Eucharisticum Mysterium 25-26: Sunday

We move to section 2 of Part II of Eucharisticum Mysterium, the Instruction on Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery. Though the comments are few (except for Liam, who probably generates at least half the traffic of these posts’ comboxes) I hope you’re following with us.Anyway, this section covers Sunday and weekday celebrations of the Eucharist. Let’s read:

25. Whenever the community gathers to celebrate the eucharist, it shows forth the death and resurrection of the Lord in the hope of his glorious coming. But the Sunday assembly shows this best of all, for this is the day of the week on which the Lord rose from the dead and on which, from apostolic tradition, the paschal mystery is celebrated in the eucharist in a special way. [See Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 6 and 106.]

This is nothing startling or new. Sunday has always been the day for Christians. SDA’s and other folks notwithstanding, the primacy of Sunday, though not based explicitly on Scripture, is one of the most ancient of Christian traditions. Note that while daily Masses are not denigrated, Sunday possesses a “special” quality.

In order that the faithful may willingly fulfill the precept to keep this day holy and may understand why the Church calls them together to celebrate the eucharist every Sunday, right from the beginning of their Christian formation it should be set before them and instilled into them that Sunday is the original holyday. [See Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 106.] On this day above all, gathered as one, they are to hear the word of God and share in the paschal mystery.

The importance of Sunday should be instilled from the domestic church, the home, in other words.

Furthermore, all measures should be encouraged that are designed to make Sunday “a day of joy and freedom from work.” [Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 106.]

And I suppose this would include employers who are Christians. When my wife and I were engaged, we met with a sponsor couple who lived this principle. My friend Bob had a neighborhood business. But he declined to open on Sundays, knowing this would cost him revenue. I admired his commitment to his beliefs, his family, and his employees.

Like it or not, the bishop has an important role, even if he’s not at your parish as often as Bishop Finn has been at mine recently:

26. It is fitting that the sense of ecclesial community, fostered and expressed especially by the shared celebration of Mass on Sunday, should be carefully developed. This applies to assemblies with the bishop, above all in the cathedral church, and to the parish assembly, whose pastor takes the place of the bishop. [See Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 41-42; Lumen gentium no. 28; Presbyterorum ordinis no. 5]

It is instructive that inserted into this theme of bishop and pastor is a comment on the value of music:

It is of great advantage to promote that active participation of the whole people in the Sunday celebration which is expressed in singing. In fact as far as possible the sung form of celebration should be the first choice. [Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. Musicam Sacram, 5 March 1967, nos. 16 and 27.]

The sung form of the celebration of Mass should be the first choice. You can’t get more explicit than that. When it is possible to sing the Mass, and I assure you it is more than possible in my parish and many others, one would say that the choice to have a “silent” or “quiet” Mass without music should be avoided. Why? The Consilium endorses singing as a form of active participation.

Some advice for various communities within a parish:

Especially on Sundays and holydays the celebrations that take place in other churches and oratories must be coordinated with the celebrations in the parish church so that they contribute to the overall pastoral program. It is indeed advantageous that small, nonclerical, religious communities and other such communities, especially those that work in the parish, take part in the parish Mass on these days.

And some cautions on offering too many celebrations of the Mass so as to splinter a parish and work against unity:

As to the hours and the number of Masses to be celebrated in parishes, the convenience of the parish community must be kept in mind and the number of Masses not so multiplied as to harm pastoral effectiveness. Such would be the case, for example, if because there were too many Masses, only small groups of the faithful would attend each one in churches that can hold many people; or if, also because of the number of Masses, the priests were to be so overwhelmed with work that they could fulfill their ministry only with great difficulty.

These sections have much that impacts parishes today. How does parish leadership encourage the observance of Sunday? How do bishops and pastors foster Sunday, not as a day of leisure (as our society would have it) but as a day to honor God? How many Masses do parishes celebrate? Is music eliminated from a parish Sunday or holy day Mass, despite the ease it might be offered? How much convincing have we yet to do to convince people that sung liturgy deepens their participation?

Other thoughts? More questions?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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