Priest Habtamu Teshome
December 20, 2022
The word liturgy comes from the Greek leitourgia, which is a combination of leitos, which means pertaining to the people (Laos) and ergon, referring to work.
Hence, etymologically the word liturgy means any service done for the common welfare. The majority of liturgiologists define the term liturgy as the public worship. The “public” or the “exterior” doesn’t exclude the interior or sanctifying element, but all coalesce to form one, sole, concrete liturgical act which is both external and interior as regards the minister, the recipient and the intrinsic power of sanctification of the act itself. In short, liturgy is the public worship rendered by the Mystical body of Christ in the entirety of its head and members.
The term Church, in theological expression can be defined as the building in which the liturgical service is conducted; and the congregation of believers of Christianity, which can be called Mystical body of Christ.
Worship is the acknowledgement of God’s supreme excellence and the expression of man’s submission to His dominion resulting there from. Here, the word “public” refers to the Church. “Public worship” is equivalent to worship of the church. The “worship of the Church” is the worship regulated by the Church, and ordered and arranged by her authority. Any liturgical service should be directed by holy orders (i.e. priesthood). This is because, the Devine Redeemer has so willed it that the priestly life begun with the supplication and sacrifice of His body ought to continue without interruption down the ages in His Mystical Body, the Church.
The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross on the part of the priest is Christ’ s divine act. The Mystical Body is some sort of union of the faithful with Christ resulting from the endeavor of the former to direct their ways towards, their eternal and supernatural destiny. The internal principles of unity in the Mystical Body are grace and the infused virtues. Two things are necessary for liturgy: that it provides God glory and it brings man Gods gifts (sacraments)
Distribution between Liturgical and Non-liturgical
To be liturgy, a prayer or an action should be both regulated (i.e., at least tacitly approved) by the church and carried out through her authoritatively deputed minister.
Two things are intrinsically required in order that a prayer can become liturgy. First -An inner essential relation to an act which is truly a mystical act of Christ. Second-The conferring of life on the part of Christ and the reception of life on the part of the Church. In short, it must visibly express the exchange of life between Christ and the Church. In real liturgical acts the priest acts throughout as representative of Christ, as His (Christ’s) instrument for the begetting of life. A liturgical act must always be ritual action of Christ with and through priesthood. With Pentecost Christ’s objective work or redemption came to a close.
Lord Jesus Christ accomplished two things in His priesthood. He brought back man God’s grace and as the second Adam, the head of human race, He offered God the Father, Man’s submission and homage which were His due. Both these aspects of Christ’s priesthood are reflected visibly in the liturgical community.
By means of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and particularly holy orders, the community is conformed to the priesthood of Christ. In such a way, the ordained liturgist symbolically-sacramentally represents the Head of the Mystical Body. Through symbolical actions (sacraments) the holy exchange of God’s life and man’s homage continues from generation to generation.
In general, the ultimate distinction between liturgy and every other type of devotional practice must lie in the liturgy’s priestly and sacramental quality.
The Liturgy-Work of the Trinity
In the liturgy, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the primary characters.
1) The Father, the source and aim of the liturgy, blesses us. The Father blesses us: In the liturgy, God blesses us and we celebrate his blessings and respond with thanks and singing.
2)The Son, at the heart of the liturgy, redeems us
The Son redeems us: tells us that “God so loved the world that he sent his only Son….” (John 3:16) (it is better if we don’t use Amharic quotes in English articles) During his life on earth, Lord, Jesus was a visible, tangible sign of God’s love for humanity. Our participation in the sacraments is our constant opportunity to allow God to touch our lives, nourish us, heal us, and draw us closer to him, and our opportunity to sing our praises to God.
3) The Spirit sanctifies us: The Holy Spirit is the memory of the Church that helps her especially in the Liturgy of the Word to remember God’s marvelous deeds on our behalf. During the Mass (prior to the consecration), the priest asks the Father to send His Spirit upon the gifts of bread and wine to “make them holy so that they may become the body and blood of Lord Christ.”
How is the Liturgy Celebrated?
Just as in daily life we use signs and symbols to communicate; we celebrate liturgy through signs and symbols. In liturgy, “God speaks to us” through the most basic elements of life: water, bread, wine, oil, a touch and a word.
The four symbols are used in liturgy:
1. Actions:– The actions that occur during liturgy are called ritual actions. For example, processing, kissing the book or altar, breaking bread, pouring wine, washing hands or feet, anointing with oil, extending hands and bowing.
2. Words:- Ritual actions are often accompanied by words, For example, “I baptize you”; also, each sacrament is accompanied by a liturgy of the Word, a reading(s) from Scripture.
3. Songs:- Paul exhorts us to sing psalms and hymns and to make melody to the Lord with all our heart (Ephesians. 5:19). Saint Augustine says: “he who sings once prays twice.” Singing in the liturgy has great power to touch hearts.
4. Holy Images:- All sacred images principally represent Lord Jesus Christ. Images of Saint Mary and the saints point to Christ who is glorified in them.
The time for the celebration of Liturgy
By means of the yearly cycle, the church celebrates the holy mystery of Christ, from his incarnation until the day of Pentecost and the expectation of his coming again. When we remember the events and stories in the life of Lord Jesus, we make them as real to us as they were to those who first experienced them. We bring past events into the now. So the Liturgical Year is not an historical look at past events, but the way our Church invites us to enter and experience Lord Jesus Christ who continues to be present and active in the events of our lives in the here and now.
The place for the celebration of Liturgy
Because all creation is sacred, we can worship God anywhere. Where freedom of worship is allowed, Christians normally gather in churches to celebrate the liturgy.
Liturgical Diversity and Unity
The mystery of Christ is so rich that it cannot be exhausted by its expressions in any single liturgical tradition. All adaptations of the liturgy must express fidelity to the common faith received from Christ and to hierarchical communion, (i.e., be in unity with the local bishop and the Pope.) However, in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church context, adaptation of Saint Yared’s (Jared) songs to different languages is impossible for that the melodies and styles of Saint Yared’s song are well designed in harmony with Ge’ez language. Therefore, it is better to use Ge’ez language while we sing the songs in the midst of all traditions. To do so, the rule to be in unity with the hierarchical communion works.
Form of Liturgical Theology
It is important that one fully comprehends the role of liturgical theology in the worship of the Church. Just as anatomy and physiology give understanding to the form and function of life, likewise liturgical theology gives to us the understanding of the form and function of the worship services of the Orthodox Church and enables us to fully live with Christ in the heavenly kingdom here on earth.
In any living organism, without organized structure, there is no function and without structure, function there is no life. Same thing can be said about liturgy. Without structure and function there is no life to the Church and without life in the Church there is no salvation.
Scope of Liturgy
Liturgy includes the following subjects: Hymnology of the Church, Theology
• Christian ethics and spirituality implemented with fastening
• Pastoral theology is the branch of practical theology concerned with the application of the study of religion in the context of regular church ministry. This approach to theology seeks to give practical expression to theology. Normally viewed as an “equipping” of ministers, practical theology is often considered to be more pragmatic than speculative, indeed, essentially a practical science, So Pastoral theology in Geez means
• Sacramental theology is the systematic study of the sacraments based on reflection on the liturgical celebration of these rites throughout history and on the insights of theologians and other teachers in light of the magisterium. In Geez, that means
Source፡- Marcel Metzger, History of the Liturgy, Collegeville Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1997. ANSCAR J. CHUPUNGCO, Hand Book for Liturgical Studies, Introduction to the Liturgy, Collegeville Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1997.