Augustine on the Liturgy

“We firmly believe, brethren, that the Lord has died for our sins, the just for the unjust, the master for the slaves, the shepherd for the sheep and, still more astonishingly, the Creator for the creatures.

“He has preserved what he was from eternity; what he was in time he has sacrificed. God hidden in the guise of a visible man, giving life with his strength and dying in his weakness “was put to death for our sins and raised for our justification.”

“All of that happened once and for all, as you know well enough. And yet, we have the liturgical solemnities which we celebrate as, during the course of the year, we come to the date of particular events.

“Between the truth of the events and the solemnities of the liturgy there is no contradiction, as if the latter were a lie.

“The historical truth is what happened once and for all, but the liturgy makes those events always new for the hearts that celebrate them with faith.

“The historical truth shows us the events just as they happened, but the liturgy, while not repeating them, celebrates them and prevents their being forgotten.

“Thus, on the basis of the historical truth, we say that Easter happened once only and will not happen again, but, on the basis of the liturgy, we can say that Easter happens every year.

“Thanks to the liturgy, the human mind reaches the truth and proclaims its faith in the Lord.”
(Augustine: Sermons, 220 (PL38, 1089)

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