We are here on earth not to guard a museum but to cultivate a garden flourishing with life and promised to a glorious future, John XXIII exhorted the Church at the dawn of the Second Vatican Council. In an age when some skeptics suggest that the reformed liturgy has lost the wonder and spiritual depth of previous ages, Standing Together in the Community of God affirms that we need not look back; the Sacred Mysteries are already in our midst. Their wellspring and summit is the heart of God, shared in the Trinity’s own communion, announced now as pure Gift.
Praising God for God’s saving acts in Jesus, as Vatican II reminded us, we encounter Christ’s sacramental presence in four modes: in the person of the priest who gathers the community into communion, in the elements and actions of the sacraments, in the word proclaimed and preached, and in the assembly praying and singing (SC #7). In rhythm and harmony, these modes invite us to encounter the multivalent depth of the Mysteries that announce Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col 1:27). Together they proclaim the Risen One among us, the totus Christus, hope for a hungry world.
Allowing each mode its respect as a bearer of the sacred, these focal words and actions in the liturgy echo a communion song that announces Christ’s real presence to us and for us and with us. Beginning deep within, this is a spirituality and piety for the twenty-first century, ever ancient and ever new.
Paul Janowiak, SJ, has been an associate professor of sacramental and liturgical theology at the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University in Seattle, Washington. He now teaches at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California.