General Intention - Liturgy, Source of Life
That the public, prayerful celebration of faith may give life to the faithful.
In 1963 the bishops at the Second Vatican Council wrote that “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows.” They went on to say that the “Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy.” The celebration of the Eucharist is a sacred event that should never be treated casually.
More recently, at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland, Pope Benedict said that the changes in the liturgy after the Council were “intended to make it easier to enter into the inner depth of the mystery.” Their “true purpose was to lead people to a personal encounter with the Lord.” “Yet,” he lamented, “not infrequently, the revision of liturgical forms has remained at an external level, and ‘active participation’ has been confused with external activity.”
Active participation in the Eucharist involves more than singing, making the responses, following the appropriate postures, or going up for Holy Communion. Those activities involve our bodies, but if our minds and hearts are not involved, they are empty activities.
Out of this concern, Pope Benedict asks us to pray for a renewal of our faith in the Eucharist that it is “the memorial of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross” and that the elements of bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Christ given to us for our transformation. Our celebrations must be prayerful so that they don’t become “merely a matter of habit,” but instead truly give life to us and to all the faithful.
That mission churches may be signs and instruments of hope and resurrection.
In a very real way the Catholic Church in every nation is a mission church. In the words of Pope Benedict’s 2012 Message for World Mission Day, “the number of those who do not know Christ has grown.” More people than at any other time have never heard the Good News of Jesus and more people than ever who have heard about him don’t care. This is the “crisis of faith” which led Pope Benedict to call for the Year of Faith which we are now celebrating.
As part of our celebration we are praying this month in particular for the Church in places where the Gospel has been newly planted or where Christians are a minority. In many cases these are places of great injustice and poverty, conflict and genocide, where our brothers and sisters are tempted by hopelessness. In these places the Church must proclaim the Gospel not only with its words but by its witness. It must be a sign of hope for people: so that justice and reconciliation are made possible. The Church must be the instrument that empowers people to work for order and the common good that can lead to peace. When Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection, his first words were “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36 and John 20:20- 1).
On the cross Jesus took away the sins of the world and reconciled people with God and one another. Every celebration of the Eucharist makes this sacrifice present and empowers us to continue Jesus’ work of reconciliation. The Risen Lord promised: “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). His presence gives us hope and power.
In his letter announcing the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict wrote: “Through faith, we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love.” We join the Holy Father in praying that through an increase in their faith the mission churches may be ever more effective signs and instruments of hope and resurrection.