What the Liturgy does…

Aidan Kavanaugh writes:

The Sunday liturgy of Christians addresses itself primarily to the object of the assembly’s ministry, the world. The Sunday liturgy is not the Church assembled to address itself. The liturgy thus does not cater to the assembly. It summons the assembly to enact itself publicly for the life of the world. Nor does this take place as a dialogue with the world, often a partner whose uninterested absence reduces the dialogue to an ecclesiastical monologue. The liturgy presumes that the world is always present in the summoned assembly, which although not of “this world” lives deep in its midst as the corporate agent, under God in Christ, of its salvation. In this view, the liturgical assembly IS the world being renovated according to the divine pleasure – not as patient being passively worked upon but as active agent faithfully cooperating in its rehabilitation. What one witnesses in the liturgy is the world being done as the world’s Creator and Redeemer will the world to be done. The liturgy does the world and does it at its very center, for it is here that the world’s malaise and its cure well up together, inextricably entwined.

My friend C. Frank Bernard responds:

The liturgy most certainly caters to the assembly. It is not merely a summons for the assembly to enact itself publicly for the life of the world. We are fed the Word and Communion as an assembled body while the world is fenced out. We are liturgically lifted up to heaven while the world is liturgically rained upon with calls to repent and imprecations. And due to the catering, we exit the gate more prepared for another week of warfare and delicious dialog.

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