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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
Civic Rights …

THE ‘LITURGICAL TAKE-AWAY’ CULTURE

I attended the Sunday Mass, on this very day of my writing this article, at a church where what I am writing about here happened. The event so excited me, that I thought that it is worth sharing it widely - for the Church at large; and especially for those priests and other teaching programme people in the church who may properly desire to emulate it. We had virtually finished with the mass and just after the general announcements, before the priest would close the ceremony, when he went to the ambo and requested from the congregation to let him know what was their take-away message from the day's mass(i.e., from the liturgical readings and The sermon of the day)! One of the altar boys took the microphone around and at least 6 different people, young and old, presented what they considered some of the take away messages of the day's Eucharistic celebration, especially from the liturgical readings and the priest's homily. In half of the cases, the priest not only affirmed what they were taking away or cleared the not-so-clear points of their presentations  better than it may have been understood or presented by the worshippers in their responses.

As many of us may be aware, Catholics have been one of the greatest complainers about the "preachings", sermons and homilies that they receive in the church. For this reason, the church authorities have been calling for better training of seminarians in the task of giving homilies in the church - from taking the time to actually write their homilies down before giving it, to the congregational (eye ball to eye ball, or other) engagement during the event, and so on and so forth. Emphasis has also been laid at reducing the amount of fund raising campaigns, non-offertory collections and donation programmes in the place of the true Liturgy of the Word in these churches. The same has been done for the conformity with the liturgical norms for our Catholic worshipping for their true spiritual impacts to be felt.

For these reasons, I know some churches and priests who take one Sunday in every month to have questions and answers at the end of the Sunday mass - either from them or from the congregation at large. There are others who identify important spiritual life issues in the church and give brief, scripture-based or Magisterially documented literature resource-based explanation or teaching on them at regular intervals in the church; again, usually after the mass before the closing procession or after the announcements. All these are, of course, very good indeed, in the pursuit of the need for every of our liturgies being personally impactful for the attenders.

There is also one priest that I know who does not openly say or claim to be a charismatic; but is in every other imaginable way very authentically Catholic and charismatic. He too, often when celebrating mass, after distribution 0f the Holy Communion and he goes to take a few minutes of personal prayers before the post-communion liturgical prayer, he would burst into a meditative, worship or adoration sung, to bring deeply to the appreciation of himself and hopefully, the congregation, the depth of the mystery that they had just partaken in. Some of the most soul-lifting hymns that I have heard from this priest include: He is Lord (2ice), He has risen from the dead and He is Lord, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord! One of the deepest soul lifting of these songs that I have heard him tune up in this meditative, worship or Godly adoration modes is the song "I am the Bread of Life". I would have liked to write down here all the words of this song, taken meditatively, worshipfully and adoringly as this very priest would usually do it, but for lack of space. So, for those of you reading this, and who know the words of this sing off-head, I will like you to do this now to appreciate its impact! The others should try and do so with a hymn book to see what I am talking about!

However, what makes this "take away points from today's liturgy" as a good culture to be developed in the church as such an exciting issue for me is that in any church where this becomes a common habit, it will have the two effects of reminding the priest that it is important to be sure to have the spiritual take-aways of each mass or preaching/teaching liturgy, clearly identified and properly explained in that liturgy's sermon or teaching. On the other hand, it will help the audience to train themselves in identifying the take-aways of such teachings or sermons while it is going on; and therefore of the need to pay full attention to the sermon. Some of these people may begin to come to mass with notebooks and writing materials so as to do so. How beautiful this will turn out to be! As many people who know young people well will know, very soon, they will excel the adults in being the best to capture these take away points, to present them whenever the priest would ask of them; and of the active listening, learning and enjoyment of our liturgies will surely increase.

This is the exact reason that I thought that this event is worth sharing! May many more priests keep discovering more ways of making the Mass more enjoyable, especially for those who did not have the privilege to learn (as yet) the deep mysteries of God and His Christ that we celebrate in the Catholic Church! These are the things that enable us to enjoy these liturgies deeply, all; especially if the liturgical norms are kept - music, proper reading of the Word, etc - even when the sermon is not the best!

 


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