Live Liturgy

Have you some experiences of ideas for celebrating various liturgies which have caught the imagination and participation of your parish or congregation?
I’m sure many parishes and congregations have tried ideas which have worked, as well as others which have not worked. Perhaps we can make use of the ACP website for sharing such ideas. How they work will depend on the resources – the abilities and gifts of the people, the layout of the liturgical space, the physical resources and equipment available, etc. This would be not so much a debate on the plus and minus of different ideas, but a sharing of what I’m sure must be valuable experience around the country and around the world. We could share ideas for this season of Lent and Eastertide, and ideas which can be implemented around the year.
This thought arises from an article by Tom O’Loughlin in the February 2016 issue of The Furrow (it’s worth reading). To quote just a little:

“Cyril Vogel viewed the reforms of Vatican II — after four centuries of stagnation with a rite that was never fit for purpose as a liturgy for communities (as distinct from a rite intended for the private piety of monks, friars, and, accidentally, clergy more generally) — as the beginnings of a new era of liturgical creativity. In the new era, our skills and creativity, our fears and needs — as human beings and as Christians — would become intrinsic parts of the liturgy and our encounter with the Paschal Mystery. Now, the community would pray in its own language, sing its own music, bring its needs and hopes as a priestly people before the Father in the Prayer of the Faithful, and then join in the supper of the Lord, knowing that sharing his food and drink as our ‘bread of life’ and ‘cup of salvation’ entailed a commitment to sharing the goods of creation with all in need.

“Vogel could just glimpse a sunrise — an authentic liturgy in the sense of it being our celebration as the People of God — and hoped that people would press further down the road towards a time when the baptised would want to join in the liturgy out of an awareness that it was part and parcel of their lives as disciples and human beings. Liturgy would no longer be viewed as a means to allowing people ‘to get Mass’ and fulfil ‘obligations.’ No longer would it imply an image of God as a demanding accountant collecting spiritual revenues from reluctant tenants — with the threat of sin and punishment as the goad to minimalist worship. Moreover, the liturgy would be the action of the people, their expression of who they were in the Anointed One; it would not be attendance at something done on their behalf by an intermediary (tacitly confusing the Christian presbyter with an Old Covenant priest). Likewise, it would be a refreshment in the Spirit through our being with one another and the Lord, and would not be confused with somehow benefiting from the action of the ritual expert whose powers of intercession could be disposed towards them.”

To start us off with two experiences.

  1. In Holy Week 1967 I was helping in a small rural parish outside Bologna. One of the things which struck me as very rooted in the parish was this. The bread used for the Eucharist was made in the parish by parishioners. The wine was a local wine. While we might have some little problem with using local wine in Ireland, I wonder how many parishes around the country make their own Eucharist bread? In our parish we have this at present just once a year on Holy Thursday. How many parishes offer the cup (sorry, Liturgia Authentica: chalice!) on Sundays or weekdays? In our parish we offer the cup at weekday Mass, and at our last Mass on Sunday mornings.
  2. In 1977 I was at a wedding in a very lively Episcopal parish in Houston, Texas. In this Anglican parish, the wedding was in the context of a celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The bread they used was made in the parish. It was not in small pre-cut pieces, but in flat loaves like the brown bread my mother used to make. At Communion time, the people approached the minister of the Eucharist, who had a portion of a loaf. The ministers had a brief friendly word with each person, and then broke off a small portion of the loaf to give to the person. There was no rush. It was all done with great reverence. The experience of the “Breaking of the Loaf” was very significant, much more so than what we experience in our parishes, and the symbolic expression of sharing in the one loaf was immediately obvious and tangible.

If we can share ideas from around the country, this itself will be an experience of liturgical unity, even as each parish has its own variations of experience! I’m sure there must be valuable ideas for celebrating Lent and Holy Week and the Easter Season and Pentecost.

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  1. Noel Casey says:

    I submitted an article, Young People and the Liturgy, to this site in September, 2014. In it I outlined some innovative liturgical work with young people. It drew a few reactions, some very positive, some negative (one very). But it did work, I think. The article can be found by trawling through the Articles section of this site.

  2. Eddie Finnegan says:

    I’m very glad to see Tom O’Loughlin’s FURROW article has led to Pádraig’s creative suggestions, just as Tom O’Loughlin took inspiration from Cyril Vogel in 1972, and also set Chris McDonnell rethinking live liturgy here a few weeks ago (“Sharing an intimate act of love”). And indeed it’s time pastors started using their loaf, or ours, so to speak. After 65+ years I may no longer have my First Communion money, but I’ll never get rid of that unpalatable tasteless texturelessness of rice paper sticking on my tongue, no matter how often I repeat the prescription.

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