Synod 2008: The Word At The Eucharist

The working paper for the October synod of bishops is up at the Zenit web page. Of particular interest is Chapter V, which treats the Word of God at the liturgy of the Church. Under the heading of “An Experience in Liturgy and Prayer,” we read:

For a majority of Christians the world over, the celebration of the Eucharist on Sundays is the sole encounter with the Word of God. The People of God have a growing consciousness of the importance of liturgies of the Word of God, prompted in part by the reference and revision of them in the new Lectionary. In this regard, some responses mention that they want to see a better thematic coordination of the three readings as well as a greater fidelity in translations to the original texts.

I like this affirmation of conciliar reform. I would share this observation that as good as Lectionary reform has been, it needs to be taken further. I think we would do well to jettison the semi-continuous reading of the epistles of Paul in ordinary time. And aware of Latin as the liturgical language of our tradition, Catholics should embrace the best fidelity to Greek and Hebrew for our Lectionary.

Homilies could clearly stand improvement. In certain cases, the Liturgy of the Word is serving as a form of Lectio Divina.

Definitely right on homilies. Lectio Divina gets a significant mention in this working paper. I don’t know that I’ll get to blog on it, but I hope you’ll read it and perhaps other bloggers may touch upon it.

We have an endorsement for the Liturgy of the Hours:

Work remains in encouraging the lay faithful’s participation in praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

And a criticism of theologians and bishops, perhaps, that a theology of the Word is not well-articulated or understood:

At the same time, some indicate that the People of God have never really been introduced to a theology of the Word of God in the liturgy. Some still live it passively, unaware of its sacramental character and unmindful of the riches contained in the Introductions of the liturgical books, sometimes because bishops lack interest.

I do think this is an insightful comment:

The many signs and gestures proper to the Liturgy of the Word are oftentimes an external formality without interior understanding. On occasion, the relation of the Word of God to the sacraments, particularly the Sacrament of Penance, appears to be given little value.

Unfortunately, I would say that Scripture in Anointing, Baptism, and especially Penance are indeed given little value. The reform of the Mass and its Lectionary has been boon enough for some of us, but there is work to be done on the sacramental front.

It will be interesting to see how these various topics on liturgy are handled within the synod. In the era of retrenchment we Catholics find ourselves in, I don’t know that continuing Lectionary reform will net much positive response.

As with the advance papers on the synod on the Eucharist in 2005, there’s a lot of material here that would feed an intelligent discussion in a parish. How would you approach this stuff? Would your parish (especially staff, catechists, committees, parish council, school) show any interest in it?

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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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One Response to Synod 2008: The Word At The Eucharist

  1. I have said this before, but I hope not so much as to be tiresome about it:

    The editions of the Liturgy of the Hours should be revamped so that they really are sung liturgy; right now, they are set up primarily to be read.

    I agree with you about attentiveness to Hebrew and Greek, but the way you expressed your point could be taken to mean that Latin doesn’t play a key role in the transmission of Scripture to us, and I would demur on that point.

    It is appropriate and necessary, I think, to take heed to the Vulgate as well, even though it is not the primary language of Scripture.

    As a homilist, the arrangement of readings doesn’t bother me–does it bother those who listen at Mass?

    The semi-continuous readings (the second reading is generally semi-continuous, but so is the Gospel to a degree) often provide interesting, providential linkages, and the psalm seems to have been chosen to amplify something in one of the other readings–suggesting caution about replacing it.

    But then, I have studied Scripture…

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