Posted by: Joe of St. Thérèse | February 22, 2008

Part II of Commentary on Gather Faithfully together.

(Comments in the blue.

This message is about Eucharist, about the Sunday prayer of praise and thanksgiving. First, then, I give thanks to God for the attention to the liturgy consistently given by priests in this Archdiocese (if by attention, you mean the vast amounts of Liturgical abuses that go on, and yesterday when I did penance by heading to your monument, consecrations with flagons, which were banned by Rome, yeah, I’d say you pay a lot of attention). Without your leadership, on what ground could this Letter stand?
Many of you, like myself, were prepared for ministry before Vatican II (and whose to say you couldn’t of done it?). What the Council offered us was wonderful, but difficult. Many of us did not readily grasp what the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy asked of us (And you still don’t, because the Mass of Vatican II was the Tridentine or Traditional Latin Mass, get it right) . Those prepared after Vatican II have had to contend with various understandings and approaches to the liturgy. Many of you who work in this Archdiocese were prepared for your ministry in other lands, cultures and languages, and you have had to make many transitions. If I now ask even more of you, I do it with full gratitude.
I invite you to share this gratitude of mine with those in the parishes who have worked with you to build up the liturgy of the Church (or destroy it, which you’ve almost done, but God will not let things get that bad).
What follows addresses you as priests, and also addresses the many who join you in taking responsibility for the Sunday Liturgy. Please know that I am myself committed to this work. Together we will approach the Jubilee Year doing what will have the greatest impact on the Church of the next Millennium in our Archdiocese (the impact has been major, I’ll give you that, in destroying the Faith of the vast majority in the archdiocese. I know several that their Faith has been changed due to the destroying of the Liturgy).
I will do all I can to support your efforts to implement this Letter over the next years. But as always, the good to be done comes from all those working at the parish level. Please reflect on what I am sharing here (That’s what I’m doing). I hope you can make it your own (Wait till you read my revisions in my pastoral letter: Restoring the Catholic Liturgy, as a liberal, you’re going to hate it) because I believe that the Church in Los Angeles — as magnificent as it is diverse, with many challenges but with innumerable blessings — can flourish in this renewal (You believed wrong Cardinal).
Leaders Who Need and Embrace the Assembly
I want to be clear: I believe we are at a crucial place in the Church’s liturgical renewal. We can abandon it, believing that what we have now is what the renewal intended (renewal meant for more lay involvement, but not women pastoral associates), or we can learn from the past — mistakes and successes — and go forward. I want to invite all of us to go forward together.
We have learned that the renewal of the liturgy cannot take on its own course apart from the renewal of catechisis, the building up of our Churches as places where justice is done, and the strengthening of our parishes as communities. I do not mean that liturgy will take sole precedence for several years, and then we will then turn to religious education (please, abolish WREC), then outreach, then community.
Rather, we will focus on the liturgy with concrete goals and deadlines for implementation. But I understand that this is how we will learn to do catechesis well and thoroughly for children, for adults, catechumens and the baptized. And I understand that this is how we will become people who see clearly where justice must be done with the liturgy as our constant strength and inspiration for doing this justice. And I understand that building our liturgical practice is the only way we as Catholics make our parishes communities.
We must keep all these aspects of being the Church before our eyes in these years. As parish leaders, whatever your own special expertise or interest might be, work together for such strength in the Sunday assembly. Seek and discover how that assembly — and not just the dedicated few — can be about evangelization and catechesis, justice and outreach, the ministering to each other in community. Implementation of this letter begins and continues when pastor, staff, council and liturgy committee have a firm grasp of the way these aspects of being Catholic are related (At places where this letter hasn’t been implemented, the Faith is alive and well and the reverence that is shown towards Mass is amazing, you should come see it for yourself, you’re invited to St. Thérèse Church anytime).
The agencies of the Archdiocese and I will support you, but each parish will have to develop its own approach. By the summer of the year 2000, can we all be somewhere near where Our Lady of the Angels is (I’d rather not)? I think we can because much has already been done. Our achievements in preparing ministers, liturgy committees, and coordinators are outstanding. Build on this success.
It will be necessary and helpful to set goals and timetables, to decide on means of presenting good liturgical practice to the parish as a whole, and to critique present practice and be realistic about how it falls short.
How do we move from where we are to something more like the intense, nourishing and life-rehearsing Sunday Mass I described in Part One? The most basic answer is that we begin to believe we are an assembly celebrating and being transformed by the liturgy. We begin to believe it and to act that way.
Too often many of us who preside have acted as if it would be enough to hold people’s attention, to give them a bit of inspiration, to make them feel better after than before. These are not wrong things to do (correction, it is wrong to celebrate Ad Entertainem), but they have little to do with the reality of what liturgy is for Catholics, and little to do with what the Council set as our agenda in paragraph 14 of the Sacred Constitution on the Liturgy. We can learn from what we have done so far. We will not have a renewal of the liturgy as long as there remains the habit that some do the liturgy and others attend, some give and some receive, some prepare and others just get there.
We need to have in both mind and heart the Council’s vision of a Church that can, with strong leadership, achieve the full, conscious and active (actuosa was the word used, not activa, please, if you’re going to quote the Council, at least quote them correctly, actuosa means real, or actual) participation that is the “primary, indeed the indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #14). How else can this Church live without that spirit? And where else can such spirit be found? We will receive eagerly our Tradition, celebrate our rites, from Sunday to Sunday and season to season, so that we are slowly fashioned into Catholics whose lives are God’s own love for the world.
Do not miss what is implicit in paragraph 14: Liturgy is liturgy when it is the habitual deed of the Church. These assemblies must know it deeply and thoroughly, as something so beautiful and profound that repetition only enhances our love for these deeds and our growth from them. Unlike so much else in our modern lives, liturgy is not diversion or entertainment, not measured by any standard suitable to those worlds. It is instead an orchestration of word and silence, chant and gesture, procession and attention, that we are to know, wonderfully, by heart.
We must face a primary obstacle head on. After the Council, nowhere did the institutional Church seem to know how to do what the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy saw as absolutely essential for renewal: the condition that the “pastors of souls, in the first place, become fully imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy and attain competence in it.” We cannot go on unless we attend to this foundational element of the renewal. I have no single answer as to how this might be done (I do though, it’s called apply the renewal to the Traditional Mass as it was intended, and not liberalized it).
My commitment must be to offer to all who are ordained the challenge and opportunities to go deeper into the liturgy, to discover firsthand what the Council’s summons is about, and to lead parishes toward renewal. But the goal of this Letter is not the mechanical implementation of what follows. This Letter is a summons to let renewal come from our own disciplined and emerging sense for what is right in liturgy. We cannot survive another generation of external change without deep love of the liturgy and the life we are to find in its celebration.
I will speak of the “Qualities of the Presider,” “Catechesis for the Liturgy,” “Challenges,” and “A Schedule of Implementation.” The first three summarize the areas where the most work is needed. The fourth attempts to make concrete some basic steps. These basic steps can be offered only because of work already done: by the parishes, the Office for Worship and other agencies of the Archdiocese.
Qualities of the Presider
No single personality type makes a good or poor presider. Some may bring more of the gifts necessary to the task; others may cultivate more strenuously the required disciplines and make up for the gifts they lack. We may not have attended as we might have to the gifts to be sought in a presider or the discipline to become skilled in presiding (Again, not Ad Entertainem). I want to emphasize some elements of the presider’s task that could most benefit from work in these next years.
The presider serves the liturgy that this Church, in all its diversity, is celebrating. Often, we who preside seem not to trust the liturgy (this means, say the Black, do the Red, the words of the Liturgy are not to be messed with). We have all experienced this: the presider who talks too much, or who must prove his humor or piety again and again, or who keeps the other ministers guessing as to what will happen next, or who lets his own way of doing things or his own feelings of the moment dictate. What happens? He has claimed the liturgy as his own and made the assembly an audience. This ends any possibility of a Church enacting its liturgy in this sacred space.Presiders who act in these ways fail to trust both the liturgy and the Church. All presiders need to be within an assembly led by a priest who has achieved the art of trusting the Church to do its liturgy. What a good thing it is when the “audience” mentality has disappeared both in presider and assembly! Although such opportunities may complicate our schedules, we must seek them out. And even when the presiding is less than we might wish, occasionally being in the assembly at Sunday Liturgy builds our desire for a renewed liturgy as little else can.
But that is only part of the answer. Until there is a clear sense for how the assembly, served by many good ministers, celebrates the liturgy Sunday by Sunday, presiders may rush into a vacuum and try to fill it. Thus we have to progress in two areas at the same time: in the self-awareness of presiders and in the parish’s progress — that is, parishioners responding to God’s call, coming Sunday by Sunday in full expectation and need of doing all they must to make good liturgy.
A presider prepares by knowing thoroughly the flow of the liturgy in this community, which is why it is never ideal when presiders are “circuit riders.” They need to know how this liturgy is celebrated Sunday after Sunday by this assembly. The presider must know about timing, the length of silences (after “let us pray,” for example), the pace of the procession, what is sung and what is spoken, what the other ministers do, and when and how they do it. The audience/performer feeling sets in as soon as the assembly perceives, usually subconsciously, that this presider will act according to his own notions of pace, what is sung and what is not, silences or lack of them. Then liturgy, as we are trying to understand it, will not be fully celebrated (Good understanding here, but this is something that’s obvious).
Preparation to preside is about care with every text to be spoken or sung at a liturgy. This applies certainly to the central tasks of the presider: proclaiming the presidential prayers and the Eucharistic Prayer. But it applies also to the various invitations, greetings and the blessing. And if there are optional “exhortations,” then these also need to be prepared. Even those who are gifted with good voices need to grapple with the words before making them part of the Church’s liturgy.
A good presider is thoroughly attentive to the liturgy (say the BLACK DO THE RED), just as every member of the assembly must be. He visibly attends to the readings, joins in the singing, and keeps silent and still when that is expected of everyone else. The presider is “there” for the liturgy, thoroughly engaged in the ritual (Refresher Greek course: Liturgy derives from the Greek word Liturogia which means public work, which means offered on behalf of the people). This is an attitude, a way of being and conducting oneself. It can happen only when we realize that “presiding” is not merely an item in an ordained person’s job description (That’s because presiding isn’t the word that should be used, maybe servant, as the priest is a servant of the Liturgy). The presider comes to the liturgy expecting much from the assembly, other ministers and the Lord. He comes with hunger and thirst for God’s Word, for making intercession, for giving thanks to God. We ask this of all members of the assembly.
The presider does not expect to be carried by emotion or by the good or sad feelings of the moment. The rites of the Church are capable of touching every possible human emotion because they are not dependent on the feelings of the moment. Our rites are filled with passion, but it is the Church’s passion, the deep caring for the world, for creation, for God’s love to be manifest. Ritual is, in a good play of words, about the passion of Christ (Greek Refresher course II: anamnesis means: to make something past present again, to remember)…Christ’s Passion is made present during the Mass). That leads directly to the next aspect of presiding.
The presider respects symbol. What we do at liturgy takes us beyond the literalness that dominates our lives. To preside, a person must live from the rich ambiguity of symbolic reality.
Respect for the power of symbol does not come easily. Even in the Church, we are afraid of symbol. We want the facts, the dimensions. We want a literal truth (but we have a literal Truth), but the literal can never be “the way and the truth and the life. (Actually, it has to be Jesus)” Symbols get beneath the surfaces and are true and real. The symbols we live by are large, ambiguous, and always engaging us anew. One who would preside at liturgy must be practiced in reverence for the symbolic reality of the deeds done by the Church at liturgy. Think how the early preachers in the Church could expound over and over again on a deed like Baptism, knowing it from a dozen sides, scores of Scriptures to be quoted and examined because each gave them some new insight and none exhausted whatever happens in the Baptismal waters. Is that pool of water a womb or a tomb? Is this a marriage bath or a funeral bath or a birth bath? It is all!
The symbolic deed done with power and reverence is fundamental. At Sunday Eucharist, there is reverence (you mean adoration) for the Body of Christ when we have eaten bread that is bread to all the senses, and when we habitually have enough wine for the cup (you mean chalice) to be shared by every communicant. Do not deprive these symbols — bread, wine, eating, drinking — of their power. Our more careful planning helps us avoid taking from the tabernacle hosts consecrated at a previous Mass because we have given thanks over this bread and wine on this altar (You mean, consecrated the Bread and wine, and you also mean that you got enough bread for the consecration so that you didn’t have to go back into the tabernacle).
Presiders need to nurture immense respect for our Catholic sense of symbol, of sacrament. We want to know the depth of the things done, used, and said in liturgy, whether this be immersion in water, fragrant anointing with chrism, Word proclaimed from a worthy book of Scriptures, or bread and wine on an altar that is surrounded by baptized persons (the altar should not be surrounded by anyone during the consecration other than the priest, no Lifeteen Masses) giving God praise and thanks in the voice of the presider and in their own voices.
More than catechisms or homilies, the symbols, when they are respected and done fully, are the teachers of the Church. But these symbols are not things or abstractions. They are the whole engagement of assembly and its ministers in the deeds that define them. Doing their symbols, Christians form Christians. Those who would take on the role of presider must in these years examine themselves and learn the ways in which they either foster the power of our symbolic actions, or reduce these actions to one-dimensional, impoverished signs.
A presider has a “liturgical piety,” a spirit formed and continually formed anew by the liturgy. This is what the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy calls that “true Christian spirit” that is sought and found in full, conscious and active (again with the mistranslation) participation in the liturgy.
There are various valid expressions of Catholic piety, but the test of every piety is the liturgy.
For example, a priest may know the Bible from a scholarly perspective, but still need to discover how it sounds and what it means when its words are spoken powerfully in the midst of the Church and attended to by an assembly (is it REALLY about that?, it’s not about entertainment of the Church). Liturgical piety and spirituality crave God’s spoken Word, pondered in silence and in homily amidst the lives of people and the life of the world. Or a priest may know a variety of theological discussions of what transpires in the Eucharistic Prayer, but may know little of what it looks like, how it sounds, and how passionate the moments can be when the Sunday assembly regularly is engaged in the Eucharistic remembering, acclamation and intercession that is their Eucharistic Prayer (if they don’t know what’s going on, how can they celebrate the mystery?), the center of this liturgy, the deed that is shaping their lives (Catholicism isn’t about emotions). A liturgical piety’s essence will be the habit of such praise and thanksgiving. We must avail ourselves of opportunities to experience liturgy celebrated this way.
Catechesis for the Liturgy
When the reforms of the liturgy were introduced after Vatican II, there was often little preparation. However, experience showed that when parishes were well prepared with catechesis in various forms, the reforms were embraced and the liturgy came to be celebrated with care and enthusiasm.
If we as an Archdiocese are to make serious efforts at renewal these next three years, then catechesis must be a part of this.
The primary form of catechesis I want to call forth during these three years involves preaching, in part because I want this catechesis to reach every practicing Catholic. But also because I believe it can be done in fidelity to the norms for the homily, and I want us to form a good habit of this kind of preaching.
For an example of what I mean by a homily that includes catechesis for or about the liturgy, consider the well-known words of Augustine:
If, then, you wish to understand the Body of Christ, listen to the apostle as he says to the faithful, “You are the Body of Christ, and his members” (1 Corinthians 12:27). If, therefore, you are the Body of Christ and his members, your mystery has been placed on the Lord’s table, you receive your mystery. You reply “Amen” to that which you are, and by replying you consent. For you hear “The Body of Christ,” and you reply “Amen.” Be a member of the Body of Christ so that your “Amen” may be true.
His words could be a contemporary homily on any of those summer Sundays when Mark’s Gospel is interrupted for the reading of the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. What does Augustine do here that most of us fail to do even when the opportunities are right before us? To begin, he knows the whole of the liturgy as a source for his preaching. We tend to limit ourselves to the Scripture readings. Augustine has before him the day’s Scriptures, its psalms and songs, the season’s whole milieu, and the memory of how our assembly celebrates the liturgy. He can summon to his own and the assembly’s consciousness the Sunday Eucharist every Sunday, the baptizing every year, the anointing whenever someone is ill. These memories of deeds we have done together are a common language.
Augustine can preach that language! How he can preach it! It is a language that the catechumens are slowly beginning to speak, a language that the long-baptized are still learning although now it is not as familiar as their mother tongue. It is a language of gathering around the flames of candles and oil lamps, of tasting milk and honey on the night of Baptism, of hunger and thirst, of touching and tasting the consecrated bread and wine every Lord’s Day, of hearing and seeing the waters of the font receive the bodies of the beloved elect and return them newborn in Christ, and of seeing, smelling and reaching out to touch the fragrant oil that flows down the faces of the newly baptized at the great Vigil each year.
The reason Augustine and so many others of that time could preach this way is that the rites themselves must have been done with great strength, with respect for symbol and the goodness of repetition. And even as we strive to celebrate with such participation in our rites, we can preach from what we are already experiencing. I am not talking about inviting the assembly to celebrate any part of the liturgy better. Rather, this kind of catechetical preaching invites the assembly to join with the preacher in reflecting on what has been their experience so far.
For example, it is the experience of the assembly members to say “Amen” when the minister addresses them with these words, “The Body of Christ,” “The Blood of Christ.” The preacher asks: Ponder what that experience means. Did you hear this or realize that? Do you ever remember these Gospel words of Jesus or these verses of the psalmist? Does it ever overwhelm you how this touch is like the ways human beings touch one another? Perhaps the preacher needs to talk to people and find out what they would think about this communion experience if they were asked to think about it (not about an emotional experience). Perhaps the preacher needs to talk with ministers of Communion (EOMHC’s) to garner their wisdom about their ministry and the community they serve.
This catechesis for the liturgy will probably be difficult for us at first. But we learn the language by doing the deeds. We may discover that many members of the Sunday assembly (perhaps especially those with strong ethnic identity) are ready to speak this language, have been practicing it all their lives, and will welcome it joyfully. But the language must not outrun the reality. If we begin to speak about the many-splendored gesture called the Sign of the Cross, we will need to know how to make that gesture with dignity, reverence and a sense of participation in something ancient. If we begin to speak about the “Amen” we say to the minister’s “Body of Christ,” “Blood of Christ,” we will want to know that the bearing, speech, eyes and posture of the ministers of Communion (and EOMHC’s) confirm all that we say.
This preaching from the liturgy does not exhaust the ways of doing catechesis for the liturgy. Here we will need to strengthen the relationship between those who work in liturgy and those who work in catechesis. You whose ministry it is to teach, whether at a graduate level or a pre-school level: Are you not members of the assembly who celebrate your parish liturgy? And you who prepare liturgy, are you not people formed by your teachers and still being catechized and catechizing others in many ways? These are just two facets of being a Church. I want to encourage all parish ministers to explore possibilities for even fuller collaboration, especially in sacramental preparation. How can the present and emerging forms of liturgical life be the source and subject of catechesis? We need the service of those who have special knowledge in the many areas of parish life, recognizing that all are ritual and sacramental beings whether they teach or are taught, and all are in search of knowledge and meaning when they celebrate their rites. This kind of recognition — that we stand on common ground — will multiply energies and enable everyone to serve a Church in desperate need of learning, formation, and liturgy.
These next years are a time to push hard in this direction at every level. Let catechists, teachers and Directors of Religious Education, teachers in our Catholic Schools, see how a strong parish liturgical life forms Christians (what happened to the nuns?). And let those who work in liturgy know that the stronger the assembly’s participation in the liturgy, the greater the need for all forms of instruction and catechesis. The goal is not aesthetic liturgy or age-appropriate understandings of a catechism. The goal is a Church that is acting on God’s love for the world. We must come back, again and again, to Matthew 25: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Challenges
The Homily. The homily is liturgy. Its words are the words of the liturgy as much as the prayers of the presider or the songs of the assembly. We are told time and again that faithful Catholics want good preaching and homilists who develop and hone their skills.
The homilist needs an ear for speech and an eye for the significance of the everyday and the extraordinary. A homilist needs time to delve into all sorts of worlds, to silently ponder and to write. A homilist needs the habits of reading and listening to good speaking. Even with all that, a homilist needs to speak with conviction within and to the Church (and not spend time rambling about his vacation, and dissenting from the Church’s teachings).
The approach and guidelines of the U.S. bishops in our 1979 document, Fulfilled in Your Hearing, should be studied and applied. Take to heart the germ of an idea in that document: that homilists meet regularly with members of the assembly to read and ponder the Sunday Scriptures. The Eucharistic Prayer. What we have often done well for the Liturgy of the Word, we must now do for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. We must engage the Eucharistic Prayer itself, “the center and summit of the entire celebration” (GIRM, 54). I have spoken of this above in describing the liturgy at Our Lady of the Angels. By 2000, let it be obvious to the visitor (it wasn’t to me) and let it be deep in the heart of the regular churchgoer: When called upon to lift up our hearts, we do so! And with hearts lifted up to God we all give God thanks and praise, call upon God’s Holy Spirit, remember God’s gracious deeds, intercede once more, and seal all this with our Amen. The “center and summit” is yet too often the neglected and misunderstood. How can we be ourselves, the Baptized, unless we begin to pray the Eucharistic Prayer fully? How is it chanted or proclaimed? How well do the acclamations acclaim? How is it, even if subtly, set off from the preparation rite and the Communion Rite? How does the very appearance of the sacred altar — the plate of bread that is bread to all the senses, the cup of wine and the flagon (no, no , o Cardinal, Rome banned flagons, read RS) full of wine for the whole assembly — center us? This change will require catechesis and preparation of presiders and musicians. Let us begin now. Attend to the bread of life: Let it satisfy the requirements of the General Instruction (which would mean not using flagons), let it be ample for each Eucharist. Attend to the cup of everlasting life: Let it be there for all at every Sunday Mass. Attend to the text: Those responsible should determine the way that the approved texts for the Eucharistic Prayer will be prayed through the course of the year (it’s already been prepared for you, say the Roman Canon). The choice of Prayer should not be at the sole discretion of the presider, but should reflect the aspirations and needs of this community (Elminate EP’s II, III, and IV, and you have a solution). It is the entire assembly’s prayer. Attend to the manner of proclamation and acclamation as a first step in making the Prayer a clear center of our Sunday Mass.
The Communion Rite. Again, although there is much to be done, these tasks are simply implementing the reforms of Vatican II (but Vatican II did not say Communion in the Hand, nor Communion lines). Now they can be done with some wisdom and good catechesis. The Communion Rite begins with the Lord’s Prayer and ends with the Prayer after Communion. It is the work of the assembly and should be treated as such. Let all raise their hands in prayer for the Our Father and through the acclamation “For the kingdom . . .” Let the peace be shared with warm embraces and clasping hands (how about a simple head nod?), for here every human relationship of blood or friendship fades before the closeness we have as members of Christ’s Body.
Then let the litany “Lamb of God (Agnus Dei)” bring attention back to the table where the breaking of bread still speaks of Christ among us, as it did at Emmaus. Let the litany last as long as it takes for the bread to be broken (3 times is enough and the instruction in the GIRM), the cups to be prepared and the ministers to take their places (the chalices should be prepared before the wine is offered). Then immediately all are called to the table (altar, remember, you’re a Latin Cathoic Bishop): “This is the Lamb of God . . .(ecce Agnus Dei)”
There is to be a true procession that makes sense in the configuration of the church (No, NO NO, this is not to be the case). This processing continues throughout the Communion with singing that begins immediately after the acclamation (No, NO NO, AFTER), “Lord I am not worthy…”, as Communion itself does. Great attention has to be given to the arrangement of ministers (EOMHC’s) and to the flow of the procession around and through the assembly. The songs used at Communion should be ones that all can sing without books in their hands, each parish having perhaps six or seven Communion songs that are able to bear repetition, in word and melody, through the years. This singing of a single Communion song lasts until the procession and all the sharing of Holy Communion end (fair enough).
Then the assembly is seated (kneeling). This is followed by an adequate time of silence, of stillness. On some Sundays the assembly may sing a thanksgiving hymn. And finally, the Prayer after Communion. The announcements, if any, always follow this prayer (or you could do it before Mass begins).
I must add two additional points. First, the practice of distributing hosts consecrated at a previous Mass is nowhere envisioned in the Church’s liturgy nor in the rubrics (right, prehaps the only time you’ve payed attention to them). Nor would it be allowed by a right understanding of the Eucharistic Prayer and the assembly. It should be done only when some unusual circumstance has led to too little consecrated bread for the present liturgy.
Second, receiving both the Body and the Blood of Christ is to be the practice of every parish at every Sunday Liturgy (or by intnction, or continue the traditon of the priest acting in place of us). Homilists should occasionally make reference to the fullness of the symbol that is now extended to every communicant. The words of Jesus are spoken in every Eucharistic Prayer: Take this, all of you, and drink from it. The words are there, inviting the homilist to dwell on them. Those who minister the “cup of everlasting life (again with the dinnerware)” should do so with joy and welcome. Assemblies That Manifest Our Catholic Soul. A number of challenges in the celebration of the liturgy might best be understood under this heading.
The physical make-up of the worship space (worship space is PROTESTANT, NO NO NO!) should go as far as possible to make welcome the handicapped, the elderly, and parents with young children. They too are the Church and welcome us as we welcome them. Cry rooms were a well-meaning but mistaken effort (they were not actually). The liturgy, well celebrated, touches more dimensions than any of us dare name. Beware of liturgy so “adult” that the child is not at home.
Language and culture were mentioned in the Introduction. This is a complex matter, but not as complex as we would sometimes make it. All of us can, as a first step, sing acclamations and litany refrains in other languages (Language that unites us: LATIN). We can above all strive to hold two difficult but correct directions together: our liturgy’s openness to the arts of a culture, and our need to bear witness Sunday by Sunday that here in our assemblies all the segregations of society are overturned and there is a common song sung by a great diversity of people.
Horizontal inclusive language, at least to the extent encouraged by the U.S. bishops in their work of revising liturgical books, should be incorporated into all liturgical celebrations of this Archdiocese (NO NO NO NO: Brethren, or Fratres).
A Schedule for Implementation
As we approach the Jubilee Year, and the dedication of this Archdiocese’s new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, we dedicate ourselves to a continuing, emphatic renewal of the Sunday Eucharistic Liturgy in our parishes.
Out of all that has been said here, I want to single out a number of milestones that can be used through these years. Depending on progress already made, a parish may adapt these, but every parish needs to start now on a course of catechesis and liturgical practice that will bring us to the year 2000 with hundreds of parishes celebrating liturgy more like the one I tried to describe above (or, or, or, you could go to St.Therese and copy them), even at the cost of delaying other important pastoral initiatives.
1. By Pentecost 1998: responsibility, evaluation and a plan. Where does responsibility for the liturgy rest? With the pastor, certainly, but who assists him? How effective and helpful are the relationships between principal people? If they need improving, how will this be done? If the parish has no one competent in the work of liturgy coordination, and no group or committee to support it, then finding a liturgy coordinator or committee must come first. In some parishes the formation of this committee, under a trained director, may occupy the better part of a year. In other parishes, it may be that long before anyone can be trained through the Certification Program of the Office for Worship. In some cases, the pastor or someone else on the staff who is trained in liturgy can assume responsibility (No sacrilegous dancing right?).
There is no one right way to organize the work of preparing the liturgies celebrated in a parish. Each parish will begin from where it is, and as soon as possible establish a plan for liturgical renewal, especially of Sunday Eucharist, by the year 2000.
2. By the end of August 1998: a plan for looking carefully at five areas during the fall of 1998.
Worship space: Does the arrangement, furnishing and beauty of the present worship space help or hinder the full, conscious and active participation of the assembly? Often the limitations of existing buildings must be accepted. But accept them with the imagination to use that space in the best way possible: How can it be used so that neither the presider, ministers or assembly itself thinks of the assembly as an audience? (Again with “Worship Space, you frustrate me Cardinal, WE ARE NOT GOD, it’s NOT ABOUT US, GOD IS DUE WORSHIP, NOT US)
Music: First, has it become almost a matter of course that the liturgy is sung and that the music to do this is worthy and bears the repetition by revealing in word and sound ever deeper levels of participation? Second, do the acoustics and sound system provide not only for presider, lector and cantor to be heard by the assembly, but, equally important, for the assembly to hear itself? The sound of the assembly singing should be a primary goal of good acoustics in the church (Nota problem in Traditional Churches).
Ministries: Assess strengths and weaknesses in the preparation and ongoing training and support within each ministry, both those that are more public (lector, cantor, choir, other musicians, ministers of communion, servers, ushers) and others that are equally important (music director, sacristan, liturgical decorators, writers of intercessions). From this evaluation, plan as needed for recruitment (that is fully representative of all members of the parish), training, in-service work, and sometimes retirement.
Presiding and preaching: Involve the presiders themselves in a plan for evaluation and improvement. Review this letter carefully for setting local priorities for presiders and preachers. In both areas, continuing help is available from our Office for Worship and the Office of Continuing Formation for Clergy.
Mass schedule: This is always difficult for many reasons. The guidelines given in my last Pastoral Letter on Sunday Eucharist, The Day on Which We Gather, are helpful and still apply in every way. (“The Day on Which We Gather” Guidelines: #V.,A. inclusive)
3. By the First Sunday of Advent 1999, every Sunday Liturgy is celebrated with the Eucharistic Prayer and the Communion Rite as described in this document (thank goodness for St. Therese my home).
Many parishes are ready now to begin this implementation. In others, much work must first be done with the ministries, songs, and overall care given to the liturgy. Here is a summary of (but not a substitute for) what was said above:
The Eucharistic Prayer is the prayer of the gathered assembly prayed by the presider. It should be clear to all by the intense participation of the assembly that this is the central moment of the Sunday Liturgy.
The Eucharistic Prayer should have a clear beginning (the preface dialogue set off from what went before) and an ending (the Amen set off from the Lord’s Prayer).
The choice of text should be determined by an overall plan for the parish.
The acclamations should be strong, as should the presider’s proclamation. The flow of thanksgiving and praise, memorial, invocation of the Spirit and intercession should be chanted or spoken with great reverence and attention.
The tabernacle is to be approached only when some misjudgment of the amount of bread needed has been made. Otherwise it is not used for Communion at Mass.
The bread is to appear to the senses as bread. (GIRM: 283)
There should be ample wine for the Communion of the assembly, and all are to be invited wholeheartedly to share from the cup.
The orans posture (standing with hands outstretched, not linked) is appropriate for all at the Lord’s Prayer through “For the kingdom . . .”
The Lamb of God is a litany to be sung all through the breaking of the bread and until the presider is ready to say(No), “This is the Lamb of God . . .”
The Communion song, a processional song of the assembly, is to begin immediately after the response, “Lord, I am not worthy …” and is to continue until all have received Holy Communion.
The Communion procession is to be a procession in deed as well as name.
The ministers of Communion (EOMHC’s), including the presider, are to give great attention to each person coming to Communion.
An ample period of silence follows the Communion procession.
Announcements and other community activities follow the Prayer after Communion (or before Mass).
Overall, catechesis is to accompany every effort to renew the liturgy. This is the work not only of pastor and liturgy committee, but of those in catechetical work. Parishes or clusters of parishes should seek out and employ those with degrees in liturgical studies who have a good pastoral sense. These persons would then assist in the implementation of this Letter and the ongoing care of the liturgy.
I invite the appropriate offices and departments of the Archdiocesan Catholic Center to come together to discern how all can assist with and collaborate in the important, life-giving, parish-transforming work I have outlined in this Letter (And I invite open critcism which I’m taking here).

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