Blank Image
St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
Just some images of our church
blank image
blank image
blank image blank image blank image blank image blank image blank image
Click here to go back

Monday, March 19, 2007
Why do we recite "Gloria in excelsis Deo..." (Glory to God in the highest...)?
The hymn "Gloria in excelsis Deo..." is a version of a very old Greek prayer, dating back at least to the third century and possibly the first. Its opening line comes from the prayer of the angels who announced Jesus' birth (Lk 2:14). The Gloria is sung on Sundays and feasts but is omitted during the seasons of Advent and Lent, except on feasts and on Holy Thursday. It is a beautiful poem giving praise to God the Trinity.

What is the significance of the Opening Prayer?
After the "Gloria" is said or sung, the priest invites the congregation to pray by saying "Let us pray". A brief period of silent prayer may follow and the priest then reads (or chants) the Open-ing Prayer. Traditionally this prayer was known as the "Collect" because the priest "collects" the prayers of the congregation in a unified, general petition to God. The Collect expresses a particular intention, with reference to the particular feast day or season of the liturgical year. Collects always follow a set pattern. After this we begin the “Liturgy of the Word.”

Often, we talk about liturgy but what does the word "liturgy" mean?
The word "liturgy" comes from an ancient Greek word "leitourgia" which literally meant a "public work". In ancient Greece these public works were acts of charity, but in the New Testament liturgy refers to well-defined, public worship of God. We can understand liturgy as our own public work of praise and worship to God, as members of Christ's body. Ultimately it is Christ’s praise of the Father, in its worldly dimension. Hence, liturgy refers to a religious ritual or ceremony which follows a standard order of events (gestures, prayers, readings etc.), in which all can take part together. The Mass is an example of liturgy, as is the Divine Office (or Liturgy of the Hours) discussed on the front of the newsletter last Advent.

The Catholic liturgy we celebrate today has its roots in Jewish acts of public worship and can be traced directly to the practice of the Apostles in the early Church. Because the liturgy is a work and gift of Christ for all the form it takes today is decided under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the Pope with the help of the bishops. Therefore it is not up to any one preist of person to decide or impose upon the rest of us how the liturgy should be celebrated. The Second Vatican Council taught us: "Therefore no other person [than the Pope], even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority" (Sacrosanctum Concilium 22,3).

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:32 am