Youth Synod Final Document: “Fresh, authentic, joyful liturgy”

Editor’s note: The final document of the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation was just released in Italian. Pray Tell offers a quick, unofficial translation into English of four paragraphs which speak of liturgy. Implicitly, the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council is reaffirmed. And much of what is said about liturgy could be applied to Christians of all ages!

The desire for a living liturgy

51. In diverse contexts young Catholics seek proposals for prayer and sacramental experiences capable of breaking open [intercettare] their daily life, in a fresh, authentic and joyful liturgy. In many parts of the world, liturgical experience is the main resource for Christian identity and witnesses broad and confident participation. The young recognize a privileged moment of experience of God and of the community of the church, and a starting point for mission. Elsewhere, there is a certain falling away from the sacraments and Sunday Eucharist, perceived more as a moral precept than a happy encounter with the Risen Lord and the community. In general it is noted that even where catechesis on the sacraments is offered, educational accompaniment is weak for living the celebration in depth, to enter into the mystery-wealth [ricchezza misterica] of its symbols and rites.

The centrality of the liturgy

134. The Eucharistic celebration is generative of the life of the community and of the synodality of the Church. It is a place for the transmission of faith and formation for mission, in which it is evident that the community lives by grace and not by the work of its own hands. In the words of the Eastern tradition we can affirm that the liturgy is meeting with the Divine Servant who binds our wounds and prepares for us the Easter banquet, sending us to do the same for our brothers and sisters. It must therefore be clearly reaffirmed that the commitment to celebrate with noble simplicity and with the involvement of the various lay ministries constitutes an essential moment in the missionary conversion of the Church. Young people have shown that they are able to appreciate and live intensely authentic celebrations in which the beauty of the signs, the preaching and community involvement really speak of God. Therefore we must encourage their active participation, but keeping alive wonder for the Mystery; to reach out to their musical and artistic sensibility, but to help them understand that the liturgy is not purely an expression of oneself, but an action of Christ and the Church. Equally important is to accompany young people to discover the value of Eucharistic adoration as an extension of the celebration, in which to live out contemplation and silent prayer.

135. The practice of the sacrament of Reconciliation is very important in the journey of faith. Young people need to feel loved, forgiven, and reconciled, and they have a secret longing for the Father’s merciful embrace. This is why it is essential that priests generously make available the celebration of this sacrament. Communal penance services help young people to approach individual confession and make the ecclesial dimension of the sacrament more explicit.

136. In many contexts, popular piety plays an important role in young people’s access to the life of faith in a practical, sensitive and immediate way. Valuing the language of the body and affective participation, popular piety brings with it the desire to come into contact with the God who saves, often through the mediation of the Mother of God and the saints. For the young, pilgrimage is an experience of journey that becomes a metaphor for life and the Church: contemplating the beauty of creation and art, living the fraternity and joining the Lord in prayer thus bring about the best conditions for discernment.

 

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9 comments

  1. I like how the document mentions adoration and popular piety being of value. I would also say that the continued use of the 1962 Missal is implicitly reaffirmed.

  2. The excerpts quoted may be read a number of ways. Certainly when I read it, I see the old devotions and worship practices affirmed. Look at an old St Joseph’s Sunday Missal with the Latin on the left and the English on the right, and you’ll see a lot of it. Just as an initial go of it, let’s look at 134:

    “In the words of the Eastern tradition we can affirm that the liturgy is meeting with the Divine Servant who binds our wounds and prepares for us the Easter banquet, sending us to do the same for our brothers and sisters.”

    When I read that sentence, it suggests to me that the liturgy focuses on the “first and great commandment and the second that is like unto it.” Our vertical, if I can use the term, worship of God and the encounter with Christ through the mystery empowers us to go out and to love our neighbors. The first and great commandment leads directly to the second that is like unto it, but we direct the liturgy primarily to God, so that we are then sent out into the world.

    Surely faithful Catholics actively participate when, kneeling, they gaze upon the elevated host and chalice and declare in wonder the words of St Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” That seems to be in line with 134’s “Therefore we must encourage their active participation, but keeping alive wonder for the Mystery; to reach out to their musical and artistic sensibility, but to help them understand that the liturgy is not purely an expression of oneself, but an action of Christ and the Church.”

    136’s “In many contexts, popular piety plays an important role in young people’s access to the life of faith in a practical, sensitive and immediate way” would also affirm the older devotions that were largely suppressed.

    In fairness, I could just as easily see someone who loves returning the orans when replying to salutations, holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer, and raising their arms and squeezing hands at the end of it feeling affirmed by the document, too. We can, I suppose, embrace the healing power of “and” instead of the endlessly divisive “either / or.”

  3. “Fresh, authentic and joyful liturgy.” I am happy to see examples of this kind of liturgy at various parishes around town. But there are other parishes where the liturgy could be described as stale, rote, canned, and the only joy is when it’s over and everyone can go home. There is much work to be done, with limited talent and resources to go around.

  4. Nit-picking a little,

    Surely faithful Catholics actively participate when, kneeling, they gaze upon the elevated host and chalice and declare in wonder the words of St Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”

    I am hoping that you mean the elevation at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, since that is the only one. Those after the institution narrative are showings, not elevations. And are you implying that Catholics don’t actively participate when they are standing rather than kneeling?

    someone who loves returning the orans when replying to salutations

    ???!

    The gesture of extending of hands at greetings by the presider is not the orans (= praying) position. That position is something that happens during presidential prayers, including the Eucharistic Prayer. Or should happen, since what most presiders do with their hands and arms during these prayers is not exactly the orans position (but that’s for another thread).

    1. Paul,

      We’re probably speaking past each other. Again, if you’ll look at the old St Joseph’s Sunday Missal, it says (on pages 50-51 on my text), “When he /elevates/ the Sacred Host, look at It and say: My Lord and my God!” It’s not my language, but the language used in the pew missal.

      Similarly with the orans, these are not my words, but how it’s how others have described it to me.

  5. The only problem with the desire for “fresh, authentic, joyful liturgy” is that it’s a never-ending search because liturgy that was once fashioned to be fresh, authentic and joyful eventually becomes tired, phony, and dreary. “Authentic” seems to be the new liturgical buzzword this year.

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