I confess, to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I am not a liturgist. I am, however, a religious educator and an engaged person of the pew. My role as a parish catechist and formator occasionally called me to prayerfully plan and graciously coordinate family liturgies and sacramental celebrations. These experiences led me to appreciate both the breadth and depth of knowledge which is necessary to attend to the nuances of liturgy planning and celebration. This knowledge, I assume, is held by seldom few.
One of my strongest convictions which emerged during my tenure as a parish minister is the awesome responsibility that parishes hold in offering ongoing formation for their paid and volunteer ministers. In my sphere, catechist formation quickly rose to the top of my list of competing priorities. If my team of teachers lacked enthusiasm and knowledge for the subject matter, classroom management skills needed to keep their students engaged, or prayerful hearts, then the message their students received was that their faith was irrelevant, if not obsolete.
If I yearned for my students to be actively engaged in class, or more importantly in faith, then I clearly needed to dedicate my time and resources to ensure our catechists had the support they needed.
Faith formation programs, such as the ones which I have had the privilege to be part of, unfortunately only reach a small sliver of the parish community. Liturgies, however, have the potential to engage not only the gathered assembly, but all members of the church, both living and dead. What great responsibility, then, we have of ensuring that our liturgical ministers are prepared for service to our communities. If they are to lead others with full heart and voice, then we must do our part to prepare them for such work.
Liturgical ministers, both paid and volunteer, clergy and lay, need to be offered engaging, relevant, and prayerful resources which can be used when preparing for liturgical service. Living Liturgy™ (a family of resources offered by Liturgical Press)effectively meets these needs. Living Liturgy™ integrates daily living, prayer, and study in easy-to-use resources that offer practical, sound, and inspiring preparation for your parish ministry.
Priests will appreciate the carefully crafted homiletic talking points, as well as the suggested Prayers of the Faithful drafted for each weekend. Music ministers will be guided through the themes of each week’s readings to assist them in selecting appropriate hymns, acclamations, and songs of praise. Eucharistic ministers are offered prayers and reflections stemming from the gospel reading which will prepare them better to serve our Lord at Holy Communion.
Finally, my fellow pew-participants and I can pray through the Mass with the Sunday Missal. The Missal not only provides the readings and a musical setting of the responsorial psalm for the day’s celebration, but offers entrance and communion antiphons, collects, prayers, and a short reflection which can all be used throughout the duration of each Sunday liturgy.
I encourage you to reflect upon the ways that your parish attends to the ongoing formation of your liturgical ministers and invite you to consider how Living Liturgy™ can enhance the liturgical experience your parish offers. Come visit the website, Living Liturgy 2020, to learn more about these resources, and request a free sample to review.
Shannon Chisholm is the Publisher of Parish Resources at Liturgical Press in Collegeville, MN. She is currently a PhD candidate in Religious Education at Fordham University, having previously obtained both a BA and MA in Theology from the University of Notre Dame. Shannon has more than fifteen years of experience in parish faith formation, having served as a volunteer catechist, director of faith formation, and consultant for catechetical publishers. She has worshipped and worked in the (Arch)Dioceses of Manchester (NH), Boston (MA), New York (NY), Fort Wayne-South Bend (IN), St. Petersburg (FL), and Saint Cloud (MN).