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The word liturgy is
etymologically derived from
two Greek words (, ),
which mean people and work.
Thus the immediate meaning
of the compound word is
public works or state projects.

pre-Christian usage
(leitourgia): public works or state projects
on behalf of the people; office one
undertook in the name of the state as a
public servant
Hellenistic period work done by slaves
for their masters; small acts of service
done for a friend; occupation or function
that a person performed for the welfare of

Etymologically, liturgy means

service. The notion of service
is essential to the definition of
liturgy. The Apostolic
Tradition (Hippolytus of
Rome) translates
leitourgounta as servientem

Septuagint - (170 times) Levitic

cult or the official worship of Israel.
*It is not easy to explain how a secular word
came to be used for the sacred rites of
Israel. Perhaps this had something to do
with the classical meaning of the word,
which signifies official function held by
state dignitaries/societys nobility. The
word fits the definition of the Levitic cult as
a divine institution entrusted to the care of
Israels public officials or nobility, the
Levitic priests.

New Testament
(15 times):
refer variably to a secular function of
magistrates - Christians are exhorted to pay
taxes because the magistrates are leitourgoi
of God (Rom 13:6)

6 This is why you also pay taxes, for the

authorities are ministers of God, devoting
themselves to this very thing.
7 Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are
due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom
respect is due, honor to whom honor is due

the Old Testament priestly office of

Zechariah (Luke 1:23)
21 Meanwhile the people were waiting for
Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so
long in the sanctuary.
22 But when he came out, he was unable to
speak to them, and they realized that he had
seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was
gesturing to them but remained mute.
23 Then, when his days of ministry were
completed, he went home.

Hebrews 8:2 tells us that by his priestly

sacrifice Christ has become the new leitourgos
of the sanctuary. Hebrews ranks the
priesthood of Christ on a level superior to the
Levitic priesthood (which has become
1 The main point of what has been said is this:
we have such a high priest, who has taken his
seat at the right hand of the throne of the
Majesty in heaven,
2 a minister of the sanctuaryand of the true
tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up.

In Romans 15:16, Paul calls himself as

leitourgos of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles
because of his mission to preach the gospel
to them.
15 But I have written to you rather boldly in
some respects to remind you, because of the
grace given me by God
16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles
in performing the priestly service of the gospel
of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles
may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:2 reports that in the

Church of Antioch the prophets and
teachers, among them Saul and
d the liturgy)
2 While they were worshiping the Lord
and fasting, the holy Spirit said, Set
apart for me Barnabas and Saul for
the work to which I have called them.

Early Christian writers

retained the cultic
meaning of liturgy

Didache 15, 1: Bishops and deacons

also perform leitourgia as do the
prophets and teachers. *ALSO
According to the raking system of
Didache, the itinerant prophets and
teachers are listed ahead of bishops
and deacons. Apparently, they
presided at the official worship of the
community they were visiting.

This probably has some reference to Ephesians

2:20: You are built upon the foundation of
apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself
as the cornerstone. Together with resident
bishops, the itinerant prophets and teachers,
who, unlike bishops and priests, were not
necessarily ordained for a particular community,
composed the Church leadership (Eph 3:5). The
liturgies they performed were official worship.
The prophets role of preaching included the
function of presiding in worship.

Apostolic Tradition, 10 claims that

clerical ordination is on account of
the liturgy propter liturgiam.

For the Churches of the East, the

word leitourgia signifies the sacred
rites in general and the Eucharistic
celebration in particular. The Liturgy
of St. John Chrysostom, of St. Basil,
of St. James and of St. Mark means
the Mass.

The Latin Church used the terms official

divina, opus divinum, and sacri or ecclesiae
ritus. The word liturgia for the celebration of
the Mass did not appear in the Latin Church
until the 16th century, thanks to renaissance
writers like George Cassander, Jacques
Pamelius, and Johannes Bona. For other forms
of worship, the old Latin terms continued to be
used. The word liturgia appeared for the first
time in official Latin documents published
during the pontificate of Gregory XVI (+1846).

Some considerations on
the appropriateness of
the word to express
Christian community

The two ancient documents (Didache

and AT) emphasize the official
character of community worship. They
teach that the liturgy is an action
performed by designated members for
the Church and in the name of the
Sacramenta sunt propter homines
(sacraments are for the people)

The official character of the liturgy should not

create the impression that it is the exclusive
domain of the clergy. On the contrary, it is
official because it is owned by the community
of the Church and celebrated on its behalf.
GIRM, 254: Mass should not be celebrated
without a minister or at least some of the
faithful except for a just and reasonable
cause. As public acts of worship, they should
be distinguished from personal and private

As public acts, they entail ministerial service. Those

who perform the liturgy on behalf of Christs faithful
enter into what the Romans called servitium, a word
that describes the condition of a servant. Liturgical
ministers, whether clerical or lay, are servants, and
the office they hold as they preside or assist at
liturgical celebrations is a form of service. Clerical
ordination and lay ministerial institution create service
ranks in the Church, but they do not raise the
sociological status of the minister above the assembly.
Rather, they designate the minister as a servant.
They give the office holder the duty to serve not the
power to dominate.

When clerical order is regarded as career and a

promotion to a higher status in the community,
the liturgy loses its force and is subjected to
the weakness of human power. The reminder
of 1 Peter 5:2-3 to the elders of the Christian
community is timely: Tend the flock of God
that is in your charge, exercising the oversight,
not under compulsion but willingly as God
would have you do it not for sordid gain but
eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your
charge, but be examples to the flock.

Liturgy is not equivalent to rubrics. Liturgical

rubrics were borrowed from court
ceremonials. The reinforcement of rubrics
and ceremonials in the celebration of the
liturgy, took the lions share in the study of
the liturgy. The liturgical movement of the
19th and 20th centuries led by Benedictine
monks Proosper Gueranger and Lambert
Beaudin restored the original understanding
of the liturgy as something theological more
than rubrical.

Social dimension of the

liturgy. The option to be
a poor Church and to be
a Church of the poor.

Do you wish
to honor the body of Christ? Do
not ignore him when he is
naked. Do not pay him homage
in the temple clad in silk, only
then to neglect him outside
where he is cold and ill-clad.
St. John Chrysostom:

He who said: This is my body is the same

who said: You saw me hungry and you
gave me no food, and Whatever you did
to the least of my brothers you did also to
me. What good is it if the Eucharistic table
is overloaded with golden chalices when
your brother is dying of hunger. Start by
satisfying his hunger and then with what is
left you may adorn the altar as well.

Presentation of the Gifts (We

eat as little as we can so that
we can share as much as we
can to the poor),
poterion (When we celebrate
the Eucharist, we are a
Church of the poor)

Mediator Dei, 25
Liturgy is the public worship which
our Redeemer as head of the Church
renders to the Father, as well as the
worship which the community of the
faithful renders to its Founder, and
through him to the heavenly Father.
In short, it is the worship rendered
by the Mystical Body of Christ in the
entirety of its head and members.

Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7
the liturgy is considered as the
exercise of the priestly office of Jesus
Christ. In the liturgy by means of
signs perceptible to the senses,
human sanctification is signified and
brought about in ways proper to each
of these signs; in the liturgy the
whole public worship is performed by
the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that

exercise of the priestly office of
rendering worship to the Father
with the Church (members of
the Body of Christ)
through signs and symbols

Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10
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.

Sacrosanctum Concilium, 8
In the earthly liturgy we take part
in a foretaste of that heavenly
liturgy which is celebrated in the
holy city of Jerusalem toward
which we journey as pilgrims.


Salvation History
preparation: creation, call of Abraham,
realization: Christs incarnation,
ministry, death and resurrection,
final stage: liturgy until he comes
again When we eat the flesh of the
Lamb of God, we stand in the evening of
time. After this, a new day breaks.

Salvation History
and the Liturgy
The liturgy is the final
phase of the history of salvation.
S. Marsili:

Concept of time: chronos, historical,


St. Augustine (Sermo 13 de Tempore): Of

his own will Jesus Christ was born today, in
time, so that he could lead us to his
Fathers eternity. God became human so
that humans might become God.
Humankind fell, but God descended;
humankind fell miserably, but God
descended mercifully; humankind fell
through pride; but God descended with his

"Christ, yesterday
and today, the
beginning and the
ending. To Christ
belongs all time
and all the ages;
to Christ belongs
glory and
dominion now and

Salvation History
and the Liturgy
Epidemia or the time of the year
when the gods reside on earth
causing it to blossom forth.
Apodemia on the other hand, is
that time of the year when they
withdraw from the earth. Their
departure results in winter gloom
and death of nature.

Pope Leo the

erat in Christo
transivit in
(Sermon 72).

Pope Leo the Great: What was

visible in Christ passed over to
the sacraments of the Church
(Sermon 72).

CCC 1085: His Paschal mystery is a real

event that occurred in our history, but it is

unique: all other historical events happen
once, and they pass away, swallowed up in
the past. The Paschal mystery of Christ, by
contrast cannot remain only in the past,
because by his death he destroyed death,
and all that Christ is - all that he did and
suffered for all men - participates in the
divine eternity, and so transcends all times
while being made present in them all. The
event of the Cross and Resurrection abides
and draws everything toward life.

Christmas homily of Leo the Great:

Although every individual that is
called in his own order, and all the
sons of the Church are separated from
one another by intervals of time, yet,
as the entire body of the faithful being
born in the font of baptism is crucified
with Christ in His passion, raised again
in His resurrection, and placed at the
fathers right hand in His ascension, so
with Him they are born in this nativity.

Pope Leo the Greats HODIE spans

the past, present, and future in a
saving way and finds its effective
expansion in the liturgy.