Synod Prop 14: Word and Liturgy

The 14th proposition of the recent Bishops’ Synod contained a number of imperatives addressed under “Word of God and liturgy.” As the bishops wrote, given that “liturgy is the privileged place in which the Word of God is fully expressed, both in the celebration of the sacraments as above all in the Eucharist, in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the liturgical year. The mystery of salvation narrated in sacred Scripture finds in the liturgy its own place of proclamation, listening and acting,” here are said imperatives with commentary:

1. The book of sacred Scripture, even outside liturgical action, has a visible and honorable place in the church.

The book of sacred Scripture … the Bible, the Lectionary, or the Gospel Book? And where would this visible and honorable place be? In the sanctuary near the ambo or altar? In its own chapel or niche that would make it clear the honor is higher than any human saint?

2. Silence should be encouraged after the first and second reading and after the homily is finished, as suggested in the General Order of the Roman Missal (cf. No. 56).

This is incomplete; it neglects needful silence after the psalm, and perhaps, the Gospel reading. It also takes trust and practice on the part of the clergy and people to implement this. Most of all musicians control this tempo.

3. Celebrations of the Word of God are provided, centered on the Sunday readings.

For the sick, I would think, not to mention communities without resident clergy.

4. Readings of sacred Scripture be proclaimed from worthy liturgical books, namely the lectionaries and the Gospel, to be treated with the most profound respect for the Word of God they contain.

5. Highlight the role of the servers of the proclamation: readers and cantors.

6. Men and women lectors be adequately formed, so that they can proclaim the Word of God in a clear and comprehensible way. The latter must be invited to study and witness with their life the contents of the Word they read.

Just the latter? I wonder if this refers to lectors outside the ministry of reader–it’s the only thing that makes sense.

7. The Word of God be proclaimed in a clear way, with control of the dynamics of communication.

8. Persons for whom the reception of the Word of God, communicated in the usual way is difficult as well as persons with sight or hearing disabilities not be forgotten.

9. Competent and effective use be made of acoustic instruments.

The “instruments,” in context, would seem to be microphones and other sound reinforcement. I don’t think the bishops mean the avoidance of electronic musical instruments: MIDI, electric guitars, and non-pipe organs.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Synod Prop 14: Word and Liturgy

  1. Jim McK says:

    On “the latter” in point 6, it looks like it is just some bad translation. The Italian version on the Vatican website says “Gli stessi siano invitati…” and I think ‘stessi’ means ‘the same ones’. Maybe the translator confused ‘latter’ with ‘lettori’ = lectors”?

    Anyway, what is appropriate formation for a lector? Do you discuss the spirituality of lectoring? I am curious, as an ex-librarian, about how reading is presented.

  2. Liam says:

    Here is the Italian original for reference (there is no Latin original, so far as I can find):

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_doc_20081025_elenco-prop-finali_it.html#Parola_di_Dio_e_Liturgia

    In terms of liturgical books, I believe the custom is to treat the Book of the Gospels with special reverence, and the Lectionary with ordinary reverence, as it were…

    That said, it would have been nice for the Synod to encourage parishes to make bibles in the vernacular(s) available. Catholics are not in the habit of carrying bibles to Mass (missals, maybe), and jumping to that step strikes me as unnecessary. The Gideons can do it – why can’t the Catholic Church. (I don’t think it’s about being anti-Scripture but about parochial inertia.)

    Could you imagine the someone publishing an edition of the Bible with the Lectionary passages marked in the sidebar (there might need to be multiple versions of certain pages, given overlap in the Lectionary) and cross-referenced? Wow, radical idea, huh? I do so want to join the 16th century.

    Just to tease:

    Don’t forget, the BVM herself was the ark of the Word.

    Should the translations be honored equally to the original languages, and if so, which?

  3. Liam says:

    Oh, and if you’re not used to public speaking, here’s a classic primer (about 55 seconds in):

    My only caution about the use of “acoustic instruments” is that they be competently used – one of the more baleful results of amplification has been the tendency to converse rather than proclaim the Word, to use a conversational tone at a conversational speed. This practice drains much away from what should be a proclamation (Blazing Saddles satire aside). The amplification should really be there to support the definition of sound for those who have greater than average difficulty hearing, and readers (and clergy) should be trained like singers to know how to effectively employ a public tone with their natural voices, which are themselves acoustic instruments of the first order.

  4. Mollie says:

    Liam — there’s a parish near my home (not mine) that does have Bibles — paperback NABs, I think — available in the pews, alongside the missalettes. I don’t know whether they’re used in any official capacity during the parish’s scheduled devotions, but more than once I’ve taken advantage of a few spare minutes to stop in there and do some reading on my own. So I think you’re on to something — and making Bibles available for individual prayer/study might be a better way to honor the Word than setting up a special shrine. (Not that they’re exclusive.)

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