Liturgy and sacraments are part of the formal, public prayer and worship of the Church. The Church encourages full, conscious and active participation in liturgy. Schools celebrate the Liturgy of the Church through celebration of the sacraments, Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Hours.
The original meaning of the word “liturgy” was a public work or service on behalf of the people. In Christian understanding the word liturgy refers to the participation of the people of God in “the work of God” (John 17:4). The New Testament understanding of “liturgy” includes celebration of divine worship, proclamation of the gospel and acts of charity (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn.1069- 1070). Therefore, a school community’s celebration of liturgy both reflects and influences what it proclaims, who it is and what it does.
Sacraments are signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church through which the life of God is bestowed. There are seven sacraments in the Catholic Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify, to build up the Body of Christ and to give worship to God. Sacraments are signs and they also instruct. Sacraments pre-suppose faith and nourish and express faith (Code of Canon Law, 1983, 1123-1131).
Schools form their members for conscious and active participation in the liturgy and sacraments. Conscious and active participation in liturgy and sacraments is in itself formative. Formation includes opportunities for instruction about the nature, purpose and structure of liturgical celebrations and of appropriate ways of participation. Such formation assists community members to understand that liturgy also leads to action in the world.
Celebration of the liturgical life of the Church includes opportunities for celebration of the sacraments, Liturgies of the Word and the Liturgy of the Hours. To enable fully conscious and active participation in liturgy, it is important that schools reflect on the nature of their communities and the age and background of participants when selecting the appropriate form of liturgical celebration.
Careful preparation and planning are essential to good liturgy. The more students are familiarised with the words, actions and gestures, symbols, structures and environments of liturgies, the more they are able to come to a more conscious and active participation.