VNO 8: For Ministers of the Church

Those following this series know we’re gradually getting to the dozens of Masses for Various Needs and Occasions. Number eight of this series is titled, “For Ministers of the Church.” I think there’s a lot of fuss over nothing in applying the term to lay people. Ministry has implications for selflessly serving others, promoting Jesus Christ and his mission, and doing so with an intentionality in one’s life. I think some clergy do things other than ministry. Some lay people, even janitors and other menial workers, clearly present Christ to others in a fruitful and intentional way.

The prayer at the opening of Mass reads as follows:

O God,
who have taught the ministers of your Church
to seek not to be served,
but to serve their brothers and sisters,
grant, we pray,
that they may be effective in action,
gentle in ministry,
and constant in prayer. 

The liturgy often teaches quite well when it intends to do something different. God certainly needs no explanation on the tasks of his disciples. But those three adjectives–effective, gentle, and constant–these are hallmarks of good ministry.

Let’s look to the musical texts for this Mass. These are not antiphons from Psalms, but honored and familiar passages from the New Testament:

Entrance Antiphon Cf. 1 Cor 12: 4-6
There are different graces but the same Spirit, different ministries but the same Lord, different works but the same God, who accomplishes everything in everyone.

Communion Antiphon Lk 12: 37
Blessed are those servants whom the lord finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you: He will gird himself, seat them at table, and proceed to wait on them.

You readers are aware that the twelfth chapter of 1 Corinthians treats the spiritual gifts. Maybe there’s a way to render that poetically. I’m not sure. I think a number of Biblical texts would make for an interesting set of verses: Psalm 40, Psalm 84, or even Psalm 122 or Isaiah 40:28-31.

I find the Communion antiphon a bit difficult. Quoting Jesus’ conclusion of one of his parables: there’s nothing wrong with that as such. Perhaps the first eleven verses of Philippians 2 would serve well with that passage from Luke.

Some years ago, we blogged on Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions. In the GIRM, sections 368-378 cover the universal regulations on their use. You can check our brief comments here and here and here. The USCCB’s unannotated text on the matter is here.

 

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to VNO 8: For Ministers of the Church

  1. Todd says:

    I neglected to comment on when this Mass might be celebrated. A convention of lay ministers, certainly–either a specialized group or a general convocation, perhaps on the diocesan level. I would think a bishop would be a very worthy presider.

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