GMD 94-96: Strategies for Employing Liturgy for Evangelization

Sections 94, 95, and 96 touch on liturgical matters, so they caught my eye.

If you want to check on the larger perspective of this chapter (89-103) check the USCCB site, as linked. These three liturgical objectives look to the core of liturgy: Word and Sacrament.

Sunday Mass gets a look in GMD 94, and these suggestions align partially with what lay people have been saying in the 80’s (The Notre Dame study that uncovered that triumvirate of welcome, preaching and music) as well as the Rebuilt witness.

To make the evangelization and Eucharist connection stronger, the bishops suggest:

  • greeting and welcoming of people;
  • creation of a greater sense of prayer during Mass;
  • more clear calling to worshipers to conversion and renewal; fostering of a sense of community among parish members; outreach to visitors and newcomers at Sunday Mass;
  • accessibility to worship for everyone; and
  • development of ways to incorporate new and mobile parishioners through ritual and public acknowledgment.

Better music might carry something of number 2, above. It probably merits its own appearance somewhere.

Liturgical objective number two states:

To foster an appreciation of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and of all the sacraments, the sacred signs of our Catholic life (GMD 95)

The possible strategies seem vague to me:

  • spirit-filled celebrations of the liturgy;
  • sacramental preparation programs;
  • encouragement of Eucharistic devotions and adoration;
  • careful liturgical planning and ceremonial practice; and
  • centering of renewal themes and activities on the sacraments.

“Spirit-filled” is indeed a worthy goal, but the term has so many connotations, I think something more descriptive or prescriptive would be better: a more mindful celebration, careful preparation (not planning!) and for that last one, preaching on renewal, and preaching it often.

As for “preparation programs,” the obvious choice to develop disciples is in high school confirmation efforts. Today, we probably have too much self-centeredness, even (and at times especially) in service projects. Service is a call of the baptized believer. Discipleship and being a faith companion to others–that is more aligned with the understanding of a “mature” confirmed faith.

GMD 96 addresses the need to “foster a greater appreciation of the power of God’s Word” in liturgy. The first three strategies address preaching:

  • ongoing homiletic training for clergy and those called to preach;
  • prayerful preparation of the homily;
  • shared preparation of the Sunday homily;

Number four, lectors:

  • enhanced preparation of lectors; and

… lectionaries, gospel books, and Bibles:

  • cultivation of reverence toward the liturgical books that contain the Sacred Scriptures.

The preaching strategies shouldn’t surprise us–these were all touted in the 1981 USCCB document Fulfilled in Your Hearing. (Check these posts for our series on that landmark but mostly unexplored effort.)

What are you seeing in these suggestions? How is your parish doing with them? What’s missing?

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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.
This entry was posted in evangelization, Go and Make Disciples. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to GMD 94-96: Strategies for Employing Liturgy for Evangelization

  1. Joyce Donahue says:

    This sounds so much like the book ‘Rebuilt” – changing the externals in hopes of changing the people. What’s missing is formation of the assembly to appreciate the Mass and their role. We are a long way from “full, conscious and active participation.” Even then, we mistake external participation for full engagement that includes internal participation.

    • Todd says:

      Agreed. But I think the Church proceeds on the basis that it only has the externals to see, and it retains a hope that somehow grace will “sink” in after good preaching, good music, and a sincere welcome. Those things set the tone, and to a degree, God’s grace covers the rest.

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