The meaning of “social communication” has totally changed in the last four decades. But adapting to new modes of communication is an issue even more critical today.
45. Our century is characterized by the mass media or means of social communication, and the first proclamation, catechesis or the further deepening of faith cannot do without these means, as we have already emphasized.
In 1975, it was television and radio. Today, it is the explosion of online formats.
When they are put at the service of the Gospel, they are capable of increasing almost indefinitely the area in which the Word of God is heard; they enable the Good News to reach millions of people. The Church would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not utilize these powerful means that human skill is daily rendering more perfect. It is through them that she proclaims “from the housetops”[Cf. Mt 10:27; Lk 12:3] the message of which she is the depositary. In them she finds a modern and effective version of the pulpit. Thanks to them she succeeds in speaking to the multitudes.
Nevertheless the use of the means of social communication for evangelization presents a challenge: through them the evangelical message should reach vast numbers of people, but with the capacity of piercing the conscience of each individual, of implanting itself in his heart as though he were the only person being addressed, with all his most individual and personal qualities, and evoke an entirely personal adherence and commitment.
I think the personal adherence and commitment only comes with the personal relationship between the seeker and the believer. It is impossible to expect impersonal (though far-reaching) methods to pierce every heart. Modern social communication does not absolve every (!) individual believer of the responsibility to witness to the Gospel at least through the minimum of personal example.
Paulists James C. Gorman and Robert S. Rivers write in America with their concerns on the upcoming Synod on the New Evangelization. Their leadoff premise:
(W)e have some worries about the pastoral implementation of this enterprise. We suspect that the recent emphasis on evangelization is merely an attempt to draw those who have left the church back to an institution of the past.
Fathers Gorman and Rivers move forward from there with a healthy assessment of where real evangelization is taking place these days. At the doors of the church, not so much. More at these “entry points”: Social/Peer Networks, Family, Work, the Search for Transcendence, Service in the Public Square, and Life Passages.
With the support and insistence of the pastor, my staff colleagues have gotten more outside of our building the past few years and on campus and into the campustown/Greek district which surrounds us. Not just the staff, but the peer ministers and other student leaders, too. I see the signs that we’re on the right track. Seventy-five percent of small groups and Bible studies now take place on campus or in the apartments of students. We know that many students are not prepared to darken our doors. But they will respond to the invitation, witness, and leadership of their peers.
An indictment of parishes:
Congregations have yet to figure out how to meet and engage people where they are. Rarely are they present at the points of intervention listed above. The challenge is to be there—creatively! Only then can we gather people into communities of faith. Only then will we see a truly new evangelization.
As much as we look to the Synod Fathers for inspiration and recommendations for evangelization, the real challenge is ours. It is we who must go where people gather and provide Word, sacrament and fellowship to them.
This strikes me as true. I will watch what comes out of Rome this month. But I’m expecting more dead-ends–offshoots from misdiagnosis.
As one might expect in a2000 document, Music in Catholic Worship and Liturgical Music Today, the 1972 and 1983 USCCB documents on music are cited. Before getting fussy about it, conservatives might want to consider the common sense guidance in these citations …
§ 88 § Music is integral to the liturgy. It unifies those gathered to worship, supports the song of the congregation, highlights significant parts of the liturgical action, and helps to set the tone for each celebration.(MCW 23; GIRM 103)
No problem here; the base reference is the universal document.
§ 89 § It is important to recognize that the building must support the music and song of the entire worshiping assembly. In addition, “some members of the community [have] special gifts [for] leading the [assembly in] musical praise and thanksgiving.”(LMT 63) The skills and talents of these pastoral musicians, choirs, and instrumentalists are especially valued by the Church. Because the roles of the choirs and cantors are exercised within the liturgical community, the space chosen for the musicians should clearly express that they are part of the assembly of worshipers.(GIRM 294; 312) In addition, cantors and song leaders need visual contact with the music director while they themselves are visible to the rest of the congregation.(MCW 33-38) Apart from the singing of the Responsorial Psalm, which normally occurs at the ambo, the stand for the cantor or song leader is distinct from the ambo, which is reserved for the proclamation of the word of God.
Locating musicians takes into account their first role, not as specialized providers, but as believing Christians who worship within a larger body. On the practical side, choir and instruments should be heard:
§ 90 § The directives concerning music found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the guidance offered by Music in Catholic Worship and Liturgical Music Today (BLS 226-227) can assist the parish in planning appropriate space for musicians. The placement and prayerful decorum of the choir members can help the rest of the community to focus on the liturgical action taking place at the ambo, the altar, and the chair. The ministers of music are most appropriately located in a place where they can be part of the assembly and have the ability to be heard. Occasions or physical situations may necessitate that the choir be placed in or near the sanctuary. In such circumstances, the placement of the choir should never crowd or overshadow the other ministers in the sanctuary nor should it distract from the liturgical action.
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.