The lead article in the recent issue of Worship, the magazine for the study of the liturgy and liturgical renewal published by the Benedictines of St. Johns Abbey in Minnesota, claims there’s a decline in the study and interest in liturgy in the Catholic Church in this country. The Covid epidemic has something to do with it, the writer says, but also schools, seminaries and parishes have cut courses for the study of liturgy. Liturgiolatry–liturgical law– has replaced pastoral liturgy as our guide.
Liturgy is more than laws. Liturgy and faith go together. “Lex orandi, lex credendi”. Courses in theology, scripture, spiritual books and devotions are fine but they don’t supplant the liturgy of the church as the place for encountering our faith.
The weekly readings and feasts, for example, are a wonderful opportunity to explore faith and grow in faith. The readings from the Book of Wisdom and St. Luke’s Gospel this week, for example, take us into the Old and New Testaments. The scriptures–all of them– are a catechism we’re called to know.
Then, the feasts and saints. Take this week, for example. The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome (Nov 9), the first of the great churches built after Constantine brought an end to Christian persecutions in the 4th century. Why do we have churches anyway? Is the CoVid epidemic a step towards their disappearance?
Pope Leo (Nov 10) is called great because he led a church threatened with destruction by barbarian armies in the 5th century.. Does his feast tell us God always provides the leaders we need?
Martin of Tours(Nov 11), the soldier who gave half of his cloak to a freezing beggar, later revealed to be Christ. Martin asks: what are you doing for the poor? November 11 was chosen for his feast because it was when European farmers were butchering their cattle, getting ready for the winter. Martin reminded them to put aside something for the poor. Are you doing that, Martin asks?
Josephat (Nov 12) was a bishop seeking the unity of Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. He suffered martyrdom for his efforts. Keeping our church big, not small, is a task that concerns us all. We’re challenged to work for the unity of the churches.
Mother Cabrini ( November 13) a dynamic little Italian nun, championed poor Italian immigrants who came to the United Stats expecting streets paved in gold, but found hard cold cobblestones instead. Who’s championing immigrants today?
The readings and feasts are part of our catechism. We ask them questions, and they ask questions of us and challenge us in return. The liturgy is a school that helps us grow in faith.