Catholic Liturgy

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What is Liturgy?

Catholic leitourgia is defined as the entire public worship of the Church as it is exercised by the one priesthood of Christ offering sacrifice for the salvation of the whole world.  This priesthood refers to both the baptized priesthood of the laity, as well as the ministerial priesthood of the clergy.  Recognizing this, the four principles of Catholic liturgy are: 1. It is a public act of worship with sacrifice

2. Within the liturgy are signs that both signify and effect 3. It is a participation in the heavenly event of leitourgia 4. It belongs to the Baptized.
Therefore, as worship that includes sacrifice, the liturgy is necessarily a priestly act.  As such, it is an exercise of both the baptismal priesthood and the ministerial priesthood – it always involves “spiritual sacrifice.”  Next, within worship it necessary to have signs that signify what they effect – that is, the sanctification of man.  The liturgy always involves these sensible realities that represent and effect something else.  This means that within the context of liturgy those signs that are used must signify what they effect: i.e. the bread and wine signifying and becoming the nourishing and enriching body and blood of Christ.  There should be no superfluous signs in the liturgy (i.e. liturgical ministers dressed up as clowns).  In this way then, the participants are living sacraments in themselves because they are representing the Bride of Christ offered up to the bridegroom for the salvation of souls.  Third, it must be remembered that liturgy is something that is constantly going on in heaven.  It is something, here on earth, that is entered into.  The assembly gathered does not “start” liturgy properly speaking, rather they enter into and go forth from (exitus et reditus).  Lastly, the liturgy belongs to the baptized as they alone belong to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  It is only those who have been made priests through the waters of Baptism that are...
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