Liturgical New Year Resolutions

In a couple of days’ time, many of us will make resolutions about things like losing weight, being more patient, saving money, etc. Perhaps this might be a good time for us to make some liturgical new year resolutions too.

“In the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members.” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #7)

“The Church earnestly desires that all the faithful be led to that full, conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations called for by the very nature of the liturgy.” (CSL #14)

As these quotes indicate, we all have a responsibility for the liturgy, not just the priest or the organist or the liturgy committee. Here are six questions we might use to assess our own participation in the celebration of Mass:

Am I hospitable and attentive towards those with whom I worship? Do I extend a welcome to everyone, not just people I know? Am I ever guilty of taking up the whole pew by hogging the end seat?
Sharing at the Lord’s Table makes us one body of Christ. Do I sit as near as possible to the Table of the Word and the Table of the Eucharist at Mass, or do I prefer to sit at the back of the church where I can say my prayers in peace and make a hasty exit when Mass is over? People scattered around a large church, with front seats empty and back pews taken, make it look like we are there as individuals rather than as an assembly.
Liturgy is the public prayer of the Church and work of the people. Do I take responsibility for my part in the ‘work’ of worship by listening attentively, joining in the responses and singing, sharing the sign of peace and by taking notice of the symbols, sounds, smells and tastes of the celebration?
We should pray our parts of the Mass as though every prayer depended upon our words. Do I participate in the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and other prayers of the Mass in a way that gives glory to God and honours the presence of Christ in the liturgy?
Singing is one way in which everyone can fully participate in the liturgy and join in the celebration of faith. As an occasional cantor in my own parish, I find it extremely demoralising to see some people make absolutely no attempt to join in the singing at Mass, to the extent of not even bothering to pick up a hymnbook. Are you one of the guilty ones?
Our celebration of Mass continues as we extend our ministry as a worshipping assembly into the rest of our lives. Using the words of Leo Watt’s well-known hymn, do you go forth to live what you proclaim and show the world you follow Christ in fact, not just in name?

My best wishes to you for a 2017 that is blessed with peace, hope and joy!

(I am taking leave and attending a liturgy conference in January, so the next “Liturgy Lines” will be loaded onto the Liturgy Brisbane website on 25th January, the eve of Australia Day.)



Elizabeth Harrington