My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Who are you following? Which path is the true path? The arrows point to GPS, God’s Program of Salvation. His kingdom is the beginning and end for which we live. We desire to be inhabitants of heaven. The liturgy is a prayer leading us on the true path, offering us our daily bread. In prayer God comes into the garden of our soul and plants divine love.
All paths will lead us to the heavenly liturgy, if we would only participate. If we never set foot upon the path, we will surely be deprived of its wonder and awe. No, we have to walk on the path without fear and partake in the cross and sing joyfully to the Lord as his goodness is revealed to us. This heavenly liturgy is now as we participate in the celebration of Mass. In the sacred liturgy, the Church unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God’s word and of Christ’s body. Pope Francis said, “For life to be truly a praise pleasing to God, it is necessary to change the heart. The Christian celebration is oriented towards this conversion, which is the encounter of life with the ‘God of the living.’”
The Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation. The Eucharist, as Christ’s saving presence in the community of the faithful and its spiritual food, is the most precious possession which the Church can have in her journey through history. The bread, which is broken on our altars, offered to us as wayfarers along the paths of the world is the bread of angels.
Liturgy, then, is life that forms, and not an idea to learn. If the liturgy is to fulfill its formative and transforming function, clergy, religious and laity need to be taught to grasp its meaning and symbolic language, including art, song and music in the service of the celebrated mystery.
But things should not stop at that. There is also need for the ongoing formation of clergy, religious and laity. Pope Francis said, “You therefore have before you a great and beautiful task: to work so that the people of God may rediscover the beauty of meeting the Lord in the celebration of His mysteries and, by meeting Him, have life in His name.”
My sisters and brothers in Christ, this ongoing formation is what is being presented at the Diocese of Orlando Liturgical Conference, Liturgy in Action: Crossing the Threshold! It will be held Aug. 22-24 at the Hilton Orlando, 6001 Destination Parkway, Orlando. The Orlando Liturgical Conference is committed to evangelize, inspire, form and educate.
This conference will explore how encountering Christ through the progression of the Mass will lead to thresholds of transformation that we might become missionary disciples. Keynote speakers include Dr. Peter Latona, music director for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.; Dr. Dolores Martinez, consultant to the Bishops’ Hispanic Subcommittee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship; Paulist Father Ricky Manalo, presbyter in the Paulist order; and Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mississippi.
Join me. I encourage you to step on the true path by registering for the Orlando Liturgical Conference.
In the humble signs of bread and wine, changed into his body and blood, Christ walks beside us as our strength and our food for ever path. May each step we take be one through, with and in His unbounded love.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop John Noonan