Liturgical worship

Liturgical worship involves worshipping that is carried out in a public setting, generally during a church service, and that follows a set structure. For Catholics, the Eucharist service, also known as Mass, is especially significant. It serves as a re-enactment of the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples.

Catholics engage in liturgical worship during a church service

Why is the Eucharist so important?

The Eucharist is at the heart of worship for many Catholics. This is because:

  • Catholics believe the Eucharist is linked to other sacraments. They also believe it is a key moment that demonstrates faith in God’s love and grace.
  • It reminds Catholics that Jesus died for their sins. He sacrificed himself so that humanity could achieve salvation.
  • It is a moment every week when Catholics can feel connected to the presence of God.
  • Jesus began the Eucharist at the Last Supper. He specifically instructed his disciples to share the bread and wine in memory of him.
And [Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me".Luke 22:19

Catholic sources of authority

The Lumen Gentium, a document, written by the Second Vatican Council, gives guidance on key Catholic beliefs. Section 7 emphasises the importance of the Eucharist: Really partaking of the body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are taken up into the communion with Him and with one another (Lumen Gentium 7).

The Catholic Catechism refers to the Eucharist as the source and summit of Christian life (Catholic Catechism 1324). This links to the idea that the Eucharist is where the other sacraments stem from.

Different Christian attitudes towards worship

Catholic and Anglican churches generally prefer liturgical worship because following a set format helps the worship to become a repeated ritual with a clear place in people’s lives. Also, it connects worshippers to the rest of the Church, because everybody is worshipping in the same way, creating a sense of belonging.

Pentecostal churches prefer non-liturgical worship, which is freer in style and more flexible. Pentecostal church services are described as informal, and worshippers believe that the Holy Spirit is present and allowing them to carry out God’s wishes, so the services can be quite spontaneous. Evangelical Christians also worship in this style and may clap or shout during a service at any point, as they worship God with their whole body, not just their minds.