L.A. gathering puts Catholic liturgy at the heart of the new evangelization

By Kevin J. Jones

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Catholics can learn a lot about evangelization from the liturgy, say organizers of an upcoming conference in Los Angeles“This year in particular, we are looking at the relationship of the liturgy and the New Evangelization and discussing the ways in which liturgy is at the heart of the effort to re-evangelize Catholics who have fallen out of the practice of their faith,” Dr. Anthony Lilles, conference coordinator for the Society for Catholic Liturgy, told EWTN News.

“We live at a time when too many of us sacrifice at the altar of productivity – we worship the works of our hands,” he continued. “The liturgy of the Catholic Church teaches us to surrender the works of our hands to the worship of God and the care of our neighbors.”

The Society for Catholic Liturgy’s 2016 conference, called "The Liturgy and the New Evangelization", will be held Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and the University of Southern California Caruso Catholic Center. In addition to organizing an annual conference, the group publishes Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal triannually.

Lilles, who is academic dean at the Los Angeles archdiocese’s Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo, noted that the Second Vatican Council described the liturgy as “the source and summit of our whole Christian life.”

The conference’s papers and presentations are intended to “promote dialogue and direction for the Church,” organizers said, and speakers will make presentations in both English and Spanish.

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles will celebrate a liturgy at the cathedral the first day of the conference and then address the opening banquet.

“Archbishop Gomez in particular will explore the importance of popular piety as a portal through which the lay faithful can rediscover the joy of the Church and, thus, the mystery of the Mass,” Lilles explained.

Bishop Elias Zaidan of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angles will celebrate the Maronite liturgy at the cathedral on Friday morning and deliver the conference’s keynote speech.

Lilles noted the “unfolding crisis of religious persecution” that faces Christians in the Middle East.

“Bishop Zaidan will offer some reflections on their plight and the essential role that the Maronite liturgy has served in sustaining the faith of the Church persecuted,” he said.

The Friday night banquet will conclude with a showing of Lannette Turicchi’s documentary “Pope John Paul II: Prophet for our Time.”

On Oct. 1, Father James Fryar, F.S.S.P., will offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

The conference will feature 12 academic papers and six pastoral presentations.

The conference’s Spanish track includes presentations from the Colorado-based priest Fr. Daniel Cardo about the Eucharist and the Eucharistic Rites in the New Evangelization.

Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, executive director of the secretariat of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, will present on the topic “The Rites of Christian Initiation and the Baptized but Uncatechized.”

Father Andrew Menke, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, will review the U.S. bishops’ current liturgical projects.

Other topics include architecture, marriage, and the renewal of liturgical catechesis.

“Liturgy, the public act of worshipping God, is the supreme activity of humanity, the most defining characteristic of living life to the full,” said Lilles. “We were created for a blessed happy life and every liturgy anticipates this ultimate meaning of our existence.”

The conference website is at http://liturgysociety.org/conference.

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