Bishop Silva of Honolulu begins liturgical catechesis series

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!

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24 Responses to Bishop Silva of Honolulu begins liturgical catechesis series

  1. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I attended a Mass in Waikiki on my honeymoon (early July). The pastor, before the closing prayer, said a few words about the review of the GIRM in the diocese, and mentioned in particular that the norms call for a sign of reverence before receiving the Eucharist.

    I emailed the parish afterwards to thank them, but also to (charitably) call to their attention a couple of practices that were out of line (pouring the Precious Blood from a flagon into multiple chalices, and the concelebratory style with which the EMHCs received communion with the priest). Hopefully they’ll get straightened out in the coming months. I’m not a “liturgical policeman”, but I am concerned about celebrating the liturgy properly.

    It’s a fine line to walk.

  2. TJM says:

    Father Z, I am catiously optimistic that the
    Bishop’s statement and plan bodes well for the
    celebration of Mass. I’d be tickled if the Archdioces
    of Chicago published such a statement. Tom

  3. Cornelius says:

    I have always had a little problem with this idea that the scriptural word is
    JUST as important as the Eucharist. Both are important, to be sure, but surely
    Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist is of unsurpassed, and unequaled,
    importance to a believer. On the other hand, in Dei Verbum it says:

    21. The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates
    the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly
    receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of
    God’s word and of Christ’s body.

    It would be a distortion of this teaching to hold that one can skip Mass and
    stay home to read the Scriptures instead, since they are both apparently of
    equal value. But this is a possible interpretation of this equality between
    the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

  4. TJM says:

    Father Z, I am catiously optimistic that the
    Bishop’s statement and plan bodes well for the
    celebration of Mass. I’d be tickled if the Archdioces
    of Chicago published such a statement. Tom

  5. Cornelius says:

    I have always had a little problem with this idea that the scriptural word is
    JUST as important as the Eucharist. Both are important, to be sure, but surely
    Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist is of unsurpassed, and unequaled,
    importance to a believer. On the other hand, in Dei Verbum it says:

    21. The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates
    the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly
    receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of
    God’s word and of Christ’s body.

    It would be a distortion of this teaching to hold that one can skip Mass and
    stay home to read the Scriptures instead, since they are both apparently of
    equal value. But this is a possible interpretation of this equality between
    the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

  6. Cornelius says:

    I have always had a little problem with this idea that the scriptural word is
    JUST as important as the Eucharist. Both are important, to be sure, but surely
    Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist is of unsurpassed, and unequaled,
    importance to a believer. On the other hand, in Dei Verbum it says:

    21. The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates
    the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly
    receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of
    God’s word and of Christ’s body.

    It would be a distortion of this teaching to hold that one can skip Mass and
    stay home to read the Scriptures instead, since they are both apparently of
    equal value. But this is a possible interpretation of this equality between
    the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

  7. I hope the bishop also discusses music, at least a little bit. The music situation is not good. That would seem to be fairly clear to any observer of the liturgy.

  8. Mary says:

    I don’t think the paragraph you cite says both are of equal value — only that both are of value. When we studied the Mass in high school (way back in the early 60s, when it was the TLM), we learned that the first part of the Mass was in the early Church known as the “Mass of the Catechumens” and the second part, beginning with the Offertory, was the “Mass of Faithful.” Catechumens were not allowed to attend the Mass of the Faithful.

    We were also told that, while we should NEVER be late for Mass, if dire extremity made lateness unavoidable, the obligation to hear Sunday Mass was fulfilled if we were in time for the Offertory.

    I hope this blurring of the difference isn’t preparation for prayer services — or Communion services — under a “parish life coordinator” (“collaborator”?) instead of Mass becoming a regular thing!

  9. Excellent point Mary.

    The word “Mass” comes from the first dismissal….the Catechumens would
    be dismissed with Ite missa est, (or its Greek equivilent)
    then the sacrifice would begin. Hence the Mass of the Catechumens.

    This was completely Judaic in practise, as the Mass of the
    Catechumens corresponded to the Synagogue service
    (where invited non-Jews could attend) while the Mass of the Faithful
    corresponded to the Temple Sacrifice (where only Jews could participate).
    The second Ite missa est was the dismissal of the faithful.

    Protecting the “sacred mysteries” and keeping them hidden from the outside
    world was very Jewish and not from some pagan mystery cult origin as many
    scholars contend.

    The “fore-Mass” was a preparation for the sacrifice, so no..they were/are not of equal value.

    Dei Verbum taken at face value is a problem, because it is simply not true.

    “21. The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates
    the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly
    receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of
    God’s word and of Christ’s body”.

    The Church does not venerate the Eucharist in the same manner at the Scriptures, unless
    you have genuflected to the Lectionary recently?

    As a metaphor, emphasizing the dignity of the Scriptures, it is a nice sentiment.

    I do have an issue with the “table of God’s Word” which seems a very Protestant image
    …but that is another issue. Also I have no idea what the “table of Christ’s
    body” is supposed to mean either? A rather novel image….does the Latin enlighten us Father?

    However, in the end I know that Dei Verbum is a pastoral document and not literally Dei Verbum!

  10. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    We have always reverenced the presence of Christ in the word but in a lesser degree.Note that in the usus antiquior the subdeacon genuflects before he processes to the place where he will hold the Gospel Book,but on his return to the celelbrant he does not genuflect as he passes the tabernacle nor is he to genuflect even if the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the altar.He does this out of reverence for the proclaimed Word which he holds in his hands.

  11. Mary says:

    Matt — thanks for the information on the Temple Sacrifice. I don’t recall hearing that before.

  12. Thomas McKinney says:

    Father Z.
    First off thank you for your website. I have always found it informative.
    I live in the diocese of Honolulu. While, I have not been to every parish, I
    have been to several and can attest that many Novus Ordo masses are (in my opinion) abysmal and almost a distraction from prayer. I was scandalized the first time I went to Mass
    out here and no one kneeled for the consecration. I had heard about not
    kneeling during the Agnus Dei, but during the CONSECRATION? The music is
    atrocious and there’s always some annoying cantor up front waving her arms
    about! My daughter made her First Communion at a parish out here and the
    whole Mass was such a cacophony that I don’t think I truly prayed once.

    Now the fact that I prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite may color
    my opinion just a tad ;) There is fortunately a Mass in the old form held
    weekly in an out of the way church. The priest who celebrates it is very
    advanced in age. He speeds through the prayers as if he were an auctioneer,
    making it very difficult to follow along in a missal, but all in all the
    silence and reverence inherent in the Extraordinary Form make it a welcome
    respite. I do have one question. The priest at the weekly Tridentine Mass
    does not wear a microphone, so that it is difficult to actually hear the
    propers of the mass. Obviously there are some parts of the Mass that are
    meant to be sotto voce, my question is are the other parts supposed to be read
    loudly and in a clear voice or is that up to the priest. Thank you.

  13. Thomas McKinney says:

    Father Z.
    First off thank you for your website. I have always found it informative.
    I live in the diocese of Honolulu. While, I have not been to every parish, I
    have been to several and can attest that many Novus Ordo masses are (in my opinion) abysmal and almost a distraction from prayer. I was scandalized the first time I went to Mass
    out here and no one kneeled for the consecration. I had heard about not
    kneeling during the Agnus Dei, but during the CONSECRATION? The music is
    atrocious and there’s always some annoying cantor up front waving her arms
    about! My daughter made her First Communion at a parish out here and the
    whole Mass was such a cacophony that I don’t think I truly prayed once.

    Now the fact that I prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite may color
    my opinion just a tad ;) There is fortunately a Mass in the old form held
    weekly in an out of the way church. The priest who celebrates it is very
    advanced in age. He speeds through the prayers as if he were an auctioneer,
    making it very difficult to follow along in a missal, but all in all the
    silence and reverence inherent in the Extraordinary Form make it a welcome
    respite. I do have one question. The priest at the weekly Tridentine Mass
    does not wear a microphone, so that it is difficult to actually hear the
    propers of the mass. Obviously there are some parts of the Mass that are
    meant to be sotto voce, my question is are the other parts supposed to be read
    loudly and in a clear voice or is that up to the priest. Thank you.

  14. I agree Father Mcafee, but the modern liturgical interpretation tends to
    see the presence of Christ in the Scriptures and the Eucharist as merely
    being a difference of degree…rather than being a completely different
    kind of presence altogether.

    I’ve even heard a diocesan priest preach recently at a engaged encounter
    that quote “Jesus is present in the congregation in the SAME WAY He is
    present in the Tabernacle”.

    This is an example of extreme error, but reflects the pervasiveness of many
    unorthodox beliefs held by a good portion of Catholics up here in Canada
    when it comes to the Blessed Sacrament.

  15. Monica says:

    Speaking of Honolulu…the former bishop of that diocese is now the current bishop of Richmond, Virginia. He has not made any statement regarding the motu proprio. Even the secular media has no comments to share from the bishop in this newspaper article regarding the Traditional Latin Mass. It does however at least quote a diocesan priest, Monsignor Miller as saying “The thought of adding an additional service and having to learn an entirely different way of conducting it is not an attractive process.” The article further quotes another diocesan priest, Father Lehman joking “I probably would not be able to pray in Latin…I have a hard enough time praying publicly in English.”

    Beautiful article, but silence from our bishop.

    http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/130387

  16. Jim says:

    I suspect Bishop Silva has his work cut out for him. We attended Mass on the Big Island some time before Bishop Silva was appointed. There were no kneelers in the church and nobody knelt for the consecration. There were several deletions: no gloria, no creed. And one addition: a very long, verbose sermon. When I attend mass in such situations, I find it counterproductive to make a big deal (e.g., kneeling when everyone is standing). It is all I can do to extinguish the flames of anger burning within. The Mass should be a source of unity, not division. What Bishop Silva is doing is highly commendable. Give him a few years and he will turn things around in Hawaii. He is an example of what a good bishop can do.

  17. Jim says:

    I suspect Bishop Silva has his work cut out for him. We attended Mass on the Big Island some time before Bishop Silva was appointed. There were no kneelers in the church and nobody knelt for the consecration. There were several deletions: no gloria, no creed. And one addition: a very long, verbose sermon. When I attend mass in such situations, I find it counterproductive to make a big deal (e.g., kneeling when everyone is standing). It is all I can do to extinguish the flames of anger burning within. The Mass should be a source of unity, not division. What Bishop Silva is doing is highly commendable. Give him a few years and he will turn things around in Hawaii. He is an example of what a good bishop can do.

  18. John says:

    I’ve lived in the Hawaii for 1 year and been to 3 churches.
    I am sorry but based on how this has been presented in the Waikiki church I go to, this will be an indoctrination to finally squash kneeling during the consecration and after receiving communion. Every week has been a rant to conformn to the bishop’s wishes as Chief Liturgist that standing is the only way in this diocese. Although Rome does it differently from us, we will follow what the bishop wants. To disobey the bishop in this matter and kneel is a sin. At this point, I just get up and step outside. I go back after the homily. Since most of the churchgoers are tourists, the priests have to constantly rant every week. I think they are getting exhausted and sometimes in the afternoon and daily Masses they give up. In the past, the priest would say that as the pastor, it is his prerogative to allow sitting and kneeling after communion due to the number of people. Now, no can do. I am hoping that the constant stream of kneeling tourists would give this landmark church an exemption from the Chief Liturgist.

    I’ve been to the Cathedral and the kneelers have been ripped out. I don’t know under which bishop this was done. The altar/table has been moved to the middle and the seating reconfigured. Again, no kneeling allowed. I have also been to to the much larger St. Teresa’s that is used for diocesan events. The kneelers are kept for now but the pews turned around since the altar/table is now on one side of the church that is shaped like a rectangle.

  19. dcs says:

    Matt Robinson writes:
    The word “Mass” comes from the first dismissal….the Catechumens would be dismissed with Ite missa est, (or its Greek equivilent) then the sacrifice would begin. Hence the Mass of the Catechumens.

    IIRC, in the ancient Roman Rite the Gospel was considered part of the Arcanum and the Catechumens were dismissed before it was read.

  20. TerryC says:

    Monica,
    I too am in the Diocese of Richmond. True the bishop has not posted a letter, however the Catholic Virginia (the diocesan newspaper, which is the voice of the bishop) has taken a pretty clear stand. Several weeks after the MP we got the story quoting the liberal Jesuit university professor on how the “priest has his back to the people”, “Latin is a dead language, no one understands” and “how important active participation is.” The editorial in the same issue pointed out how the extraordinary form of the Mass has been available at several locations in the diocese (the closest some 35 miles from where I live) in Richmond and Chesapeake, and how it only appeals to a very small number of people. We also got the reminder from columnist Barbara Hughes on how busy our priest are and how we shouldn’t put unreasonable loads on them, like asking for the extraordinary form of the Mass or expecting them to learn how to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass.
    True the bishop hasn’t put out a letter, but I think the message is pretty clear.

  21. Francis Brennan says:

    Fr. Z.,

    My family had a very enjoyable vacation in Hawaii earlier this year, and we attended
    Mass on Maui and in Honolulu. One thing irritated me, however – the diocesan policy that the entire congregation at Mass should remain standing until all members of the congregation have received Holy Communion. An instruction to this effect was read out at all the Masses we attended with the explanation that the common gesture “expressed the unity of the worshipping assembly” or words to that effect. At one of the churches, the priest apologized for the instruction but said that (in so many words) he had received a sharp reminder from the liturgical powers-that-be in the diocese that the standing-after-communion rule was mandatory and he was to enforce it, or face consequences.

    I strongly objected to being bossed around in this way and am sure that such an instruction is out of line liturgically. For me, kneeling after communion as an expression of reverence and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is absolutely fundamental to the way I practice my Catholic faith.

    The justification given about demonstrating unity is plainly nonsense – the entire congregation can kneel down in a common posture of solidarity as well.

    Is this one of Bishop Silva’s policies, or is it part of the mess he is sorting out?

  22. Mimi says:

    “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.”

    “The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures JUST AS she venerates
    the body of the Lord”

    “Just as” does indeed seem to say that they are of equal importance.

    Can anyone cite anything authoritative (or at least equal in authority to Dei Verbum,) that they are NOT of “equal importance?

    Thanks in advance.

  23. Tess says:

    “Is this one of Bishop Silva’s policies, or is it part of the mess he is sorting out?”

    I’m sure it’s part of the mess he’s sorting out. Before he was bishop he was typically sent into parishes that needed “sorting out.” Bishop Silva desires what the Church desires. He was not yet a bishop when the most recent GIRM came out, but here is some info on what the bishops did:

    http://adoremus.org/0903Posture.html

    He needs time and he needs prayers. Before he was ordained bishop, he asked for prayers that he would be worthy and courageous. Bishop Silva is one of the good guys, and I’ve never known a finer priest. Pray for him and give him some time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it won’t be rebuilt in a day either.

  24. Francis Brennan says:

    Fr. Z.,

    I am very encouraged by Tess’s comment. I will certainly pray for Bishop Silva.

    I have one suggestion for him – he should consecrate the Hawaiian Islands to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (or re-consecrate them).

    Apart from the liturgical irregularities, the other distasteful thing I found when vacationing in Hawaii was the undercurrent of paganism everywhere: all the wood-carvings of pagan idols on sale in the tourist shops and the semi-devotion to the goddess Pele which seems to persist in spite of Christianization. (Who knows, the liturgical problems may be a function of the continuing persistence of these occult influences).

    Consecration of the state to Mary would be very beneficial in finally exorcising the old ghosts. It would also be very beneficial to Bishop Silva’s planned liturgical review if he elicits the help of the Queen of Heaven in this way.