Liturgy reform

Liturgy reform

Paul Martin

I read with interest the report of the Introduction of Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, former Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to the soon to be published book True Development of the Liturgy by Msgr N. Gianpietro (April AD2000).

It would be imprudent, of course, for me to comment on this work before its publication.

Holy Thursday 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the publication by Paul VI of the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum promulgating the revision of the Missal requested by the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1963). It has been stated, as Paul VI notes in the Constitution, that it is the most thorough revision of the Missal since that of St Pius V in 1570.

In order to augment the spirit of the Liturgy, may I respectfully offer some suggestions.

* Encourage the rites to be celebrated prayerfully and deliberately; do not omit required prayers or substitute ones of questionable value; above all do not rush through the rites.

* Read slowly through Paul VI's Apostolic Constitution on the Missal. It contains several references to his predecessors, St Pius V and Pius XII, and the latter's reforming work after 1947. This, along with the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, is printed at the beginning of the altar Missal and is available from other sources.

* Encourage prayerful, humble people to serve on diocesan and parochial liturgy committees and pastoral councils. An understanding of the spirit of the liturgy as well as a willingness to study and learn would be a great asset to these committees.

* Courteously, but with some resolution, encourage clergy and religious to pray the Divine Office (the Prayer of the Church) regularly. The Council stated that Morning and Evening Prayer are the foundations of the Office (Constitution on the Liturgy, 89). Pope Benedict (2005) noted the value of the Hour of Readings (Matins).

* Encourage suitable men from high school age onwards to serve as acolytes (altar servers) and in other ministries such as reading and the distribution of Communion. (It is, sad to say, not uncommon in some places to have no servers for Mass even on Sundays and major feasts.) Subject to the policy of the diocesan bishop, I respect the fact that women also serve in these ministries.

* Gently and courteously try to stop or at least limit abuses in the Liturgy, but realise that because of the entrenched attitudes of some, you may not succeed. Serious abuses should be drawn to the attention, in the first instance usually, of the diocesan bishop.

* Do all that is possible to encourage reverence in the church, making it a true house of prayer as well as fellowship. The reservation of the Eucharist is a special grace given to the Catholic (and some other Christian) Churches.

In the spirit of Blessed John XXIII and the Fathers of Vatican II, let us pray for the renewal of the Church and its worship.

Hamilton, Qld

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