Vision Statement No. 9 – 26/11/06

Our final Liturgy Links for the Year B Scripture cycle in 2006 brings to a close our series of articles on our new vision statement for liturgical celebrations.

 

The parish community must call forth those people it believes will serve it best as ministers and leaders in prayer.  All lay and ordained liturgical ministers have a responsibility to the community as leaders of prayer.

 

The Eucharistic celebration is an action of Christ and the Church… It therefore pertains to the whole Body of the Church, manifests it, and has its effect upon it.  It also affects the individual members of the Church in different ways, according to their different orders, offices, and actual participation.  (Sacrosanctum Concilium, article 91)

 

The entire Church is active in the Eucharistic celebration.  Does it look like it on Sunday?  Maybe you’re one of those people who read Carmel when they should be listening to the homily.  If so, take a look around now and for the rest of Mass and ask yourself whether the Mass looks like the action of the entire gathered community or just a small group of them.

 

Every one of us has the right and duty to participate in the Mass.  The singing, the responses, the processions, the standing, sitting and kneeling all contribute the Church’s action that is the Eucharistic celebration.  Through this participation, we become one with Christ who is active with us in the liturgy.

 

From our community then, we all have the responsibility of calling people forward to lead and to share their gifts through particular liturgical ministries.  These people hold the responsibility of drawing people into the communal prayer and leading aspects of the celebration.

 

One particular minister we have is that of the priest.  The priest has a pivotal role in leading and guiding the celebration.  They play an essential role in many of our sacramental celebrations.  When is the last time you’ve encouraged someone to consider this ministry in our Church?

Vision Statement No. 8 – 19/11/06

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. 

The Order of Mass is to be revised in a way that will bring out more clearly the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, and will more readily achieve the devout, active participation of the faithful.  (Sacrosanctum Concilium, article 50) 

The statement immediately above is directly from the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from Vatican II.  Just as the Church is made up of many parts that form one body, so too does it recognise its liturgy as parts that together contribute to the entire celebration.

To be overly focused on one part of the Mass or sacramental celebration at the expense of others weakens the celebration and prevents it from forming and shaping us as it should.

Before Vatican II, we were almost exclusively focussed on the sacramental or “efficacious” (powerful) moment.  The prayers of the priest during such moments were often seen as magic words that made something happen.  Anything before or after that moment in the liturgy was superfluous.  Just consider how much we relied on the “words of consecration” during the Eucharistic prayer, or the prayer of absolution when we went to “confession”.

This is not to say that sacramental moments are not powerful, nor that they shouldn’t be given due importance.  However, when we start to see the other elements of the liturgy as contributing to the strength, power and importance of the whole sacramental celebration, then we allow it to be the summit of our lives, and the source of power for us as Catholics.

Let us not forget, either, that magic words from a priest don’t make sacramental moments in themselves.  We all gather together as “concelebrants” in the liturgy.  The priest is our presider, our leader, who speaks and acts on behalf of who is truly at work in every liturgy – Christ and his Church.

Vision Statement No. 7 – 12/11/06

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).

Vision Statement No. 6 – 5/11/06

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. 

The gifts of culture and experience also challenge us to find common understanding.  The clear, simple and careful preparation and use of liturgical symbols is key to transcending barriers so that all may grow in faith. 

The signs of celebration should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetition; they should be ‘within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.’ ”  (United States Bishops’ Conference, 1972, Music in Catholic Worship, article 8) 

The Mass has many symbols within it that allow us to engage with the ritual and to encounter Christ.  To understand the power of our symbols, let’s take one that we use each time we enter the church – the holy water. 

This holy water is baptismal water.  Each time we sign ourselves with the baptismal water, we are recalling our own baptism.  It is a baptism that makes us a member of this Church and gives us the right to enter and to fully celebrate the rituals that occur here. 


St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans (6:3-4): “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”  This passage is proclaimed annually at the Easter Vigil; it is central to our baptismal theology. 

So when we are baptised, we should be plunged into the waters of the font so that we may feel like we are dying, but rise to new life.  We should witness and participate in such baptisms over and over again with people who join our community, celebrating their sharing in eternal life. 

A baptism that truly feels like we die and rise with Christ makes our daily or weekly ritual of dipping our fingers into the holy water far more powerful.  Suddenly a little bit of water makes a profound, repetitive impact on our faith.  It becomes the life-giving water that keeps us from thirsting again. 

And all this (please pardon the pun), only skims the surface of what holy water means.  So imagine what would happen when we start thinking about all the other symbols.  All of them are our own visible, tangible signs of the reality that is our sharing in Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

Vision Statement No. 5 – 29/10/06

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. 

When all the community participates, then the parish may truly benefit from the generous riches of our diverse cultural backgrounds and the experience of faith that spans generations. 

“In setting forth its instructions for the revision of the Order of Mass, the Second Vatican Council, using the same words as did Saint Pius V in the Apostolic Constitution Quo primum, by which the Missal of Trent was promulgated in 1570, also ordered, among other things, that some rites be restored ‘to the original norm of the holy Fathers.’  From the fact that the same words are used it can be seen how both Roman Missals, although separated by four centuries, embrace one and the same tradition.  Furthermore, if the inner elements of this tradition are reflected upon, it also becomes clear how outstandingly and felicitously the older Roman Missal is brought to fulfillment in the new.”  (Sacrosanctum Concilium, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, article 6) 

This year we recognised those parishioners who have lived in Wentworthville for fifty years or more.  The liturgy they participated in at the time was very different to the one they celebrate today.  The pre-Vatican II ritual had been relatively unchanged for nearly four hundred years. 

When our Church reformed its liturgy during the twentieth century, the focus of this reform was to restore the worthy elements of the earliest liturgical celebrations of the Church.  In addition to this, many of the practices that became common in the years that followed have also been retained. 

As such, our liturgical celebrations draw upon the riches of two thousand years of Christian tradition.  At present our Church is continuing to revise its liturgical texts, particularly the Roman Missal. 

Our Church has undergone rapid change over less than fifty years.  The generations in our parish community today reflect different phases of this reform.  We have a challenge to draw upon the experiences of everyone.  We also have a challenge to form and catechise our community to celebrate as one community the liturgy of today.