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Liturgy and the New Evangelization: 2016 Symposium

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In his recently translated book, Mystery and Sacrament of Love: A Theology of Marriage and the Family for the New Evangelization, Marc Cardinal Ouellet writes:

In a postmodern context, we have to justify the ‘why’ of the sacraments; it is not enough to explain their ‘how’ within a universe of meaning that no longer exists (2).

At the Institute for Church Life, Cardinal Ouellet’s concern about the loss of the sacramental imagination is the central one for renewing liturgical prayer today. Liturgical theology, formation, and catechesis cannot simply proclaim again and again that liturgy is the source and summit of Christian life. We cannot yell at the top of our lungs that sacraments are important. We cannot return to a golden age of the early Church, of medieval Catholicism, of the liturgical movement, of right after Vatican II. At this moment in history, the very ground of meaning upon which the sacraments stands is up for grabs. We have to develop a liturgical and sacramental apologetics that invites women and men, lay and ordained, to see this meaning anew. To develop a liturgical imagination related to every aspect of human life. We need new strategies, grounded in tradition. New tactics, grounded in theology. A new way of forming women and men for the glorification of God and the sanctification of the world.

The question today is why the liturgy at all? Why worship at all? Why participate in any of the sacraments? These questions are in fact signs of a larger concern, why the Church at all?

This summer (June 20-23, 2016) the Center for Liturgy will be hosting a gathering at Notre Dame, part of a broader movement we’re participating in (#LiturgicalReawakening) to renew the liturgical imagination in a secular age. It’s a project for theologians and liturgists. For campus ministers and pastors. For catechists and high school teachers. How do we teach the liturgy, talk about liturgy, pray the liturgy so that one is brought into the Church’s school of love?

We hope that you will join the Institute for Church Life for this event.

Timothy P. O’Malley

Timothy P. O’Malley is the director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, associate professional specialist in the department of theology at the University of Notre Dame, and founding editor for Church Life.