Vatican Council II restored the Eucharist to the center of the church’s life. The first document promulgated by the Council was the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy on December 4, 1963:
“For the liturgy … is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church…While the liturgy daily builds up those who are within into a holy temple of the Lord, into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ, at the same time it marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations, under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together, until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd.” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #2)
The liturgy is the source and summit of our faith (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #10). We become the Body of Christ by participating in the Eucharistic banquet. When we celebrate Eucharist we celebrate the Paschal Mystery: the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.
The faithful “should take part in the sacred action, actively, fully aware, and devoutly. They should be formed by God’s word, and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s Body. They should give thanks to God. Offering the immaculate victim, not only through the hands of the priest but also together with him, they should learn to offer themselves.” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #48)
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians 3:27-28: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” We are called to grow in enthusiasm, deepen our faith, and pursue holiness throughout our life. The celebrations during the liturgical year are meant to form us and transform us into the Body of Christ. We are meant to go forth into the world to spread this most amazing and awesome good news.
To learn more about the Mass, see Bishop Lynch’s Pastoral Letter on the Eucharist “Living Eucharist: Gathered, Nourished, Sent”.
To purchase books and bulletin inserts on the Mass in English and Spanish, order them from the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions.
For more information about the Mass, go to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website and the Diocese of St. Petersburg’s Office of Worship website.