Liturgy is a Participation in the Church’s Life!
Continuing on with our discussion about “liturgical participation,” this is not only participation in God’s life, but also participation in the Church. To experience Christ, to be in union with him, is also to be in union with his body. His body is no longer present in Jesus of Nazareth; since the Ascension, it is present in the Church.
There is a sense that in the liturgy we are connected to both past and future such that 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 a 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 a pitfall of hopelessness as we minister in a darkened world.
Taking its cue from the biblical account of creation, the Church sees the world in a positive light. All reality is graced, and even sin cannot alienate the world from God’s love. Liturgy, then, is not a window through which the grace of heaven enters temporarily into a secular world. Rather, it celebrates the grace of God active, always and everywhere, in the world. The liturgy is optimistic about the world because of divine grace, yet it is realistic about human sin. It celebrates the end times even in the present moment, yet it prays constantly for the strength to combat sin and live the kingdom life now. It celebrates the divine-human relationship in Christ and his body, yet it recognizes that the union is not yet complete.
~ Fr. Frank Coady