27/6/10 – The Whole Body of Christ Celebrates the Liturgy, Part II

Over the coming weeks, we will continue to explore the liturgical principles which underpin our work in the Church Renewal Process.  A fortnight ago, we began to look at the first principle, namely:

The whole Body of Christ celebrates the liturgy

We discussed previously how the liturgy is an action of Christ and the Church.  All the people who gather together to celebrate form the Body of Christ and are called to participate fully, consciously and actively in the celebration.

We might understand this, and even believe that this sense of all the Church celebrating the liturgy is achieved at Sunday Mass.  There are other times, however, when this seems to be a greater challenge.

BaptismJust like the Eucharist, all the other sacraments and rites are celebrations of Christ and the Church.  Yet, when these celebrations occur at times when most of the parish isn’t present (Sunday afternoon, or a weekday morning, for example), there can be a perception that it is a “private” celebration.  This is especially the case at celebrations such as weddings, where many of the liturgical preparations are made by the families involved, and invitations and guest lists are prepared.

Wedding ringsThe Second Vatican Council was very clear in stating that none of the Church’s liturgical celebrations are ever private.  The challenge for us as a community then, is twofold.  Firstly, we need to be confident as a parish in fulfilling our responsibilities in these liturgical celebrations.  Are our parish liturgical ministers involved in areas such as music and art and environment, for example?  Secondly, we need to support those families directly involved in weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmations and the like; inviting them into our community and assuring them that their “special day” is not only an occasion of great joy for them, but one of great joy for us all.

27/1/08 – God Calling People to Conversion

In less than two weeks’ time, we enter once again into the season of Lent.  We typically think of Lent as a season of penance.  Yet it is firstly the season when we focus on the preparation of those seeking Christian Initiation.  Those of us already baptised engage in penitential practices so that we may join in solidarity with those preparing for the Easter sacraments.

Our parish’s catechumen, Michelle, will next weekend sign her name in the book of the elect, ready to be presented to the bishop at the Rite of Election.  She is undertaking the journey towards Christian initiation.  In the coming months, our young parishioners will continue their journey through Christian initiation through the sacraments of Confirmation and Communion.  So what is this journey that they are taking?

The journey of Christian initiation is one of God calling people to conversion.  It’s usually not an amazing, sudden revelation-kind of moment.  It’s a gradual process that takes time.  Time for people to listen to God speaking to them in their lives.  Time for God to be present to them through the love, example and witness of others.

That gradual process of conversion then begins to take shape within the context of a faith community, as it is now with Michelle.  The deepening relationship with God is more willingly expressed, and the community celebrates the continuing journey.  Rituals such as the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, the Rite of Election, or the children’s commitment to prepare for First Communion are all such examples.

The completion of Christian initiation won’t be the end of their journey of conversion, though.  Those who are initiated will join us completely in taking the journey together; facing the struggles, challenges, love and joy of belonging to God’s chosen people.

So the essence of Christian initiation, penance, and the Season of Lent are one in the same: God calling people to conversion.  Let that be our centre throughout the coming weeks.