In the latest newsletter of the USCCB’s Committee for Divine Worship there is a focus on the Holy Father’s Post-Synodal Exhortation Verbum Domini, concerning Sacred Scripture.
I found this interesting:
In times of praise and thanksgiving, and in times of sadness and anxiety, the word of God always has something to say. “[W]ith a view to making the People of God ever more familiar with the word of God in the context of liturgical actions or, in any event, with reference to them” (no. 64), the Holy Father offers several other liturgical suggestions for highlighting the transformative power of the word and letting it enrich our lives:
Celebrations of the word of God are encouraged, particularly as part of liturgical formation, as preparation for the Sunday Eucharist, and as a time to pray and meditate on sacred Scripture. These types of celebrations are particularly recommended during Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter (see no. 65).
The celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, particularly Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, ought to become more widespread among the lay faithful. Pastors should give emphasis to such public celebrations, particularly the First Vespers of Sundays and solemnities. Clergy and religious communities should promote the Liturgy of the Hours with the participation of the lay faithful (see no. 62).
- Whether during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass or at other occasions, the proclamation of the word of God “is to be celebrated in such a way as to promote meditation” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 56). Proclaiming the word of God also involves silence afterward, in order to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us in the Lord. In the Mass, sacred silence should take place before the Liturgy of the Word begins, after the First and Second Readings, and after the homily. [Frankly, I avoid too much silence after my sermons, lest people get the idea that I and what I say are the true focus.] Pastors are exhorted to foster moments of recollection so that the word of God can truly take root in people’s hearts (see no. 66).
- In the selection of songs for the liturgy, “[p]reference should be given to songs which are of clear biblical inspiration and which express, through the harmony of music and words, the beauty of God’s word” (no. 70). These words should give new impetus to composers, and also inspire all to make greater use of Gregorian chant, [I am grateful for the reference to Gregorian chant. But this is really too little, no? Sacrosanctum Concilium is pretty clear that Gregorian chant is THE music par excellence.] “songs handed down to us by the Church’s tradition” (no. 70). [Consider with regret and horror what some people will claim are “traditional songs”.] The 2007 guidelines document of the USCCB, Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, can provide help in song selection.
- In churches, the ambo should be paid special attention through its clearly visible placement, beautiful design, and aesthetically harmonious decoration with the altar. Also, if possible, the sacred Scripture (either a Bible or book of the Lectionary) could be displayed in a place of honor in the church, even outside of liturgical celebrations. This placement should not compete, however, with the centrality of the tabernacle (see no. 68).
- Parishes should provide “every possible practical assistance” to those who are visually and/or hearing impaired, so that they too may actively participate in the liturgy and “experience a living contact with the word of the Lord” (no. 71).
Brick by brick, my friends, brick by brick.
Start forming Gregorian chant scholas.