Last week, I asked if any of us would be paying closer attention to the texts proclaimed and prayed during the Triduum since, in a few years, we would be hearing many of these texts in new translation. To be frank, I wondered about this only a few times. I thought about it when I made my announcement before the Triduum liturgy began on Holy Thursday. I announced that, with the arrival of sundown and the beginning of the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, our Lenten sojourn in the desert had come to an end. I said that the Church's proper entrance antiphon invites us into the mystery of these three days. I then proclaimed that antiphon, "We should glory in the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ . . ." We then sang Lift High the Cross. I wondered what the new translation of this entrance antiphon would look like.
I didn't think much more about the new translation during the Triduum, mostly because I was absorbed by the prayer, the ritual, and the music.
I did think about it again on Easter Sunday morning though, when our church hall was filled to the brim with our regular parishioners, as well as with the great number who come only at these feast days on the calendar. I watched carefully during the dialogues and during those moments when the people sing and pray their responses. For many in the hall, there was no response at all. Many are so unfamiliar with Catholic liturgical life that they simply do not know what to sing or say. I believe that many were at Saint James simply because they were looking for a church at which to celebrate Easter with their families. I know this sounds strange, but I think some were there because Saint James has the tallest steeple in the area!
There are others, too—more "occasional Catholics"—who do know the responses and, while their participation may not be full-throated, they do sing and pray their own parts of the liturgy.
What will happen in a few years' time when we celebrate the first Easter with the newly translated texts? We will need to do some careful planning. As a gesture of Christian hospitality, it will be important to provide people with the texts of the Mass, so that they will be able to participate with the newly translates texts. This is probably not a bad idea to start doing with now. I know that we have Seasonal Missalettes® available in the back of our hall. Many parishioners use these weekly to read the scripture reflection before each set of Sunday readings. I know also that there are those who read the scriptures before Mass begins. Others use it to follow along in the Mass; many pick up the missalette when we proclaim the Profession of Faith. At times like Christmas, Ash Wednesday, and Easter, we will need to provide our visitors with texts and music that will help them participate at these liturgies.
Have you thought about how you will handle those "occasional" visitors at these high feast days during the year? Please feel free to share your thoughts by hitting the "comments" tab below or sending me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, here are a few more photos of St. James parish hall, our church home here on the near south side of Chicago.
Here's a photo take on Good Friday, in the late afternoon. We celebrate an evening liturgy commemorating the burial of our Lord. It's kind of a combination of tennebrae and a coptic orthodox rite of burial of the Lord, where rose petals are sprinkled on an icon of the burial. We used an icon painted by Fr. Donald Walpole, OSB, of St. Meinrad Archabbey.
Here are a few photos, showing the location of the icon at the beginning of the service, then a close-up of the icon. The icon was actually laid on the floor of our "stage" and people processed there and dropped the rose petals on it; then it was lifted; you'll see the petals in the third photo.
I hope you have a chance to sing a big "Alleluia" today.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.