We share an excerpt from the very fine address by Steve Janco, “Common Ground, Common Purpose, Common Good,” delivered at the recent NPM convention in Detroit on July 14. Watch for the full address in an upcoming issue of Pastoral Music.
(L)iturgy is never an end in itself. … At the conclusion of every liturgy, we are sent beyond our church doors—back to our communities, back to our families, back to everyday life—to love and serve the Lord. … Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship no. 9 suggests that
charity, justice, and evangelization are thus the normal consequences of liturgical celebration. Particularly inspired by sung participation, the body of the Word incarnate goes forth to spread the gospel with full force and compassion.
Note that the document refers to “normal” consequences, presuming, I suppose, that liturgy may also yield abnormal consequences. One wonders if Sing to the Lord might have been slightly more instructive—and colorful—if it included a paragraph that went something like this:
Selfishness, injustice, and apathy are the abnormal consequences of poor liturgical celebration. Particularly disheartened by lackluster or non-existent sung participation, the body of the Word-desperately-trying-to-become-incarnate leaves nonchalantly to wallow in the status quo with faintness of heart and a bad attitude.
Liturgy has consequences. Sunday Eucharist is intimately connected to the church’s mission. But how so? Pope John Paul writes in his 2004 apostolic letter for the Year of the Eucharist, Mane Nobiscum Domine, no. 27,
The Eucharist is not merely an expression of communion in the Church’s life; it is also a project of solidarity for all of humanity. …The Christian who takes part in the eucharist learns to become a promoter of communion, peace, and solidarity in every situation. More than ever, our troubled world… demands that Christians learn to experience the Eucharist as a great school of peace, forming men and women who, at various levels of responsibility in social, cultural, and political life, can become promoters of dialogue and communion.
The Eucharist is a project of solidarity for all of humanity, and a great school of peace. Have you ever sung about that in a Communion song? But John Paul goes even further. He writes at no. 25:
The Eucharist provides more than the interior strength needed for [the church’s] mission, but it is also—in some sense—its plan. For the Eucharist is a mode of being, which passes from Jesus into each Christian, through whose testimony it is meant to spread throughout society and culture.
Eucharist as school, as project, as plan. Offhand, I’d say we’re not in liturgical Kansas anymore!