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Falling in Love with the Liturgy1 Bishop Álvaro Corrada del Rio, S. J. “Falling in love with the liturgy” is a phrase I have used in relation to liturgical renewal in the Diocese of Tyler. Let me describe the three “processes” and the “event” I have introduced into the pastoral life of the diocese beginning in the Jubilee Year 2000, when I became its bishop. The first was the process of Christian initiation, which involved sixteen doctrinal goals for catechists to teach in communion with the bishop. The second process is the “Call to Holiness” rooted in baptism. The third is the process of liturgical renewal itself as a means of ecclesial renewal in the diocese. Finally, I emphasized evangelization as an event—the “event” of Christ, with the Holy Spirit as its chief Agent. These processes can be imagined as three ropes pulling on a tent—the Catholic Church—in eastern Texas. If every one moves toward the center, the tent would collapse and the mission of the Church would be confused and ineffective; for the three processes and the event of evangelization are interwoven. Collectively they could be called the “pastoral plan” of the diocese. I like to use a few aphorisms relative to this plan: “If it doesn’t happen in the parishes and missions, it doesn’t happen in the diocese.” By this I mean that the whole body of Christ celebrates the holy liturgy throughout the territory of the diocese; this is the structure of diocesan unity. “Orthodoxy is a river, not a line.” The river flows from Christ and the Holy Spirit to the Church and into the world. The Holy Spirit guides the river; new and old charisms flow into it. At one shore or side of the river, we have the hounds of gnostic heresies eager to tear apart the body of Christ and muddy the pure water of this river. On the other side of the river are the Encratites. Hippolytus (Elench. 8.27) describes their tendencies and those of the Ebionites as imposing codes and prescriptions concerning the sacramental species, marriage, and virginity. Generally, these heretical hounds introduce two stages of initiation among Christians: the body of the faithful is to observe the Noachic principles, but some of the faithful practice 1 This is an edited version of the keynote address given 27 January 2011 at the general conference of the Society for Catholic Liturgy, held at St Mary’s Seminary in Houston, Texas. All footnotes are the editor’s. Antiphon 16.1 (2012): 2-8 3 Falling in Love with the Liturgy a higher asceticism.2 Orthodoxy is always, even today, threatened by gnostic tendencies toward elitism and emphasis on secret knowledge derived from Christ or the first disciples. Gnostic dualism disparages sexuality and is hostile to marriage and the human body. “Know the difference between processes and programming.” Know the difference between movements in the Church, and the pastoral and sacramental life of the parishes. We cannot run a parish or a diocese on programs, or allow our parishes and diocese to be directed by movements or comunidades de base. A program has a beginning and end. If you are wise, you evaluate it in the middle. Our American culture is very strong in the area of programming, packaging, technology, and marketing. People come to the Catholic Church to find salvation (jugiter sentiamus) and experience faith. The constant programmatization of the sacraments and the liturgy has become a cancerous threat to Catholic worship. “Evangelization is an event, not a program or process or movement.” Evangelization is the living “event” of Christ and its principal Agent is the Holy Spirit ubi vult spirat (Jn 3:8). “The Holy Eucharist evangelizes when people enter into and participate in the liturgy of the Holy Trinity and not a performance.” As bishop, I often celebrate the Eucharist together with the sacrament of confirmation, and sometimes all three sacraments of Christian initiation, plus the blessing of holy images, rosaries, holy water, and candles: the sacramentals of the Church. I have observed that it is difficult to include or celebrate other sacraments, including holy orders, marriage and anointing of the sick, within the Holy...


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