Indeed, in the past, excesses in popular piety may have led some Catholics to focus their spiritual lives on a particular devotion, rather than participating in the Eucharistfor example, if the celebration of the Mass at their local parish was not to their liking. (Why should I go to Mass? I have my Rosary.)
Today, however, the tendency may be the opposite: a reflexive dismissal of the devotional life, as if it had no meaning or relevance whatsoever.
Both reactions go against the grain of our Catholic heritage. A comprehensive guide published by the Congregation for Divine Worship in 2001 noted that the liturgy and popular piety are two forms of worship which are in a mutual and fruitful relationship with one another (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, No. 58). In other words, there is no conflict between loving the Mass and having a devotion, say, to the Sacred Heart. The Introduction to the document expressed the hope that other forms of piety among the Christian people are not overlooked, nor their useful contribution to living in unity with Christ, in the church, be forgotten (No. 1).
The riches of the devotional life speak to millions of Catholics whose faith was nurtured in a world where devotions played an important role in their religious education. Today these same devotions speak in a particular way to many younger Catholics eager to rediscover their Catholic heritage, to explore new ways of prayer and to regain a sense of mystery in their lives. As our writers have shown over the past weeks, the devotional life can move us to prayer and contemplation, can comfort us in times of suffering or confusion, can encourage us to care for others, can spur us on to appreciate Scripture more fully, can provide us with models of Christian discipleship, can prompt us to meditate on the love of God and, overall, can draw us closer to the one who lies at the center of any expression of our faith: Jesus Christ.