In our liturgical celebrations, we can either be lavish or austere depending on the circumstances. What is important is what is in our heart—whether there is real love or not, whether there is a sincere effort to worship and please God or we are just making a show, whether we are making present the redemptive action of Christ or just playing games.
We are somehow reminded of this consideration in that gospel episode where Christ said that “there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down,” referring to the temple that was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings. (cfr. Lk 21,5-6)
Obviously, if our motives are sincere and our understanding about the liturgy is clear, we would really give the best that our capabilities can give. If we can give diamonds instead of just gold, then we would do it. We can never give enough to God. We can never be too extravagant in this regard.
But if all we can afford are just stones and pebbles picked up from the road, no problem. God looks at the heart more than the things we give him. And to God, there is no more precious thing than our heart if it is fully given to him. One good heart, faithful and full of love for God and others, is worth much more, infinitely more, than a world of precious gems.
What we have to avoid at all costs is hypocrisy in our liturgical celebrations. If we are really sincere in our liturgical celebrations, we will do and give our best. Even those little details of kneeling, genuflecting, singing and praying should be done in such a way that genuine piety can readily be seen. Such behavior not only would draw more graces from God but also would inspire others in their own piety.
I am happy to note that there is a marked improvement in the way our churches are built and furnished these days. The altars, the reredos, the ambos and the general interior decoration are being done in a splendid manner. The sacred vessels and vestments, the linens have, in general, improved in quality.
They somehow show the kind of faith and piety of the people in general, even if we also know that we still have a lot of economic difficulty around. They somehow show people’s knowledge of what truly matters in this life, what truly gives them eternal joy and not just a transient one. Their sense of beauty transcends the economic costs and all other sacrifices involved.
We just have to make sure that our liturgical celebrations are done with the proper dispositions. This is something that has to be studied and put into practice, since it is no joke to be involved in the liturgy properly either as a celebrant or a participant.
To be sure, the liturgy is not just some kind of dramatization. It is nothing less than the making present and effective of Christ’s sacrifice and his entire redemptive action. Both the celebrants and those who attend the celebrations should never miss this reality and should act accordingly. In the liturgy, everyone steps into the spiritual and supernatural world where Christ works out our redemption.
Again, this requires of us to have a deeply theological mind, where faith more than anything else rules all our human faculties.*