12. THREE ASPECTS OF THE LITURGICAL APOSTOLATE
Rome, February 14, 1947
What is the secret of Mary's greatness? It is her adherence to the divine will, enclosed in the sublime answer: Ecce ancilla Domini.1
Finding her so docile, the Lord was able to accomplished in her the designs that he had conceived for his glory, for the salvation of humanity.
Besides the ongoing disposition to fulfill the divine will, be-sides her intimate and unceasing communion with God, the Blessed Virgin had a great apostolate to accomplish: she is indeed the Woman Apostle! Her task is to give us Jesus Christ. For this, she was Mother of God.
You have to accomplish a liturgical apostolate and such apostolate can be considered under various aspects.
To participate intimately in the sacred rites, to perceive, know and get into the spirit of the Church in the sacred liturgy. There-fore, it is to acquire a true knowledge of liturgical life. Besides the catechism, you must esteem and possess the knowledge of liturgy, which in the Church is like the book of the Holy Spirit. This knowledge puts before you:
- the truth to be known;
- the virtue to be practiced;
- the graces to be asked for.
In the churches of the Pious Disciples, the rites must be celebrated with precision and possible attention, following the liturgical rules properly. The sacred ceremonies in your chapels should
be beautiful, devout and edifying. The Masses are to be well participated, the songs are to be performed with care, the rites are to manifest a devout dignity, in a way that your soul may be well-nourished and drawn closer to God and the faithful who participate in the rites may feel stimulated to true piety.
People who are present in your churches must feel God's presence; they must experience the need to get down on their knees, to adore God and to pray.
In Heaven, you will contemplate and participate in the most sublime Liturgy: the Most Holy Trinity in his glory; Jesus, the High and Eternal Priest; the Angels who render service at the golden altar; the Apostles; the innumerable ranks of Virgins and Martyrs singing glory to God and holding on high their lilies and palms, indicating the signs of their victory and sufferings. You will join and participate in this perfect heavenly Liturgy.
In the meantime, the more we learn to imitate the things that are above, the more wonderful shall be the things down here. The more we prepare for the life of Heaven, the more our earthly life becomes valuable.
Therefore, follow Mary Most Holy in her humble life, imitate her in the apostolate. Then, you shall be with her to sing the eternal Magnificat.1
Spread the knowledge, the practice and especially the spirit of liturgical piety.
Right from the beginning, the Church attracted souls to Christianity through the splendor of its worship. The barbarians themselves were shaken by this splendor. Such form of apostolate still continues to exert much influence on people.
When you speak of Domus Dei,1 you mean to include everything that has to do with the dignity of the House of God, all that can serve in the worship and piety of the faithful. That's fine.
However, take note that the liturgical apostolate, like the apostolate of the press, includes three parts.
1. To conceive. What is required here, therefore, is study and a special theological, liturgical study.
It is not sufficient to imitate, you have to conceive, create and to know how to combine a delicate artistic taste with the Church's liturgical spirit.
The five fine arts - painting, sculpture, architecture, music and literature, must be at the service of the Liturgy. Everything is to be placed at the service of God's glory: figurative art, that of the sounds and that of the word.
To be able to conceive and to portray rightly the picture, it is necessary first of all, to know the mysteries of our religion well, in order to be able to spread the life-giving truths of Christianity.
There are many wonderful and effective ways in which you can represent the mysteries of our holy religion, as well as reaching out to everyone, including the unbelievers, those who do not know our religion.
For example, think of the 470 million Chinese.1 A high per-centage of them does not know how to read, but you could produce a wholly illustrated Catechism which would speak to their souls.
To illustrate: God, the Creator; Adam's sin and Redemption; Eve who brings ruin, Mary who edifies, etc.
Deepen your knowledge of the Church's teaching and reproduce and express it in a beautiful and functional way.
In the Divina Commedia, Dante1 not only wrote beautiful things in a wonderful way, but under the guise of beauty, he expressed profound truths which teach about God and lead people to Him.
However, you are to remain always in the line of simplicity.
2. To carry out. It is the technical part: painting, sculpture, embroidery, making of various articles, vestment, etc.
How many churches are in need of the care and the charity of the faithful! Think of all the chapels scattered over the countryside, in the mountains, in those places in mission lands. Oh, what squalor and disorder in so many abodes of the God-with-us!
This undertaking would be sufficient to take up the whole life's work of a big Institute!
Propaganda Fide1 collects what is necessary for worship, so as to be able to distribute them to the most needy. There is also the pious work for the poor churches that does something in this regard. Part of your mission is this aspect.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in poverty, but with what thoughtfulness did Our Lady prepared the essentials for him, with what purity of heart she presented them to him!
Make much use of music - music that is beautiful, well-chosen and in conformity with the norms laid down by the Church. Sacred music is a great means to attract people and especially to lead the youth to God.
Songs which are carefully prepared and well sung lift up the sentiment and direct it to God.
3. To diffuse. Advertise what you produce. This propaganda is to be widespread and extensive like that for the press, although in a different way, in a more reserved way but always effective.
Your Family is under the action of the Holy Spirit, who enlightens, rules, sustains and guides it. You will find the ways and means to fulfill all of your mandate under his guidance.
Acknowledge that you are good for nothing and present yourselves to Jesus as incapable in everything, but ever trusting in his help.
The love of Jesus shall make you intelligent, active, capable of gaining many merits and of leading many souls to God.
1 Lk. 1, 38.
1 Cf. Lk. 1, 46-55.
1 Domus Dei, cf. footnote n. 6 of the year 1947.
1 In the census of 1982, the Chinese were 1,008,175,288; in 1986, they were 1,057,210,000.
1 Dante Alighieri (1265-1321).
1 The Work of the “Propagation of Faith” was conceived by Paolina Maria Jaricot (born on July 22, 1799; died on January 9, 1862) in Lyon, France, in 1820. On May 3, 1922, the office was transfered to Rome. Paolina Maria Jaricot was declared Venerable on February 25, 1963.