More about SC 24, Sacred Scripture, and the Lectionaries

All readers of this blog are grateful to Father Joncas for his series on re-reading of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy [SC].

But do these same readers (especially the ‘lurkers’) think that his questions about §24 were answered? They are found in his initial entry, in his seventh comment, in his twenty-fourth comment, and in his forty-fifth comment. I want to revisit these questions and give my answers.

Initial Entry     Note that the influence of sacred Scripture is not limited to its formal proclamation and preaching in the Liturgy of the Word. Art. 24 declares that scripture forms the textual substratum of the major liturgical prayers (preces, such as the Eucharistic Prayer, the Prayer of Ordination, or the Blessing of the Baptismal Water), the minor liturgical prayers (orationes, such as the Collect, the Prayer over the Offerings, or the Post-Communion prayer) and the liturgical songs (carmina, such as the Glory to God or the Lamb of God). It further declares that the liturgical rites as symbolic gestures are drawn from those described in the scriptures. Thus unless Biblical literacy and love for the scriptures is developed among Catholic worshipers, they will be hindered in their full and active participation in the liturgy, the goal to be considered before all else in reforming and promoting the Liturgy, according to art. 14.

Readers of Pray Tell may wish to address (a) how and (b) how well a “warm and living love for sacred Scripture” has marked Catholic life over the last fifty years. They may also wish to revisit earlier discussions challenging (c) how scripture has been distributed for Roman Rite liturgical celebration (e.g., the wisdom of moving from a one-year lectionary cycle in the EF to a two-year/three-year lectionary cycle in the OF for Eucharist; the development of lectionaries for OF celebration of Baptism of Infants, the various Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony and Ordination vs. the appointed readings for the equivalent sacramental celebrations in the EF). They could also engage a discussion of (d) how orationes and carmina still operating on a one-year cycle in the Missale Romanum might be enriched to reflect the two-year and three-year lectionary cycles in the OF.

Of course Father Joncas will lead us to the implementation-of-§24 paragraphs later in SC:

§35. “That the intimate connection between words and rites may be apparent in the liturgy”: more reading—more varied and suitable—from holy scripture; sermons redefined as homilies; instructions (short directives within the rites themselves, at the more suitable moments); and bible services. [further spelled out in §§51, 52, and 90]

Jack Rakosky anticipates these implementation paragraphs in his excellent comment and correctly reminds us that “SC was written and adopted before Dei Verbum.Dei Verbum is scarcely reflected in the 33-article introduction to the first edition of the Lectionary (25 May 1969); we had to wait for this omission to be remedied in the 21 January 1981 introduction to the second edition of the Lectionary, now grown to 126 articles! How many know that the first 65 articles are entirely new and of the greatest importance in understanding why there is and must be a Liturgy of the Word in every sacrament and sacramental! See my essay and  “The Liturgy of the Word as Consecratory”  in John D. Laurence, S.J., The Sacrament of the Eucharist (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2012) 125–126.

As I travelled the country for two years doing what I could to help liturgical leaders help people pray the new translation of the Roman Missal, I discovered that most had never read the introduction to the Lectionary. This ignorance and the further failure to teach the importance of the Liturgy of the Word in every sacrament and sacramental contributes to the persistence of the misunderstanding about what fulfills the Sunday and Holy Day obligation in the previous discussion (#9, #11, #13, #14, and #15). I’d like to suggest that the standard is that everyone be present in the Sunday assembly for the Collect and stay to the end of the Prayer after Communion. If they are not present for the gospel out of carelessness, they need to read the gospel privately in the silence after communion or at some other time during the same day.

Joncas continued:

#24     Could we at least agree that the Council Fathers hoped to promote a deeper engagement with the scriptures as part of the liturgical renewal? What I’m still trying to get us to focus on is HOW that deeper engagement has occurred in the OF and the EF over the past fifty years and what we might do to promote it in the future.

Thanks to Felix Just, S.J. (with a little further work by yours truly on the specifics of the 150 psalms and 75 OT and NT canticles), we have the following picture of the difference between the lectionaries for the  EF and OF of the Mass:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Returning then to Father Joncas’s questions, I answer from my experience of the Roman Rite churches along the Pacific coast of the US:

(a) how a “warm and living love for sacred Scripture” has marked Catholic life over the last fifty years—Catholics who celebrate Mass on Sundays, Vigils, and Major Feasts are exposed to at least twice as much of the bible as they were before 1970.

(b) how well a “warm and living love for sacred Scripture” has marked Catholic life over the last fifty years—If the psalms/canticles have been sung well, if the readings have been proclaimed well, if the homilies have been preached well, Catholic life has been deeply enriched. But we have yet to realize the goals of  “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” of the Pontifical Biblical Commission [PBC], not to mention Verbum Domini from the Synod of Bishops, Oct. 5–26, 2008. About homilies the PBC says:

The explanation of the biblical texts given in the course of the homily cannot enter into great detail. It is, accordingly, fitting to explain the central contribution of texts, that which is most enlightening for faith and most stimulating for the progress of the Christian life, both on the community and individual level. Presenting this central contribution means striving to achieve its actualization and inculturation, in accordance with what has been said above. Good hermeneutical principles are necessary to attain this end. Want of preparation in this area leads to the temptation to avoid plumbing the depths of the biblical readings and to being content simply to moralize or to speak of contemporary issues in a way that fails to shed upon them the light of God’s Word.

(c) how scripture has been distributed for Roman Rite liturgical celebration—the distribution was done thoughtfully and is rich with great gifts for the whole church, especially for those who partake in these liturgies; but is rarely used in the formation of parents, godparents, penitents, confirmandi, ordinandi, and the sick (understandably).

The use of the lectionary for OF celebration of Baptism of Infants is largely stillborn, not only in the formation of the parents and godparents but in the actual celebration. There are still some parishes where there is no liturgy of the word at all (in spite of §17), let alone proclamation from the ambo, psalmody, homily, and sung petitions and litany of the saints. No one seems to know of §14’s recommendation that the infants themselves be carried from the church so that the parents and godparents can pay attention to the liturgy of the word. Does anyone use §§186–215? Additionally the largely biblical carmina listed in §§225–245 of the rite are ignored. Rare is the baptism of infants accompanied by song.

The use of the lectionary for OF celebration of the various Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults is mixed. Great attention is paid to dismissal catechesis, but the fruits of the dismissal are infrequently gathered up to form the basis of  catechesis. The most neglected part of the RCIA are the celebrations of the word of God especially for catechumens (§§81–92 and §100). The rite of acceptance into the catechumenate is usually celebrated within Mass so the magnificent readings at §62 are never used. Does anyone notice the list of psalms just before §155/169/176 and note that this is the mini-psalter meant to accompany the period of purification and enlightenment? The presentation of the Creed and of the Lord’s Prayer almost never have their own proper liturgy of the word (§158 and §179). Are the recitation of the Creed and the Ephphetha rite accompanied by their own liturgies of the word (§§189, 194 and 198)? Additionally the largely biblical carmina listed in RCIA §§49, 60, and 595–597 and the antiphons of the Roman Missal: Ritual Masses: I. For the Conferral of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation: 1. For the Election or Enrollment of Names; and 2. For the Celebration of the Scrutinies are ignored.

The use of the lectionary for OF celebration of Confirmation is largely stillborn in the formation of the candidates. In the rite itself the choices are most often made by the bishop’s office or by the formation team, and not by the candidates themselves. The readings are too frequently ‘executed’ in the proclamation by the inept. Additionally the antiphons of the Roman Missal: Ritual Masses: I. For the Conferral of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation: 4. For the Conferral of Confirmation are ignored.

The use of the lectionary for OF celebration of the Rite of Reconciliation of Individual Penitents (Form I) is largely stillborn in both the preparation of the penitent and the celebration of the sacrament with individuals (§17). The riches of scripture are on display in §101–201 and again in §205–206. The penitential services in Appendix II of the rite are some of the glories of the liturgical reform.

The lectionaries for OF pastoral care of the sick, in the celebration of OF Anointing of the Sick, and in the OF Order of Christian Funerals are very rich. They are used unevenly however; and, in the case of the funeral vigil, psalmody has yet to dislodge the rosary, itself a replacement for the psalms.

The use of the lectionary for OF celebration of Matrimony is promising both in the formation of the engaged couple and in the celebration of their wedding. The readings are too frequently ‘executed’ in the proclamation by the inept. The antiphons of the Roman Missal: Ritual Masses: V. For the Celebration of Marriage are ignored.

The use of the lectionary for OF celebration of Ordination is mixed: I don’t detect its use in formation but it is used in the rites themselves; my impression is that the ordinandi don’t know that the Word of God is ordaining them! Certainly the antiphons of the Roman Missal: Ritual Masses: IV. For the Conferral of Holy Orders and the carmina in the rite itself are ignored.

(d) how orationes and carmina still operating on a one-year cycle in the Missale Romanum might be enriched to reflect the two-year and three-year lectionary cycles in the OF—I am prepared to let stand the current orationes of the Roman Missal and only make a change in the texts of the communiones, to bring them into alignment with the liturgy of the word of the day, especially the gospel.  The Psallite project does this in its Songs for the Table.

Let the conversation continue, especially by the ‘lurkers.’

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35 comments

  1. Paul – my only quibble is that a few of us did respond to Fr. Michael’s questions and requests:

    See post #11 – some points:

    “50 years of listening to a three year cycle – yes, it has had a positive impact in multiple ways
    – compare the usual *religion class* approach pre-VII (focus on catechism) to changes post-VII (actual scripture classes from elementary forward – yes, we have differeing experiences between CCD and Catholic schools).
    – these scripture classes effected a change from an older stance – bible as literal – to a newer approach that explained the scripture writers, purposes, differences in gospels, types of scripture, etc. In many cases, it introduced catholics to Paul, to the Pauline churches, and, unquestionably, it opened up the OT and its connection to the NT
    – in conjunction with Dei Verbum, it introduced the historical-ciritical method and made the personalities of scripture come alive. Think of the significant scripture professors and book writers in the 1960-70s – folks actually know and have read Raymond Brown, Mark Link, etc.
    – with Dei Verbum, the impact on RCIA, on ecumenism and shared scriptue/liturgical prayers with christian churches which also supported marriages between catholic/christian.
    – the impact of newly composed hymns in our tradition post-VII – folks got used to hymns by folks such as Fr. Joncas, STL Jesuits, etc.
    – add to that parish scripture groups; Little Rock Scripture Study; diocesan programs to promote scripture study via certification for teachers of CCD, catholic schools, etc.”

    Yes, you have provided much more specific detail in terms of RCIA, sacraments, etc. but tried to touch on some of this w/o the same specificity. My opening lines in #11 tried to change direction in the same way as you have posted: …..Guess my initial response (to steer away from the sidetrack on chanting and mass obligations or even the obligatory Allan EF vs. OF (don’t think SC article 24 had that division in mind) is to take a step back and consider…..

    Or re-read #14 in response that states the need that eucharist is both the table of the word and the table of the sacrificial meal. Paul Inwood also stated this.

  2. Of course the Mass is filled with Scripture throughout, implicit in all the orations, the Gloria, the Sanctus, the Our Father, the “Lord I am not worthy to have you under my roof…” etc. I think there is a greater appreciation for the Word of God amongst us Catholics who live in the Bible belt and have neighbors who are active in their protestant traditions who know the Scriptures very well, attend Sunday School each Sunday in addition to going to the worship service and are quite willing to share their faith with others and evangelize their neighbors and invite new comers to their neighborhood to come to their church (which shocks Catholics who have moved down here from other parts of the country, but most especially from the politically correct northeast.) Many of our Catholics have come into the full communion of the Church from these strongly “Bible-believing” churches. But I lament the loss of the four ember days normally associated with the change of seasons. In the EF calendar one such Ember Day was the Advent Saturday before Christmas. The long form of the EF Mass for that day included the following: Introit from Psalm 79, After the collect, multiple scriptures: Isaiah 19: 20-22, Gradual, Psalm 18, oration, Isaiah 35, Gradual continuation of Psalm 18, oration, Isaiah 40, 9-11, Psalm 79 as gradual, oration, Isaiah 45, 1-8, continuation of Psalm 70 for the gradual, oration, Daniel 3:47-51, The Beneditus es (Dan 3:52-56 ), oration, 2Thessalonians 2:108, Tract, continuation of Psalm 79, Gospel Luke 3:1-6. The Offertory Antiphon was Zachariah 9:9 and the Communion Antiphon was Psalm 18:-7
    Of course the only two times we do this in the OF is at the Easter Vigil and the Vigil of Pentecost. Sad that we lost the four Ember Day Masses that act as a “Bible Service” four times a year. Perhaps with all of the reform of the reform, there will also be a recovery of the ember days in the Ordinary Form’s reform of the calendar.

    But tied into the Scriptural aspect of the liturgy there is also Tradition with a capital “T” and also with little “t’s.” Scripture and Tradition should be seen as a seamless garment and appreciated and understood by clergy and laity alike when we come to the Church’s liturgy.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #4:
      Sorry, Paul, appears that your efforts have gone off the tracks again. Despite your comparison post between the paucity of scripture pre-VII compared to post-VII, we have this Ember Days comment and a brief list of scripture. Compared to the overwhelming scriptural increase in the lectionary, sacraments, eucharist order of mass, etc. this comment is ridiculous (and not sure that this has anything to do with the EF – it is just pre-reform).

      Reminds me of something Fr. Komonchak just posted on dotCommonweal:

      “…..this means that one’s thread is at the mercy of anyone who might choose to comment and make it the occasion of expressing some pet concern, whether or not it has much to do with the subject of the thread, and thereby, especially if people take up the concern, to deflect attention away and even, in some cases, quite to defeat the purpose one had in mind in starting the thread. I can tell you I often find this quite disappointing and, sometimes, as most recently, even painful.”

      Ember Days – what do these have to do with the topic you have re-posted?
      Ember Days were reformed for a number of reasons:
      – the Eastern Church had never celebrated them
      – the history (does this mean Tradition with a capital *T*?) is confusing but experts saw these days as part of the *accretions* in the Western Rite
      – in an effort to refocus on liturgical seasons, the scriptural readings of those season, Ember Days were seen as inconsistent with the seasonal themes
      From SC: “The traditional customs and discipline of the sacred seasons are to be restored to meet conditions of modern times. . .so that they duly nourish the piety of the faithful who celebrate the mysteries of Redemption.

      The season of Advent has a two fold character. It is a time of preparation for Christians when the first coming of God’s Son is recalled. It is also a season when minds are directed by this memorial to Christ’s second coming at the end of time. It is thus a time of preparation for Christians when the first coming of God’s Son is recalled. It is also a season when minds are directed by this memorial to Christ’s second coming at the end of time. It is thus a season of joyful and spiritual expectation.

      40. Advent begins with first vespers on the Sunday which falls on or closest to November 30 and ends before the first vespers of Christmas.

      41. The Sundays of this season are known as the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Sundays of Advent.

      42. The weekdays between December 17 and December 24 inclusive are more directly oriented to the preparation for the Lord’s birth.

      (*note – given this, Ember Days have no place in Advent – Advent is not Lent nor is its purpose fasting, etc.)

      The first part of Advent is devoted to a semi-continuous reading of the Book of Isaiah, including those important passages which are also read on Sundays. Gospel passages for these days have been chosen because of their relation to the first reading. Beginning on Thursday of the second week, the gospel passages are about John the Baptist, while the first readings either continue the book of Isaiah or come from a text related to the day’s gospel. The gospels of the first week before Christmas are from Matthew I, and Luke I, the events which immediately prepared for the Lord’s birth. Selections for the first reading are from different books of the Hebrew Scriptures which have important messianic prophecies and a relationship to the gospel tests.”

      This is what is relevant in terms of article 24 of SC and why Ember Days are part of the historical past. Tradition with a capital *T* is about the focus of the church’s liturgical seasons (not Ember Days which began as Roman pagan feasts).

  3. Bill’s constant and overwhelming obsession with Fr Allan is far more tiring than any mention of Ember Days.

    It’s wonderful that we have the riches of scripture in both the OF and EF, though.

  4. #24 Could we at least agree that the Council Fathers hoped to promote a deeper engagement with the scriptures as part of the liturgical renewal? What I’m still trying to get us to focus on is HOW that deeper engagement has occurred in the OF and the EF over the past fifty years and what we might do to promote it in the future.

    For me, one of the best ways of deeply engaging the Scriptures has been precisely in reflecting on how particular passages of Scripture have been used to underscore the mysteries highlighted for a given feast-day or season. Obviously this only works for feast days and for the strong seasons and not for Ordinary Time/Time after Pentecost. Where the readings coincide, it provides greater opportunity for deeper reflection on a smaller number of readings; where the readings are complementary, it provides an opportunity to reflect and make a synthesis.

    What I think does NOT help us is the bickering about and downplaying of either the EF or the OF that seems to be commonplace here (as well as on other blogs of both progressive and traditional bent). The fact that we have the new three-year Lectionary that draws deliberate connections between prophecy and Gospel fulfillment makes us richer. The fact that we have a strong one-year Lectionary that has persisted mostly unchanged for over a millennium (and that contains some features such as Ember Days and Pre-Lent absent in then new Calendar and Lectionary) makes us richer.

    I also find it unfortunate that there seems to be no resource akin to Gueranger’s Liturgical Year that could be read by modern Catholics (OF/EF, Latin/Eastern) to help make some of these connections about the Scriptural and liturgical texts. Part of the genius of that work was that Gueranger drew from not only the Missal and Breviary of the Roman Rite, but also from the other Latin rites (including defunct texts) and from the Eastern rites to create a rich synthesis. Adding the contributions from the OF Lectionary and prayers would only make such a synthesis richer.

  5. (First thanks to Jack!)To be honest, I don’t know why anyone would criticize the three year lectionary and think the one year lectionary is superior. After all, we’re speaking of Scripture, the Word of God and more of it. The only valid criticism I think is that some believe that having the added reading in the OF on Sunday is too much and overloads those who are hearing it. I’ve always thought the addition of the extra reading for Sundays and Solemnities was a good idea especially when the Old Testament reading clearly shows a prefigurement to the New Testament. The practice in my parish is not to have the extra reading for funerals, so normally there is the first reading chosen from either the Old or New Testament, Responsorial Psalm and Gospel, like daily Mass. We offer that option for weddings but most brides select the full array. Personally, I have found the Sunday one year lectionary for the EF enriching, especially with the Gradual, but as an addition to the OF’s lectionary not in place of it. I think the the daily Mass lectionary for the EF is abysmally inadequate and doesn’t in any way compare with the two year cycle for daily Mass in the OF or even its readings for saints.

  6. Would suggest that you miss the point and Ember Days miss most of Paul Ford’s excellent post…..some highlights that place *Ember Days* or even EF references in the proper light in terms of article 24 of SC:

    – From Paul’s link essay on Masters Corners:

    Quoting from Fr. Ruff:
    …..”in Benedict’s mind, he is not simply going back to the old pre-Vatican II liturgy”
    ….”even when Benedict, on his own initiative (the meaning of Motu Proprio), granted any priest the right to use the pre-VII form of the Mass, it was to increase/heighten the mass of Paul VI”

    Then, Paul Ford states this comparison:

    ….”…the entire EF missal mentions the people of God/assembly/faithful some thirty times, only three times in the order of Mass and then only to reference or orient the priest’s gestures”
    “….the entire OF missal/GIRM mentions people/assembly/congregation over 500 times; the order of Mass over 80 times”

    He ends by saying: “How the ordinary form can be enriched by the extraordinary form in the matter of ecclesiology escapes me!” and in another section “How the ordinary form can be enriched by the extraordinary form in the matter of the theology of the word escapes me?” (note* – pertinent to this post and scripture) and in another section “How the ordinary form can be enriched by the extraordinary form in the matter of pneumatology escapes me!”

    The rest of his article is about music and responses to CMAA – let’s leave at the fact that Paul states – “…the enrichment part only moves in one direction per Mahrt”.

    Again, would suggest that both Fr. Joncas and Paul Ford are trying to expand our consideration well beyond some type of EF-OF comparisons – that misses the point completely. (thus, my reaction to Ember Days, etc.)

  7. How anyone can defend the EF one year scripture cycle when they know very well that for hundreds of years those texts were read in Latin often by priests who were barely literate. The selection of readings was made prior to the advances in scriptural scholarship which have opened up the treasures of the Bible for us–freeing us from biblicism and Catholic fundamentalism. They can only prefer that lectionary because it is embedded in a rite which they don’t wish disturbed one iota. Does anyone remember the screams when the Holy Father insisted that a single passage that could be regarded as derisive of the Jewish people should be changed? SC unequivocally called for a REFORM of the Mass and other sacramental rites. There is no reform in the EF. Period. It’s use defies the call of an Ecumenical Council and its two Popes. I’m sorry, but I’m looking through clear eyes and the emperor has no clothes. If there are many who desire a differently reformed 1962 Missal, then let them call for the establishment of an Episcopalian type Rite 1 and 2. Let the Holy Father establish a commission to come up with Rite 1 which would be the 1962 Missal reformed more to their liking, but which observes the main features of SC.

    1. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #10:
      Exactly.

      The 1962 Missal has been a tool of schismatics and a rallying banner under which to gather. Granted, not all who worship with the 1962 are unfaithful, but an broad glance at the movement will find sympathies lying there, and not with a 1970 Rite artfully and fruitfully celebrated. SC should be embraced by every Roman Catholic. Until TLM advocates take seriously the call to reform, it will be difficult to take seriously their attempt at reform2 is much more than an attempt to roll back a council.

  8. I read through the comments on the original post and some thoughts have occurred to me.

    I do not think we have a rich sense of Scripture in Catholicism but I’m not entirely sure this lack is a Catholic problem exclusively. I was recently watching copies of old TV programming (1970s) and was surprised at how many references there were to Scripture in a show that was decidedly secular. One does not see that now.

    I am a lifelong Catholic, born just as Vatican II was getting going. I was at Mass and catechism classes. We had the big bible on the shelf at home that got dusted periodically. Only by conscious effort as an adult did I start formalizing knowledge of Scripture.

    We do get a lot of Scripture at Mass. But does everyone realize that this IS “Scripture”? That may sound like a ridiculous thing to say, but I’m sure we’ve all heard the accusations about Catholics not reading the Bible, or not being allowed to read the bible. I think many are unaware that this is what we, as Catholics DO on a Sunday (or any day of the week should we choose). The connection hasn’t been made. For myself, once I made that connection (and it was due to the silly challenges lobbed at me from some non-Catholics) the spark was fanned and I began to discover the richness that is the Bible, and the Catholic Church.

    1. @Jaye Procure – comment #12:
      Jaye, such helpful observations—thank you. I too began to read scripture as the Second Vatican Council began (I was 14).

      “But does everyone realize that this IS ‘Scripture’?” does not sound ridiculous to me. I am so disappointed that I never hear instruction about WHY scripture at all.

      And few presiders take advantage to the permission in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal or in the Lectionary for Mass: Introduction (1981) to instruct the assembly with what is called the Admonition before the Liturgy of the Word (GIRM 31, 128; LMI 42; this is not a summary of the readings but an awakening to the readings and a pre-clarifying of any ambiguities or “noise factors”).

      Has anyone ever heard a psalm remark being given? LMI 19: “Brief remarks about the choice of the psalm and response as well as their correspondence to the readings may be helpful”?

  9. @3

    Jack Rakosky : In looking at my copy of the Lectionary, I did not have the 1981 General Introduction but found it available on the Felix Just, S.J.website http://catholic-resources.org/Lectionary/1981-GeneralIntroduction.htm I was impressed not only by the connection between liturgy and scripture, but also by the role of the Holy Spirit and the connection between scripture in the liturgy and Christian life.

    Jack, aren’t the passages about the Holy Spirit remarkable! I am so glad you read the 1981 Introduction.

    New Year blessings,
    Paul

  10. Perhaps if we are a talk a little more concretely using the General Introduction to the Lectionary linked above, maybe we can get more comments from “lurkers.”

    15. There may be concise introductions before the readings, especially the first. The style proper to such comments must be respected, that is, they must be simple, faithful to the text, brief, well prepared, and properly varied to suit the text they introduce.

    42. The president is responsible for preparing the faithful for the liturgy of the word on occasion by means of introductions before the readings. These comments can help the assembled congregation toward a better hearing of the word of God, because they stir up an attitude of faith and good will. He may also carry out this responsibility through others, a deacon, for example, or a commentator.

    57. The commentator also fulfills a genuine liturgical ministry, which consists in presenting to the congregation of the faithful, from a suitable place, relevant explanations and comments that are clear, of marked sobriety, meticulously prepared, and as a rule written out and approved beforehand by the celebrant.

    In the parish in PA where I was baptized, the pastor integrated the entire liturgy by comments that were simple, faithful to the liturgy, brief and well prepared. These liturgies were consistently the best that I have ever experienced. But he is the only priest that I have encountered who does this.

    In my favorite parish locally the pastoral associate for about a year gave an introduction before the first reading which used a story, often from the local newspaper, as a setting for thinking about the readings. She did not interpret the story nor the readings but it provided a very powerful introduction to the homily which did bring everything together. This was discontinued supposedly because of the new GIRM???

    The most common attempt I have experienced of integrating the whole liturgy is to choose the “Four hymns” to relate to the readings. This usually fails because: 1) the hymns are often not well known, 2) the hymns are often not related to the priest’s homily, and 3) the service has the feeling of a communion service tacked onto a Liturgy of the Word, unless the Eucharist Prayer is sung.

    What strategies, within or outside Mass, have others found that attempt, successfully or unsuccessfully to related the readings to the whole liturgy, and to Christian life?
    .

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #15:
      Sorry, not exactly a lurker but my 2 cents::

      Jack, I tend to be leary of the commenting during the liturgy but perhaps that is because it has been done badly in most places where I have seen it (Indian subcontinent/E.Asia). What is done there is the following: either before or after the announcement of the title, the lector reads a little summary of the passage, sometimes pointing out the connections to a ‘theme’ (a concept problematic in itself meriting a whole other thread’) or the Gospel or something. (S)he then proceeds to read the reading.

      My objection is that (a) this effectively makes me people tune out because they know what’s coming (b) it makes people prioritize summaries of the reading over experiencing the Word. Admittedly, the summary is helpful when there are different ethnic or linguistic groups, and the readings are done in a language people are not familiar with.

      As for reading newspapers clippings or stories – I think that takes it to a different level. I can see how it is helpful but it seems to me that the purpose of the readings is not only didactic but worship. Not only does reading a story place an event on the same level as experiencing ‘Christ is present in his word, as he carries out the mystery of salvation, sanctifies humanity and offers the Father perfect worship’, but it also (IMO) does one of two things: (a) it gives a narrow lens in which the readings are perceived, thus destroying a multifaceted understanding of the word, or (b) people think about the story to the detriment of experiencing Christ in his word.

      (contd.)

  11. @15

    Jack Rakosky : Perhaps if we are a talk a little more concretely using the General Introduction to the Lectionary linked above, maybe we can get more comments from “lurkers.”In my favorite parish locally the pastoral associate for about a year gave an introduction before the first reading which used a story, often from the local newspaper, as a setting for thinking about the readings. She did not interpret the story nor the readings but it provided a very powerful introduction to the homily which did bring everything together.

    Thanks for these additional references, Jack, and for your witness to the effectiveness of the admonitions.

  12. (contd. ) In addition, ideas like the newspaper story seem to me to give the readings a focused didactic-moralistic bent. I think perhaps one of the things lost over the years has been the sense of the readings as worship in their own right. The unrevised liturgy more-or-less ignored the didactic sense at the expense of worship, and in doing so, practically subsumed the reading of Scripture into a kind of ceremonial preparation. As a reaction, a lot of the post-conciliar implementation seem to me to have focused on ‘instruction’ and ‘intelligibility’ as the detriment of the reading of Scripture as worship. I think if I carried out a snap poll, there would be quite a few votes in nearby parishes for “Scripture – instruction, Eucharist – worship”.

    I say ‘implementation’ because the General Introduction to the Lectionary actually has quite a balanced perspective on the reading of the Word in several dimensions/aspects – and not just at Mass, but for all kinds of liturgical celebrations.

    I’m not sure that we need to rachet up our efforts to relate things to ordinary life other than celebrating the liturgy with a respect for its nature and its principles (objects, role of the assembly in worship, etc.). Again my objections are pretty much the same as for the readings: it imparts a narrow focus to everything, and I find the whole idea of “relating” to be vaguely didactic-moralistic. I think it was the late Adrian Kavanagh who remarked that most people are not very creative in regular life and there is no reason to think that they will be in a liturgical setting. I have little desire to be subjected at every point of the liturgy to Fr. X or Person Y connections (which, I would be willing to wager, in a lot of parishes would be forced and uninspiring) between the liturgy and life.

    1. @Joshua Vas – comment #18:

      A “warm and living love of Scripture” is taught more by example than anything else. Heart speaks to heart as Newman wrote. So a person putting care into selecting newspaper passages appropriate to the scriptures or a theme is a more powerful teacher than a pre-packaged text or even a set of rules that exclude such expressions.

      I also have my doubts about separating instruction or intelligibility from worship in this context. Worship of the Word in a certain sense demands intelligibility, logic to recognize the Logos and thought to know Wisdom.

  13. @11

    Todd Flowerday : @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #10: Exactly. The 1962 Missal has been a tool of schismatics and a rallying banner under which to gather. Granted, not all who worship with the 1962 are unfaithful, but an broad glance at the movement will find sympathies lying there, and not with a 1970 Rite artfully and fruitfully celebrated. SC should be embraced by every Roman Catholic. Until TLM advocates take seriously the call to reform, it will be difficult to take seriously their attempt at reform2 is much more than an attempt to roll back a council.

    I’m all in favor of the “1970 Rite artfully and fruitfully celebrated,” Todd; but you phrasing “not all who worship with the 1962 are unfaithful” is damnation by faint praise, I think. Let’s seek the good and praise it, as our Unitarian Universalist friends say.

    New Year blessings,
    Paul

  14. @5

    Bill deHaas : @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #4: Sorry, Paul, appears that your efforts have gone off the tracks again. Despite your comparison post between the paucity of scripture pre-VII compared to post-VII, we have this Ember Days comment and a brief list of scripture. Compared to the overwhelming scriptural increase in the lectionary, sacraments, eucharist order of mass, etc. this comment is ridiculous (and not sure that this has anything to do with the EF – it is just pre-reform). Reminds me of something Fr. Komonchak just posted on dotCommonweal: “…..this means that one’s thread is at the mercy of anyone who might choose to comment and make it the occasion of expressing some pet concern, whether or not it has much to do with the subject of the thread, and thereby, especially if people take up the concern, to deflect attention away and even, in some cases, quite to defeat the purpose one had in mind in starting the thread. I can tell you I often find this quite disappointing and, sometimes, as most recently, even painful.”

    Bill, Father Allan’s mention of the Ember Days was helpful to me, because in my research of the use of the scriptures in the EF, I found the Ember Days remarkable for their use of the OT. You are absolutely right about the relevance of Father Joe Komonchak’s post on dotCommonweal and the extensive discussion that followed there: http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=22524

  15. Paul, re: your observations on Confirmation and Reconciliation:

    I noticed that both those two areas do not actually print the full text of the readings within the ritual books (unless it’s just the versions that I have) but only give citations – I wonder whether in some ways that contributes to the lack of use.

    For Reconciliation, I think it is a real problem on whether to have the reading of Scripture outside communal celebrations. I have only experienced it once in an individual celebration of the sacrament. Perhaps that is due to our understanding of the sacrament, where not many people understand the place/benefit of the Scripture within it. But I’m also thinking of the advice that is often printed in books and seen in confession practicums in seminaries: ‘Thou shalt not take too much time’ — and this because a lot of penitents themselves feel uncomfortable the longer they spend in the confessional. At a practical level, a sentence or two of Scripture can be helpful, but beyond that, I’m not sure how more Scripture can be incorporated.

    1. @Joshua Vas – comment #21:
      Joshua, I think you are correct: The reason why these sacraments and others aren’t more richly biblical is because the rites don’t print out all the readings, the prayers, and the songs. Another main reason is that the scriptures are not celebrated in forming people for these sacraments. This is why I make available to my students the rites bilingually and completely.

  16. “how orationes and carmina still operating on a one-year cycle in the Missale Romanum might be enriched to reflect the two-year and three-year lectionary cycles in the OF.”

    I’m thinking about the Protestant services I attended when I was younger.( Admittedly, they were not ‘liturgical’ so it’s a different ball-game.) There were generally four parts to each service – prayers, song, worship-intercession and sermon – and all were relatively disconnected from each other. The song-leader didn’t ask the preacher about the music or try to coordinate it, prayers were extempore, etc. But all of the parts were united by a fundamental sense of being an assembly gathered to worship God. Of course, liturgy is different – we move with the time, both liturgical and actual. But I wonder whether we have too much of an obsession with matching and aligning things. Sometimes it’s helpful (I personally like the Gospel-Communion connection, or even the matched OT-Gospel to an extent) . I don’t have enough knowledge so perhaps someone who does know can comment on historical matching of variable texts and lectionaries both in the Roman and other liturgies?

  17. I have refrained from commenting on this article because my experience is different from most. I am a pastoral musician and so I am VERY involved with Holy Scripture as I plan from season to season, week to week. My husband is a college professor of Holy Scripture with a concentration in the Hebrew scriptures. My son is also a scripture teacher at the high school level and my grandson, who is on the autism spectrum, can quote chapter and verse as well as any Protestant and can relate many of his life experiences back to scripture passages! Our lives revolve around the Scriptures and the liturgical seasons.
    So, I asked my husband if he thought there was evidence of a “warm and living love for Sacred Scripture”. Based on his students in a Catholic college, he observes that the 3 year lectionary has produced a small improvement in scriptural appreciation but, he says, we have not yet realized the vision of the Council fathers, by a long shot! All three of us give talks on the scriptures throughout the diocese, and we have all noticed that there is some interest, but not enough to support a weekly or bi-weekly commitment to scripture study – one or two evenings is all that can be sustained.
    It has also been our experience that, while there are 4 passages of scripture proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word, the gospel is, by far, the most treated in homilies.

      1. @Paul Ford – comment #27:
        Yes Paul! As you know, I have been making liberal use of the pieces from the Psallite program. This program is a wonderful way to further enhance the exposure to Sacred scripture. It is solidly based on psalmody and many, many passages from both the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament. The melodic refrains and the chant tones (which grow organically from the melodies of the refrains!) are eminently accessible to the assembly!
        I fell in love with the program when it was first introduced to me that summer at St. John’s and have used it ever since- an invaluable resource!

  18. @7

    Clarence Goodwright :#24 I also find it unfortunate that there seems to be no resource akin to Gueranger’s Liturgical Year that could be read by modern Catholics (OF/EF, Latin/Eastern) to help make some of these connections about the Scriptural and liturgical texts. Part of the genius of that work was that Gueranger drew from not only the Missal and Breviary of the Roman Rite, but also from the other Latin rites (including defunct texts) and from the Eastern rites to create a rich synthesis. Adding the contributions from the OF Lectionary and prayers would only make such a synthesis richer.

    Clarence, do you know of the seven volumes of Days of the Lord? They are a new Guéranger:
    Days of the Lord: Volume 1/Advent, Christmas, Epiphany http://www.litpress.org/Detail.aspx?ISBN=0814618995
    Days of the Lord: Volume 2/Lent http://www.litpress.org/Detail.aspx?ISBN=0814619002
    Days of the Lord: Volume 3/Easter Triduum, Easter Season http://www.litpress.org/Detail.aspx?ISBN=0814619010
    Days of the Lord: Volume 4/Ordinary Time, Year A http://www.litpress.org/Detail.aspx?ISBN=0814619029
    Days of the Lord: Volume 5/Ordinary Time, Year B http://www.litpress.org/Detail.aspx?ISBN=0814619037
    Days of the Lord: Volume 6/Ordinary Time, Year C http://www.litpress.org/Detail.aspx?ISBN=0814619045
    Days of the Lord: Volume 7/Solemnities and Feasts http://www.litpress.org/Detail.aspx?ISBN=0814619053

  19. Paul, thanks every so much for your contributions. Do you know if anyone publishes suitable comments just prior to the liturgy of the word? Also, when pointing out to your students various times in the Mass when a brief observation may be appropriate, does this include varying the “official” ones such as before the penitential act or the Lord’s prayer? And may I trouble you with just one more inquiry though it is off topic a bit? I have contended for a very long time that the “confiteor” form of the penitential act contributes to the decline in devotional confessions. However nuanced, this prayer with the deprecatory form of absolution sounds an awful lot like it’s a more desirable way to confess one’s sins than to make a special trip to the church. Any thoughts?

  20. “The use of the lectionary for OF celebration of Baptism of Infants is largely stillborn, not only in the formation of the parents and godparents but in the actual celebration. There are still some parishes where there is no liturgy of the word at all (in spite of §17), let alone proclamation from the ambo, psalmody, homily, and sung petitions and litany of the saints. No one seems to know of §14′s recommendation that the infants themselves be carried from the church so that the parents and godparents can pay attention to the liturgy of the word. Does anyone use §§186–215? Additionally the largely biblical carmina listed in §§225–245 of the rite are ignored. Rare is the baptism of infants accompanied by song.”

    Paul, thanks for this post, and in particular the passage I’ve quoted here, as it’s induced some new reflecting on my part on what we do for infant baptisms. Certainly, we could do more.

    I have to say that my own liturgical formation did not include many of of the elements for infant baptism that you call out in your post, such as incorporating the acclamations and hymns in 225-245. So better and more comprehensive formation for celebrants probably is part of the solution.

    Another part of it would be parish commitment to the liturgical vision. There are numerous practical obstacles to implementing the vision being presented here: we have no music ministry for our infant baptisms; to create one would require funding that doesn’t presently exist; someone would need to be responsible for that music ministry; someone would need to create and maintain worship aids; etc. None of these objections are insurmountable, and to a large extent, we all do those things that we deem to be sufficiently important to expend money and resources, but many hearts and priorities would need to be changed in order to bring this about.

  21. (Continuing from my previous comment.)

    Another aspect of infant baptisms, at least in our parish, is that there are many celebrants: not only the priests and deacons currently assigned to the parish, but not infrequently, guests/visiting celebrants. The parish would need to take the approach that the celebrant is “plugged into” its program, with the expectation that he adheres to the rules and regs for “how we do it here”. In my experience, this is not usually the case with visiting celebrants (nor, truth be told, celebrants who are assigned to the parish); each celebrant has his own certain way of doing things, and there is wide variation from one celebrant to another. Of course, this celebrant-driven variation is possible for weddings or, for that matter, for Sunday masses, but in my observation, the carte blanche of the celebrant really comes to the fore during infant baptisms for some reason.

    One more thought: David Haas’ “Who Calls You By Name” has been a great gift to the church for RCIA, one that has, in my opinion, elevated the praxis at many parishes. Something similar for infant baptism would be most welcome. (I expect there are such resources already, but I am not aware of any).

  22. Jim, thanks for your response. One largely ignored great musical resources for the celebrations of the sacraments of initiation is ICEL’s Collection done by Brother Howard Hughes, S.M.

  23. Paul, could you elaborate on Hughes’ collection? Also, do you know any authentic Gregorian pieces appropriate for RCIA and Baptism? Thanks.

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