PS 3-4: Challenges for Paschal Observances

Jesus arms outstretchedRemember, you can check the full document on this site, among many on the internet. First, the acknowledgement that many Christians actively and devotedly engage their faith during the Lent-Triduum-Easter cycle:

3. In many parts of the Christian world, the faithful followers of Christ, with their pastors, attach great importance to the celebration of this rite, and participate in it with great spiritual gain.

Second, there is a notion that the Easter Vigil has lost something of its luster in the years since Vatican II:

However, in some areas where initially the reform of the Easter Vigil was received enthusiastically, it would appear that with the passage of time this enthusiasm has begun to wane. The very concept of the Vigil has almost come to be forgotten in some places with the result that it is celebrated as if it were an evening Mass, in the same way and at the same time as the Mass celebrated on Saturday evening in anticipation of the Sunday.

My take would be that the curia describes here a combination of pragmatism and apathy. Sometimes new pastors get appointed who lack the commitment of predecessors. It can also be difficult to develop and maintain ars celebrandi across many ministries and over years. And we have the lamentable Catholic “tradition,” which sometimes locks us into “good enough” simply because we have satisfied the basic requirements of liturgy.

Regarding schedule …

It also happens that the celebrations of the Triduum are not held at the correct times. This is because certain devotions and pious exercises are held at more convenient times and so the faithful participate in them rather than in the liturgical celebrations.

I witness fewer problems on the question of scheduling. The curia diagnoses poor catechesis:

Without any doubt one of the principal reasons for this state of affairs is the inadequate formation given to the clergy and the faithful regarding the paschal mystery as the center of the liturgical year and of Christian life. (Cf. Christus Dominus 15)

… and a problem which seems more grave in December than in early Spring:

4. The holiday period which today in many places coincides with Holy Week and certain attitudes held by present-day society concur to present difficulties for the faithful to participate in these celebrations.

My sense is that a parish doing well always has room for improvement. I think a commitment to excellence is something that requires maintenance over decades and generations. The other important piece is to be aware of how people’s lives today can be broken open with insights from the Paschal Mystery and the liturgical observances that most intensely identify with Christ’s sacrifice, death, and resurrection.

Any thoughts on your own parish? Getting better or worse in celebrating the Ninety Days? Alternate diagnoses from mine or Rome?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to PS 3-4: Challenges for Paschal Observances

  1. Liam says:

    Understand that, given the Protestant civic culture of the USA, it does not have the holiday pattern that is more common in countries with a historically Catholic culture.

    As for the timing of the Vigil, it appears still to be a problem in certain areas (Florida seems to be a particular hot-spot for this – perhaps driven by retiree expectations of maintaining the same schedule for Saturday afternoon Mass?).

  2. Devin Rice says:

    FWIW, Archbishop Cupich celebrated the Easter Vigil at 7PM in his cathedral in April.

    https://www.archchicago.org/news_releases/news_2015/news_150323.html

    Earlier, the dicoesen liturgical news letter for Spring 2015 stated that the Vigil should start no earlier than 8PM.

    Click to access 1)collect%20simple%20FINAL_.pdf

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