ASK THE LITURGIST (19) – Liturgical Group

– Enrico Finotti

Does a liturgical group in the parish make sense? And, if have it, what is its task?

Undoubtedly a group or a committee, which cares about the dignity of liturgical celebrations, is an important tool in the parish. However, one must understand well both its role and, above all, its way of proceeding. The role, as the liturgical group method, is analogous to the other two fundamental groups: the catechetical and the pastoral one. In fact, proclamation, liturgy and pastoral care are the three essential areas of the life of the Church. The action of the three commissions must be based on three successive and concatenated stages.

The catechetical commission:

1. We must begin with the correct and objective knowledge of the Word of God, listening to it with humility and docility, without polluting it with our ideological categories.

2. The full and complete listening to the Word of God also implies the equally sacred reception of oral tradition, understood in the authentic interpretation of the living Magisterium of the Church. This complement is found above all in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which offers a complete panorama of our faith contained in the Holy Scriptures, in the Sacred Tradition and guaranteed by the Magisterium. Only in this second stage listening to the Word of God is complete, integral and effective.

3. At this point we must consider the analysis of the situation and life of those who must receive the announcement, in such a way that the laws of psychology, teaching, sociology, graduality, etc. can contribute as much as possible to offer an effective and suitable announcement to every category of people.

The liturgical commission:

1. First of all we must know well the rites established by the Church and published in the official liturgical books.

2. However, their knowledge is truly profound if the Premises (Praenotanda) contained in the liturgical books are carefully meditated. They motivate theologically and pastorally the meaning and the typology of the various rites. The other documents of the Magisterium relating to the liturgy must also contribute to providing a well calibrated and complete liturgical formation in the operators. Mere knowledge of the rite without the theology and the indications of the ritual Premises could lead to rubricism, while theology alone without the precise knowledge and observance of the rites leads to the subjective and free creativity of the same.

3. Once this preparation has been completed, one can legitimately proceed with the ritual realization in the concrete liturgical assembly, making the necessary adjustments without however betraying the letter and the spirit of the Church’s rite. Rituals can be adapted gradually, but never altered, curtailed or amplified beyond their constitutive identity.

The pastoral commission:

For the sake of completeness, we observe that the process of pastoral activity in general is similar to that described above for catechesis and liturgy.

1. The first step consists in the sufficient knowledge of the canonical laws of the Church. The Code of Canon Law has as its supreme law the salus animarum and should not be considered prejudicial to a weight and a bond, but a service for a quality pastoral care, inspired by the Church’s centuries of wisdom and experience.

2. To the universal law must be added all those laws and special provisions that govern the diocese, the parish and the ecclesial institutions in the variety of their expressions and purposes.

3. And so it is only now possible to analyze the concrete reality of a Christian community, to listen to its needs, problems, desires and, in the light of the laws of the Church, find the right answer and formulate an adequate pastoral plan.

(From “Il mio e il vostro sacrificio. Il liturgista risponde”, 2018 ©Chorabooks. Translated by Aurelio Porfiri. Used with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved)

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