The most carefully crafted language in our culture tends to be poetry. And poetry at its finest moments subverts our best attempts at hiding from reality... The poetry of liturgy has just this power. The liturgy contains words that have been shaped and crafted over the centuries. It is formal speech. It is public poetry. As such it reaches into us to reveal not only the unnamed reality of our lives but the God who created us... But even when the words of the liturgy are not literally biblical words, the words, like all truthful words, work on us over time, like a steady, unrelenting stream slowly reshapes the banks of a river. The words do something to us even when we're not paying attention.
Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attraction fades quickly - it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation.
Pope Benedict XVI
The liturgy is the place where we wait for Jesus to show up. We don't have to do much. The liturgy is not an act of will. It is not a series of activities designed to attain a spiritual mental state. We do not have to apply will pressure. To be sure, like basketball or football, it is something that requires a lot of practice-its rhythms do not come naturally except to those who have been rehearsing them for years. On some Sundays the soul will indeed battle to even pay attention. In the normal course of worship, we do not have to conjure up feelings or a devotional mood; we are not required to perform the liturgy flawlessly. Such anxious effort... blind us to what is really going on. We do have to show up, and we cannot leave early. But if we will dwell there, remain in place, wait patiently, Jesus will show up.
There is however, one reason why the arts so rarely accept a mission that IS within the power of the Church to alter. In the past, the densest or richest location of baptised art has been the Liturgy. The sacred use of the arts in the liturgical setting has provided inspiration for artists engaged in producing artworks for contexts outside the Liturgy, for consumption beyond the limits of the visible Church. In the modern West, the Muses have largely fled the liturgical amphitheatre, which instead is given over to banal language, poor quality popular music, and, in new and re-designed churches, a nugatory or sometimes totally absent visual art. This deprives the wider Christian mission of the arts of essential nourishment. Where would the poetry of Paul Claudel be without the Latin Liturgy? Or John Tavener's music without the Orthodox Liturgy? Where would be the entire tradition of representational art in the West without the liturgical art of which until the seventeenth century at least remained at its heart? We need today to summon back the Muses to the sacred foyer of the Church, to be at home again at that hearth.
Aidan Nichols O.P.
When your soul is pricked by compunction and gradually changed, it becomes a fountain flowing with rivers of tears and compunction. If any one of you ever happens to communicate with tears, whether you weep before the Liturgy or in the course of the Divine Liturgy, or at the very time that you receive the Divine Gifts, and does not desire to do this for the rest of his days and nights, it will avail him nothing to have wept merely once. It is not this alone that at once purifies us and makes us worthy; it is daily compunction that does not cease until death.
Symeon the New Theologian
There's a very generous donation in the parish's future if you make this fast. Ten minutes, at the most." Frowning, the man fumbled open his liturgy. "There's an established rite, Your Grace. Marriage must be entered into with solemnity and consideration. I don't know that I can rush-" "Ten minutes. One thousand guineas." The liturgy snapped closed. "Then again, what do a few extra minutes signify to an eternal God?" He beckoned Amelia with a fluttering, papery hand. "Make haste, child. You're about to be married.
There's a very generous donation in the parish's future if you make this fast. Ten minutes, at the most." Frowning, the man fumbled open his liturgy. "There's an established rite, Your Grace. Marriage must be entered into with solemnity and consideration. I don't know that I can rush--" "Ten minutes. One thousand guineas." The liturgy snapped closed. "Then again, what do a few extra minutes signify to an eternal God?" He beckoned Amelia with a fluttering, papery hand. "Make haste, child. You're about to be married.
The intention of Paul VI with regard to what is commonly called the Mass, was to reform the Catholic liturgy in such a way that it should almost coincide with the Protestant liturgy - but what is curious is that Paul VI did that to get as close as possible to the Protestant Lord's supper... there was with Paul VI an ecumenical intention to remove, or at least to correct, or at least to relax, what was too Catholic, in the traditional sense, and, I repeat, to get the Catholic Mass closer to the Calvinist Mass.
Once more, the joyful character of the eucharistic gathering must be stressed. For the medieval emphasis on the cross, while not a wrong one, is certainly one-sided. The liturgy is, before everything else, the joyous gathering of those who are to meet the risen Lord and to enter with him into the bridal chamber. And it is this joy of expectation and this expectation of joy that are expressed in singing and ritual, in vestments and in censing, in that whole 'beauty' of the liturgy which has so often been denounced as unnecessary and even sinful. Unnecessary it is indeed, for we are beyond the categories of the 'necessary.' Beauty is never 'necessary,' 'functional' or 'useful.' And when, expecting someone whom we love, we put a beautiful tablecloth on the table and decorate it with candles and flowers, we do all this not out of necessity, but out of love. And the Church is love, expectation and joy.
Receiving the Eucharist means adoring Him whom we receive. Only in this way do we become one with Him, and are given, as it were, a foretaste of the beauty of the heavenly liturgy. The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration itself.
Pope Benedict XVI
For what concerns diversity of rites in the sacred liturgy, the Apostolic See has always made its position clear: not only it does not condemn diversity, but it eagerly and willingly grants to each nation the right to keep and preserve the legitimate customs and traditions of its forbears.
Pope Leo XIII
Leaders are for calling people to their better angels, for helping guide them to a kind of sterner, more mature sense of what we need to do. To me, Reagan's brand of leadership was what I call 'a liturgy of absolution.' He absolved Americans almost in a priestly role to contend with sin. Who wouldn't want that?
The mystery of the Holy Night, which historically happened two thousand years ago, must be lived as a spiritual event in the 'today' of the Liturgy," the Pope clarified. "The Word who found a dwelling in Mary's womb comes to knock on the heart of every person with singular intensity this Christmas.
Pope John Paul II
In relation to the earth we have been autistic for centuries. Only now have we begun to listen with some attention and with a willingness to respond to the earth's demands that we cease our industrial assault, that we abandon our inner rage against the conditions of our earthly existence, that we renew our human participation in the grand liturgy of the universe.
I believe there is no liturgy in the world, either in ancient or modern language, which breathes more of a solid, scriptural, rational piety, than the Common Prayer of the Church of England. And though the main of it was compiled considerably more than two hundred years ago, yet is the language of it, not only pure, but strong and elegant in the highest degree.
Our wise old church...has discovered that if you will act as if you believed belief will be given to you; if you pray with doubt, but pray with sincerity, your doubt will be dispelled; if you will surrender yourself to the beauty of that liturgy the power of which over the human spirit has been proved by the experience of the ages, peace will descend upon you.
W. Somerset Maugham
There were positive things about the church, that is, in the European cultural sense, the architecture, the liturgy, the music, the art, such as it was, the stations of the cross in the church, the tradition, and the atmosphere of awe and mystery in the mass. The atmosphere of miracle, one of mainly mystery, that's what fascinates me.
The nation, like the church, has its visible symbols and insignia, its parchments engrossed with the revealed word, its dogmas, hymns, liturgy, holy day celebrations, its early Fathers, prophets and martyrs, its priesthood and its lay sodality, its myths of sacred genesis and apocalyptic crises, its world-saving mission and its missionaries.