What is Liturgy?
The word liturgy refers to a public act of worship of a group of people. It differs from personal prayer in the sense that, for a liturgy to take place, a group of people must gather and offer their prayers together.
Why do Catholics celebrate liturgy?
Catholics often speak of celebrating liturgy rather than gathering for worship because celebrate refers to the purpose of gathering for liturgy. During liturgy, the gathered assembly:
- Remembers God’s gifts of life, love and mercy,
- Celebrates that God has shared these gifts with us, and
- Gives thanks for the unique gift of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Having celebrated these mysteries, the assembly then shares the call to support each other so that we can live according to what we celebrate.
In the Catholic tradition, many forms of liturgy exist. Some examples include:
- Eucharist, more commonly known as Mass.
- Celebration of the Word, which includes a proclamation of Scripture and the breaking open of Scripture through preaching, and may be led by a member of the laity (at SI, students often lead these liturgies)Ecumenical services that invite customs and participation from other Christian churches
How do we celebrate liturgically at SI?
Teams of students gather to prepare the school community for liturgical worship. They consider “the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of people of this age” because “these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.” As students prepare celebrations of Eucharist, of the Word, and other prayer services, they discern how to share the Good News with their fellow students.
Students desire to celebrate each others’ successes and join together as one community, and so planning teams also recall that, at liturgy, they are not “there as strangers or silent spectators,” but instead offer their “fully conscious and active participation.”
During the academic year, St. Ignatius College Preparatory:
- Celebrates Eucharist as an entire school three times, including the Mass of the Holy Spirit and Transition Liturgy
- Offers weekly opportunities to gather for Mass or the Celebration of the Word on Monday Mornings at 8 a.m.
- Trains students to plan and participate in liturgical ministries
- Offers the Sacrament of Reconciliation once a year for students in their Religious Studies classes
- Includes liturgical celebrations in all of its retreats
How can students get involved?
The word liturgy comes from a Greek word meaning “the work of the people.” Liturgy requires active participation from a great many people. To help make our liturgical life happen at SI, students participate in the following ways:
- Serving on planning teams for weekly liturgies and all-school Masses and prayer services
- Serving in Music Ministry during liturgies
- Proclaiming Scripture during liturgies
- Serving as acolytes
- Serving as ministers of Communion
- Serving as liturgical leaders during celebrations of the Word
- Preparing the liturgical environment for all-school Masses and prayer services
- Offering reflections on Scripture during celebrations of the Word and prayer services
What if I’m not Catholic?
St. Ignatius College Preparatory strives to honor and celebrate the dignity of each member of its community and recognizes that not all share a Catholic faith background.
This community does not force its student body to adopt the beliefs of the Catholic Church. Instead, we recall that the Church “regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all.”
Recognizing that members of the SI community have different religious backgrounds, our all-school prayer services endeavor to communicate core messages of the Gospel in language and symbols that are accessible to and meaningful for all.
- Reconciliation services every semester
- Wednesday Morning Liturgies on Blue Wednesdays - 10am in Orradre Chapel
- School Wide Liturgies - mandatory liturgies inclusive of all religious backgrounds
- Mass of the Holy Spirit - a tradition going back to the first Jesuit school in Messina, Sicily in 1548
- Communion Breakfasts - special occasions for students and parents to enjoy a mass and
Mass of the Holy Spirit at Holy Name of Jesus Church (celebrated the Friday after Labor Day)
Most Catholic schools, and especially Jesuit high schools and universities, celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of every school year. It is a tradition almost as old as the Society of Jesus itself, going back to the first Jesuit school in Messina, Sicily in 1548.
In the Preface for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, we pray in thanksgiving to God who gives us “gifts of grace for every time and season” as God “guides the Church in the marvelous ways of [God’s] providence.” God’s gifts of grace, which St. Paul refers to as the fruits of the Spirit in the Letter to the Galatians, are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. As we begin the school year, we pray that the Holy Spirit continue to fill our hearts with the fire of God’s love.