The word ‘liturgy’ comes from the Greek ‘Leitourgia’ which referred to any public service or function exercised by the people as a whole. The people who do the work of liturgy are the people of God, all the baptised – the Church.
Liturgy is worship, but not all worship is liturgy. Liturgy is always a communal activity. A good working definition of liturgy is ‘the official, public worship of the Church’.
Ritual is so important in moving us from the everyday routines of our lives into that other realm where we become aware of who we are in the midst of a grander scheme, and a reality beneath reality. Ritual gives meaning amid the mundane. Christian ritual in prayer connects personal reality to a communal experience of reality involving words, gestures words and objects in response to the presence of Christ among the gathered.
Prayer is a form of religious practice for all Christians that seeks to connect with God. It can be individual or gathered, silent or spoken. For Christians, lex orandi, lex credendi: the way we pray expresses what we believe. So “We pray to keep our balance, to keep our focus firmly on God, to know that whatever happens, God journeys with us”. (Liturgical Commission - Archdiocese of Brisbane)
Liturgy – the ‘official public worship of the Church’ - contains prayer and ritual action and symbolism within it, tethered to and designed to remember and unleash the powerful reality of the story of God’s people and the paschal mystery in our midst.