View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A lesson in liturgy

I went to a liturgy workshop Sunday.


It was put on by a nearby church, and included liturgical ministers from several Gates churches. The speaker was Joan Workmaster, the former director of the Liturgy Department of the Diocese of Rochester.

I'm a double dipper - a musician and a lector. I was looking forward to it.

The first half was a general overview of liturgical ministries. I was pleased to hear Workmaster mention that she considered sacristan/servers and musicians as the two most important ones, and describe lectors as "storytellers" (which I am professionally).

She also made a point of pointing out that we should not call our Ministers of Communion "Eucharistic Ministers": The proper title is Extraordinary Ministers of Communion. She explained that normally Priests and Deacons should be the ones who distribute Communion, and the EMs are there to serve when there is a need (such as large numbers of people - as is the case in most churches on Sundays).

We then broke into groups. I chose to sit with the musicians. There were a series of questions that we were supposed to discuss. Alas, we had a woman with us who took over the discussion in our group, shooting down terms and ideas that did not fit in with her "orthodox" views. She jumped on top of something I was saying at one point, and when I pointed out that what she was stomping on was not what I was trying to say, she acknowledged that was possible, then did not let me finish and went on stomping.

Discussion at our group essentially ended as she went on.

Then Workmaster asked for questions. One man asked about who should say the homily, and Workmaster pointed out that the Priests and Deacons are the ones who are permitted to say the homily. Then a woman asked about why she remembered women preaching, but that that practice had stopped in the Diocese.

Workmaster began to explain that the Diocese had issued guidelines earlier this decade placing strict limits on the non-ordained delivering scripture reflections (not homilies), and that most of the women and laymen who had been doing it no longer could qualify or chose not to go through the involved process to qualify.

At that point, our discussion stomper stood up - interrupting Workmaster - and started going on about how only men could be Priests and Deacons, and the Magisterium determined that they were the only ones who could deliver homiles, attacked liberals, etc., and then stormed out.

A member of her parish tried to defend her, but a fellow musician and I both said we thought she had come with preconceived ideas and was not prepared to listen to what was actually being said.

Too bad. The day had been a good one until that point.

I went home with a headache.


Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

.. and that most of the women and laymen who had been doing it no longer could qualify or chose not to go through the involved process to qualify.

Just to be clear, no legitimate process exists
-- nor has one ever existed -- that permits the non-ordained to deliver homilies, regardless of what name they are given, i.e., "Scripture reflections," etc. See Redemptionis Sacramentum, 64-66, 74, 161.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Argue with the U.S. Bishops and the Vatican:

On January 15, 2002 the complementary norms for the US on Preaching by Lay persons, previously approved by the USCCB and recognized by Rome, went into effect.

They state, in their entirety,
Preaching the Word of God is among the principal duties of those who have received the sacrament of orders (cc. 762-764). The lay faithful can be called to cooperate in the exercise of the Ministry of the Word (c. 759). In accord with canon 766 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops hereby decrees that the lay faithful may be permitted to exercise this ministry in churches and oratories, with due regard for the following provisions:

If necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems useful in particular cases, the diocesan bishop can admit lay faithful to preach, to offer spiritual conferences or give instructions in churches, oratories or other sacred places within his diocese, when he judges it to be to the spiritual advantage of the faithful.

In order to assist the diocesan bishop in making an appropriate pastoral decision (Interdicasterial Instruction, Ecclesiae deMysterio, Article 2 §3), the following circumstances and cases are illustrative: the absence or shortage of clergy, particular language requirements, or the demonstrated expertise or experience of the lay faithful concerned.

The lay faithful who are to be admitted to preach in a church or oratory must be orthodox in faith and well-qualified both by the witness of their lives as Christians and by a preparation for preaching appropriate to the circumstances.

The diocesan bishop will determine the appropriate situations in accord with canon 772§ 1. In providing for preaching by the lay faithful the diocesan bishop may never dispense from the norm which reserves the homily to the sacred ministers (cc 767§1; cfr. Pontifical Acta Apostolic Sedis (AAA) 79 [1987], 1249). Preaching by the lay faithful may not take place within the Celebration of the Eucharist at the moment reserved for the homily.

As to when this lay preaching should be done, the above norm says NOT at the time of the homily. The appropriate time is that provided in the General Instruction for remarks, announcements etc... (and this would also apply to a eulogy at a funeral). After the Prayer after Communion (GIRM 89) comes the concluding rite in the following order:

90 The following are proper to the concluding rite:

a) Brief announcements as needed;

b) The greeting and blessing of the priest, which on certain days is given an amplified expression and, on occasions, is delivered with a prayer over the people or is said with another more solemn formula;

c) The dismissal of the people on the part of the deacon or the priest;

d) The kissing of the altar by priest and deacon, followed with a profound bow to the altar by the priest, the deacon and other ministers.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

By the way, Rich, you are always welcome to post here. I never erase posts (unless they are spam, or include offensive language) - even when they make me uncomfortable - and I never ban anyone from commenting on my blog.

Maybe some day you'll return the courtesy on your blog.

11:31 AM  

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