The Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest gets to the essence of Sunday and its observance with these sections.
12. The following are the principal requisites for the Sunday assembly of the faithful.
a. the gathering of the faithful to manifest the Church, not simply on their own initiative but as called together by God, that is, as the people of God in their organic structure, presided over by a priest, who acts in the person of Christ;
b. their instruction in the paschal mystery through the Scriptures that are proclaimed and that are explained by a priest or deacon;
c. the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice, by which the paschal mystery is expressed, and which is carried out by the priest in the person of Christ and offered in the name of the entire Christian people.
The DDWDS seems to suggest the action in the person of Christ is the priest’s entire liturgical presidency at the Mass, not just the Liturgy of the Eucharist or its consecration of the elements.
Is the impulse to celebrate Mass as a community something more than the desire of individuals to worship? Does our “practice” of the faith involve a supernatural element of grace, that we attend to God’s urging deep inside of us to celebrate, even when our human inclination is elsewhere? I can see this.
They also suggest that the Liturgy of the Word is an activity of instruction and explanation. I wonder if this is way too simplistic. Much more goes on in the proclamation of the Word than education.
As for point c, a bit more reflection might be helpful here. How do the various “intrusive” elements aid in the expression of the Paschal Mystery: collections, the Lord’s Prayer, the Rite of Peace, and inevitable preparations before the Eucharistic Prayer and the Communion procession? Or are these a collage of necessary and peripheral sidebars?
13. Pastoral efforts should have this aim above all that the sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday be regarded as the only true actualization of the Lord’s paschal mystery (Cf. Paul VI, Address to bishops of central France, 26 March 1977: AAS 69 (1977), 465; “The goal must always be the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass, the only true actualization of the Lord’s paschal mystery.” (tr., DOL 449, no. 3842)) and as the most complete manifestation of the Church: “Hence the Lord’s Day is the first holyday of all and should be proposed to the devotion of the faithful and taught to them… Other celebrations, unless they be truly of great importance, shall not have precedence over the Sunday, the foundation and core of the whole liturgical year.” (SC 106)
This is how the liturgical year is formatted: Easter and Pentecost being the significant intensifications to Sunday. But these each are elements of the Paschal Mystery. Each of these feasts, especially Easter, echoes in every sound Sunday celebration. Of course, if the institution really believed the importance of Sunday, some dioceses and organizations might pay closer attention to providing the Eucharist for what are now less-served communities. If priests and bishops took their turn in outlying and under-served areas, no matter how remote or ill-regarded, that would itself be a sign of the Paschal Mystery, a notion of sacrifice gladly and obediently undertaken for the good of all, not just a few.
Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the absence of a priest English translation © 1988, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All Rights Reserved.