Saturday, April 18, 2015

Notes from the Liturgical Catechesis and the New Evangelization Conference Part 2 - Fr. Douglas Martis

Here is the second installment of my notes from the Liturgical Catechesis conference at the Liturgical Institute at University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein. Day 2 began with reflections by Fr. Douglas Martis, director of the Institute.

"Recovering the Meaning of the Liturgical Act and the Significance of Active Participation"

The problem
Both post-conciliar catechesis and liturgical movement suffered from the same failures of misinterpretation of the intentions of the Council. (Someday he wants to write a book called Liturgy or Lip Service)

Sacrosanctum Consilium says that Liturgy should "normally require no explanation" but after Vatican II that was interpreted to mean no explanation at all was needed (and resulted in watering down). We have forgotten Tertullians phrase "Christians are made, not born." We need to commit ourselves to help the faithful understand the liturgy.

It's time for gnosticism and religious arrogance to stop. We don't need snobs. We need people who are committed to teach the faithful

Lambert Beaudoin - Belgian - 1910s said "we are the aristocrats of the liturgy. We must democratize. We must transform.... Attendance at Mass must become active participation. Early leaders of the liturgical movement saw the liturgy as the key the thing to get right. From that would come right living, social justice and more. Liturgy as source and summit should not be a cliche. We go to it to we learn who we are. It's all there. We just have to see it. We must work harder today to retrieve the meaning today than we did in the past.

Sacrament is the visible sign. The water in baptism is important the sacramental world depends on it. We have tended to neglect the signs and gestures... Need to understand that the Res is the reality - the invisible sign.

Catechesis after the Council did not understand the importance of repetition. It forms you. The church's prayer depends on repetition. Liturgy requires discipline. The Roman liturgy is written for those who are in it for the long haul.

We have got to understand what the liturgy is for:
1. To praise God. the liturgical act has got to be conscious
2. To pray for the world

We have to understand that the public liturgy is first and foremost Christ's prayer to the father.... I need to put myself IN him.
How do we participate in this prayer?

Romano Guardini: "How can the act of walking become a religious act? A procession is a retinue walking through Gods land."

It's wrong to say "I don't get anything out of the Mass? You are not supposed to! That's not what it's for.

Concepts for reflection
Repetition: When you feel like you are doing the same thing over and over. Repetition in the Mass is not boring or pointless

The purpose of liturgy: Ephesians: "you are strangers and aliens no more but fellow citizens of the household of God" The Greek words "para oikos" used are same ones that give us "parishioner" - but it actually means "outside the house"... So - we are not IN the house. Instead, we belong in heaven. The liturgy is a reminder that we belong in heaven, aisles mean pilgrimage - progress toward the holy. (Circular churches don't do that because we look at each other.) The heavenly city is our destination. Communion does not mean union , it actually means we are within the city walls. "Municipal" comes from the same root. So, we need to teach that the Mass brings us closer to our home in the Heavenly City.

Part 3: Petroc Willey


  1. Repetition in the Mass is not boring or pointless. That's true when ya know what's going on.

    1. So true. We need to work harder to help people understand. There will be some practical ideas in the notes from the last couple of sessions...

  2. Forgive me, I'm not sure I'm understanding the use of repetition. You wrote: "Catechesis after the Council did not understand the importance of repetition. It forms you. The church's prayer depends on repetition. Liturgy requires discipline. The Roman liturgy is written for those who are in it for the long haul.

    What is meant by repetition in the liturgy?

  3. These were Father Martis' words, but I interpret that as ritual repetition. That somehow we have failed in catechesis to understand that we need to ground people in the words we say and the actions we do at every Mass. In a society addicted to novelty and the never-ending quest for something "new" and entertaining, it is important to help young people especially to understand the role of repetition in prayer both public and private. We have largely gotten away from memorization in general in catechesis. The repetition of which he speaks is the element of ritual - the "we always do it like this" as Catholics element. Does that help?