Liturgy Newsletter — Reviews
- With the Word of God
- Q&A: The Mass
- The Lay Eucharistic Minister's Handbook
- Adoro Te — Chant and Hymns to the Blessed Sacrament
- Guiding Light: a Way of the Cross with Oscar Romero.
- Pastoral Patterns
by Jude Grogen RSM and Christopher O'Donnell O.Carm,
McCrimmons, Great Wakering, 2003, ISBN 0 85597 646 2 n.p.
Lectio Divina, sacred reading, is a very simple, deep way of praying with Scripture. Today, more and more people are discovering that this way of praying is nourishment for their lives and a great help for their prayer.
At present, the diocese of Westminster is engaged in a process of renewal, At Your Word, Lord: small faith sharing groups meet and pray with Scripture in a way which is similar to Lectio Divina. The text is read aloud, reflection follows on how this relates to my life and the lives of others. Then spontaneous prayer arises simply, either spoken or in silence.
With the Word of God is beautifully presented and would certainly attract children to try this type of prayer. There are questions, prompts and concluding prayers. The texts reflect the great concerns of the Old and New Testaments, they offer reflections on some of the well-known people in both Testaments. The presentation is colourful, glossy, generously illustrated, and each topic is highly developed. Each text relates to an appropriate topic in the Here I Am Religious Education programme for schools.
A typical section offers
- an Introduction to the theme
- questions and possible prompts
- reflection and further prompts
- re-reading, described here as "rest"
- a concluding prayer.
There are thirty-six biblical texts which include
- Jeremiah's Call
- The Annunciation to Mary
- Jesus the Student.
All are linked with the Liturgical Year.
And yet I have reservations. Do we need With the Word of God to get started and who is it for? Schools, Homes and Parishes? This book is described as ‘A Guide for Prayer in School, Home and Parish’. To me, it would seem to be addressed primarily, to schools. There is nothing wrong with that; if children learn to pray using this method, this is excellent. Used correctly, will be an excellent tool in developing the children's life of prayer.
But at the adult level, I believe that Lectio Divina is best taught by practising it, with Scripture, especially with the Sunday Gospel which enables us to integrate biblical and theological reflection with prayer life. Gradually one learns to integrate personal prayer, the liturgy, Bible reading and reflection since all these come together as one exercise.
In the past, the Church has often seen Scripture as a source of doctrine rather than of life. Since the Second Vatican Council especially, this emphasis has changed. Liturgy is seen as the life of the church and the Bible as its soul. I hope that With the Word of God will help in this development.
Dennis Smolarski SJ,
Chicago, LTP, 2002 ISBN 1-56854-358-1, pp.120, n.p.
This is a collection of short essays which first appeared in Liturgy 90, now known as Rite magazine and published by Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago. Dennis Smolarski is also the author of the popular book How Not To Say Mass (Paulist Press, 1986 ñ and now available in a revised edition) which is directed primarily, though certainly not exclusively, towards the principal celebrant at the Eucharist.
The Mass, whilst dealing with many of the same topics, also takes into account the revised General Instruction (GIRM) prepared for the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal. It is in question and answer form, and explores forty five questions that priests, liturgists, music directors and all actively engaged in the liturgy will, from time to time, find themselves asking or be asked about by others. Smolarski answers each question with reference to other Church documents as well as GIRM, and in each case he demonstrates a lot of common sense and pastoral sensitivity.
The section on the Liturgy of the Word deals with ten different aspects of this part of the Mass, all of which should concern us. A very useful answer is given regarding the writing of the general intercessions or bidding prayers, based on the GIRM paragraph 71. Since many people, including children, are involved in writing the intercessions, the information in this section of THE MASS is highly recommended. The truth is that many of us don't know how to write the intercessions and tend to write letters to God! The Mass is not the place for such prayer letters.
Weekday Masses receive some attention, including the difficult question of Celebrations of the Word and Communion, here called Communion Services, which take place when Mass cannot be celebrated. Smolarski quotes from the Ritual Book, Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass (par.14). He points out that communion services may perpetuate the notion that the eucharist is primarily the consecrated elements in the tabernacle, rather than the dynamic celebration of the Eucharist, by the assembled community. This is a difficult area which requires further clarification. The official text of Celebrations of the Word and Communion, published by the Liturgy Office, emphasises the link between a communion service and the Mass at which the elements were consecrated. Smolarski's discussion is on-going and thought-provoking.
Inevitably, some of the questions are of lesser importance. Whether paper purificators may be used? Whether to applaud during the Liturgy, under any circumstance? Where should the servers sit during the Liturgy? Common sense rules in Smolarski’s responses. He has some especially fine remarks to make about servers and other ministers. They are no longer defined as "helping Father". They are members of the assembly before they are servers, readers or other ministers, "and as members of the assembly they should be attentive to whomever is speaking and join in communal activities such as singing and responding. They are role models for the rest of the assembly." (p.87)
The Sign of Peace receives rightful treatment too. Should the celebrant remain in the sanctuary at this point in the celebration "so as not to disturb the celebration". It is worth reading pages 64-67 to find out!
There are many sensible and useful questions and answers in this book which could be of great help to all involved in the liturgy. If a glance at the book evokes "I know it all" do not be deceived. But if a complete study of the Mass is what you want, do not look here.
by Ann Tomalak,
Canterbury Press, 2003, ISBN 1-85311-550-9, pp.113, £9.99.
This is one of a series of handbooks designed to help lay people play a greater part in the life of the Church. Others are to follow, including a handbook for readers, one for school governors, another for catechists. If they are of the quality of this one for eucharistic ministers, they will be very helpful indeed. This book is for those directly involved in eucharistic ministry and for those engaged in their formation and spiritual development. The author is a eucharistic minister herself and has wide experience in the field of pastoral liturgy
Each chapter begins with an expose of the particular theme, it is not highly academic but very practical, comprehensive and is pleasant to read. There are boxed quotations from Church and other documents and relevant discussion questions at the end of each chapter. Diagrams and useful check lists are given to help the smooth running of the distribution of Communion both in the parish and to the sick.
Those who already serve in their parishes and elsewhere will find much to help them think more deeply about this ministry and to reconsider many aspects. Those just starting out are offered a complete guide to this ministry and the meaning behind what they will be doing. A Rite of Commissioning is included, a Re-commissioning and suggestions regarding Days of Study and Recollection (required of all commissioned eucharistic ministers every year). There is a useful glossary of terms which commissioned ministers should know and finally, some further reading suggestions and resources.
Each chapter is well presented and deals, in turn, with every aspect, possible surprise and difficulty which may be encountered. A brief history is followed by an explanation of the Mass, and there is an presentation of the practical training needed for ministering Communion during Mass, ministering Communion to the Sick and Housebound, ministering during Services of Word and Communion. There is also discussion of the nature of the commitment required of the minister.
Services of Word and Communion, particularly on weekdays, are celebrated in England from time to time. This is not the place to discuss the merits or otherwise of these celebrations. Eucharistic Ministers are asked to preside or, less often, readers (though these may in fact have greater experience in public speaking). Ann Tomalak devotes a chapter to these services and suggests that they may become more widespread in the future. This is a matter under review in many diocese and we wait to see what the results will be. At present, guidance is provided by the interim text Celebrations of the Word and Communion, published by the Bishops' Conference in 1996.
Somewhere along the line, in the context of Viaticum, Ann Tomalak might have made reference toIn Sure and Certain Hope, a compendium for lay people who are involved with leading prayer with the dying and the bereaved.
However, I thoroughly recommend The Lay Minister's Handbook. It is concise, clear, does not omit important details and is easy to read. As a formator of eucharistic ministers myself, I am pleased to have come across it.
The Music Makers £12.50
In response to Pope John Paul’s call for a Year of the Eucharist The Music Makers have recorded a CD of chants and hymns to the Blessed Sacrament. It is intended as both educational and inspirational. It is one of a number of CDs produced by The Music Makers most notably including a demonstration of the chants of the Missal for presiders.
Of the 28 items over half are chant; the hymns are taken from the section on the Blessed Sacrament in the ‘Catholic Hymn Book’. Much of the chant will be familiar to those with long memories, though not as clearly sung as this. It is chant which for the most part is memorable and suitable for singing by the assembly.
All of the music is suitable for use at Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament rather than at Mass.However, exposition needs more than hymns to help animate the prayer through song. ‘Sacred music will be the more holy the more closely it is joined to the liturgical rite’ (SC112). It is presumably, at least in part, this definition of ‘Sacred Music’ that the Holy Father had in mind when he mentions music in his apostolic letter Mane Nobiscum Domine: ‘Holy Mass needs to be set at the centre of the Christian life and celebrated in a dignified manner by every community, in accordance with established norms, with the participation of the assembly, with the presence of ministers who carry out their assigned tasks, and with a serious concern that singing and liturgical music be suitably ìsacredî’ (MND 17).
It is a pity that The Music Makers did not have any of their own compositions to offer on this recording for as this year gives us the opportunity to deepen our faith and understanding in the Eucharist. Let us hope that reflection will bear fruit in the creation of new compositions that through enabling the rites of the Church assist God’s people in prayer.
London: CAFOD, 2005 (ISBN 187154985)
Sometimes resources for a Stations of the Cross or a Way of the Cross are too ‘busy’ or ‘cluttered’ for me. There can be so many words, so many changes of focus that the energy goes into ‘doing’ the devotion rather than into allowing it to lead me into prayer.
Sometimes such resources lead me to such a powerful focus on the passion of Christ that at the end of the devotion I am numbed by fresh awareness of what Christ endured for love of the world, but have been little helped to know what to do with this awareness.
Sometimes resources which purport to be a Way of the Cross are so taken up with contemporary issues or concerns that I find they don’t serve to help me to connect our contemporary experience to the Passion or the person of Christ, in whom is the way, the truth, the life.
I have yet to use Guiding Light with a group, but using it for prayer just by myself, I found it avoided all of the above. It is a delightfully concise and simple resource, but powerful and helpful.
The stations used in this Way of the Cross are the familiar set featured in most parish churches, but with an additional 15th Station marking the Resurrection.
Each station begins with a photograph to contemplate. These are of scenes and people from around the world, for example El Salvador, Brazil, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Mexico. The pocket book sized version I have used is complemented by a set of posters using the same photographs. These might be placed alongside the stations in a church.
Next there is a passage from the scriptures, sometimes from the Gospel narratives of the Passion, but as often from elsewhere in the Bible.
The resource next exhorts ‘SILENCE’. I hope people will have the courage to allow for a good experience of silent prayer when using this resource.
Next there is a reading from the teaching of Oscar Romero. This year is the 25th anniversary of his martyrdom. The anniversary date coincides with Maundy Thursday. It will be remembered how he was murdered as he stood at the altar preparing the elements of bread and wine for their use at Mass. The coincidence of anniversaries is particularly apt.
After a further time for silent prayer the leader of the prayer addresses a prayer to Jesus. The station ends with all present saying ‘May the courage of Oscar Romero inspire us to work with integrity for an end to violence and poverty.’
My only quibble with this resource, which in all other respects I think is excellent, is this final Prayer section. The words given to all to say lack any reference to the Lord whose Way they walk ñ and this is a pity, I think. I wish that what I take to be implicit was more explicit, i.e. that Romero’s courage was inspired by Jesus and that what we now for is to share in a continuity of witness. I also wish that there was a clearer rhythm to the words to be said by all, and that it was more memorably phrased. I think when I do use this resource with others I will try and find a different final phrase. But continue to use it ñ with others and as an aid for private prayer - I am sure I will.
Pastoral Patterns is a resource for those preparing or presiding at Sunday Celebrations of the Mass. It is adapted for use in England and Wales from a resource with the same name published by World Library Publications in the United States.
It gives sample texts for the liturgy ñ amongst other things an introduction to the Liturgy of the Day, to the Penitential Rite, and the Liturgy of the Word; dismissal of the Catechumens; complete texts for the Prayer of the Faithful; introductions to the Eucharistic Prayer, to the Lord’s Prayer and Dismissal.
There are obvious disadvantages to such a publication. If someone was to use all the words given here the celebration of Mass would be very wordy indeed. (In addition the 3rd editio typica of the Roman Missal does not envisage alternative wording being used for the introduction of the Lord’s Prayer, Sign of Peace or Invitation to Communion).
But, that said, many parishes will find in Pastoral Patterns a valuable resource.
- The Introduction to the Liturgy even if not spoken would find a useful place in the Newsletter, likewise the Introduction to the Liturgy of the Word.
- The Prayer of the Faithful text offers a good basis for adaptation to local circumstances.
- The brief Reminders and Suggestions are a useful summary of the resources provided in the Roman Rite for a particular Sunday. They also offer guidance with regard to the connection between the Liturgy, Catechesis and the life of the parish more generally.