Recently we shared with you the Liturgy Committee’s vision for the celebration of liturgy in the parish. We continue to explore the implications of this vision statement.
All liturgical celebrations have a common structure that must be respected. Consequently, the community should always:
· Gather as one family, united by their faith in Christ and their common baptism· Listen to the Word of God proclaimed in the midst of the Church· Respond in faith so that all may be nourished, healed and strengthened through prayer and sacrament· Go forth in peace to love and serve the Lord.
“For in the readings, as explained by the homily, God speaks to his people… and Christ himself is present in the midst of the faithful through his word.” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, article 55)
The renewal of the liturgy of the twentieth century was also accompanied by, among other things, a return to bible scholarship within the Church. The Church began to understand once more the importance of the scriptures. Subsequently, there came a call to open up the scriptures more lavishly within the liturgy itself.
We now celebrate a Sunday Mass with three readings and a responsorial psalm. Lay ministers proclaim many of these texts. In addition, so we are exposed to more of the scriptures, we hear the texts over a three-year cycle for Sundays and a two-year cycle for weekdays. That’s not to mention the plethora of liturgical prayers and other texts that are richly embedded with images and quotes from scripture.
The scriptures are central to our lives as Catholics. The Old Testament foreshadows the New Testament. The New Testament is a fulfilment of the Hebrew scriptures. In listening to each we are spiritually nourished and inspired to go out and “be doers of the word; not hearers only” (James 1:22).
Every liturgical rite revised since Vatican II includes scripture as a central element, as it is the means through which “God speaks to the people”. At our recent workshops for Ministers of the Word, one minister made the reflection that when they read at Mass, they do not see themselves as speaking their own words, but allowing God to speak through them to the worshipping assembly. After all, the words of the Lord are spirit and life (John 6:63).