New Year Liturgical Resolutions Part II


Two weeks ago I suggested that parishes might begin 2007 by resolving to make their liturgical celebrations ‘more vibrant, meaningful and inclusive’ by the end of the year. I offered six questions for people to use to assess their own level of participation in the celebration of Mass.
Here are some questions that those responsible for preparing and celebrating liturgy could use to assess the quality of parish worship.
Is the church clean and uncluttered? Is there a gathering area where people are greeted as they enter the church and can mingle before entering the worship space proper? Does the seating allow the assembly to gather around altar and ambo so that everyone can participate fully in the action of the liturgy?
According to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, liturgy works through ‘signs perceptible to the senses’ (CSL #7). Are the liturgical symbols and elements in our liturgies, such as oil and water, used so lavishly that members of the assembly experience God’s presence through their senses of sight, touch, taste and smell?
Contemporary celebration should be characterised by noble simplicity – clear signs not needing much explanation (CSL #34). Are our symbols large and clear enough to engage the assembly? Are our decorations and artwork real, tasteful and located so they enhance the liturgy rather than distract from it?
Proclamation of the Scriptures:
Are our ministers of the word ‘truly qualified and carefully prepared so that the faithful may develop a warm and living love for Scripture from listening to the sacred texts read’ (Lectionary for Mass Introduction #55)? Are there times of silence between the readings to allow the assembly to reflect on the word of God?
The Lectionary for Mass Introduction (LMI) says that the homily must be ‘truly the fruit of meditation, carefully prepared, neither too long nor too short, and suited to all those present, even children and the uneducated’ (#24).
Do the homilies in our parish unfold the mysteries of faith contained in the word that has been proclaimed and relate this word to our lives today? Do they serve to ‘lead the community of the faithful to celebrate the Eucharist wholeheartedly’? (LMI #24)
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy states: ‘To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons and song…’ (#30). Is priority given in our liturgies to singing the Psalm, the Gospel Acclamation, the ‘Holy, Holy’, the Memorial Acclamation, the Great Amen and the Lamb of God? Do the musical settings of these acclamations enable people to join in easily?
Are the music selections based on the feasts and seasons of the Church’s year and the scripture readings and prayer texts for the celebration? Are they appropriate for the age, culture and education of the assembly and within the capabilities of the organist and song leader?
‘Sacred silence, as part of the celebration, should be observed at the designated times’ (General Instruction to the Roman Missal #45).
Do we observe times of silence at the ‘designated times’ – before the penitential rite, after the invitation ‘Let us pray’, between the readings, following the homily, after each petition in the Prayer of the Faithful, after communion?


Elizabeth Harrington