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Celebrating Liturgy on Weekdays
WHAT DO YOU DO ON WEEKDAYS WHEN YOU CAN’T HAVE MASS?
This question is being asked more and more frequently as parishes find that a priest is no longer available to preside at eucharist during the week.
There are no explicit “rules” for weekday celebrations. However, the documents on the liturgy offer guidance on what might be appropriate:
“Bible services should be encouraged, especially on the vigils of the more solemn feasts, on some weekdays in Advent and Lent, and on Sundays and holy days. They are particularly recommended in places where no priest is available”. (CSL 35,4).
“The scriptures, and above all in their liturgical proclamation, are the source of all life and all the faithful without exception must: always be ready to listen gladly to God’s word”. (LMI 47)
Hence an option that parishes might consider for weekdays is a Service of the Word. This form of worship is familiar to us from the first part of the Mass. The weekday readings from the Lectionary could be used and a rite of thanksgiving or proclamation of praise included.
There is however another possibility for weekday morning worship. The 1988 Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest recommends celebrating some part of the Liturgy of the Hours, particularly morning or evening prayer. What can replace eucharist on Sunday is certainly suitable for weekdays.
This form of worship is less well known in parishes. Yet it originated as the prayer of the people and is part of the public prayer of the Church. It is not, as some believe, the preserve of priests and religious. The second Vatican Council called for the Liturgy of the Hours to be made available again to lay people.
Parishes are sometimes reluctant to use this form of prayer because it seems too complicated for the ordinary person. But there is a simpler………the ancient ‘cathedral’ form of prayer, which centres on psalms and prayer of intercession. A pattern for morning prayer could be:Hymn - (appropriate for the morning or liturgical season)Psalms – (one fixed, one variable)Gospel Canticle – Canticle of Zechariah
Prayer – intercessions, Lord’s Prayer, concluding prayerBlessing
Sign of Peace
A parish could prepare its own booklet with the overall format, a small number of suitable hymns and psalms, the fixed psalm and the gospel canticle.
On special occasions the prayer could be made more festive by the addition of candles, incense and singing. Whatever form of worship is used, parishes need to prepare the people by offering some catechises on its value and style. Lay people with the appropriate gifts for liturgical leadership need to be found and trained in the skills required.
Services of the Word or the Liturgy of the Hours should never be considered as “second rate” alternatives which we resort to only when a priest is unavailable. They have value in their own right and enable us to express and develop our faith in the presence of Christ in the gathered assembly and in the word.