Redemptionis Sacramentum 32-33

The CDWDS completes its instructions for priests in this first chapter. Most laudable of the lost opportunities would be the suggestion to encourage family prayer. But there’s more:

[32.] “Let the Parish Priest strive so that the Most Holy Eucharist will be the center of the parish congregation of the faithful; let him work to ensure that Christ’s faithful are nourished through the devout celebration of the Sacraments, and in particular, that they frequently approach the Most Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance; let him strive, furthermore, to ensure that the faithful are encouraged to offer prayers in their families as well, and to participate consciously and actively in the Sacred Liturgy, which the Parish Priest, under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, is bound to regulate and supervise in his parish lest abuses occur”.[Code of Canon Law 528 § 2] Although it is appropriate that he should be assisted in the effective preparation of the liturgical celebrations by various members of Christ’s faithful, he nevertheless must not cede to them in any way those things that are proper to his own office.

I know that the usurping of priest stuff by laity gained a lot of attention to the CDWDS in the final JPII years. I think the phenomenon was more a human one than an anti-clerical impulse. Many people see things incompetently done. They know, or at least they believe, they can do them better. I remember a priest friend who frequently celebrated Sunday Mass in my parish. He reminded me at least monthly that if a regular lector didn’t show up, he would be willing to do a reading. He was a decent reader and a better-than-average homilist, but no, we didn’t need a priest doing that.

The call for lay preaching, in my view, was a call for greater quality, not a down-with-priests movement.

[33.] Finally, all “Priests should go to the trouble of properly cultivating their liturgical knowledge and ability, so that through their liturgical ministry, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will be praised in an ever more excellent manner by the Christian communities entrusted to them”.[Presbyterorum Ordinis 5] Above all, let them be filled with that wonder and amazement that the Paschal Mystery, in being celebrated, instills in the hearts of the faithful.[Ecclesia de Eucharistia 5]

Knowledge that leads to wisdom is good.

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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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