Friday, March 21, 2008

From Archbishop Daniel Buechlein's latest column

What makes for good religion? What makes for good worship in our churches?
Are soul-stirring sermons and rousing hymn-singing the key to salvation? Are people who attend a heartwarming Holy Week concert of sacred music more likely to be saved than those who gather for Easter Mass at one of our smallest mission churches? ...

The mystery of Jesus Christ which we celebrate is much more profound than what we do with it in word and song. Word and song is important, but the mystery is essential.

The drama of Holy Week warms the soul. Three special days—the Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil—are filled with the drama and pathos of our salvation, which culminates at the great Easter celebration...

Sensing the pathos of the suffering of Jesus and getting in touch with our sorrow and our need to repent because our sins brought him to such suffering is part of good liturgy. And so are the good Easter feelings, knowing that after all is said and done we have been saved.

But good worship and good religion is much more than soul-stirring feelings that may fade by Easter Monday morning. I think most of us realize that if we had to depend on feelings to move us to do what we need to do (and not do) in order to be saved, most of us would be in trouble much of the time. Good worship (and good religion) therefore is more than good feelings.

We need visible signs that somehow make present even now what was more than dramatic play-acting during his Passion, death and resurrection while Jesus Christ was on Earth.
We believe that Jesus founded the Church so that the mystery of his life and death can be carried on even as he sits at the right hand of the Father. We believe he gave us the sacraments to make his mystery of salvation present even now.

Good religion and good worship means we give our love to God. We go to church to give thanks and not just to get some good feelings.

Again, there is nothing wrong with good feelings, and our challenge is to plan our liturgical celebrations in such a way that we are emotionally moved as well. But we need to go deeper in our minds and hearts to embrace the wondrous mystery of our salvation present to us even now.

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