Redemptionis Sacramentum 57-60

Sections 57 through 74 address things happening at “The Other Parts of the Mass.” Let’s examine a few today.

First, if the Christian faithful have rights, it follows that leadership has responsibility:

[57.] It is the right of the community of Christ’s faithful that especially in the Sunday celebration there should customarily be true and suitable sacred music, and that there should always be an altar, vestments and sacred linens that are dignified, proper, and clean, in accordance with the norms.

The priority on music strikes me as an upgrade for many parishes. While it lists “true and suitable sacred music” as a custom, the implication is that one attends to it outside of Sundays, as the Sunday Mass would be a “special” case.

Requirements: altar and fabric. But not a dignified ambo, nor even a substantial book from which to proclaim the Scripture. In fact, nowhere in this document does one find a criticism of reading Scripture from a disposable booklet. That is a serious omission.

However, the CDWDS does advocate for careful preparation of the texts, including the Word:

[58.] All of Christ’s faithful likewise have the right to a celebration of the Eucharist that has been so carefully prepared in all its parts that the word of God is properly and efficaciously proclaimed and explained in it; that the faculty for selecting the liturgical texts and rites is carried out with care according to the norms; and that their faith is duly safeguarded and nourished by the words that are sung in the celebration of the Liturgy.

I would assume this includes a careful preparation of the homily.

We’ve seen public attention given to this, especially in light of the English MR3:

[59.] The reprobated practice by which Priests, Deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease. For in doing thus, they render the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy unstable, and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the Liturgy.

The citation here is the CDWDS 1970 document:

[60.] In the celebration of Mass, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist are intimately connected to one another, and form one single act of worship. For this reason it is not licit to separate one of these parts from the other and celebrate them at different times or places. [Cf. Liturgicae  instaurationes 2b] Nor is it licit to carry out the individual parts of Holy Mass at different times of the same day.

My only experience of this (on a technicality) was an extended Easter Vigil thirty years ago, in which the liturgy was “paused” for an extended time of prayer before the baptisms. The only “dislocations” in space between the Word and Eucharist I’ve experienced are different areas of the same church. I confess I don’t see much benefit to a separation in time or place as described here.

The advantage of an episcopal document like fulfilled in Your Hearing is that the authors were prepared to offer positive examples and suggestions for the more fruitful preparation of homilies, and by extension, a more fruitful experience of the liturgy.

The widespread tinkering with the liturgy is definitely not a good thing. But a “widespread” disobedience implies some inherent flaws in what the institution is offering lay people and parish priests. If nothing else, in the formation of leaders to provide meaningful worship. And that is a separate case from pandering to personal taste.

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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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