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The Bishop and Liturgy
The Bishop and Liturgy
On Monday 2nd April it was announced that Archbishop Mark Coleridge has been appointed the new bishop of the Brisbane Archdiocese. He will be installed (not ordained as he is already a bishop) at the Cathedral of St Stephen on 11th May. It is timely then to look at the responsibilities of a diocesan bishop in regard to the liturgy.
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy says:
“The bishop is to be considered as the high priest of his flock, from whom the life in Christ of his faithful is in some way derived and dependent. Therefore all should hold in great esteem the liturgical life of the diocese centred around the bishop, especially in his cathedral church; they must be convinced that the pre-eminent manifestation of the Church consists in the full active participation of all God's holy people in these liturgical celebrations, especially in the same Eucharist, in a single prayer, at one altar, at which there presides the bishop surrounded by his college of priests and by his ministers.” (41)
The General Instruction on the Roman Missal (22) adds:
“Hence, solemn celebrations of Mass of this sort must be exemplary for the entire diocese.”
In other words, the bishop leads by example, not by decree.
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy acknowledges that it is impossible for the bishop “always and everywhere to preside over the whole flock in his Church”. However,
“The parishes, set up locally under a pastor who takes the place of the bishop … in some manner represent the visible Church constituted throughout the world. And therefore the liturgical life of the parish and its relationship to the bishop must be fostered theoretically and practically among the faithful and clergy; efforts also must be made to encourage a sense of community within the parish, above all in the common celebration of the Sunday Mass.” (42)
The General Instruction on the Roman Missal explains it this way:
“Every legitimate celebration of the Eucharist is directed by the Bishop, either in person or through Priests who are his helpers.” (92)
Paragraph 22 of the same document describes the bishop as “the moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole of liturgical life”. It goes on:
“The Bishop should therefore be determined that the Priests, the Deacons, and the lay Christian faithful grasp ever more deeply the genuine significance of the rites and liturgical texts, and thereby be led to the active and fruitful celebration of the Eucharist.”
To assist the bishop in the complex but important tasks of promoting full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy, of assisting all the faithful to appreciate the significance of the rites and liturgical texts, and of being the moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole of liturgical life of the diocese, “every diocese is to have a commission on the sacred liturgy under the direction of the bishop.” (CSL 45)
In Brisbane, the Archdiocesan Commission on the Liturgy was set up “to assist the Archbishop who is the moderator, promoter and custodian of the liturgical life of the archdiocese” (Mandate paragraph 1).