Heaven on Earth

The Liturgical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI

“In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy….”
Sacrosanctum Concilium 8

These words form the heart of Pope Benedict XVI’s theology of the liturgy. Pope Benedict XVI professed his understanding of the Sacred Liturgy within a cosmological perspective. He attested to the reality that the Sacred Liturgy was far more than the mere conjecture of theologians, but instead, becomes the point of intersection between time and space itself, a stopping point for all of history and the cosmos. To him, this is because all of creation becomes healed and transformed at the moment of the great redemptive work of Christ on the Cross. He expounds the Paschal Mystery of Christ as one that will forever remain inseparable from his Body, the Church, which continually participates in liturgical worship within material creation. The transcendence of this act is he who is worshiped is the God who Himself exists in eternity and infinite splendor, to whom is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, [his] is the dominion, and he is exalted as head over all (1 Chron 29:11).

Sacred Time in the Liturgy
Beginning with the cosmological sphere, Pope Benedict XVI describes time as a cosmic phenomenon that man participates in. To him, therefore, creation going through its seasons and cycles through time unveils the majesty of God as creator; the movements of the heavens telling of his glory and the work of his hands (Ps 19:1). Nonetheless, Christians are called to view time not merely as cyclic but, ultimately, teleological, with said Telos being the very consummation of the ages or the Parousia of Christ, the eschatological time towards which all creation moves as its fulfillment. Benedict affirms how all time belongs to God and is always his. As such, even the very measurements ascribed to time are the work of the divine, created by God, for “He made the moon also to serve in its season to mark the times…” (Sir 43:2,6) whilst himself being always transcendent of time, never subject to it. Christianity revels in this dual definition of time for, on the one hand, there exists, as mentioned, a true teleology to the Christian journey, yet, on the other hand the celebration of the covenant liturgy recalls the oikonomia of the Trinity in human history, i.e. Salvation History. Contemplating, living in and celebrating the liturgical feasts in human time allows man to celebrate, constantly, the work of the Redemption of Christ in his life, recapitulating the teleology of Christianity through a cycle. The Pilgrim Church, by moving in and through human history, is constantly writing Salvation History, even as it moves towards the Parousia of Christ. Thus, material time, limited as it is, serves to open the door to the cosmic dimension of Sacred Liturgy. On a supremely elevated note, then, by choosing to take on human flesh, God allowed himself to enter into human history, making himself subject to time. Hence, when professing with the Apostle John that “the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us” (Jn 1:14), the Church necessarily also proclaims that the Word became time and lived alongside man. Because of the gift and mystery of the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity, the Sacred Liturgy ceases to be (and indeed never was to be) considered a distant, divinely ordained, un-relatable activity. Benedict resolutely professes the incarnational value of the Sacred Liturgy for in this liturgy, material creation is celebrated as the “stage” on which the divine Logos became man.

Therefore, the liturgical cycle of the Church marks and celebrates the Incarnation of Christ through the celebration of two solemnities. These are the Feast of the Annunciation, celebrated on March 25, and the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord, celebrated on December 25. Parallel to these celebrations are the Marian celebrations of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, celebrated on December 8, and the nativity of the Blessed Mother, celebrated on September 8. The Baptized behold, in every liturgical year, how the earthly lives of Christ and his Blessed Mother shape their liturgical and, from that, their daily lives.

The Covenant and the Sacred Liturgy
In this temporal and eternal perspective, Benedict relates his theology of the biblical covenants with his theology of liturgy, noting how the creation account of the Old Testament demonstrates that “creation moves towards the Sabbath, to the day on which man and the whole created order participates in God’s rest, in his freedom.”1 Whilst the Sabbath in the Book of Genesis isn’t directly termed a day of worship, Benedict, nonetheless is quick to elaborate how the “hallowing” of the Sabbath is to be taken to mean a “rest from all relationships of subordination,” where God calls man to lay down his burdens and come rest with him as one with him (Mt 28:11).2 Referring to the Sabbath ordinances of the Torah, he writes of how the Sabbath stands as a sign of the covenant established by God with man; effectively summing up the entire inner nature of what a covenant is–man communing and coming to be in relation with man. Because all of creation was created so that God could come in covenant with man, and the very “goal of creation is the covenant, the love story of God and man,” then the understanding of the Sabbath as mentioned earlier cannot be a mere anthropological definition but must necessarily be one that is understood theologically. Benedict argues that man is only at his freest when he is in covenant with God. As such, the logical progression from that position is, if all of creation is ordered towards the covenant, and the covenant is effectively relationship (God’s outpouring of his very self unto creation, and man’s response to this outpouring), then man’s only response to this unmerited outpouring of the love of God is to love him in return – loving God in a biblical, covenantal understanding means to worship him as he desires. Creation, then, according to Benedict, continually looks towards the covenant which, in its own turn, completes creation and “worship, rightly understood, is the soul of the covenant.”3 As such, worship doesn’t merely bring about the sanctification and salvation of mankind, it effectively is “meant to draw the whole of reality into communion with God.”4

The Finished Work of Christ
Benedict draws, from within this covenantal framework, a significant amount of his liturgical theology from his reflection on the economy of Jesus Christ. Sacrosanctum Concilium describes the Sacred Liturgy as “the work of Christ the Priest and of His Body which is the Church.”5 Following this definition, Pope Benedict theologizes how this refers to the Redemptive work of Christ, vicariously achieved in and through his Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension. In that light, Benedict explains how the phrase “the work of Christ” is applicable on two fronts. Firstly, as mentioned, the phrase “the work of Christ” can pertain to the redemptive, historical, economical work of Jesus. On another level, however, Benedict posits how the phrase, in a more eternal sense, connotes the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.

To him, both meanings are inseparable, most of all because the historical economy of the Second Person of the Trinity is not to be taken as an exterior event in history but, rather, as “joined to and [penetrating] history.”6 He goes on to describe how the Paschal Mystery not only transcends history but also defines liturgical theology as it has been taught by the Church. These are, firstly, that both the liturgy and the Paschal Mystery are not the work of man, but an action of God, and, secondly, that precisely because of that, the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus our High Priest are necessarily carried beyond the temporal confines of human history, “to that place where He sits at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 8:1).”7 Benedict also acknowledged that the Cross, itself, is not merely the unwitting result of human decisions but is effectively a willing act of passion from Christ. The human work simply consisted in the circumstances wherein man drove Christ to the Cross. For Christ himself, however, the embracing of the Cross was truly an act of passion which united him intricately with the divine Will of his heavenly Father – the climactic struggle of which is truly seen in the event in the Garden of Gethsemane (Lk 22:42). What should be deemed just the passive, receptive dimension of having been put to death by the authority of man is, in that one moment, transformed eternally into an active, dynamic act of love, wherein death itself became the truest abandonment of self by Christ, on the cross, unto the Father, for all mankind. Liturgical language terms these series of events “the Paschal Mystery” accurately, because they flow from the innermost core of the Redemptive work of Christ on Calvary. Therefore, seeing the Paschal Mystery as the work of Christ, one inevitably sees how it not only connects to and flows from but also flows back into the Sacred Liturgy, for in and of itself, the Paschal Mystery “is the real content of the liturgy.”8 Through the prayer of the Church, then, Pope Benedict XVI describes how this work of Christ is unceasingly recalled and relived in present history, that it might penetrate it and transcend it over and over again as part of the divine and human action which is Christ’s work of Redemption. In the liturgy, consequently, Christ is the necessary center, its true subject and its perfect initiator; the liturgy is, in effect, his work. As such, Christ’s death on the Cross “is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form,” for greater love has no man than this (John 15:13).9 In the liturgical celebration, the Church comes to participate in this “Paschal Mystery, [where] our deliverance from evil and death has taken place,” for it is “precisely in this permanent action in which our salvation takes place” and is continually being effected.10

Understanding the Term “sacrifice”
By virtue of this reality, Benedict stresses the necessity of a proper understanding of the term “sacrifice” and its usage pertaining to the Sacred Liturgy. In reflecting back upon Vatican II, Benedict describes the relationship between the Eucharistic celebration and the Paschal Mystery as being essentially sacrificial in nature. Quoting Sacrosanctum Concilium, Benedict calls the Sacred Liturgy the “divine sacrifice of the Eucharist.”11 It is in and through this principle understanding of the Sacred Liturgy that the baptized are truly called to live out the real nature of the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. As such, he expresses his disconcertion at the reality that modern thought not only shies away from but almost treats as preposterous, the notion of the Eucharist as sacrifice, even, he says, amongst Catholic liturgists. However, Benedict also describes how the reality of the liturgy as sacrifice is seeing renewed interest in recent theological discussion, amongst Catholics as well as Protestants. He takes on an indignant tone when countering the accusations that Martin Luther cast against the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, for Benedict writes, “I certainly don’t need to say that I am not one of the ‘numerous Catholics’ who consider it the most appalling horror and a damnable impiety (as put by Luther) to speak of the sacrifice of the Mass.”12 The fundamental question still stands: what is “sacrifice?” To this end, Benedict answers by quoting St. Augustine, that the true sacrifice is the Civitatis Dei, “that is, love-transformed mankind, the divinization of creation and the surrender of all things to God: God all in all.”13

Sacrifice and Temple liturgy
Engaging this theme of sacrifice further, Benedict turns to the Book of Genesis, reflecting upon the Aqedah (Gn 22: 1-19). Here, in the story of Abraham and Isaac, he demonstrates how God institutes the role of representative sacrifice. This is crucial because, by narrating the development from the Old Testament biblical covenants to the New and Eternal Covenant, Benedict demonstrates the “incarnational” aspects that the animal sacrifices of the Old Covenants signified, principally because of their typological nature–that they were allusions to the future Paschal Sacrifice of Christ himself. These sacrifices, by their very conception, were commanded by God with the covenantal purpose of looking forward to the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of the Second Person of the Trinity. Within that consideration, then, the Davidic Covenant and the Temple sacrifices that followed after were, to a certain degree, unconsciously prefiguring of the true Temple, the Body of Christ (Jn 2:21). Benedict is careful to highlight the modernist tendency of including protestant-like elements in liturgical worship, where the focus of the celebration becomes only Scripture and, even more so, the preaching, at the expense of the centrality of the Eucharist and the Sacrificial character of the Holy Mass. He draws this parallel to Temple versus synagogue models of worship, writing, “the exclusive model for the liturgy of the New Covenant has been thought to be the synagogue–in strict opposition to the Temple, which is regarded as an expression of the [old] law and therefore as an utterly obsolete ‘stage’ in religion,” for Temple worship necessitates liturgical sacrifice whereas the synagogue model employs the proclamation of the word and preaching, without the practice and notion of sacrifice.14 Benedict asserts that, even for the Jews, synagogue services were themselves “ordered to the Temple and remained so, even after its destruction … in expectation of its restoration.”15 The Temple, however, remained the central locus of worship, the sacrifices of which were deemed the fullness of the expression of Israelite worship. In that regard, the sacrifice of Christ done in the true temple, first on the Cross at Calvary and then made eternally present across time and space in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy “from the rising of the sun to its setting” (Ps 113:3a) would effectively be, per Benedict, the very perfection and culmination of all Old Testament Temple sacrifices, ad infinitum.

The Sacred Liturgy as Spiritual Sacrifice

In these different manners of contemplating the Sacred Liturgy, Benedict demonstrates how theological thought of the Sacred Liturgy follows the passage from the worship of substitution, that of the immolation animals, to Christ as the true sacrifice and, lastly, the spiritual sacrifice, that is communion with Christ. Citing the prophets before the exile, Benedict illustrates how there existed even among them an averse criticism of Temple worship. Stephen, in the book of Acts, makes distinct mention of this, much to the chagrin of the priests and doctors of the law. Quoting the Old Testament prophet Amos, Stephen says in the Book of Acts, “did you offer victims and sacrifices to Me, during forty years in the desert, house of Israel? But you have carried the tent of Moloch and the star of the god, Rephan, the images which you had made to worship.” (Amos 5:25, Acts 7:42). Fundamentally, this criticism, spoken authoritatively through a prophet of the Lord, allowed Israel a spiritual foundation of sorts with which they could continue to sojourn through the reality of the destruction of their beloved Temple, for, it naturally followed that, without a Temple, there could be no liturgical worship, and thus, no corporate liturgical expression of the covenantal identity of Israel and Yahweh. It was during this time that Israel had to come to a more profound manner of interpreting their understanding of worship, exploring what lay at the very heart of their liturgical sacrifices of expiation and sacrifice (Ps 51:16-18).

Because of this, Israel had to gradually rediscover and mature in their understanding of their practices of prayer, the word and the man in prayer. This journey paved the way for Israel to develop a concept of sacrifice that consisted in the Word, a practice that Paul writes about, exhorting the readers to “to offer themselves as a living sacrifice, Holy and pleasing to God” (Rom 12:1). The realization that reflection of New Testament theology brings the Church to is, in essence, that the true reality of sacrifice, the pinnacle of worship, is the Word himself becoming man. The book of Hebrews exemplifies this reality as well in describing that, “through Him – Christ – let us offer ceaselessly a sacrifice of praise, that is to say the fruit of the lips which confess His name (Heb 13:15).” The early Christian Fathers themselves extended these ideas unto the point where they became, in themselves, a “point of junction between Christology, Eucharistic faith and the putting into existential practice of the Paschal Mystery.”16 Benedict, to this end, cites Peter Chrysologus, who says, “It is a strange sacrifice, where the body offers itself without the body, the blood without the blood! I beg you – says the Apostle – by the mercy of God, to offer yourselves as a living victim.”17 In fact, Benedict encourages the full reading of his sermon for one to come to proper comprehension of the context and synthesis of Peter Chrysologus’s thought. Benedict continues to cite him, “Brothers, this sacrifice is inspired by the example of Christ, who immolated His Body, so that men may live…Become, man, become the sacrifice of God and his priest…God looks for faith, not for death. He thirsts for your promise, not your blood. Fervor appeases Him, not murder.”18

Thus, worship of the one true God carries a direct implication that the worshippers themselves necessarily become “beings of the Word, that [they] conform themselves to the creative Intellect.”19 However, Benedict is assertive in pointing out how this is an effort that is futile if done merely by human means or merits. Rather, it is only in the coming of the Word made flesh himself, in the manifestation of the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, who mounts himself upon the Cross in a new exodus, does this reality come to its truest fruition. By virtue of this sacrifice of Christ, Benedict explains that all mankind necessarily becomes sacrifice, for Christ’s sacrifice unites all man back to God and conforms man’s will to him. The Calvary event, whilst on the one hand a genuine point in human history, was, at the same time, never fixedly situated in the past of human history. Instead, Christ’s sacrifice, “becomes contemporary and accessible to us in the community of the believing and praying Church, in its Sacrament: that is what is meant by the sacrifice of the Mass.”20

The Liturgy as a Meal
Because of this essential, Sacrificial, nature of the celebration of the Holy Mass, the concept of the liturgy as primarily a meal has always been a genuine cause for concern for Benedict. In his essay Form and Content in the Eucharistic Celebration Benedict asserts how simply considering the Sacred Liturgy a mere meal ultimately flows from a blatant misunderstanding of the Eucharist’s origins which would inadvertently result in a false perception of the liturgy and the Sacrament. He, however, describes how there is inherently no opposition between the two terms “meal” and “sacrifice.” Rather, his concern lies in the fact that if theology centers on the language of meal to the reduction of the latter, it would reduce the understanding of the sacrificial character of the Holy Mass. Benedict likens this to the way in which modern man has become more and more self-centered, as opposed to self-sacrificial. It is this precise sense of self-centeredness that pushes for the Mass to be seen more as meal than sacrifice. Benedict treads very carefully in this area, elucidating with clarity how seeing the Holy Mass with the mere concept of a meal “seizes on individual elements while failing to grasp [its] great historical and theological connections.”21 In stark contrast, however, Benedict states how the very word “Eucharist,” in essence, “points to the universal form of worship that took place in the Incarnation, Cross and Resurrection of Christ.”22 As such, Benedict utilizes rather strong language in maintaining that “a common turning to the east during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential.”23 He argues that this action is not merely accidental but is, conversely, fundamental to the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. Far beyond the sentimentality of the baptized looking at each other as they gather for a meal, what truly matters is that the Body of Christ looks, in one accord, towards the sacrifice of her Lord and spouse.

The Eucharistic Liturgy
This process of the Body looking towards her Lord in liturgical celebration has the Eucharist as its culmination. Central to the corporate character of worship is the eschatological dynamism that a Eucharistic faith professes; one that Benedict is concerned has either been lost or at least diminished in recent years. Per his liturgical theology, the Eucharist is “not aimed primarily at the individual.”24 To him, the fundamental aim of the Eucharistic liturgy is that it is “a drive toward union, the overcoming of the barriers between God and man, between ‘I’ and ‘thou’ in the new ‘we’ of the communion of saints.”25 The reality holds true that the Eucharistic Body of Christ essentially brings all of his members together, for the precise reason that they become one body and one spirit in him. Only Christ’s true body in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is capable of building up the Mystical Body of Christ, the Civitas Dei. It is crucial therefore, for every believer to be soberly aware of the fact that in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, Christ, the Lord, has definitively and undoubtedly drawn a piece of created, material matter unto himself. He is really present, the “Indivisible One, the Risen Lord, with Flesh and Blood, with Body and Soul, with Divinity and Humanity.”26 All of him, the whole of Christ, is present in the Holy Eucharist, his flesh being real food and his blood being real drink (Jn 6:55). Consequently, Benedict stresses the baptized hold steadfast in their individual consciousnesses in approaching the Sacred Liturgy and the Blessed Sacrament that “the living Lord gives himself to me, enters into me and invites me to surrender to him, so that… it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20).”27

From here, Benedict draws the logical conclusion that because the Holy Eucharist is Christ himself, then the tabernacle, wherein the transubstantiated host is kept, is the complete fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant and its representation. The new and eternal covenant allows the baptized to behold, in the tabernacle, the place of the Holy of Holies, the tent of God, his throne and dwelling place amongst man – the place where his Shekinah truly resides (cf. 2 Chron 7:1-3). Everything that the Temple sacrifices represented, everything that the Temple and its liturgies pointed towards, is present in a supremely perfect way in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church. In fact, in the tabernacle resides the anticipation of the New Jerusalem itself. Hence, to consume of this Eucharist is not a physical act as much as it is, more profoundly, a spiritual one. It is to worship Christ, to let him come into the receiver, that their “I” is drawn up and transformed into the great “we” that all the baptized may be one in their God who himself is one. From this, it is clear that Communion with Christ in his Holy Eucharist only reaches its truest depths when believers approach the Sacrament and its liturgy with a reverential sense of adoration.

Beauty in the Sacred Liturgy
In Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI introduced a section on the Ars Celebrandi (the art of celebrating), placing, within which, special emphasis on the transcendental of beauty of the Sacred Liturgy. Beauty, to Benedict, is not to be taken as mere decorative addition but, instead, is to be seen as an essential element of liturgical action within the Church, simply because beauty is an attribute of God himself and his revelation. Benedict calls and challenges the faithful here to set aside the prosaic and to make proper use of that which is beautiful for the purpose of the liturgy. Far beyond the concept of aestheticism to please the human sentiment, Benedict affirms how, because all this beauty is derived from God, it must necessarily be ordered to him who is the Lord of the Holy Eucharist. To Benedict, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist as both a sacrifice and a Sacrament brings form to the Sacred Liturgy and awakens within the heart of man creativity in both art and music. Throughout his life as both Cardinal Bishop and then Pope, Benedict continually professed this truth that all of Catholic liturgical worship should be ordered to the reflection of the cosmic order and harmony of the divine Logos. In the liturgy, consequently, creation, which is marked with the print of its creator, the Triune God, is utilized to bring him glory in the worship that he ordains.

Contrastingly, the aversion of truth characterized in a hermeneutic of discontinuity exhibits a rupture that tends its practitioners towards the ugly and disproportionate, ultimately seeking to rob the Sacred of that which is mysterious in it. The Sacred Liturgy of the Church, and its beauty, thereof, “is a radiant expression of the Paschal Mystery, in which Christ draws us to himself and calls us to communion.”28 St. Bonaventure, quoted in the document, speaks of how in the person of Christ, the believer comes to contemplate the beauty and splendor of God himself as its source. As such, the employment of beauty as a transcendental in the Sacred Liturgy is far from a facade of aestheticism but is, in truth, “the concrete way in which the truth of God’s love in Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, which is love.”29 The God in whom the Church professes belief has revealed himself and continually allows himself to be glimpsed, first and foremost, in creation – in the beauty and harmony and splendor of the created, material world (cf. Wis 13:5; Rom 1:19- 20).

Christ, the author and end of the Sacred Liturgy
Pope Benedict XVI’s liturgical theology displays how God acts through the Redemptive work of Christ which Holy Mother Church celebrates in the Sacred Liturgy. Man cannot act liturgically, save in, with, and through the person of Christ. By himself, man lacks the power to build his own way unto God, unless God himself becomes man and, thus, makes himself the way back to the Father (Phil 4:13). Because of the eternal value of Christ’s Redemptive suffering, Benedict’s liturgical theology epitomizes how, in the Sacred Liturgy, it is not man who primarily speaks to God, but, it is rather that the Logos himself speaks to man, coming to be among man in his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in order that he might unite himself infinitely and intimately with man, to make of man one single, unified mystical body in him and draw him back into the intimacy of the Triune God. The Sacred Liturgy exemplifies how the entire oikonomia of the Holy Trinity, Salvation History, is remembered in the past, made present in celebration and assumed and brought to its teleological, eschatological goal, the Parousia of Christ. As such, the Holy Mass is more than a mere celebration on earth, per Benedict; it is a cosmic liturgy – embracing all of material creation as it “groans, awaiting the revelation of the sons of God” (Rom 8:9).

Subsequently cautioning against experimentation with the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, Pope Benedict states how “the liturgy derives its greatness from what it is, not from what we make of it. Our participation is, of course, necessary, but as a means of inserting ourselves humbly into the spirit of the liturgy, and of serving Him Who is the true subject of the liturgy: Jesus Christ.”30 He steadfastly asserts the truth that the Holy sacrifice of the Mass is far from a mere “expression of the consciousness of a community which… is diffuse and changing.”31 In fact, the reverse is true: that the Holy Liturgy is, first and foremost, a divine revelation received in faith and prayer and guarded in Love by the Magisterium. The obedience of faith to that Magisterium is what upholds the beauty and truth of the Sacred Liturgy, carrying it far beyond the limitations of place and time, into eternity itself. The essence of the liturgy, therefore, according to Benedict, finds its climaxing expression in the prayer which St. Paul has handed down to the Church in 1 Cor 16:22: “Maranatha – Come, Lord Jesus!” The eschatological Telos of the Church, the Parousia of Christ, is unceasingly accomplished in the Holy Mass. This, however, is only so because Holy Mother Church teaches her children to cry out this prayer, “Maranatha,” whilst lifting her hands outstretched to her Lord who is coming. The Holy sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacred Liturgy of the Eucharist, in its fullest sense, draws and directs the hearts of the baptized to constantly hear the reply of their Lord and divine spouse and to revel in its truth: “Yes, I am coming soon” (Rev 22:17, 20).32

  1. Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal. The spirit of the liturgy. Ignatius Press, 2014, 25.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid., 27.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Concilium, Sacrosanctum. “The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, December 4, 1963.” Vatican Council II 1 (1964), 7.
  6. Pope Benedict XVI. “theology of liturgy.” theology of liturgy- Pope Benedict XVI. Accessed May 23, 2017 piercedhearts.org/benedict_xvi/Cardinal%20Ratzinger/theology_liturgy.htm.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. XVI, Pope Benedict. Sacramentum caritatis. Libreria Editrice Vaticana (Vatican Press), 2007, 9.
  10. Pope Benedict XVI. “theology of liturgy.” theology of liturgy- Pope Benedict XVI. Accessed May 23, 2017. piercedhearts.org/benedict_xvi/Cardinal%20Ratzinger/theology_liturgy.htm.
  11. Concilium, Sacrosanctum. “The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, December 4, 1963.” Vatican Council II 1 (1964), 2.
  12. Pope Benedict XVI. “theology of liturgy.”
  13. Pope Benedict XVI. “theology of liturgy. xiii Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal. The Spirit of the Liturgy. Ignatius Press, 2014, 28.
  14. Ibid., 49.
  15. Ibid., 49.
  16. Pope Benedict XVI, “theology of liturgy.”
  17. Chrysologus, Peter. “Catholic Parish of Warkworth and Puhoi.” Words of Wisdom for our age. Accessed May 25, 2017. holyname.org.nz/chrysologus.html.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Pope Benedict XVI, “theology of liturgy.”
  20. Ibid.
  21. Ibid., 50.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Ibid., 81.
  24. Ibid., 49.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Ibid.
  28. XVI, Pope Benedict. Sacramentum caritatis. Libreria Editrice Vaticana (Vatican Press), 2007, 35.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Pope Benedict XVI, “theology of liturgy.”
  31. Ibid.
  32. Ibid.
Marcus Benedict Peter About Marcus Benedict Peter

Marcus Benedict Peter hails from Malaysia and has been involved in teaching, faith formation, missionary work, and evangelization of the Faith since 2008. He has ministered and spoken in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, India, and the United States. In 2018, he received his MA in Theology at Ave Maria University, Florida. Marcus regularly writes and creates content for his website, www.marcusbpeter.com, where he does work on Catholic biblical theology, apologetics, and evangelization. At present, Marcus and his bride, Stephanie Mae Peter, live in South Lyon, MI. Marcus teaches Theology at Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, MI.


  1. Avatar Tom McGuire says:

    If sacrifice and meal are not contradictory, then why does Benedict insist on facing east? The communion is symbolized when facing one another.

    • For more on Ratzinger’s thoughts on facing liturgical East, see these various excerpts from his writings:
      It note that the Catechism states: “The Lord’s Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem” (par 1329). It is the wedding feast of the Lamb (Rev 19:9), not the wedding feast of the people. Put another way, the entire church–clergy, religious, laity–are members of the Bride, and so all turn toward the liturgical East in anticipation of the coming Bridegroom, who both comes to us in the Eucharist and will come again in glory, etc.

    • Tom
      you need to understand that facing east as was done for centuries prior to the Novus Ordo masonic/protestant catastrophe in the 60’s led to millions of former good Catholics leaving the glad hand/master of ceremonies priest at this “meal” which is not the purpose of the holy Mass but to honor Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and to God the father in reparation for the huge sins of the world. The difference between the liturgy of the Latin Mass and this abomination of the new mass is so different placed side by side as to be laughable if it was not so destructive to the faith. If this is Tom McGuire of Kcity and Benedicton college I will see you at Sal’s party in July and we can butt heads. Pat

  2. Avatar christopher das says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, Marcus. What struck me the best is your explanation on the sacred time in the liturgy and the Eucharistic liturgy. This will help me to participate in Mass more deeply.
    God bless you


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