Let’s look briefly at the possibility of liturgical adaptations. Some are within the competence of the national conference:
18. The conferences of bishops may adapt this rite, as required, to the character of each region, but in such a way that nothing of its dignity and solemnity is lost.
However, the following are to be respected:
a) The celebration of Mass with the proper preface and prayer for a dedication must never be omitted.
b) Rites that have a special meaning and force from liturgical tradition (see no. 16) must be retained, unless weighty reasons stand in the way, but the wording may be suitably adapted if necessary.
With regard to adaptations, the competent ecclesiastical authority is to consult the Holy See and introduce adaptations with its consent. (Sacrosanctum Concilium 40)
Changing words are not a matter for an individual bishop, but the conference with the assent of Rome.
Others are “within the Competence of the Ministers”:
19. It is for the bishop and for those in charge of the celebration of the rite:
to decide the manner of entrance into the church (see no. 11);
to determine the manner of handing over the new church to the bishop (no. 11);
to decide whether to have the depositing of relics of the saints. The decisive consideration is the spiritual good of the community; the prescriptions in no. 5 must be followed.
It is for the rector of the church to be dedicated, helped by those who assist him in the pastoral work, to decide and prepare everything concerning the readings, singing, and other pastoral aids to foster the fruitful participation of the people and to ensure a dignified celebration.
Two brief observations that touch on liturgy in general:
- Any adaptation is made for the spiritual good of the people, not the convenience or whim of the ministers.
- I like the term “fruitful participation.” It is retained in the 2003 ICEL translation draft.
278. Pastoral care offered by a particular Church in the area of education should establish a necessary co-ordination between the different loci in which education in the faith takes place. It is extremely important that all catechetical means “should converge on the same confession of faith, on the same membership of the Church, and on commitments in society lived in the same Gospel spirit”. (Catechesi Tradendae 67b) Educational co-ordination primarily concerns children, adolescents, and young adults. It is more than useful for the particular Church to integrate various educational sectors and environments in a single project at the service of the Christian education of youth. All of these loci complement each other, but no one of them, taken separately, can ensure a complete Christian education. Since it is always the same and unique person of the child or young person who undergoes these different educational actions, it is important that the different influences always have the same fundamental inspiration. Any contradiction between these actions is harmful, in so far as each one of them has its own specificity and importance. Thus it is most important for the particular Church to provide a programme of Christian initiation which takes into account and integrates the various educational tasks as well as the demands of new evangelization.
I think the primary coordination model for the US is “graduation.” “Religion” is viewed as subject matter in a school format: adults provide it for kids, and the older one gets the more one sees the occasional experience of catechesis (formation for confirmation, marriage, one’s child’s baptism) as means to a specific end. That’s not to say that these catechetical efforts aren’t well-presented in terms of delivery and content. The American understanding is that one receives content to achieve a goal. The information is optional once the personal goal is achieved.
When the Church speaks of a “complete Christian education,” I’m sure we’re talking about a deeper and more profound embrace of the Gospel and its values, and the particular effort at evangelizing. That’s not quite where most parishes and believers are in the US at this time.
about Todd Flowerday
A Roman Catholic lay person, married (since 1996), with one adopted child (since 2001). I serve in worship and spiritual life in a midwestern university parish.
Neil has been a blogging collaborator for the past several years on Catholic Sensibility. He brings his unique experiences from theology, spirituality, and the ecumenical sphere. Pay special attention to each one of his posts.