What Does Liturgical Worship Signify in the Catholic Church?
Most of the time, when we hear the word liturgy, we think of a traditional Catholic service, steeped in tradition. Christians value liturgy because of the history and tradition attached to it—that believers have incorporated the same elements of worship into their services for centuries.
A Roman Catholic service typically has these liturgical elements.
Introductory Rites: Times for a greeting, confession, and offering
Readings of the Word: Often from different parts of Scripture such as the Psalms and Gospels. This is also when a homily happens, a short sermon that often has a tangible or figurative illustration that teaches a lesson.
The Eucharist: This is a fancy word for communion, this often includes a prayer and Eucharist song.
Concluding Rites: A blessing and often a dismissal happens at this time as well.
Of course, although Catholic churches do revere tradition, some may have some slight deviations from this format.
Is Liturgy Only in the Catholic Church?
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In short, no. Technically every church, no matter how traditional or relaxed, engages in liturgy. You may notice that your church follows a similar pattern each Sunday. I’ll use my non-denominational one as an example.
Greeting>Worship (often four to six songs)>Offering>Sermon>Communion>Concluding Worship or Blessing
Often my pastor will sprinkle in times of prayer, confession, Scripture reading, and on select Sundays, baptism.
Churches often have a reason behind the liturgy they do. A Lutheran church, for instance, chooses to read from different parts of Scripture: an Epistle, a Gospel, etc.
Although some Christians may balk at the idea of liturgy, saying that it gives the Holy Spirit no room to move with such a rigid structure, other believers may assert that liturgy remembers a strong church tradition and makes sure every element of the service has symbolic and spiritual value.