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Friday, February 24, 2012

5 Things Any Parish Can Do to Embrace the Hermeneutic of Continuity

These are five things any parish and any pastor can do to embrace tradition aesthetically and liturgically.  These five things are not radical nor are they invasive.  What they will do, as you will see is to embrace the Hermeneutic of Continuity...

Pastors, please listen  all five of these things are in your privy:

1.  Move the sanctuary back to the way it traditionally looked.  Put the altar back on the praedella.  People can't really see what is going on when the altar is "down in front."  It looks odd having the praedella there and nothing up there but the tabernacle.  It is a good time to make the move since there the change with the new translations is still fresh.  I think that something of that magnitude will go a long ways and it will be well received.

 2.  Start a devotion on say, Tuesday nights (It doesn't matter the day).  An example would be a Novena to our Lady of Perpetual Help or perhaps Divine Mercy, perhaps having Mass on Wednesday night at 6:30, and then Divine Mercy devotions immediately following, with benediction.  And then after that, make yourself available for Confession until say an hour after devotions end.  This will NOT be a fast starter, but I think that over time, this will really, really make a difference in the parish.  Gear this toward the young people....and not by pop music, but by traditional practices and music.

3.  Fully embrace and catechize the faithful on what the Holy Father is trying to do.  The Hermeneutic of Continuity isn't going away.  It is the future of the Church, so why not embrace it?  It means for more streamlined actions on the part of the priest and a better understanding of participation.  Look, if we are to embrace Vatican Council II, then we should embrace Vatican Council II.  Full, conscious, and active participation doesn't mean "doing" something externally, but rather praying internally the sacrifice of the Mass.  This really, really needs to be fostered, otherwise I fear that most parishes will be left behind.  The faithful need to know that their main concern should be worshipping during Holy Mass, not being a visible presence in the sanctuary.  That isn't their job.  Their job is to pray.  The pastor's job is to offer the Mass for them.  Participatio Actuosa must be a focal point for the faithful.  So, don't chide them for not coming up to be extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.  Most parishes aren't so big that there need to be 5 EMHCs at any Mass.  I would be willing to bet that if pastors were to distribute Holy Communion by themselves, the line would move quicker than it does with the 5 EMHCs up there every week

4.  Get the girls away from serving Mass.  It is clear that this experiment just didn't work.  Create sodalities or groups for them, which they can gather, participate and be involved and they will go.  Give them a place in processions at Mass once a month and I can guarantee you they will be ok with it, once they understand it.  AND boys will step up and serve.  The reason they don't now...they don't want to serve with girls.  It is a proven fact.  Make a call for boys to serve, have more than two at a Mass. Use candles and cross at every weekend Mass (and incense from time to time), and the boys will get it.  And get cassocks and surplices for the boys.  Again, it is something different and it is something Catholic.  It would be a good investment.

5.  Finally, make the principal Sunday Morning Mass a High Mass.  Sing it.  And use as much ceremony as you can.  It hasn't been done in most places since the 1970s.  I can honestly tell you that if you do this, you will see a change in attitude.  The kids will serve, because they have something to do.  The faithful will have all of their senses engaged and the worship experience will be enhanced 10 fold.  And it is Catholic

I think that if we start with these five things, we can really make a difference.  People will see something fresh.  People will see that change is not simply for the sake of change.  And people will embrace it.  Don't sell yourselves short, dear pastors.  Don't sell yourselves short dear faithful.  The faithful will understand, it's like getting back on a bicycle after 40 years.  It can be done, it just takes a little practice and the next thing that happens that people start coming, just to see what is going on...and then the pastors have them.  Give them a whiz-bang homily and the parish church is re-invigorated.  The time is now.  Please don't be left behind.  We Catholics, we want the changes.  WE WANT THE CHANGES!!!!

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