Last Wednesday was the first of three Mass classes. Early on, I guided the kids in figuring out that in the word Liturgy (Leitourgia), ‘-urgy’ means work, as in energy. There’s no good way to have them figure out that lit means people, so I just gave them that datum (which rarely happens). Then they conclude that lit-urgy is people-work (more or less). And like in the Loaves and Fishes miracle, at Mass the people do their work, and Jesus does the God work.
Later when discussing the Offertory, I asked if it’d be ok for us to bring up wheat and grape juice instead of bread and wine. Usually someone is quick to say bread and wine was used by Jesus or Melchizedek, so that’s what we use. But this year for the first time, a child said, “If it’s just wheat and grapes then we haven’t done all our work.” What a genius! Typically they don’t figure out the ‘work’ aspect until we discuss these bits:
“…through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands/ it will become for us the bread of life.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands/ it will become our spiritual drink.”
And by the way, that’s the new translation, which as usual I prefer to the the prior one for catechetical reasons. In the old trans we have “this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made.” In the new, it’s “the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands.” This is better in class because using the word work directly corresponds to the meaning of Lit-urgy, people-work. I wonder if the translators did this with deliberate reference to the etymology of Liturgy? Regardless, it makes for clearer teaching.
For those who must know, the Catechism says:
1069 The word “liturgy” originally meant a “public work” or a “service in the name of/on behalf of the people.” In Christian tradition it means the participation of the People of God in “the work of God.”
Harvest by Mykola Pymonenko
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Lisa Mladinich says
This is the coolest explanation of the meaning of “liturgy” ever!