33. LITURGICAL APOSTOLATE (I)
The Constitutions are deficient on this point, and it is necessary to introduce you in time to that which is lacking and needed. Whoever wanted to limit it, did not really understand the entire thought. As I preach to you, I am obliged to give at least some ideas on this your liturgical apostolate, as I did on the other apostolates.
First, have an idea of the Liturgy and may you not think that the whole thing consists of preparing some pictures or medals.
Liturgy is the book of the Holy Spirit, as creation is the book of the Father and the Sacred Scripture is the book of the Son.
Through the visible things, we will know God who is invisible.1
In the Gospel, we know the word of the Son and through the Gospel, we admire the Wisdom of Him who cum hominibus conversatus est.1 God spoke through the prophets, but in the final age, he has spoken through his Son.2
The Holy Spirit takes from the Son and communicates to us1. For example, it takes the truth and makes the Church infallible. It takes the virtue and gives the grace to practice it; it takes Jesus' Blood and purifies us of every stain.
The time which preceded the coming of Jesus was the Father's era. Then, the era of the Son came which was the shortest. From then until the end of the world, is the era of the Holy Spirit.
The liturgical year is arranged in a way that it presents to us first, the prayer to the Father so that he may send his Son; then, the birth of the Savior, his life, passion and death and his glory; finally, the work of the Holy Spirit in persons and in the Church.
All the Sundays after Pentecost are directed to spread the truths which were preached, the virtues of which examples were given. The Holy Spirit communicates the fruits of redemption. It is poured out in Baptism and it gives the grace; in Confirmation and it increases the grace; it is poured out in the Eucharist and brings us life; it comes in the Sacramental Absolution and purifies; in the Priestly Ordination and elevates the soldier of Christ to be his minister; it comes in Marriage and sanctifies the union of the spouses; it comes in the Extreme Unction and prepares the souls to present itself to God's judgment and to make it worthy of the reward.
I told you these to explain a bit what the liturgy is. In it are the means with which the Holy Spirit works to spread the truths that Jesus preached, the virtues that he practiced, the graces that he won for us.
The teaching of the Liturgy is contained especially in the Breviary, Missal, Pontifical, Ritual. There is Jesus Master Way, Truth and Life here. For example, we have just celebrated the Feast of the Corpus Domini with the octave. How much did the Breviary and Missal, especially, speak to us of the eucharistic mystery!
On one hand, all the dogmatic truths about the Eucharist are included: Real Presence, Jesus Priest and Victim, the doctrine about the Holy Mass, Communion. The officiation was composed by St. Thomas Aquinas1 in an admirable way.
The following are considered: the virtues of Jesus, trait of innocence, the state of grace needed to bring to the altar, the conditions of faith, purity, humility; how to behave in the church, how to take care of the Eucharist, of the altar, etc.
Thirdly, the graces that comes to us from the Eucharist are described. Also, the fruits of the Holy Mass, Communion and Visit. It comes to a conclusion: Paradise is the perfect union with God and the Eucharist is its preparation and pledge. Before such considerations on the eucharistic mystery, there are instances wherein the soul does not know anymore if it is on earth, as the things being contemplated are so admirable.
The earthly Liturgy accompanies the soul up to the gates of Heaven. It is left here because the most beautiful, most perfect, eternal heavenly Liturgy begins. Oh! what an intimate communion with God, what an intimacy of life with the Most Holy Trinity!
On earth there is a very beautiful Liturgy, in the dignity of the rites, in the solemnity of the songs, in the well-arranged ceremonies. One feels the beauty of God and the greatness of our religion. You may find yourselves in St. Peter's Basilica for some solemn occasions, oh!, what a vision of beauty, of grandeur! Gold, lights, prayers, songs, every kind and representation of persons, of every origin and dignity, up to the Holy Father, the sweet Christ on earth! What shall be then, in Paradise? We will see the Angels, Elders, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, Patriarchs, Prophets; we will see the Most Holy Virgin, we will see Christ!, resplendent in his glorious wounds, we will contemplate the Most Holy Trinity and we will hear the eternal song: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus!1
You must print and diffuse the books of the holy Liturgy. Such books are properties of the Church and to print them, the ordinary approval is not enough.
Do not be confused with the apostolate of the Daughters of St. Paul and you will not deprive them of their field.
The work that you must do is immense and unique. For example, if you could succeed to illustrate every festivity, bring-ing out the related doctrine, the virtues that adorn it, the means of grace that can be found!
Artistic, liturgical work, diffusion of the Church's teachings about the sacraments, sacramentals, consecrations, blessings, etc. To have a great number of leaflets, booklets, books which spread the knowledge of the Eucharist; to interpret the Church's under-standing of life and to promote it. Do not be afraid, the field is unmistakable. You do not deal with romances, novels and other sorts of things, yours is solely the sacred part, reserved to you. Get into it in an ineffable way to give your collaboration.
The functions in your churches must be very beautiful; the songs are to be well sung; the prayers are to be well recitated. Try to get into the sense of the Breviary and recite it well; try to understand it first, in the vernacular language. Pray with the Missal; celebrate the Mass well; you must progress in the Mass which is ordinarily called liturgical. Understand the whole Ritual properly; accompany the administration of the sacraments with intelligence and piety of a (P)Disciple. Understand well and do rightly the sign of the cross, in a way that edifies; carry out well all the ceremonies that are your concern, even the smallest and less visible.
Dedicate yourselves to greater works, like the construction of churches.
See if you have substantially done your apostolate up to here. You have been very docile in God's hands and I can testify before Him that you really have been faithful to what was asked of you, even when it was most tiring and distressing. Much came from you for the construction of the churches of St. Paul and of the Divine Master. So for the construction now of the church Regina Apostolorum.1
The liturgical field is yours. Dedicate yourselves to embroidery, painting, sculpture and make progress. Oh, if you could have good painters, good sculptresses; if you could have those who advance in the studies, some sister engineers, architects, who know how to design, to construct.
The comment that can be made about that in the Consti-tutions is very extensive. You will do it with life and in practice.
Produce, go ahead, make progress. I do not tell you to make many things immediately, but proceed well with those already started. To produce and to diffuse.
An immense field, as immense as the field of vocations, of collaboration with the ministry of the Priest. Call the vocations as well, pray the lord of the harvest, because the harvest is great but the workers are few.1
1 Cf. Rom. 1, 20.
1 Bar. 3, 38.
2 Cf. Heb. 1, 1-2.
1 Cf. Jn. 16, 13-14.
1 St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Doctor of the Church
1 Cf. Is. 6,3.
1 They are the churches of St. Paul, the Apostle and of Jesus Master in Alba (Cuneo) and the church of the Queen of the Apostles in Rome.
1 Lk. 10, 2.