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Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Graces From Liturgy

by Catherine Frakas 03 May 2002

Graces From Liturgy QUESTION from Phil Weis on January 7, 2003 Below is a section from SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM that I have a question on. Paragraph 11 seems to say that if liturgical rules are not followed the liturgy will not produce the full effects of graces. Am I correct in thinking that to a large or lesser extent, depending on the abuse, graces are not being applied to the body of Christ (i.e. the Church)? Does this extend to the individual believer as well? I know that Christ is truly and substantially present as long the matter and form are present. But are the graces of the Eucharist not applied fully because of abuses in the Liturgy? Any recommended readings on this subject?
Thanks, Phil
10. Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper.
The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with the paschal sacraments, to be one in holiness (26); it prays that they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith (27); the renewal in the eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way.
11. But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain (28) . Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on January 12, 2003 Dear Mr. Weis,
It appears that you have misread paragraph eleven... no statement is made such that graces are diminished when abuses occur. Rather what is said is that pastors must do more than simply follow rules, they must ensure that the people are fully aware of what they are doing, and that they are ACTIVELY engaged in the rite. Mere observation of the laws is insufficient. Holy Mass is more than a ritual; it is also serious prayer.
Illicit celebration is not mentioned at all here.
For the question of whether or not abuse diminishes grace, I do not believe this is officially addressed, but my suspicion is that it does but not always, depending, as you have stated, on what the abuse is. Liturgical documents and rubrics are always written with the presumption that they are followed.
Mr. Slavek
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