The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament were but an introduction to the work of Christ in redeeming humanity, giving perfect glory to God. Christ accomplished this work by the Paschal mystery by his Passion, Resurrection from the dead and glorious Ascension. For this reason, the Church celebrates in the liturgy above all the Paschal mystery by which Christ accomplished the work of our salvation. Through the liturgy, men and women are able to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church.
People may ask ‘what liturgy means?’ Originally, liturgy meant a “public work” or a “service in the name of/or on behalf of the people.” In Christian tradition, it means the participation of God’s people in “the work of God.” Through the Liturgy, Christ continues the work of our redemption in, with and through his Church.
In our world today, “liturgy” refers not only to the celebration of divine worship but also to the proclamation of the Gospel and to active charity. It is the service of God and neighbour. It is an action of Christ and of his Church. In the liturgy the Church is the visible sign of our communion in Christ between God and people, where the “conscious, active and fruitful participation” of everyone is needed.
Our catechism states that liturgy is also the proclamation of the Gospel and to active charity. The liturgy of the Word must be carefully prepared and every effort be made to ensure that the liturgical proclamation of the Word of God is entrusted to well-prepared readers. We also must remember that “when the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his own Word, proclaims the Gospel.” The Word which we proclaim and accept is the Word made flesh. Christ does not speak in the past, but in the present, even as he is present in the liturgical action.
The liturgy is a participation in Christ’s own prayer addressed to the Father in the Holy Spirit. Through the liturgy the inner person is rooted and grounded in “the great love with which the Father loved us” in his beloved Son. It is the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; and it is the fount from which all her power flows. It is therefore the privileged place for catechising the People of God.
Liturgical catechesis aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ. Catechesis also aims with the help of God, to develop an initial faith and to advance in fullness and to nourish day by day the Christian life of the faithful, both young and old. It is giving growth to the seed of faith sown by the Holy Spirit with the initial proclamation and effectively transmitted by Baptism.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paulines Publications Africa, 11th reprint 2012.
CATECHESIS TODAY, Paulines Publications Africa, 5th reprint, 2012.
THE SACRAMENT OF CHARITY, Paulines Publications Africa, 2007.