The Armchair Liturgist: Special Observance On A Sunday

A few special observances can bump a green or a Christmas Sunday (yes, even Holy Family Sunday) from the liturgical calendar. We spoke of those in the series on Masses for Various Needs and Occasions.

A local bishop can also make a call for his parishes. Or a pope for the universal Church. You might remember that when the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul landed on a Sunday during the Year of Paul, Pope Benedict authorized it as an option when ordinarily the Green Sunday would bump a liturgical observance of that level off the calendar entirely. Few took advantage of that in my memory. I couldn’t talk my pastor into it. I also confess I didn’t try too hard.

My question for those willing to sit in the purple chair: how often is too much?

Here’s my situation: my archbishop authorized the use of the VNO readings and prayers for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. We had a few months’ notice, so it was easy enough to make the preparations: the bulletin, the lectors, the music plans. The pastor endorsed the change and he preached on it.

The diocesan liturgist informed us last week the opening of a synod was another occasion–this was Pope Francis’ universal synod–not the local one. He also apologized for the late notice on getting the word out to us. The pastor was willing but left the judgment to me. I didn’t feel totally at ease about it–not sure why. I do support our local synod process, now in its third year. And I’m certainly excited about the prospect for the universal Church.

Now our deacon has floated his suggestion we observe World Mission Day next weekend with the VNO Mass for Evangelization. This is one of four instances where a local parish can make a VNO substitution in place of a Green Sunday.

In total, the possible changes would be three in a five-week period. That strikes me as too much interruption. But maybe you feel differently. Maybe we need to do more extra-ordinary Sundays to put the prayer into significant needs and occasions. What do you think?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to The Armchair Liturgist: Special Observance On A Sunday

  1. Liam says:

    Well…are the people in the pews clamoring for this (and how many of them)?

    That’s not a dispositive question, but it is a question that is typically utterly ignored.

    Ministerial and clerical itchiness is best resolved outside of liturgy. Putting on some different colored vestments, getting to preach topically instead of on the scriptural course, and trying out some different music are not reasons to justify indulging too often.

    I endorse laying the groundwork for parochial celebration of patronal and dedication feasts – so that the liturgy is coming up from somewhere in that regard.

    The pontifically endorsed thematic years have become too frequent to be meaningful. We have an ordinary Holy Year* starting in 3 years, two months and several days, and what’s sure to be a major extraordinary jubilee year starting in 11 years and two and a half months.

    * My sense over time has been that ordinary Holy Years would be a good temporal framework for regular updates to the Roman Missal, Divine Office and ritual books as needed, with the [N] years before a Holy Year to be the working time before implementation in such a Holy Year. With a period of road-testing and grandfathering, as it were.

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