City.  Date: 10 July 2011, Sunday 8:30-11:30 a.m.

Diocese of Cubao, Commission on the Liturgy

(Transcribed and translated in situ by Quirino Sugon Jr.  The talks already started when I came.)

Speaker 1: Bro. Dave Caesar dela Cruz

Liturgical celebrations:

  • Mass
  • Sacraments
  • Liturgical Year
  • Liturgy of the Hours—Liturgy of the Word
  • Blessings and Sacramentals—pilgrimmages, rosary

All sacraments are celebrated inside the mass, except for the mass.

Why are these celebrations holy?

Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium)

This is the law of the church in order to teach us the value and effects of liturgy on our life as church. All documents of the church are given its first phrases as its title. For example, “Sacrosanctum Concilium”. December 4, 1963. Do you know what day is it? This is the first Sunday of Advent. What is the story behind this? In the old days, the priest is the main celebrant. Now, the Church saw that there should be renewal of the liturgy because the people does not anymore know Latin. That is why there was a Second Vatican Council, called by Blessed John XXIII. In the olden days, there is the Council of Trent 1500’s, a long meeting of pope and bishops. The function of the Council of Trent is to fight agains the protestants. Before the Council of Trent, each country has their own liturgy. The church has many liturgies—Ambrosian, Carmelite, Mozarabic, Slavonic. Martin Luther said there is no unity of the Church.

So in the Council of Trent they made a new mass called the Tridentine Rite. First, the language is Latin. Dominus Vobiscum. Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus. Why Latin? This is the language understood by most people. The priest is our path to our sanctification. Only the priest.

In 1963, there is a slight change. From 1500s to 1963, they discovered old documents on how they celebrated the liturgy. Before they have not yet found some parts of the Bible and writings of the Church Fathers. Council of Trent allows mass to be said in vernacular, which is the language of the people. We are still allowed to use Latin. In Rome, the pope says mass in Latin. One of the poorest people that can understand Latin are Filipinos. Why can’t Filipinos understand Latin. In Claret, the motto is sensa maxime cum virtute. Knowledge is great with virtue. Great not best. We do not know Latin. This is the poverty of the Philippines. Do you believe that the Sacramentary, Gospel book, Lectionary are originally in Latin. Look at the Sacramentary at the back, you will see Latin.

There was renewal of rites. The priest was facing the… There should always be a cross and an altar. There was a change in the understanding of the liturgy. In 1500s, the liturgy is all the rites inside the liturgy. But in Vatican II, liturgy is deepened. In Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC)….

SC 2. For the liturgy, “through which the work of our redemption is accomplished,” [1] most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek [2]. While the liturgy daily builds up those who are within into a holy temple of the Lord, into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit [3], to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ [4], at the same time it marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations [5] under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together [6], until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd [7].

What is the liturgy? In the Liturgy, especially through the Holy Eucharist, the work of our redemption is accomplished. Opus nostrae redemptionis exercetur. Salvation is made present today. 2000 years ago, Jesus saved us through his death on the cross. We are already saved. But because of his great love for us, our salvation is being continued day by day whenever we celebrate the Holy Eucharist. You can see once again the salvation of Christ. Which is greater, the salvation before by Christ or the salvation wrought by the Liturgy. How Christ saved us before is the same as he saved us now. How does Christ save us? In 33 AD, Christ saved us through his death on the cross. Now, Jesus saves us in a form of meal and celebration. It is not anymore needed that our salvation be bloody. In each of our actions in the liturgy, Jesus is there saving us. So when you serve, do not play with what you have. For example, how can an ordinary clasping of the hands, Jesus is already saving us. Yesterday, a priest is saying mass, the sacristan and the priest are talking, the sacristans are walking back and forth. Were they saved by Christ through the liturgy? Before Christ went to heaven, Christ already left us the means of salvation. “This is the cup of my Blood, the Blood of Everlasting Covenant, so that sins may be forgiven.” It is true that Christ saved all of us, but not all availed of the salvation. Even just holding the bell, we are being saved? Do good works. Do good charity. But in the liturgy, salvation is made present today. Christ does not have to die again. You who are the sacristans became the means how Christ saved other people. In each of your bell, your incense, your soutana. There are many priests who wear soutana, where the priest wears printed under shirt. Why are they wearing maong and rubber shoes, but the priest does not wear proper clothing. Liturgy is salvation made present.

SC 7. To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross” [20], but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes [21]. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20) . Christ indeed always associates the Church with Himself in this great work wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is His beloved Bride who calls to her Lord, and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father. Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members. From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which .s the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.

Christ must be present in the liturgy. The four presence of Jesus in the Liturgy:

  • Presider—Priest. Later when you see the priest, there is an assurance that there is Christ.
  • Word of God, especially in the Gospel. That is why we stand during the Gospel and the Gospel is being incensed.
  • Bread and Wine changed to Body and Blood of Christ. There is Christ 100%
  • Assembly—were two or three are gathered, there I am in the midst of them

Jesus gave us salvation. Liturgy is salvation made present today. If these four are present, it is the mark that salvation is made present today. The mass is the highest form of prayer. Why? It can only highest, if the person praying is Christ, our High Priest. Jesus Christ alone can perfect our prayer. It is the highest prayer because it is Christ who makes the prayer together with us. In the liturgy, we are like a body. Christ is the head, we are the body. That is why when the priest prays, he extends his hands, in orantes position, because he shows to the people that the priest offers to God the worship. The liturgy is our worship to the Father. That is why we glorify God through the Liturgy. In all the Sacraments we address to God the Father, except in one opening prayer of the Corpus Christi. In the Liturgy, the worship to the Father happens in this way. The Church prays with Jesus. Jesus offers worship to God the Father. How does our prayer goes up to God or heard by God? There is only one reason, through the Holy Spirit. “Through Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit” In actuality, the Person calling you to be an altar server is the Holy Spirit. Within the Church, the cycle which operates is the Holy Spirit. The action of the Holy Spirit in this cycle is Paraclesis.

The Holy Spirit has a way for us to worship God: Anamnesis. Amnesia is forgetting. Anamnesis is remembering. We remember all the good things done by God in our lives. Notice that all the opening prayers in our prayer: “Father calling to mind the death and resurrection of your Son. That is we offer to you the bread and…” We remember all the good things done by God, . In the blessing of baptismal water during Easter, “Lord when you created water, you destroyed the world thorugh water, you remember Moses through water, Jesus was also baptized, in the crucifixion, water came out. Lord send your Holy Spirit so that this water may be holy as has been done before.”

Epiclesis. The Holy Spirit comes down to give us the gifts that we ask, the graces. Lord you are the fountain of all holiness, so through your Spirit may this become the Body and Blood of Christ. There is only one grace given to us by God and this is the grace of holinesss. So if you serve in the mass. That is why it is sad to see altar servers that do not change their lives. After serving, do we become holy. Yesterday, the priest was angry, but for those who were sown the seeds of the Word of God, were their lives changed. Altar servers, during and after our worship, do we become holy. Dress is not the path to sanctity, for sanctity is in our actions.

What do you call the push of the Holy Spirit? Anaclesis. This is the courage given by the Holy Spirit for us to serve.

Lord, we ask this through Christ our Lord in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Notice the format in the liturgy. Check the opening prayer. The format of liturgical prayer:

  • Address to the Father
  • Anamnesis. We remember God’s goodness.
  • Intentio—Requests to God
  • Ut” clause—purpose or Koinomia—should be helpful for other people
  • Concluding prayer– We ask this through Christ our Lord in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

SC 10. 10. Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper.

The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with “the paschal sacraments,” to be “one in holiness” [26]; it prays that “they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith” [27]; the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way.

Liturgy is the source and summit of the Church and Christian life. Liturgy is the life of the Church. Have you seen a church or chapel that has no mass? In all chapels and churches there is the mass. The Church or chapel was built not to become a social hall or meeting place. Life of the altar servers, lectors, commentators, priests—all their life is Liturgy not social service. Look at the life of the priests and sisters, they will pray the liturgy of the hours and the mass. When you go to the Liturgical year, the Sunday is the start of the week and the Sabbath of the Christians. Liturgy is the life of the Church, “culmen et fons”, source and summit of Christian life.

SC 8. In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle [22]; we sing a hymn to the Lord’s glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory [23].

SC 8 says foretast of the heavenly liturgy. Who wants to go to heaven? Who wants to go now? If you want to go to heaven, liturgy is our way. But if you want to taste heaven, in liturgy is the answer. But sometimes, in the liturgy there is hell. As one sacristan said, Liturgy is hell—meetings, service. Etc. Whenver we celbrate the liturgy, the heaven and earth meet. “And so with all the choirs of angels in heaven singing … heaven and earth are full of your glory…” Heaven and earth meet because Jesus Christ is present. “Make us worthy to share eternal life with Mary, and all the saints,…” Who can go inside the heaven, Only those who go to heaven are those who are holy. In receiving Christ we become holy, so that we can go to heaven. But how many lay liturgical ministers that became holy through the liturgy? How many people know that liturgy is the source of life? Jesus said: “What you loose on earth shall be loosed on heaven. What you bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven.”

But how can we know the ways that we receive the gifts of the Liturgy. This we shall learn from SC 14 and SC 21.

Speaker 2: Carlos Babiano

SC 14. 14. “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.

Yet it would be futile to entertain any hopes of realizing this unless the pastors themselves, in the first place, become thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy, and undertake to give instruction about it. A prime need, therefore, is that attention be directed, first of all, to the liturgical instruction of the clergy. Wherefore the sacred Council has decided to enact as follows:

Full conscious and active participation (1 Pet 2:9). A chosen race. Silence is a form of active participation. We listen to the word of God. Our eyes are focused on the ambo. And we are looking at the altar, escpecially during the elevation of the Body and Blood of Christ. Every part of the liturgy, we put our hearts and minds and all our senses to what is happening. And God speaks in silence. That is why we keep quiet during homily and after communion. Silence is a form of participation.

If you go to war, you must know how to shoot. Formations like this is our manual. Manuals make us full, conscious, active participation. (1 Peter 2:4-5) We are a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart.” So when we go to mass, we are a nation chosen by Christ, and we are part of the work of Christ. Not only the head, but also his body the Church.

By reason of their Baptism. As we go on with our study. What are the three missions of Jesus Christ: priestly, kingly, prophetic. A king serves the people. Prophetic proclaimes the Word of God. Priest offer prayers. All of who are baptized are priests with Christ. We have the power to pray—that itself is our priestly duty. This is different from the ordained ministry who presides over the celebration of the Eucharist. Before it is just the priest, now the laity can actively participate in the Holy Eucharist. It is not just the priest’s job, but the duty of every baptized person.

Instruction. Because formation is important, the reason why things are being done the way they are done. In order for them to know what is happening, we need catechesis. The very celebration itself is a good explanation, if the celebration is in conformity with the wishes of the Church. In Latin, we say “Lex orandi, lex credendi”. Why do we genuflect in front of the tabernacle? This is because we want to recognize the Real Presence of Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. When we pray the Creed, we bow down during the incarnation. This is my Body. This is my Blood. The very words of Christ becomes the very words of the priest. So the priest cannot say, “this becomes the Body or this symbolizes my Body.” And this where the transubstation happens.

What you pray is how you believe. And not only this: “Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.” Our active participation in the Liturgy should bear fruit in the works. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. The Liturgy is the means for us to share in the life of God. This is the life of love. I wish to be good, but I can’t. If the Holy Spirit pushes us to serve, the Holy Spirit also pushes us to bear fruit. This is the Parable of the Sower. But there is a seed that grew in the good soil. Make our souls a good ground that God’s love is planted in our heart that the love of Christ is shared to all people. In our sharing of the Body and Blood of Christ be brought together in unity of the Holy Spirit. ….Let us be filled with every grace and blessing. Not only in the pockets, in the earthly, but in goodness. We have sick persons at home, we may be irritated, but God pushes us to do good. Not only in our understanding of the words and actions in the mass, but in the way we live.

SC 21. In order that the Christian people may more certainly derive an abundance of graces from the sacred liturgy, holy Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself. For the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These not only may but ought to be changed with the passage of time if they have suffered from the intrusion of anything out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy or have become unsuited to it.

In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community.

Wherefore the sacred Council establishes the following general norms:

There are two points worth noting here: (1) elements that are divinely instituted and (2) elements that are subject to change. There two kinds of tradition: Tradition and tradition. Tradition with capital T are the commands of Christ: Do this in remembrance of me. In Holy Thursday, the divine institution of the Eucharist is the commandment of Christ. The same words that Jesus made in the Last Supper and further actualized in the cross. In Holy Thursday, St. Paul said: “I received from the Lord, … This is my Body…This is my Blood”is is t….[computer glitch prevented transcription]

Noble simplicity of the Roman Rite.

In this restoration both text and rites are brought forth so they express the holy things that they signify. Lex Orandi, lex credendi. The proclamation of our Faith.

The Christian people should be made able to understand. Full, conscious, active participation. Why do we repeat these? Because the Church wants to value the importance of the Liturgy. Why do we go to mass? So that we can be saved. So to end. This is just a reminder for each of us. We part of the mission of salvation of Christ. Our fun and learning never ends—Barney. Despite our age groups, never too late because in our pursuit of service, we are challenged to become formator, not just written in the paper, but in the way we serve and live our life in our minds, heart, and spirit, in the open arms of Christ on the cross, offering up himself, for His Church, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Speaker 3: Dave Caesar dela Cruz

Full conscious active participation. There is a difference between conscious active participation from active participation. What we do in the mass is without value if we do not know what we do in the liturgy. And you ask, why are you doing these?

 SC 21. In this restoration, so that they may express more clearly the holy things which they signify. Why do you do incense. Why do you raise the Gospel book? Study. LIFE is just a way for us, to have conscious participation in our level. The Christian people should be able to understand them. You may have knowledge but no wisdom and virtue. May this first part of the liturgy, we must study and know so that it would bear fruit. As you go out of the parish, you do not just serve, but you serve with knowledge, because this will help me in my life as lay liturgical ministry. Mass is not just an obligation, but the mass makes me holy, and I do this through full and active participation, but also conscious participation.

Assignment. This is only 3 Sundays every month. Baptism is the very reason for full, conscious, and active participation.

  • In a one whole bondpaper, what is the feeling of celebrating the mass after this discussion?

Next professor next Sunday, Sir Julius Policarpio. Our topic is Sacramental Theology. What is a Sacrament? Why is there a Sacrament? Who instituted the Sacrament?  

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About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

4 Responses to Liturgical Formation and Enrichment (LIFE) Seminar 1: Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy

  1. Angelo Perez says:

    Hi Sir!

    I would hope that you would transcribe future LIFE sessions. Great insights po! Very valuable especially those who cannot make it to the Sunday sessions.

    May God bless you and your work!

  2. Nenita D. Pizon says:

    Do you have formation sessions for the high school altar servers?if there is,can you post some of the topics?Thanks.

  3. Nenita D. Pizon says:

    good topics for the formation of lay.

  4. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Hi Nenita,

    I’ll ask my friend who used to organize these things.

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