Friday, August 27, 2010

Moving Forward with the Roman Missal: Laying the Groundwork for Change

I finally started reading my copy of With One Voice, a book of short essays from Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, last night and lo and behold, the opening essay from Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson is about change agency and what is needed to implement the new Missal. While I agree with most of what he says, I strongly feel that catechetical staff and parish faith formation boards need to be a part of the implementation, not just liturgy committees. 

Bishop Kicanas comes from Chicago, and now Tucson, both places where there is likely to be large, well-developed liturgy committees in parishes. I think he is not realizing this is often not the case. Many smaller parishes do not have well-formed functioning committees, and often may have only a part-time musician who is not trained in liturgy.  That fact aside, I strongly believe that liturgical catechesis is the responsibility of both the liturgical and catechetical personnel of the parish (and the diocese).  Implementation of the new Mass texts is an opportunity to work together to provide a better experience of the Mass, and as sacramental enrichment, is rightfully shared ground and an opportunity for collaboration. If the two areas of parish administration work together, implementation may well be perceived by the people as more of an imperative, and not just the agenda of one group in the parish. If liturgists and catechists in a parish have not worked closely together before, this, too,  will be an area of change - and growth for them.

Bishop Kicanas cites a number of experts on change-agency, but the most useful thing I took away from his essay is the contention of William Bridges, an expert on organizational transition. Bridges says there are three stages to change: letting go or losing something, a neutral period of adjustment, and a new beginning.  He says we cannot short-cut this - we need to go through all three stages.

I suggest that parish and diocesan leaders are going to have to engage in these three stages before we can help the people do that. As in the familiar Kubler-Ross stages of grief, we may indeed revisit the loss stage at various points in the process, but to become a change agent, we have first to be convinced ourselves of the need for change. We have to go through our own sense of loss, our own time of neutrality, before we can be energized to move forward to lead implementation. 

"Training the trainers" workshops have been taking place around the country for exactly this reason. Far in advance of the actual implementation, leadership needs to be helped through their own process of letting go and accepting this change, formed, so that they, in turn, can form people in parishes. In our diocese, we will gather parish leaders, beginning in the fall, to talk this through. We will gather them in December to hear Fr. Richard Fragomeni talk about the mystery of the liturgy and liturgical spirituality -- the "soul" of the liturgy that must be addressed even before we discuss changing the words we pray. 

In the spring, our parish leaders will experience the Mystical Body, Mystical Voice event from the Liturgical Institute in Mundelein.  As follow-up next August, we are planning a practical workshop on helping children, youth and adults to deepen their understanding of the Mass (speakers will include Jerry Galipeau and Bob Piercy.)  We will have to talk about the new translation at regional cluster meetings, at adult faith formation leadership gatherings, and on the liturgical side, our diocesan office will be doing the same with their constituents as they, too, have practical workshops on changing the Mass responses, music and more.

Before we can enter this period of re-assessment, renewal and growth, we have to take the time for grieving, anger, resentment, and ultimately, letting go. To become an effective change agent, leaders must first be convinced  of the validity of the change. Personally, I'm well on my way to getting there. 

In upcoming posts, I plan to deal with skills for change agency for church leaders.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Roman Missal: If Not Now, When? Moving Forward with Change

Have had a busy few days, but as the dust settles following last week's approval by the Vatican of the revised Roman Missal, I have heard a variety of reactions.  These have ranged from a sincere "Hey, I don't like change" from my young adult son, to those who have said they either don't think some of the priests will do it, or that they don't have much hope that this will be the much-vaunted catechetical moment that enriches the average Catholic's understanding and participation in the Mass. All I can say is, not if I can help it!

For those out there advocating a "Why don't we just wait?" attitude, and for those who have resigned themselves to a mediocre process of implementation for whatever reason, I challenge them to find a better moment to take a chance.  This could be a moment when we have an opportunity to affect the Church postively.  Instead of wringing our hands in dismay, or nay-saying about something beyond our ability to change, why not put the energy into affecting what we do have influence over - which is quite simply how well we personally respond to this task?

Being a change-agent is part of the normal job description of those in ecclesial ministry. Wherever the Church is called to move forward on something, diocesan and parish ministers are put in the position of helping average Catholics grow and learn to accept change, which is indeed a huge challenge.

A few years back, in my diocese, a large number of us went through the two-day training for Generations of Faith. People were then sent back to their parishes to change the paradigm of catechesis of children and youth from the drop-off model to an intergenerational model. During the training, John Roberto, then of GOF, explained that what was needed was skills for being a change-agent. What happened in many parishes with the GOF process, is that today their program incorporates some elements of intergenerational catechesis, or in some cases, catechesis is fully intergenerational. It was certainly not easy to make that change. I remember receiving phone calls in my diocesean office from disbelieving parents, inquiring whether this was OK, or protesting about the change.

What is different here is that we are not talking about an "option" but a requirement. About one-third of our parishes embraced intergenerational catechesis in some form. These are the parishes where they felt called and able to do this. All of our parishes are now being called to move to the new Mass translation. It is not an option, although without a doubt some pastors will treat it that way.

We need to embrace the opportunity to catechize about the Mass that the Missal presents by planning great strategies for catechesis and implementation.  Instead of moping about the vagiaries of  the process and the inconsistencies of translation principles,  we now need to find ways to move on and to move ahead with the task of preparing the people for this change - and of convincing them that it IS a good thing. That means we must now put aside our personal feelings about the translation and we must work hard ourselves to find what is positive here so we can communicate that positivity to others.  I have chosen to do that.  Sister Kathleen Hughes, in her address to the National Association of Pastoral Musicians in July said she was choosing not to be "crabby" about the new Missal. I believe that's the right attitude.
Personally, my next step is to dig out my Generations of Faith training binder and take a look - and to research change-agency skills so I can help our parish leaders. (More about that in future posts.)  We have been handed a mission, and an opportunity, catechetical folks. Let's not waste it.  We don't want to look back in 5 years and say that only some parishes made the change and that (as some people are predicting) we have effectively split into two worshiping traditions - Roman Missal II and Roman Missal III parishes. Even if that were to happen in spite of our best efforts, personally, I don't want to look back and say I wish I had tried harder to prevent it. I'd reather be able to say that I did the best I could to help implement the new translation.

Gonna go off and dust off my change-agent badge.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Roman Missal: First Steps in Implementation

Now it begins: the great task of implementing the final version of the revised Roman Missal. With the final approval of the text comes the responsibility of receiving it and making its use a reality in parishes around the English-speaking world.  Lots of issues are out there, to be sure, but one thing that most of the commentators on the blogosphere and in the news releases have in common is that this is an opportunity for enrichment of the average Catholic's understanding of the Mass.  If the goal is to navigate this change as painlessly as possible, we need to strategize now. It will be crucial to step out of comfortable parish "silos" and to work together as a team.

As I have already said in this space, this is not just a job for the priest, liturgists and musicians, but also for the catechists - and an opportunity for partnership. Let's not let this teachable moment pass by succumbing to a bad attitude.  We owe the ordinary people in our pews - those who have not spent months worrying, speculating and reacting to every wind of rumor - our best shot at making this thing work. It will certainly not be painless - change is never easy. There will be questions, hurt feelings and as with all things in the Church these days, resistance from those who see the hierarchy as hopelessly out of touch with the people.  There will be difficulties in comprehension of the new, more grammatically complex texts.

What should be happening right now, I suggest, is that every parish should hand their catechists and liturgical ministers a good pamphlet or workbook to begin to study (there are certainly a number of good choices out there). Catechist gatherings through the 2010-11 school year should include sessions on the missal led by someone qualified to answer their questions.  If catechists and those who serve at Mass understand the changes, they can not only teach others about them, but can serve as people "seeded" throughout the community who can participate intelligently and with some authority, in discussions with other adults in the parish. It's a simple step, but if we build up a core of people in the community with a solid understanding of what is happening and why, this will not feel like it is Father and the music director asking people to change.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And I Was Just Wondering What We Would Say...

Over at the LTP Roman Missal blog today, Tood Williamson gives a good answer to something that occurred to me the other day. (Yes, in case you are wondering, I actually do have other things to worry about besides the New Roman Missal!)

What, I wondered, after the new translation of the Mass is implemented, will we teach kids to say at Confirmation when the Bishop anoints them?

Bishop: "Be sealed with the Holy Spirit."  Confirmand: "Amen."
Bishop: "The Lord be with you."  Confirmand:  "Ummmm?!" 

By rights, the response, until the Rite of Confirmation is revised, should not be changed. However, the new formula we will be saying at Mass "And with your spirit" will, no doubt bring many a DRE to the phone to call the diocesan offices to ask.

Williamson says it is OK to be messy for a while. We may just have to do that.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Has the Church Lost Its "Muchness"?

Recently I had an opportunity to see Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland for the second time - and found the experience of the film just as engaging the second time through. There is one particular scene that has been haunting me - this one:

The Mad Hatter tells Alice "You're not as much as you were before [when she came there as a child]. You've lost your muchness."  The rest of the film consists of Alice trying to prove to the characters of Underland that she IS the real Alice - the one who fell down the rabbit hole as a child and called the place "Wonderland" and had such an effect on the place that they have been waiting for her return.

Why is that line about losing one's "muchness" so compelling? Besides any personal ramifications, I think it is also true of the Church. We, in a sense have lost our "muchness."

As Mass attendance continues to decline, as the Church struggles with the internal and external effects of the sex abuse crisis around the world,  as we continue to "lose market share" (as my office director sometimes puts it) I cannot help but think the Church, like Alice, is undergoing a crisis of identity.  The much-touted recent departure of Anne Rice, while it got more media attention than it deserved, was a reminder that this is happening every day.  Not everyone who leaves does so with such fanfare, obviously, but we are hearing reports that Catholic weddings in the Boston archdiocese have plummeted, that young Hispanics are leaving the Church (wait, weren't statistical forecasts that they would soon be the majority of the Catholic Church?), and in our own diocese, the number of children in religious education continues to decline each year, even though the population of our diocese continues to climb.  The new Roman Missal comes at a time when the Church is already in crisis, with potential to have both positive and negative effects... which it seems to be having already.

Near the end of Alice in Wonderland Alice recovers her "muchness" - in acts of heroism that call her to stretch beyond what she thought she was capable of.  In one scene, she defies the Hatters assessment of her.  "Lost my muchness have I?" she demands. "We'll see about that!"  One cannot help but wonder:  will we, as the Catholic Church, take the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and find ways to do likewise?  We live in hope. Come Holy Spirit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Catholic Families and Mass - The Challenge Begins at Baptism

Last week I had the privilege of spending two days conducting catechist formation for the 42 new Catholic school teachers of our diocese Probably about 2/3 of them will be teaching Religion, but all of them are catechists - because they will be sharing faith with children and their families. The entire experience was enfolded in prayer, ritual and liturgical catechesis and sprinkled with practical examples and discussion, tips for methodology, curriculum issues and more. Naturally, during all of this, we talked about the importance of Mass - and of course, we discussed the problem that so few families attend Mass with their children.  There was great concern, and rightly so.

One teacher shared that her parish school "makes" parents sign a contract about Mass attendance and that there is an assignment on Monday mornings where students are asked to write about the weekend homily and the experience of Mass.  Mass as "homework" - oh my!  What a sad commentary on the state of the Church! While I have to grant that it may get families there, I am a bigger fan of strategies for attraction and invitation over coercion.

What has happened to faith formation in America that it has been more or less downgraded to a consumer commodity? Both in religious education programs and Catholic schools, we see a continuing increase in the "drop-off" mentality - parents seem to feel they are purchasing a service - the parish or school is being paid to make their kids Catholic, so the parents can feel they gave their children "a foundation in religion" - and can check that off the "good parent to-do list".

When children go home to families where faith is not practiced, where there is no family prayer or Mass attendance, there is no guarantee that anything the child experiences or learns will be effective in giving them a lifelong foundation for Catholic faith.  In fact, in April of last year, the Pew Forum "Leaving Catholicism" report showed that the single most important factor in whether or not a person stayed in or left the Catholic Church in young adulthood was whether or not they attended Mass regularly as a teen.  Obviously, the foundation for that begins in early childnood.

Complaints we typically hear are that kids are "bored" at Mass, or that Mass is not "family friendly."  This, of course is the consumer mentality speaking. Mass, or course, is not something we should go to expecting to be entertained or where the poor behavior of children's who are no longer infants should be accepted just because they are there.  It is public ritual worship, where all have the right and duty to participate, even the children.

It is clear to me that among the families who actually do attend Mass regularly, there are best-practices and not-so-good practices. Families who set an expectation of the children that they, too, will participate make a conscious effort to help their children learn how to pray the Mass - they open the missal and follow the prayers and responses with their finger. They open the hymnal and help their children to learn to sing at very early age with joy and enthusiasm. 

Contrast them to the majority of families, who fall into either the "Cheerios and toys" crowd, who never graduated from distracting their kids when they stopped being infants (doesn't matter if they sit in or outside of a "cry room") or the parents who simply worship and ignore their children, allowing them to distract others, who have a right to their feeling that their worship has been disturbed.  When these kids become teens, it is no wonder they actively resist coming to Mass, often making the experience of getting them there so unpleasant that parents cave in.

These, however, are the ones who are actually present at Mass as families with young children.  If the young adult parents are not attending Mass themselves because they were disengaged as teens, the scenario simply perpetrates itself in the next generation.

What to do?  I think we need to get to the new parents.... right at and immediately after baptism of their children.  If we ignore them and trust them to show up when they wish their children to "get their sacraments" we enable them to have a consumer attitude - to come in to find out how much money and time it will cost to get the certificates.  Our entire model - the predominance of private baptisms separated from Mass, handing the parents a certificate and waiting for them to come back - is disengaged from the intention of Baptism as the gateway sacrament into the community of faith's Eucharistic practice.

Yes, there are strategies out there where the parish sends out occasional letters to the families on the anniversary of baptism, etc. but this is not enough. We need to reach out, invite, and mentor young families to keep them connected.  If every child were baptized at Mass, held up in front of the community of faith and embraced and welcomed every week, if young famlies were encouraged to connect with other young families, they would be less likely to disappear.  If parishes had early-childhood Mass-participation coaching  - mentor families showing parents how to help their children become a part of the community's worship.... well, you can see there are many possibilities. This might actually be a call for Family Ministry people to come out of their silos to work with religious educators, Catholic school principals and liturgy committees. That would be revolutionary!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Consequences of the Failure to Form People about Social Justice

Anyone else out there getting sick and tired of all the hate-speak?  After months of anti-immigrant rhetoric in the wake of the passage of the recent law in Arizona and the flap over the request of some Muslims to build a house of prayer and meditation near Ground Zero, I find myself increasingly disgusted not only with many of my fellow Americans, but with some of my fellow Catholics. (This is not to mention the name-calling and racism shown by some of my Catholic friends who support the agenda of the so-called "Tea Party".)

Some of these otherwise-good people are among the loudest to attack those who are not like themselves and therefore make them uncomfortable - the poor and oppressed immigrants who have, braving many dangers in their desperation, come here for nothing more than a better life - the peace-loving Muslims who worship the very same God the Father we do and just want to create a place for people to come together in prayer and memory of an injustice perpetrated by extremists who do not fairly represent their faith.  These are the same folks who complained loudly about national health insurance being provided at affordable cost for the poor, who make prejudiced and venomous personal remarks about our elected president (who, by the way is just as white as he is black) and who want to make English the official language of their states and counties.

Under the guise of flag-waving Americanism, these folks - people who call themselves "Christians" - betray their own inability to live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, who encouraged us to "love your enemy" and whose first followers made a special effort to take care of the indigent, the widowed and the orphaned. (Witess the first Sunday reading after Easter from Acts 1, when the first Christians lived in such harmony that no one wanted for anything.)  This Christian faith is based on the Old Testament history of Jesus' Jewish forbears - a migrant people, the Israelites - who came into a land not their own, speaking a new language and worshiping a strange God. 

Jesus is very clear about how he wants us to behave toward those who are unfortunate or strangers - in other words, "not like us."  Matthew 25:34-40  has Jesus telling us that our final judgment will be based, among other things, on how well we treat those who are different - how we welcome the stranger - this is the basis for the Corporal Works of Mercy:

Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Catholics who embrace the vocal, radical bigotry of the political right against immigrants, those with whom they disagree politically, and those of the Muslim faith are rejecting, in effect, the teachings of the Church and of Christ himself.  They are also rejecting the cardinal virtue of Charity in favor of angry, accusatory hatred of those who are different.

What we have here, folks, is a major failure of catechesis. We have failed to help a large number of Catholics understand that many of the teachings of Jesus are "counter-cultural" - they call us to fight for the poor, the oppressed, the stranger and the unfortunate - not to fear them, judge them and call them names.  In the spirit of Christian love, I am tonight praying for those who are blind and uncharitable toward immigrants, strangers, those of other faiths, and those of other political persuasions - that they find it in their hearts to love their enemies. I love these folks anyhow, even though they sometimes make me very angry!  I actually would be very sad to see them among the goats and not the sheep.  :-)

Friday, August 6, 2010

New Roman Missal Implementation: What About the Children and Youth?

If you have not found it yet, Fr. Paul Turner has a good, simple reference page for issues and resources about the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.  He includes links to papers, articles, books, videos and more about general issues and implementation. Some good stuff there, including an item that reinforces my concern that we need to be planning something to assist children and youth with the transition.

The second paper in his set of links ("Parish Practice, the Shock of the New") is rather interesting - his reflections on some focus sessions with adults and youth in which he introduced some of the proposed new Mass texts.  The interesting news is that the teens reacted far more negatively than did most of the adults. This is evidence that my long-standing concerns about the need for materials to assist children and youth to understand the changes is well-founded. 

Some liturgical experts with whom I have raised the issue of "what about the children?" have simply responded with "Oh, they will adjust." Faith Formation textbook publishers I have spoken to have assured me they will issue revised versions of their textbooks containing the new texts where the current ones appear. For those of use immersed in the age-appropriate catechesis of children and youth, these are not good enough answers. Something more is needed.

I am currently working at getting together a ground-level implementation workshop for our diocesan leaders for about a year from now which would deal more specifically with how to navigate this transition period with people of all ages.  One presenter has indicated he will be working on a set of four lesson plans at three age levels on the new texts.  This is exactly what we need.  Catechists and Catholic school teachers need age-appropriate resources to help them explain to kids a little about the "why?", but mostly about the "what?"... and the "what does it mean?" 

Children and youth who dutifully have learned their Mass responses and who have regularly attended Mass deserve better from us than merely, "Oh, you'll get used to it."  Like most adults, they will need help understanding the more formal Latinate and theological language, and the simple things, like the response to the Ecce Agnus Dei: "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof."  (I already have had one adult ask me if that is the roof of the mouth!) 

Thanks to Father Turner for publishing the results of his teen focus sessions.  All I can say is, "I told you so!"

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Liturgy Without Style and Grace: Apparently the New Translation Won't Play Well in Milwaukee

Over at Catholic Culture, this post this morning, quoting several priests from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on the Revised Roman Missal.  One priest described the translation's use of the English language as awkward:  "This reads like clunk-clunk-clunk-bang-boom.”  Apparently I'm not the only one bothered by the more than occasional lack of metrical grace in the language.

Ritual prayer should indeed be poetic as well as understandable by the entire praying community. However, as in all things unpleasant, even those of us who have higher standards for what is good English will gradually get used to it. As it has often been said, this is simply a matter of obedience. The value is fidelity to the Latin and not necessarily the comprehension of the faithful - but the essential meaning of the Mass will not change. With time and adequate catechesis (and I stress the importance of the latter) even this occasionally awkward antiquated-language version of the Mass will eventually become acceptable to most Catholics. Personally, I am simply grateful that even though it often uses long, archaic words and sentence structure more common to classical Latin than English, it does not revert to "Thee" and "Thou" to refer to God.

The related longer article from the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel is probably not particularly helpful to the faithful of the archdiocese. By publishing a negative reaction from the clergy, the press is adding fuel to the already considerable fire of outrage. Take a look and see what you think.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Singing the New Translation - Make New Friends, but Maybe Save the Old for Later

Last night, my parish music and liturgy director and I attended a session put on by GIA Music on their new Mass settings.  What I experienced  made me think differently about what this transition to the new translation might be like for the people in the pews when we begin to implement the changes.

As at most typical music sing-through sessions, those present (about 200 musicians) were asked to sight-read through  a variety of pieces - in this case, all were Mass parts. As we wait for the finalization of the new Mass texts, composers had been hard at work preparing new settings based on the provisional text promulgated for catechesis and to allow musicians to begin their work on new settings.

First, we sang through settings newly composed especially for the new translations. There were some decent possibilities, and a few "absolutely nots" among these, which was to be expected. In the case of our particular music ministry needs in a bilingual community, there seemed to be not enough bilingual possibilties combining the new English translation with the existing Spanish texts. Some settings seemed remarkably similar to one another; most were in triple meter and at least a few repeated the word "people" in order to balance out the musical line. Other settings had a moreunique character.

It was, however, when we turned to the re-worked existing Mass settings that things got strange. Some parts of these seemed a bit awkward, but at least one moment was totally disorienting and disconcerting... and it came at the point when I least expected it: during the newly re-worked Gloria in the Mass of Creation.

Now, in my original parish, we learned MOC around 1990 - and for the better part of the next 9 years I was in the parish, it was almost the only Mass setting we ever used. It was used in diocesan celebrations consistently, and when I moved on to the next parish, it was used often, though not exclusively. I may say I know the melody, soprano and alto parts to all the sections by heart, as well as the guitar chords. Pretty much you'd say it is "in my bones," I know it so very well.  So, last night, I thought as we turned to the page with the sturdy old warhorse setting. "OK, this one will be a piece of cake." Not!

While Marty Haugen's reworked refrain to the new text was not too different or difficult, as we turned to verse 1, the ensemble around the room suddenly fell apart, and chaos briefly became the order of the day. What I had not anticpated (nor, apparently had anyone else) was that this familiar setting, so much a partof Catholic life, would be nearly impossible - at a point where there was a great difference from the original. It was as if my brain was in some kind of "rut" that I could not shake myself out of to sight-read the relatively simple, but vastly different, passage. The experience shook me a bit, as it was powerful.  For a moment, the ground shifted under my feet.

During the earlier readings of the new or unfamiliar Mass settings, I, being a pretty fair sight-reader, had been holding my own... and frankly, the new, unfamiliar text was not particularly troublesome. When I reached verse 1 of the Haugen Gloria, however, the difference was painful.  For a split-second, my reaction to the new text was intensely negative. From the sound of what happened around the room, when pretty much every other musician seemed a bit flummoxed by the change, it was nearly universal.

So, when this gets to be "for real" and we have to change our Mass settings, I am wondering if at least at first, parishes ought to learn new Mass settings instead of trying to begin with the old ones in revised format. Maybe that would go easier with the people.  If a whole roomful of trained musicians stumbled, how can we not expect non-musicians, the ordinary people in the pews, to do even worse?  As a cantor, I know what happens when the people seem to feel a song is beyond them. They shut up and stop singing. Probably one of the worst things we can do in the early days of implementation of the new translation, is to create a moment of instant, perceivable negativity. If this happens, we will never get a second chance to make a good first impression!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hot Off the Press - new book on Implementing the Roman Missal

USCCB has just published With One Voice: Translation and Implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.  Commissioned by the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, this book conatins for essays by noted experts.  These four essays provide a foundation upon which to develop catechesis to prepare for and implement liturgical celebrations guided by the new English translation of the Roman Missal.

The four essays cover the following topics:
  • Liturgical Leadership in a Time of Change (Kicanas)
  • Liturgical Implementation of the Roman Missal (Foster)
  • Liturgical Participation of God's People (Francis)
  • Divining the Vernacular of Ritual Texts (Turner)

I just ordered my copy.
Any port in a storm! 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Love it When a Plan Comes Together!

OK, just finally saw The A-Team movie - pardon my use of Hannibal Smith's tag line... but this weekend in the liturgy, the Plan really did come together. Yesterday was the feast day of St. Ignatius Loyola - and the Lectionary readings for the weekend are a perfect interface with one of St. Ignatius' famous prayer, the Suscipe, a version of which, we sang at Mass  at my parish.   As we hear of the "vanity of vanities" of putting all our concentration on worldly goods and how it is of no help to us in the larger scheme of things - and of the rich man who had so many good things that he wanted to build bigger storage barns to put it in, hold up for comparison this:

All that we have comes from God. Bigger barns are never the answer, even though material gain is one of the highest values in our modern culture. Indeed, here is where Jesus is calling us to be counter-cultural. It's not easy, but what Jesus is saying in the parable of the rich man and the bigger barns is that we should, with Ignatius, find our way to saying: "Everything is yours; do with it what you will.  Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me."