Preparing Liturgy Part 2

Where does a liturgy committee start when preparing a liturgical celebration?
The framework of the Mass and other sacramental celebrations is set out in ritual books, so the group does not start from scratch each time.
The liturgical books used in the celebration of Sunday Mass are the lectionary – the book of readings – and the sacramentary – the book of prayers and texts. Together these form the Roman Missal.
Within the readings and texts set down for the day (which is determined by the liturgical calendar), there are options and alternatives. Part of the role of the liturgy committee is to make choices that are appropriate for the group that is celebrating. For example, will the rite of blessing and sprinkling of holy water be used in place of a penitential rite for this liturgy? Would the longer or shorter form of the gospel of the day be preferable for this occasion? Is one of the ten eucharistic prayers particularly appropriate because of the readings for the day or nature of the celebration?
Other rites of the Church are contained in various ritual books: Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Rite of Baptism for Children, Rite of Confirmation, Rite of Marriage, Rite of Penance, Rite of Ordination, Pastoral Care of the Sick, Liturgy of the Hours and Order of Christian Funerals.
These books contain the liturgical planning which the Church has already done. Preparing a parish confirmation celebration, for example, should always start with the Rite of Confirmation rather than orders of service from previous years or other parishes. The rite gives the format, prayers and rubrics, and the introduction provides useful information on theology, ministries and possible adaptations.
After becoming thoroughly familiar with the structure and intent of the rite, the next step for liturgy planners is to read the scriptures set down for the celebration. Reflecting on these readings as a group provides the raw material for choosing hymns, shaping the liturgical environment, writing prayers of the faithful, etc. It is not a matter of agreeing on one “theme” for the celebration but of opening up the riches of the scriptural texts so that they can speak in different ways to different people.
Understanding the “givens” – the rites and the readings – gives the liturgy committee the basis for the planning which remains to be done. This will involve:
· preparing the place where the assembly will gather for worship - that place where creator and created will meet
· helping the assembly gather together as one body.
· preparing for the proclamation of the scriptures so that the assembly will hear the word when it is proclaimed. This involves preparing both those who proclaim and those who listen.
· preparing the music so that all can sing the praises of the One who calls
us together.
· preparing the simple meal of bread and wine so that all might be fed by
“the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation”.”
· preparing the assembly to go out to live what has just been celebrated.
It is not a matter of planning something new and exciting each week but of doing the basics well and trusting the rite to offer our living sacrifice of praise.


Elizabeth Harrington