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New Year Liturgical Resolutions
This first Ordinary Time Sunday in the new calendar year is a good time for parishes to evaluate their liturgies and resolve to work towards making them more prayerful and vibrant by the end of the year.
It might be tempting to respond that this has nothing to do with most parishioners because liturgy is the responsibility of the parish priest and/or liturgy committee, but more than 50 years ago the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy made it crystal clear that we all play a central role in parish liturgical celebrations:
In the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members. (#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. (#14)
In light of this, an audit of our parish liturgies needs to begin with an examination of our own participation in them. Here are six questions to assist with assessing this:
• 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 people who 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 the familiar hymn, do you go forth to live what you proclaim and show the world you follow Christ in fact, not just in name?