09/15/2008, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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First Asian congress on promoting the liturgy begins in Sri Lanka

by Melani Manel Perera
Presided over by Nigerian cardinal Arinze, its theme is "Liturgy as a Glimpse of Heaven on Earth". Archbishop Ranjith: renewing and promoting the Eucharist by recalling the mystery that it contains.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - "Liturgy as a Glimpse of Heaven on Earth" is the theme of the first liturgical congress that will take place in Asia, in Sri Lanka. The meeting will be held from tomorrow until September 21 in Uswatakeiyawa, a coastal city about 30 kilometers from the capital of Colombo.

Organized by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments, the congress is expected to include 55 delegates from 19 Asian countries, including cardinals, bishops, and priests. The participants will hold meetings, group discussions, and working sessions. Each country will present a report from its own national commission on the liturgy, and the delegates will attend parish Masses and meet the faithful of Sri Lanka. The meeting will be presided over by Nigerian cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the congregation, together with the secretary general, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, a native of the diocese of Kurunegala in Sri Lanka. The archbishop of Colombo, Oswald Gomis, will deliver the opening address tomorrow.

At a press conference, Archbishop Ranjith (in the photo) explained that "the celebration of the liturgy becomes true living out of our faith. Liturgy is the key for any church renewal. What you celebrate is what you believe – 'lex orandi, lex credendi' and what we believe depends on how we will live – ' 'lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi '". "The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium gives us the guidelines to the celebration of sacred liturgy. In the introduction of the 'Sacrosanctum Concilium' it says 'This sacred Council has several aims in view: it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy".

"Misinterpretations of these guidelines", he continued, "have led to all kinds of abuses in the liturgy and wrong accents have caused certain amount of dilution of faith of the people. Faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is coming under serious threats. Many people who have become very familiar with the Eucharist, some have lost a sense of reverence for the Eucharist. The Holy Father is very concerned about this lost reverence for the Eucharist and the abuses in the celebration of the sacred liturgy. Therefore the Holy Father has spoken about the reassessment of the celebration of the sacred liturgy and has called these regional conventions with the bishops".

The liturgical congress (the second of its kind, after the one held in Ghana in Africa) will conclude on the morning of September 21 with a solemn Mass presided over by Cardinal Arinze at the Santa Lucia cathedral in Kotahena, Colombo. "We hope", Archbishop Ranjith says, "that these liturgy conventions in different regions and continents will become a source of closer communication and dialogue  between the Holy Father and the continents".

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