The Bishops also had the opportunity to discuss with Cardinal Arinze, the much leaked draft Instruction concerning Eucharistic abuses, requested by the Holy Father in the recent Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia. The Congregation continues its internal review of the document, in association with other Dicasteries of the Holy See. Because the text of the Instruction is not yet finalised, it is not possible to say for certain what it will contain. However it is clear that bishops remain free to authorise the ministry of girl altar servers in their dioceses; that the encouragement to Communion under both kinds recently re-emphasised in GIRM is not being withdrawn; and that liturgical dance or perhaps more accurately rhythmic movement such as is indigenous to a local culture, most commonly in Asia or Africa, remains authorised, although the practice of interpolating dance and other entertainments into the liturgy, in ways more common in Europe and in North America continues to be considered inappropriate.
The Holy Father, since the beginning of October, has offered at his Wednesday General Audiences a catechesis on the liturgy of Vespers. The following excerpts come from the first of these.
The rising of the sun and its setting are special moments of the day... They have an unmistakable character: The joyful beauty of dawn and the triumphal splendour of sunset mark the rhythm of the universe, in which the life of man is profoundly integrated.
The Pope reminded his listeners that morning and evening prayer have elements that refer to the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. Quoting St. Augustine of Hippo and other Church Fathers, he explained: In the evening the Lord is on the cross; in the morning he rises. [...] In the evening I narrate the suffering endured by him in death; in the morning I proclaim the life that arises from him.
Even though industrial and urban communities are not so aware of the passing of the day and of the season as are rural and agricultural societies, even here morning and evening continue to be moments that are always opportune to dedicate to prayer, either in community or alone. The times of morning and evening prayer are effective means to orient our daily way and direct it toward Christ, light of the world.
When darkness falls, Christians know that God illuminates even the dark night with the splendour of His presence and with the light of His teachings.
Inspired by the symbolism of light, the prayer of vespers has become an evening sacrifice of praise and recognition for the gifts of creation and redemption.
However nightfall also evokes the mysterium noctis. The darkness is felt as an occasion of frequent temptations, in particular weakness, of giving in to the attacks of the devil. With its dangers, the night becomes a symbol of all the evils from which Christ came to free us.
The Holy Father indicated that the night is a perfect time to reflect upon the day before God in prayer.
Also it is a moment to give thanks for what we have been given or what we have accomplished with rectitude. It is also a time to ask pardon for sins that we have committed, begging through divine mercy that Christ shine once again in our hearts.
Live Worship on the Web
On 31 August the Anglican Church of St Philip and St James in Bath broadcast their Sunday service live on the Internet, courtesy of Telenet. Those preparing to watch the broadcast were given the opportunity to vote for a favourite hymn to be included.
More than 500 people are reported to have seen the broadcast, many from the UK, others from Ireland, USA, Scandinavia, Australia and elsewhere. Responses from many of the viewers can be read on the churchs website, www.stphilipstjames.org. (Given the continuing controversy concerning the broadcasting of live celebrations of Mass on television, maybe this new technology offers a new way forward for the Catholic Church too. In the meantime any parishes preparing liturgies for TV (or broadband) broadcast might like to contact the Liturgy Office for a copy of the Guidelines for Broadcast Worship: Televising the Mass published in 1993.
Praxis was formed to provide and support liturgical education in the Church of England. Their programme of formation days for 2003-4 has just been published and is available from Highlights include How has early liturgy changed since I left college? a seminar led by Dr Paul Bradshaw; a day on Writing for Worship and another on Worship when resources are limited. Details at email@example.com.