Respect Life and Liturgy

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.

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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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2 Responses to Respect Life and Liturgy

  1. Mollie Wilson O'Reilly says:

    Amen to all of that. As it happens, I was in the diocese of Lincoln, NE this past Sunday… And there the homily was replaced by a 9-minute video about Catholic Charities and the need for donations. For the record, I think that’s just as inappropriate as having pastors read a letter about voting for prolife candidates: put the video online and make an announcement; put brochures in the bulletin. I would say do an information session at another time, but if you can’t trust people to come back outside of Sunday Mass for a “respect life” celebration, how are you going to get them to come back to give you money?

    Anyway, aside from that there were a number of prayers of the faithful related to so-called life issues, and an announcement at the end of mass about other parish prolife activities, so the “theme” was acknowledged appropriately. But the homily hijacking, though unrelated, was still unfortunate.

  2. Gavin says:

    I tend to agree, although I would be a bit more permissive. One could relate some of the readings to life issues through the month, surely. Intercessions are also a great place, as would be some sort of short lecture at the announcements.

    Or, since the hymn after Mass is not really a part of Mass (and thus easily used for the non-liturgical “theme of the day”) one could have this hymn sung after Mass: http://www.oremus.org/hymnal/l/l119.html It’s a decent “pro-life” text set to a grand tune. Or if your parish is into that whole “Social Lordship of Christ” thing, go for “To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King”.

    But still, I agree: ideally the sermon should be used for exegesis, not for themed commentary.

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