Liturgy is a participation in the Church’s life: past, present, and future.
We said last time that participation in the liturgy is a participation in the life of the Trinity. But we cannot participate in the Triune God without participating also in the Church. Ever since the Incarnation, God has a body. The risen and ascended body of Christ is no longer Jesus of Nazareth; it is the Church. The same Holy Spirit who gave the Son a body through Mary now joins the Church to the Son, making it his body. And anyone who is joined to the Son is also joined to the Father.
So worshiping God in the liturgy cannot bypass his body, the Church. When we come into a Catholic church, we leave our individuality at the door. Our signing in the baptismal water is a gesture of acceptance that we belong to the body. We have died to ourselves and have become one with him—in his body.
When we participate in the liturgy, we are connected to the global Church: not only in the present, but also the past and future. The mystical body of Christ transcends time and space. It includes the entire cosmos, all of God’s creation in every age. Christians live in between the “already” and the “not yet” of the Kingdom of God. This is the eternal NOW of the liturgy. Time collapses. There is no distance between 2016 and the Last Supper, nor is there any distance between 2016 and the Second Coming of Christ.
The Christian life we celebrate not only attempts to make the present world better, but is also connected to all such activity in every age and is a participation in the future kingdom of God. We experience a oneness with the saintly people of the past and feel their love and support. We experience the kingdom as more than an utopian dream; it reaches back into our present moment and offers both challenge and hope. Because of the liturgy, we find a solidarity with all God’s people that keeps us from falling into the pitfall of hopelessness as we minister in a darkened world.