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Liturgy and Popular Piety Throughout the Centuries The relationship between Liturgy and popular piety is ancient.
It is therefore necessary to begin by surveying, even rapidly, how this relationship has been experienced down through the centuries, since it will often help to resolve contemporary difficulties.
The Apostolic and post-apostolic periods are marked by a profound fusion of the cultic realities which are now called Liturgy and popular piety.
For the earliest Christian communities, Christ alone cf. Col 2,16 was the most important cultic reality, together with his life-giving word cf. John 6,63his commandment of reciprocal charity cf.
John, 13,34and the ritual actions which he commanded in his memory cf. Everything else - days and months, seasons and years, feasts, new moons, food and drink Gal 4,10; Col 2, - was of secondary importance.
Nevertheless, the signs of personal piety are already to be found among the first generation of Christians. Inspired by the Jewish tradition, they recommended following the example of incessant prayer of Jesus and St.
Luke 18,1; Rm 12,12; 1 Thes 5,17and of beginning and ending all things with an act of thanksgiving cf. The pious Israelite began the day praising and giving thanks to God. In the same spirit, he gave thanks for all his actions during the day. Hence, every joyful or sorrowful occasion gave rise to an expression of praise, entreaty, or repentance.
The Gospels and the writings of the New Testament contain invocations of Jesus, signs of christological devotion, which were repeated spontaneously by the faithful outside of the context of Liturgy. It must be recalled that it was a common usage of the faithful to use biblical phrases such as: Innumerable prayers to Christ have been developed by the faithful of every generation on the basis this piety.
Until the second century, expressions of popular piety, whether deriving from Jewish, Greco-Roman or other cultures, spontaneously came together in the Liturgy. It has already been noted, for example, that the Traditio Apostolica contains elements deriving from popular sources The cult of martyrs, which was of great importance for the local Churches, preserves traces of popular usages connected with the memory of the dead Some of the earliest forms of veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary 27 also reflect popular piety, among them the Sub tuum praesidium and the Marian iconography of the catacombs of St.
While always most vigilant with regard to interior conditions and the prerequisites for a dignified celebration of the sacred mysteries cf. In this period Liturgy and popular piety, either conceptually or pastorally, did not oppose each other.
Both concurred harmoniously in celebrating the one mystery of Christ, considered as a whole, and in sustaining the supernatural and moral life of the disciples of the Lord. In the fourth century, given the new politico-social situation of the Church, the question of the relationship between liturgy and popular piety begins to be raised consciously in terms of adaptation and inculturation rather than solely in terms of spontaneous convergence.
The local Churches, guided by clear pastoral and evangelizing principles, did not hesitate to absorb into the Liturgy certain purified solemn and festive cultic elements deriving from the pagan world. These were regarded as capable of moving the minds and imaginations of the people who felt drawn towards them.
Such forms, now placed at the service of the mystery of worship, were seen as neither contrary to the Gospel nor to the purity of true Christian worship. Rather, there was a realization that only in the worship of Christ, true God and true Saviour, could many cultic expressions, previously attributed to false gods and false saviours, become true cultic expressions, even though these had derived from man's deepest religious sense.
In the fourth and fifth centuries, a greater sense of the sacredness of times and places begins to emerge. Many of the local Churches, in addition to their recollection of the New Testament data concerning the dies Domini, the Easter festival and fasting cf.
Mark 2,began to reserve particular days for the celebration of Christ's salvific mysteries Epiphany, Christmas and Ascensionor to honour the memory of the martyrs on their dies natalis or to commemorate the passing of their Pastors on the anniversary of their dies depositionis, or to celebrate the sacraments, or to make a solemn undertaking in life.
With regard to the socialization of the place in which the community is called to celebrate the divine mysteries and give praise to the Lord, it must be noted that many of these had been transformed from places of pagan worship or profane use and dedicated exclusively to divine worship.
They became, often simply by their architectural arrangements, a reflection of the mystery of Christ and an image of the celebrating Church. During this period, the formation of various liturgical families with their consequent differences, matured.Divine Roles Across Cultures Matrix.
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