GILH 20-22: Celebration in Common

Section IV of Chapter I, “Participants in the Liturgy of the Hours “ begins with a discussion on “Celebration in Common.”

20. The liturgy of the hours, like other liturgical services, is not a private matter but belongs to the whole Body of the Church, whose life it both expresses and affects. [See SC 26.] This liturgy stands out most strikingly as an ecclesial celebration when, through the bishop surrounded by his priests and ministers, [See SC 41.] the local Church celebrates it. For “in the local Church the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church is truly present and at work.” [Christus Dominus 11.] Such a celebration is therefore most earnestly recommended. When, in the absence of the bishop, a chapter of canons or other priests celebrate the liturgy of the hours, they should always respect the true time of day and, as far as possible, the people should take part. The same is to be said of collegiate chapters.

Promoters of the Liturgy of the Hours still struggle with Catholics who are even familiar with it, and who assume it is first and foremost a devotional mandate for parish clergy. The recommendation for an ecclesial celebration is ignored even by bishops. Does your bishop celebrate Sunday Vespers?

21. Wherever possible, other groups of the faithful should celebrate the liturgy of the hours communally in church. This especially applies to parishes – the cells of the diocese, established under their pastors, taking the place of the bishop; they “represent in some degree the visible Church established throughout the world.” [See art. 42. See also Apostolicam Actuositatem 10.]

I’ll confess that in a variety of parishes, even seasonal (Advent and Lent) Vespers in Church is a struggle.

22. Hence, when the people are invited to the liturgy of the hours and come together in unity of heart and voice, they show forth the Church in its celebration of the mystery of Christ. [See SC 26 and 84.]

Making that invitation an attractive one: the biggest challenge we have.

This is actually the first question I ask of the newly popular garage band chant scholas: Do you pray Vespers or Compline in plainsong? If not, why not? The schola sensibility is groundless if it is not rooted in prayer. Unless you’re singing weekly at Mass (and maybe even if you are) or performing professionally, it seems some spiritual sustenance is in order.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to GILH 20-22: Celebration in Common

  1. fraustinfleming says:

    For the past 24 years, in several assignments, I have celebrated Evening Prayer in common with the parish. On campus at Northeastern University we sang Evening Prayer Monday through Thursday evenings. In three different parishes we have sung Evening Prayer on the Sundays of the Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter seasons. In all instances I used a cathedral office based on the material in Praise God in Song, edited by John Melloh and Bill Storey and published by GIA.

    Currently assigned to a suburban parish (about 1200 households) we have between 40-70 people join us for Sunday Evening Prayer in the high seasons.

    My experience is that if do something liturgical (ministries,ritual, song, incense, candles) and keep it simple and beautiful – folks will come.

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