What are the reasonable alternatives when even bishops want to use the Sunday bully pulpit to promote stuff not quite in harmonization with the liturgy? It’s a heated issue, and even my confreres at IC can’t help but violate their own rules a bit to call me out on calling out Respect Life Sunday.
My suggestion is that Respect Life merits a month-long mention on the prayers of the faithful. That’s what we’re doing. A sermon or speech belongs before Mass or along with the announcements. No quasi-homily, please.
What should a parish do? There are a lot of good liturgical ideas.
Having a “themed” Mass is not alien to the Catholic liturgy. The Roman Missal provides for it. They’re called “votive Masses,” and they have whole sets of readings, prayers, and traditions. The challenge is that they pretty much should be prayed on weekdays.
I don’t see a problem with a weeknight Mass for Respect Life. Have a dinner or reception with it. Bring in a speaker. Design a whole-parish catechetical event around it. Other ideas? Sunday Vespers. Rosary. Special word service.
The reason why pastors and others don’t opt for this is because they don’t trust the attraction of the message. And they often lack vision for making this a real event. Some resort to a certain laziness, as if 2008 is somehow a special and desperate time.