His Excellency Most Reverend Larry Silva, Bishop of Honolulu will be giving a catechetical series in the diocesan newspaper, the Hawaii Catholic Herald. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Remember, just because this began after the release of Summorum Pontificum that does not mean that it was started because of the Motu Proprio. That would be the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Right?
My emphases and comments.
Bishop Larry Silva’s
CATECHESIS ON THE LITURGY
Dear People of the Diocese of Honolulu:
The peace of the risen Christ be with you! Over the next year or two, [WOW. Long time for the series!] our diocese will be embarking on a period of catechesis and renewal regarding the liturgy, particularly the celebration of the Eucharist. On May 31-June 1, the priests and deacons were invited to a workshop on the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). [And… ?] This is the document issued by the Vatican that governs our celebration of the Mass in all the Catholic churches of the Roman Rite. (There are Eastern Rite Catholics, fully in communion with the Pope, who celebrate the liturgy with a different rite.) The third edition of the GIRM was published in 2002.
It is my responsibility as the Pastor and Chief Liturgist of the diocese [This has been a common point of reference for bishops when writing about the Motu Proprio.] to assure that the liturgy is celebrated according to the proper form and with lively faith. As I visit the parishes, I am impressed that the vast majority celebrate the liturgy quite well. For most, this study and implementation of the liturgy will mean some fine-tuning and a few minor changes in the way liturgy is celebrated. For a few parishes, however, more extensive changes will be required. For all of us, the most important fruits of this catechesis should be our deeper understanding of the beauty of the liturgy and a renewal of the spirit in which we worship our Lord, especially in the Eucharist.
Each month we will take one aspect of the liturgy and ask everyone to study it and reflect upon it. There will be articles in the Hawaii Catholic Herald and postings on our diocesan website (www.catholichawaii.org). Two months before the topic is covered in the Herald, the priests and deacons will be referred to sections of the GIRM that will be the focus of the catechesis, and they will receive materials that can be copied as bulletin inserts or used in parish presentations. The two-month lead time will not only give them time to prepare for catechesis on the local level, but will also afford them the opportunity to discuss the issues in greater depth with their staffs, liturgy committees, and liturgical ministers. At the same time, any changes that need to be made to fully implement the GIRM can be suitably planned and executed.
Topics will include the following: General Norms; Liturgical Ministers and the Gathered Assembly; Sites and Symbols; Participation, gestures and postures; Introductory Rites; Liturgy of the Word; Liturgy of the Eucharist; Communion Rite; Concluding Rites; Review and overview of the Mass; Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults; Order of Christian Funerals; Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum; Rite of Penance, Form I; Rite of Penance, Form II; [NB: No Form III.] The Book of Blessings; Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside the Mass.
I should mention that the bishops of the English-speaking world are currently working on an updated English translation of the prayers and responses of the Mass. None of these is ready for implementation, but by the time we finish this planned catechesis, the translation should be ready. By then we will be accustomed to learning about the liturgy, so instructions on the new translations should flow nicely from our present endeavors. [Good thinking.]
I encourage all in the diocese to study the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. It is available through Pauline Books & Media (1143 Bishop Street, Honolulu, HI 96813; Oahu phone 521-2731; Neighbor Islands, toll free phone 1-866-521-2731; webpage www.pauline.org); or through the Publishing Office of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, www.usccb.org).
As we embark on this catechesis and renewal, I do want to emphasize some very important points.
The liturgy is a living encounter in which we worship the Father, through his Son Jesus, our risen Lord, in the Holy Spirit. It is the source and summit of our entire Christian life. It should therefore be celebrated well and according to the rites given to us by the universal community of the Church to which we belong. The rubrics, gestures, postures and words are extremely important. But what is most important is the attitude with which we approach the liturgy. We are God’s creatures, not creators. The structure is given to us to help us encounter the deeper spiritual reality of God-with-us. We can “perform” the liturgy flawlessly, following all the directives beautifully, and still have a very dead liturgy, if we do not remember that the liturgy is primarily prayer. While it has elements of drama that engage us and our deepest emotions, it is never simply a performance. We must put our hearts and souls into the celebration of the liturgy. Most of all, we must open our hearts to the incredible power of the Holy Spirit that works on us and in us in the liturgy. [This paragraph is a promising hint that he gets the real meaning of "active participation".]
Anyone who has worked on planning the liturgy knows that it is never as simple as it seems. It involves human beings with human limitations, so it is seldom, if ever, celebrated perfectly. While it is important that we better understand the reasons behind what we do, it is more important that we avoid the temptation to become “liturgical police,” criticizing anyone and anything that does not conform to the rules. Sometimes the temptation is only played out in the silence of our hearts as we privately criticize the unfolding of the liturgy rather than enter into the worship with praise and thanksgiving. It is true that we are in the process of critiquing our liturgies for the sake of improving them, but Satan can easily lead us to turn legitimate critique into resentment toward our brothers and sisters, thus undermining the real purpose of liturgy. [WOW! A bishop who talks about the Enemy! Great!]
I also urge that we be very careful when we find ourselves saying, “We have always done it this way. We like it.” or “That is not supposed to be done.” On the one hand, we sometimes fall into bad habits. The fact that they are habits is not an excuse for holding on to them if they are not correct. On the other hand, I myself have occasionally said, “That is not supposed to be done,” and after double checking, I found that what I judged incorrect was actually quite permissible. We need to approach the liturgy with great humility, because it is in fact our way of approaching intimacy with the Lord himself, before whom we can only be humble.
Let us all pray that this renewal of our liturgy will help us all to be more on fire with the love of Christ, so that we can truly be his Body in the world, to bring his light, healing and love to all.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Larry Silva
Bishop of Honolulu
Okay! This is pretty promising! I like this idea of diocesan wide review and study of the liturgy. For years I have called for liturgical catechesis.
Alas, what follows the Bishop’s letter is a rather squishy piece from "Give Thanks and Praise" written in 1987 and published by the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. There is not a single use of the word "sacrifice" in this squishy mess, while "meal" is common. I had a bit of a problem with this, for example,
Today, however, we speak of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist as being the two key sections of the celebration. One might assume that these are two completely distinct and separate parts of the Mass.
Not so! [?] Very early in the Christian experience the celebration of word and meal were seen as inseparable as wife and husband. One goes with the other. Both are liturgy. Each is of equal importance. [?] Listening to God speak to us through the scripture readings is just as important as sharing at the table of the Lord. [?] The conversation before the meal is as essential as the meal itself. [?] Speech and meal. Word and Eucharist. One liturgy. One prayer of the church, [sic… yes it ends with a comma!]
In any event, I applaud Bishop Silva for this initiative!