Laypeople Need Liturgical Formation Too, Says Pope

In a Letter to Congregation for Divine Worship

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2005 ( John Paul II sent a message from his hospital room emphasizing that liturgical formation is not only a necessity for the clergy and religious, but also for the laity.

Recovering from last week’s tracheotomy and unable to attend the assembly of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, the Pope addressed a message to the participants dated today.

The assembly is focusing on issues that are of special concern to the Holy Father in this Year of the Eucharist: liturgical formation, the art of celebrating the Eucharist, and the preaching of homilies.

Regarding liturgical formation, the Pope said that not only is it «fundamental» for «the preparation of future presbyters, deacons, instituted ministers and religious,» but it forms part of the «permanent dimension of the catechesis for all the faithful.»

«It is urgent that in parish communities, associations and ecclesial movements adequate formative endeavors be ensured so that the liturgy will be better known in the richness of its language, and be lived in fullness,» he said.

«In the measure that this is done, there will be beneficial repercussions» for individuals and communities, the papal message states.

«The Second Vatican Council’s liturgical reform has produced important fruits, but there must be a move from renewal to deeper reflection, so that the liturgy might characterize increasingly the life of persons and communities, transforming them into sources of holiness, communion and missionary drive,» the Holy Father wrote.

John Paul II also analyzed the two other points of the plenary assembly, which is being presided over by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Vatican congregation.

To understand the «art of celebrating,» the Pope reminded the assembly that «in the Eucharistic celebration, living representation of the paschal mystery, Christ is present and his action is participated and shared in ways appropriate to our humanity, in need of words, signs and rites.»

Because of this, «the art of celebrating expresses the capacity of ordained ministers and of the whole assembly, gathered for the celebration, to act and live the meaning of each one of the liturgical acts,» allowing themselves to be «profoundly penetrated by the Mystery.»

Regarding the preaching of homilies, the Pope said that it «must favor the encounter, the most profound and fruitful possible, between God who speaks and the community that listens.»

Noting that it is important that the homily «not be lacking in the Sunday Eucharist,» the Holy Father concluded by assuring that «in the context of the new evangelization, the homily is a precious and for many only opportunity for formation.»

The assembly, whose participants included 32 cardinals, ends Friday.

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