Friday, May 25, 2007

Sacred Liturgy (and music)

The following is an excerpt from a circular of the Archdiocese of Bombay and makes for interesting reading:

A VADEMECUM for Priests - Archdiocese of Bombay


The Liturgy is a visible sign that the Church is a community of praise and worship. At every liturgical celebration - be it in private or in public, in word or in song, in the performance of the Sacraments and sacramentals or in the recitation of the Breviary - a priest must lead the members of his assembly into Jesus’ intimate Abba-experience and make them aware of the “communion of saints” in the Church Universal, so as to mingle their worship with the Magnificat of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Hallelujah and Hosanna of the Angels and Saints in heaven, with the Kyrie eleison of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and with the Maranatha and Benedictus of all the faithful on earth.

Liturgical ceremonies must therefore “exude and instil a sense of the sacred, be awe-inspiring and Spirit-filled, something similar to what Moses felt in the presence of the Burning Bush (Ex 3:1-17). They must not be just a protocol of rituals done out of routine, like a body without a soul. Hence, they should be well prepared and well animated” (from the 2001 Archdiocesan Post-Synodal Letter).

The Parish Priest is responsible for the worship, prayer and the spiritual formation of the people of his parish. It is he who will co-ordinate the schedule for the Eucharistic celebrations, funerals, marriages, homilies, etc., or he may delegate these duties to one of the Assistants. He must necessarily give particular attention to the celebration of the sacred mysteries enshrined in the Sacraments. He will see that the Sacraments are performed according to the approved liturgical texts, with dignity and decorum and, above all, with a sense of the sacred.

Together with the parish team, the Parish Priest will plan the homilies on Sundays and days of obligation, taking care to make them Scripture-based, relevant to the daily life of his parishioners, and completely devoid of party politics or centred on canvassing for funds.

Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church. This divine and ineffable Sacrifice is a manifestation of the great mystery of love which is renewed every day on our altars at Holy Mass: through the ordained ministers, Christ gives up His Body and Blood for humanity. And many indeed are they who nourish themselves at His table. Through the Eucharist, the ecclesial community is built up like a new Jerusalem, and brings unity in Christ among different persons and peoples. Hence, one of the most important duties of a Parish Priest is to ensure that the Eucharist is celebrated with every respect, decorum and the honour it deserves. He will plan liturgical celebrations with the Parish Liturgy Committee and will oversee the training of liturgical ministers: these duties may be delegated to one of the Assistants. In particular:

10. The Parish choir too should receive special attention. “Church music is a necessary and integral part of solemn liturgy.... Music and song are not, in fact, a simple decoration or ornament on top of the liturgical action. On the contrary, they are a single reality with the celebration, allowing the faithful to enter into and to interiorise the divine mysteries” (Pope John Paul II’s address to the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, January 19, 2001). Church music should therefore be conducive to prayerful, communitarian and personal recollection and meditation, and not lead to distraction or dissipation. The hymns chosen at the religious functions must enhance the awe and respect due to the sacred mystery being enacted. The accompaniment to choral and community singing should be sober, without drowning the singing itself. All music, lyrics and accompaniment with a mundane flavour or beat should be eliminated.

11. Gregorian chant in Latin is to be encouraged: it binds the faithful to the Church Universal. At least the Missa de Angelis, the Credo III and the Salve Regina should be known in the Archdiocese.

12. Priests could, for example on Sundays and Feast-days, render the celebration of the Holy Eucharist more solemn by singing parts of the Liturgy, e.g. Initial greeting, Orations, Gospel, Preface and introduction to the Our Father, the Final salutation, etc.: the tones of the Gregorian chant could be used for this purpose.

© Archdiocese of Bombay 2000 - 2005. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

Oxymoron said...

I quite agree with the fact that the sanctity of the eucharistic celebration must not be allowed to be diluted.

But I am sometimes confused because, there seems to be a whole wave of bringing people closer to the church by making it less rule-ey while at the same time there is an urgency to not let the church become prey to what's 'in' and 'hep' and the 'public demand'. thats a scary thought!

Ultimately, it remains that those who really care will consider what is sacred- sacred, no matter what.

Now, this looks like a blog post itself! haha!