Process for Preparing Liturgy

Process for Preparing Liturgy
Last week I wrote about the principles of preparing liturgy. This column looks at the process used by a liturgy committee in preparing a liturgical celebration.
The framework of the Mass and other sacramental celebrations is set out in ritual books, so the liturgy 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 or a penitential rite be use? Is one of the ten eucharistic prayers particularly appropriate because of the 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. People preparing a parish confirmation celebration, for example, 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 studying the structure and intent of the rite, the liturgy planners 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:
· making ready the place where the assembly will gather for worship as one body.
· training the assembly and ministers to carry out their roles in the
act of worship.
· incorporating gesture, movement, symbol and silence in such a way that all can participate fully, consciously and actively in the celebration.
· preparing those who proclaim the scriptures, as well as those who listen, so that the assembly will hear the word when it is proclaimed.
· selecting and rehearsing the music so that all can sing the praises of the God.
· preparing the sacrificial meal in such a way that all might be fed by ‘the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation’.
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