Tomb beati

Apologies that posts made over the past few days have been out of synch and relating to the wrong Sunday of the Liturgical Year.

I was in Rome and had stored up some posting before going – but obviously the wrong ones!

The plan on this blog is

  • to spend Wednesday to Sunday of each week preparing for that coming Sunday’s Mass by posting the elements of the Liturgy of the Word: the Speak Lord posts
  • to spend the Monday to Wednesday of the week following reflecting back on the celebration of the Sunday, deepening its impact on our lives in Christ: the Taste and See posts.

Having lost the sequence this week, I’ll offer postings today and tomorrow that relate to the recent assembly of Bishops and others in Rome to reflect on Evangelisation and the Family, and to Blessed Paul V, whose beatification took place yesterday in St Peter’s Square.

The following quotation from Blessed Paul comes from a homily on the reform of the Liturgy following Vatican Council II – and which took place on his watch.

(The Council required the reform of the liturgy, and this is being brought about) …in a most beautiful and fruitful direction. The Council has taken the fundamental position that the faithful have to understand what the priest is saying and to share in the liturgy; to be not just passive spectators at Mass but souls alive; to be the people of God responsive to him and forming a community gathered as one around the celebrant.

Look at the altar, placed now for dialogue with the assembly; consider the remarkable sacrifice of Latin, the priceless repository of the Church’s treasure. The repository has been opened up, as the people’s own spoken language now becomes part of their prayer. Lips that have often been still, sealed as it were, now at last begin to move, as the whole assembly can speak its part in the colloquy with the priest, at least during the preparatory and dismissal rites of the Mass. No longer do we have the sad phenomenon of people being conversant and vocal about every human subject yet silent and apathetic in the house of God. How sublime it is to hear during Mass the communal recitation of the Our Father!

In this way the Sunday Mass is not just an obligation but a pleasure, not just fulfilled as a duty, but claimed as a right. To be entitled to go to Mass, to rest from work on Sunday, to devote at least one hour a week to the aspirations of the spirit is an inalienable possession: the capacity to speak to God of one’s sorrows, hopes, toil, of every anxiety; it is to bring to God the experiences of the week with its daily trials and to offer all to him. At Mass the Lord transforms them all into himself, becoming in the Eucharist our food and drink, as the bread and wine are symbols of all human strivings. In the Eucharist, then, the Lord transforms our human existence into one that is divine.

Be then, fervent at the Sunday Mass; hold on to it jealously; endeavor to fill every corner of your parish church, to be part of a host of people surrounding the altar. Say to your priests: make us understand; open the book to us. And learn to sing. A Mass celebrated with the song of the people makes for the full rising up of the spirit. St. Ambrose—one of the first bishops to introduce sacred singing into the Christian community—expressed this striking thought: “When I hear an entire assembly sing with one voice ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God’ my spirit is flooded with happiness; nothing in the world can possess such grandeur and majesty.”

This is the sublime reality; humanity reaches the heights; it speaks to God and makes itself heard in heaven with the voices of all: of children, of men and women, of the suffering. Humanity sings a hymn to the glory of God

“in the highest,” and asks for and receives “peace to his people on earth.”

The quotation is lifted from the Pray Tell Blog – which offers formation and controversy regarding the Liturgy, and in about equal measures!

In this case controversy is sparked by the words about silence and participation. Sometimes, but not I think in these words of Blessed Paul, all silence is seen as apathetic and antipathetic to participation. Such is the aridity, still, of much discussion regrading the liturgy and our participation in it, celebration of it.

For sure, what Paul says is true of what is intended of the Liturgy and our participation in it. However the experience of the past decades shows that a revision of form and practice does not of itself lead to the sublime reality the Pope describes. We need to want to participate this way, to understand what we do and to do it to the best of our ability, and drawing on the best of the resources that we as a community have to offer.

Saying yes to this sort of liturgy means choices, sometimes hard choices, about where our priorities lie, both as individuals and as communities.

  • What helps and what hinders this sort of participation by you?
  • And by your community?
  • What means might help you, your priest, and your community, continue to respond to the vision of Vatican Council II regarding the authentic celebration of the Liturgy?
  • What steps can you take so those means may best be provided?

The photograph is of the newly beatified Pope’s tomb in the Vatican Grottoes. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.


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