Conference brings Catholics to a deeper understanding of the Liturgy

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The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council, tells us, “In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else, for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit.”

The 13th biennial Orlando Liturgical Conference on August 20-22 showed Catholics how to have active participation of the body, of the mind, and of the spirit in the liturgy so each individual may return to their own congregation and be the example of glorifying the Lord by their life. This year welcomed the largest turn out, with more than 700 registered participants. The events scheduled throughout the conference provided inspiring workshops such as, “The Life of the Liturgy and the Liturgy of Life” given by Monsignor Kevin W. Irwin of The Catholic University of America and “Understanding The Mass for Liturgical Ministers” by Sandra Dooley from St. Margret Mary Parish, Winter Park.

Dooley, a retired Director of Liturgy, said there are plenty of Church teachings on why we as Catholics are obligated to participate in the Sunday Mass, but she hopes people will see much more, such as the joy and beauty that is expressed during the celebration of Mass.

“These are not stories from 2,000 years ago we have to see what it means to us right now,” said Dooley. “Pay attention to what we are proclaiming, singing, physically doing in the celebration and participate and allow what we do at Mass to touch our hearts,” she said.

With this year’s theme, “Glorifying the Lord by Your Life,” Bishop John Noonan encouraged attendees to have a deeper spiritual and physical participation in the Liturgy of the Mass. No matter if you are clergy, a lector, musician, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion or members of the ministry of assembly, we all have the opportunity and responsibility to be “missionary disciples.”

“Each one of us, at the conclusion of the celebration of Mass, is commissioned to go out and live the life that the Liturgy celebrates, a life through, with, and in Christ,” Bishop Noonan said.

The conference took place at a perfect time for Yashira Matos-Agostini of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Kissimmee. She is the new Director of Liturgy whose excitement cannot be contained when it comes to bringing more awareness to the beauty of our liturgy.

“As a new liturgist, I am really looking forward to discussing ways in which we as liturgists can nourish the spirituality and understanding of our ministers,” said Matos. “In doing so, we may bring them closer to encountering Jesus Christ during each and every Mass. This is a part of leading our brothers and sisters closer to living eternally with our God in heaven.”

Juanita Santiago volunteers at her parish, St. James Cathedral in Orlando. She is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, and helps with youth ministry and faith formation. As a leader, she hopes to set a good example for others, which is why she registered for the Orlando Liturgical Conference attending workshops on various aspects of ministry.

“That’s why we are here so we can learn and lead. If I’m a better person then I hope someone else would want to imitate those traits. It’s not my place to judge others, but if I come and learn and I lead, they might want to follow. Jesus knows what’s in my heart,” said Santiago.

The conference assisted those who may still not fully understand the parts of the Mass or newcomers to the faith who have questions.

If there is one thing participants from the conference may take away from the Liturgy of the Mass, it is beautifully said by Monsignor Irwin.

“The impact of the liturgy may affect people differently. The nature of the liturgy is unique and privileged, and special and the height of our prayer. We do not judge. God judges and in the act of hearing the Gospel when the deacon or priest proclaims it, it’s an event of countercultural judgement, where God embraces and forgives. God’s judgement is always laced with forgiveness.”