Mary in the Liturgy – But, what is the Liturgy? The liturgy is the composite of words, ceremonies, and acts of public and official worship with which the Church honors and prays to the Most Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, the Most Holy Virgin, and the Saints.
The liturgy is the court service of the Church before the Divine King, it is the social worship, regulated by her; it is the most worthy thing that a creature may give to the Most High.
There are three kinds of prayer. The private prayer of the Christian, who, in the privacy of his room, or in the mystical shadow of the temple, elevates himself to God on the wings of faith and love, is beautiful. Jesus Christ and the Church desire this prayer, and recommend it to all the faithful (see St. Matthew, vi, 6).
Collective prayer is more efficacious; it is the one by two or more persons, joined together to praise God, to ask for His mercy, to thank the Divine Goodness. In fact, Jesus Christ said, “if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning any thing whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven.” (St. Matthew, xviii, 19). And the reason for it is further presented, “For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (St. Matthew, xviii, 20). It is Jesus who prays with them.
But the most sublime one is the liturgical prayer. Here, it is the Church herself, the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, who prays. The liturgical prayer is the breath of the mystical organism of the Church; it is the vital and sanctifying activity of the Eternal Priesthood and of the Visible Priesthood. The Priest, when he celebrated and when he administers the Sacraments, is, as it were, absorbed in unity of action by Jesus Christ.
Glory to the Most High. The Liturgy is, thus, the great prayer of the Church. She prays to God: each time the Holy Mass is celebrated anywhere on Earth; each time a soul, receiving the Sacraments, acquires supernatural life, either because she rises up from sin, or because she increases in grace; each time the Priest blesses in the name of the Church or in which a Christian makes use of a Sacramental.
Liturgical prayer is unceasing; for the pure Oblation is offered to God continuously from East to West; and for, without interruption, men are sanctified by the sacred rites. How pleasing is to the Lord this most perfumed incense, that rises from the thurible that is the heart of the Church. This heart of the Church is always holy, always thankful to God, because Jesus Christ has created it pure, immaculate.
Liturgical prayer is, thus, holy. And who would dare pray it with blemished heart? It has as its ultimate and highest object the Most Holy Trinity, God, the beginning and end of all things: Universa propter semetipsum operatus est Dominus, The Lord created all things for Himself (Proverbs xvi, 4).
[Blessed James Alberione. The Feasts of Mary ("Feste di Maria", 1951): Introduction. Text in three parts - two parts to follow.]