The centrality of Liturgy: A Chaldean Perspective

Here is the intervention of Archbishop Amel Nona, Eparch of St Thomas the Apostle of the Chaldeans in Australia on the subject of liturgy as the heart of the Church

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An overflow crowd is seen outside as Pope Francis celebrates Mass at St Joseph Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad on 6 March, 2021. Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

Two basic rules on this subject.

First: liturgy is the life and heart of the Catholic Church, particularly for the Eastern Churches. It is the expression of their faith, theology, and their daily life. Liturgy and the life’s journey of the Church, both share the same characteristic of having diversity in roles, and that what makes liturgy the center of the Church.

The Life of the Church is linked to each of its members: clergy, deacons, and other believers. Therefore, it is essential for us to have a vision of the liturgy as being linked to everything else, making sure not to make it confined or restricted to certain practices within the building of the Church.

Chaldean Archbishop Emil Shimoun Nona, the Eparch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Australia and formerly the Archbishop of Mosul in Iraq. Photo: ACN

Moreover, liturgy is not only about practicing, yet it represents the life of the whole Church. For the Eastern Churches, the spiritual concept teaches us that separation cannot be made between the tasks within, or out of liturgy. What the priest does is not a liturgical presiding within a particular ritual, but it is leading or guiding his group towards Christ the Lord.

This also applies for deacons, as well as believers who have important, vital, and different kind of roles in the liturgy, and the most important point, could be to enjoy the fellowship with the Lord in his Church by praying with Him, listening to His words and to be presented with Him.

Second: Liturgy means diversity in services, but faith is one: The Catholic Church is the only one and unique in its variety of rituals, many liturgical cultures but all within one garden. This is the true richness of the Catholic Church.

Since rituals are the life of Churches, especially Eastern ones, every change in any aspect of the Church needs to consider the existence of the rituals and their great impact on any change. The aim is not to lose the diversity of rituals for certain administrative and institutional arrangements.

Moreover, because liturgy is the heart of the Church, therefore it cannot be separated from the Church in all its dimensions and aspects, to make it a time of praying only for certain people how have their roles only during the liturgical practice.