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The Role of a Diocesan Liturgical Commission
WHAT ON EARTH DOES A LITURGICAL COMMISSION DO?
It is always interesting to see how people react when I mention that I work for the Catholic Liturgical Commission in Brisbane. I am usually met with quizzical, or even slightly suspicious, looks!
A lady rang me recently to ask what sort of qualifications I had that entitled me to conduct investigations into liturgy. Further conversation revealed that she really believed that this was the purpose of The Liturgical Commission. (And I didn't make that one up either!)
I guess the word 'commission' is problematic because it tends to be associated with Royal Commissions and suchlike.
Forty years ago, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the first document produced by the Second Vatican Council, advised conferences of bishops to 'set up a liturgical commission, to be assisted by experts in liturgical science, music, art, and pastoral practice…. The commission is to regulate pastoral-liturgical action throughout the territory and to promote studies and necessary experiments whenever there is question of adaptations to be proposed to the Apostolic See.' (CSL #44)
The next paragraph continues: 'For the same reason every diocese is to have a commission on the liturgy, under the direction of the bishop, for promoting the liturgical apostolate.'
Another aspect of the role of a liturgical commission is referred to in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal; 'All who are involved in the construction, restoration, and remodeling of sacred buildings are to consult the diocesan liturgical commission. The diocesan bishop is to use the counsel and help of this commission when it comes to laying down norms on this matter.' (GIRM 2000 #291)
These quotes give a clear sense of the purpose of diocesan liturgical commissions. The Liturgical Commission in Brisbane offers support to parish communities in preparing and celebrating liturgical rites. Its aim is to encourage the full, conscious and active participation of all people in rites that are noble in their simplicity yet powerful in their expression of the sacred mysteries. Its functions fall under three categories:
Educational Services: The Liturgical Commission offers courses, seminars and workshops designed to help all Catholics understand the meaning of the liturgical rites, to help liturgy planners use the liturgical books with respect and creativity and to assist in training liturgical ministers.
Publishing Services: A range of resources in liturgy are produced and published to assist in preparing and in celebrating the liturgical rites. These include Daily Mass Book, Break Open the Word (a preparation book for readers), Liturgy News (a quarterly periodical), and When We Marry (a planning guide for marriage).
Consulting Services: The Commission is available to answer ad hoc questions from parishes and individuals, to help with major diocesan liturgical events, and to assist the Archbishop in dealing with liturgical matters arising in the diocese. In particular, the Commission assists parishes and their pastors to evaluate their space for worship and plan the renovation or construction of buildings for liturgy. The Liturgical Commission enables the diocese to participate in national and international projects in liturgy.