Actor Russell Crowe, Oscar winner for Gladiator, visited the Sistine Chapel with his family. He gratefully commented that it has been the most special experience of his life and posted photos of him on Twitter. Just as the Sistine Chapel shows beauty, the liturgy also transmits another kind of beauty.
For example, in a holy mass, apart from the beauty of the temple, there is a greater beauty: that of the encounter with Christ. Herein lies the powerful beauty of the liturgy, says Pope Francis. Because the Son of God became man, it is possible to unite with God. That is why Christ is the way: the way to enter into communion with God.
The works of the musician Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), like his Masses, are imbued with great joy. On one occasion someone criticized him because they were too cheerful. Haydn replied, “I can’t help it that at the thought of God my heart leaps for joy.”
The composer was right: if we meet someone we love, we rejoice. If Christ is our greatest love, the real encounter with Christ should fill us with joy. The more desires we have for a loving encounter with Christ, the more joy we will go to the ceremony. Let us think with how much joy we go to that meeting.
The wonderful thing about the liturgy is that it guarantees us a true encounter with our Lord. What was visible about Jesus, what could be seen with the eyes and touched with the hands, his words, has passed into the celebration of the sacraments.
The Eucharist, for example, is not a vague memory of the Last Supper, but it makes us be present at that supper, listen to his voice, eat his Body and drink his Blood. In all the sacraments we meet Jesus and are reached by the power of his Easter. Sometimes we can lose awareness of that encounter and then the ceremony stops making sense, seeing it only as a social event. The essence of the celebration is lost. It is the Pope’s wish that we live the liturgy with greater meaning and that we live it with joy.
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