Liturgy – Suggestions And Advice

How we celebrate Mass is one of the major aspects of current Catholic life and debate.  Here are some thought I find myself supporting.

THOUGHTS ABOUT THE (SUNDAY) MASS

Drawn from various reputable sources

THE LITURGY REFLECTS THE STATE OF THE CHURCH

Before the Vatican council, the Mass reflected the Church as institution – Latin, formality, detail, lots of priests, silence , polyphonic choirs, benediction – hierarchy (priest deacon, subdeacon) precise ritual.

Since the Council – there are new words and images and actions – Body of Christ, The Good News – sacrament of salvation, family of God, Pilgrims. Community, family. Eucharist – celebration – sign of peace – offertory processions

PARISHES TODAY HAVE A BETTER EXPERIENCE OF THEMSELVES AS THE LOCAL CHURCH. They are the local Catholic Christian community with their own history, tradition, culture, vocation and mission. Clubs become parish centres – talents are celebrated – gifts encouraged – parish parties organised, hospitality groups ensure all are welcome – Eucharistic ministers go to the sick. – laypeople are involved in initiation rites (baptism, Holy Communion, confirmation).

MASSES HAVE DIFFERENT MOODS: joy, sadness, initiation rites (baptism) catechumenal rites, different themes for the time of year – advent, lent, paschaltide etc. these are expressed in colours – music – plays, readings – dance – symbols – (candles, water, flowers)

MASSES SHOULD BE SUBSTANTIAL AND SUSTAINING – they should give people a chance to worship, to meet their God and Saviour, and to relate to one another.

MASSES SHOULD LEAD PEOPLE INTO AN EXPERIENCE OF TRANSCENDENCE (Transcendance is the encounter with the divine – the perception that God is real–as well as developing the sense of community worshipping the same lord together in the same rites and actions.

Utterly privatised Masses (with no sign of peace, no RCIA, or catechumenal rites or singing or sense of the holy,) dampens the sense of the presence of God and of community and relation to others.

BUT SOMETIMES THE EMPHASISES ON INTIMACY, WARMTH AND INFORMALITY are so emphasised that the liturgy is robbed of its symbolic power. Symbol, formality, dignity raise the perception of the Divine. This is one of the important functions of the presiding priest.

MASS AND THE CHURCH sometimes make up for the lack of family context in modern family life.

TWO IMPORTANT IMPULSES OF TODAY ARE COMMUNITY AND TRANSCENDENCE. These could be called community and spirituality – There is a hunger for these in the lives of many people today. People should leave a Eucharistic celebration changed.

ROLE OF THE MASS is not so much to cultivate feelings as to shape christian attitudes towards god, self and the world.

CATHOLIC MASSES have often suffered from sacramental minimalism and an overriding concern for efficiency and speed. Rush, inapropriate actions and words plus no homily leave the action of God in the souls of the congregation almost powerless, and the people disatisfield – (“what is the point of coming all this way if we are out in half an hour – I don’t feel I have been to Mass ”

JESUS PRESENT IN THE MASS CALLS US TO CONVERSION – he delivers us from alienation and isolation. Heals us and walks with us through the day and week to come.

CHRISTIANS SHOULD REALISE THAT THEY WILL REGULARLY DISAPPOINT ONE ANOTHER, but because they are joined together in faith with the Lord Jesus, his grace and his power will sustain them and bring them healing and peace.

Jesus gave only two tools -= a towel and a basin

Christians to be his people are not self-occupied, – but looking forward to suffering and service.

IN THE MASS IT IS NOT SO MUCH THE LITURGICAL FORMS WHICH MATTER BUT THE COMMUNITY WHICH CELEBRATES.

MUSIC

MUSIC EXPRESSES Christian love for God and for each other – if this is not expressed it dies -= signs and symbols of celebration express this love.

THE COUNCIL – PUT PARTICIPATION AT THE TOP OF THE LITURGICAL AGENDA and music resonates in many people at the same time and binds them together into one community.

One person reflecting said “: in singing together it is possible for all to speak and pray the same word at the same time, in other words because they can unite in the word it is the voice of the Church that is singing together. It is not you that sing, it is the Church that is singing and you as a member of the church may share in its song.”

Two essential principles

Music is the servant of liturgy – music is an integral and necessary part of our worship.