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Understanding Our Catholic Faith

The Role of Community in Sacraments: The Liturgy

The Liturgy
 

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."
Matthew 18:20

The Liturgical Assembly

When a community of believers gathers, especially to celebrate the Eucharist, the group becomes a liturgical assembly. Believers are encouraged to be more than mere observers. Bishops at the Second Vatican Council sought to facilitate active participation of all the faithful in the Mass and other liturgical rites through mandated changes. Such participation, the bishops decreed, is both a right and a duty of the faithful.

Although the entire community of the baptized participates in the liturgy, individuals take on various specialized roles. Only an ordained minister, such as a bishop or a priest, can preside, but the presider may be assisted by an ordained deacon. Other roles can be assumed by people who are not ordained—ushers, altar servers, readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, cantors, and choir members.

Christ is Present

Even as they urged the laity to take an active role in the liturgy, the bishops insisted on the essentially supernatural character of the Mass. Whenever the liturgical assembly gathers for the Eucharist, Christ is present. Indeed, "it is he himself who presides invisibly over every Eucharistic celebration." (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1348.) Christ is present in the person of his minister, in the word of God, in the community of the faithful, and, above all, in the consecrated Eucharistic species, his Body and Blood.

Reflect

  • How does your experience of the Eucharist nourish your spiritual life?
  • What part of the Mass is most meaningful to you?
  • How would you describe your connection to the rest of the people when you are gathered with them for liturgy?

Prayer

God, I praise you and thank you for the gift of your presence in the liturgy. Amen.

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