Good liturgical celebrations foster and nourish faith.
Liturgy makes a difference in people’s lives, and a parish that takes this ministry seriously does more good than it can ever possibly know. Each week, you as a community have one chance to reach, somehow, both those people who for some reason come to one of your liturgies every week and those who just happen to wander in. If not the most significant opportunity for ministry you are faced with each week, it is certainly the most obvious.
While liturgy committees may have started because of the need to understand and implement all those vast liturgical changes of the 1960s and 1970s, right now the need is different: our church needs a new generation with a sense of adult responsibility for every aspect of the church’s work. Now, a liturgy committee is a necessary source of future leaders and ministers.
Without a strong base of lay leaders in place who understand liturgy and are comfortable with leading, planning, and evaluating it, parishes will become sadder places, as the number of priests continues to fall and new forms of leadership fail to take their place. The future is very much in the hands of laypeople who believe that their work will help keep our liturgical traditions alive and powerful. Liturgy committees are one place where people like that can get their training, their experience, and their support. And of course, strong liturgy committees also have benefits in the here and now: they help each parish find its unique way of making the prayer of the church its own.
While the term “liturgy committee” has a peculiarly North American ring, its existence is in fact hinted at in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Rome’s principal document on celebrating the Eucharist.
All concerned should work together in the effective preparation of each liturgical celebration as to its rites, pastoral aspects, and music. (Section 73)
The official reason for liturgy committees is simple. Liturgy articulates and supports the faith of the community, and each community in our church is different. That means that the members of each community need to get involved. It’s simple, really: The community must be represented in the planning and evaluation of its liturgies. It is crucial for the clergy and professional staff of the parish to be supported by, and hear reactions from, a wide variety of community members. This kind of participation will mean that the needs of a community’s members—and there will be a great variety of needs, changing constantly—are reflected in its liturgical life.
Principles of Good Liturgy
- Liturgy is always an act of praise of and to God.
- The ‘theme’ of every liturgy is the paschal mystery: that is, the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
- Liturgy (all liturgy, not only Mass) is the peak activity of the Church.
- The aim to be considered before all else when preparing and celebrating liturgy is that everyone present can participate fully, consciously, and actively. Liturgy is not a performance or entertainment.
- Christ is present whenever liturgy is celebrated in the people assembled for worship, in the scriptures proclaimed, in the consecrated elements, and in the person of the ordained presider.
- Liturgy is a ritual activity; there are set patterns and familiar cues and responses.
- Liturgical symbols should be large and clear.
- Liturgy is more than only words.
- Liturgy has a beginning, end and middle (Gather/ Listen/ Do/ Go)
- Liturgy is connected to real life
- Liturgy is a dialogue between God and His people!
Marc Barylo - Ph: 988-9607