In view of the canonization of Pope Paul VI, the pope of liturgical reform, in October, Pray Tell is occasionally publishing some of his most significant statements on liturgical reform. This helps us understand the Church’s understanding of liturgy, and also reflect on how far we have to go in implementing the teaching more fully!
The liturgy has a primacy and fullness, an effectiveness of itself, that we should recognize and promote. But the liturgy, by its nature public and official in the Church, should not come to replace or impoverish personal spirituality. The liturgy is not ritual alone; it is mystery and by that fact calls for all who share in it to be consciously, fervently wrapped up in it. The liturgy demands faith, hope, charity, and so many other virtues and sentiments, acts and conditions – like humility, repentance, pardoning offenses, intention, attention, inward and vocal expression – disposing the believer for immersion into the divine reality that liturgical celebration makes present and active. Personal religion, because it is within the reach of everyone, is the indispensable condition for a genuine and aware liturgical participation. But that is not all: personal religion is also the result, the consequence of such participation, which is meant precisely to sanctify souls and to strengthen in them the sense of union with God, with Christ, with the Church, with all humanity.
(Address to a general audience at Castelgandolfo, August 13, 1969.)