The Armchair Liturgist: How Much VT?

Amy and a few others have asked about it: how much of the Virginia Tech shootings did you hear at Sunday Mass? I’ll tell you our bulletin printers offered us a portion of a cover, which we declined after an e-mail consultation among staff.
If your parish is not significantly connected to Tech, how much of a Sunday Mass mention do you think is appropriate? To tell you the truth, the awareness that Iraqi civilians are going through this every few hours in terms of sheer carnage, made me wonder why we aren’t devoting more prayer to them.

Sit in the purple chair, and consider your homilist on your staff. Would you ask for time in the homily? Do you think the prayers of the faithful are enough, or even too much?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: How Much VT?

  1. We had no mention of it during the homily or the intercessions, but I did hear people talking about it once or twice outside of Mass in the Parish hall/narthex. Usually items like this are left out of the homily, which I think is good because otherwise they can turn into current-event-news-commentary rather than what they are intended to be.

    However, the week before we did get a homily on why we should oppose assisted-suicide in Canada, however he did a good job of incorporating it into the readings and connecting it with Divine Mercy.

  2. Anne says:

    Any current event, especially a tragedy, that’s on the mind of the Faithfull should not be ignored. It doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) the main focus of the homily. The focus is on how we live in Christ and how we connect this event to Christ and each other. A mention in the Prayers of the faithful is very appropriate.

  3. Liam says:

    A mention in the general intercessions is appropriate – so long as it is generalized in a proper way – but not necessarily the homily. I am no fan of news-cycle-based topicality; quite the contrary. The vast majority of people who became aware of the events in Blacksburg last week did not experience a tragedy; they experienced news reportage of a tragedy. It is vital not to collapse the distinction, because voyeuristic ersatz tragedy saps energy and attention to genuine tragedies more within the compass of viewers, ones that lack topical media sexiness. It’s a pathology of our culture we should strain to avoid enabling.

  4. Gavin says:

    It was not mentioned on Sunday here, although I’m not sure how far in advance the prayers are composed. Incidently, I think I recall in our regular rotation “an end to bloodshed in the middle east” or something like that.

  5. Neil says:

    At the Mass I attended, the Virginia Tech tragedy was mentioned during the homily, but was not the main subject of the homily. It was also mentioned during the intercessions.

    Our bishops have told us that the homily is meant to be a “scriptural interpretation of human existence.” Obviously, one needs to distinguish real “human existence” from the shallow and lurid stories set forth by the tabloids and cable television. But it does seem to me that the Virginia Tech tragedy – even for those not directly involved – was the most unavoidable part of “human existence” that week insofar as its horror forced all of us to face very difficult questions about reality of evil and the fragility of human life and the possibility of forgiveness. Neglecting to mention it might have seemed to border on escapism, unconsciously supporting the notion that Christianity is a beautiful poetry that cannot really face the perplexity and sorrow of our broken world.

    Let me quote from an article by Fr Donald Heet, OSFS, about the purpose of the homily:

    “One of the most significant and best developed treatments of what the homily should be and do is the document ‘Fulfilled in Your Hearing: The Homily in the Sunday Assembly,’ authored by the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The document describes the homily as ‘a scriptural interpretation of human existence which enables a community to recognize God’s active presence, to respond to that presence in faith through liturgical word and gesture, and beyond the liturgical assembly through a life lived in conformity with the Gospel.’ This makes it clear that the homily, ultimately, is not ‘about Scripture’; rather, it is about human existence as interpreted in light of the Scripture readings of the day. Two elements are brought into dialog: human experience and the scriptural text. It is not a case of using examples taken from human experience to illumine what the text means; rather human experience itself is seen as revelatory, even though the meanings of human experience, especially when it is as traumatic as the events of Sept. 11, become clear only when viewed though the perspective of the scriptural message.”

    Thanks. I do want to say that I recognize the danger of the homily turning into “current-event-news-commentary.” That would not be a good thing either.


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