As many of you know, I volunteer on the liturgy committee at my parish, Saint James, on the near South Side of the city of Chicago. We had our final "touching bases" meeting last night, talking about some of the details of our Triduum liturgies.
Something really struck me during the meeting, and it did not have to do with the actual words in the new English translation at all. At several points during the meeting (in discussion about the "stripping of the altar" and the incensation of the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday), people kept asking, "Well what does the new Missal say?" I kind of sat there chuckling to myself because, at least in my past experience, very few people would say things like, "Well, what does the Sacramentary say?" The questions usually asked at liturgy committee meetings were along the lines of, "Well, what did we do last year?" I have been in parishes, my own present parish included, where some kind of innovation during the Triduum developed over time and most people just assumed that the practice was embedded in the liturgical books. Case in point for me is the "stripping of the altar." The first time I attended Triduum at my parish, this "stripping" actually took on more significance than the footwashing (actually we washed hands that year-thank God that misguided practice was short-lived!) During the stripping, there was a song of lament sung and a dramatic reading of a psalm. I sat there and kind of wondered where it all came from. The answer was two-fold. There had been some innovation with the "stripping" in the parish in the past, as well as in the past life of the director of worship. The two strands came together and the result was something never envisioned in our current liturgical books.
So, I do think that the advent of The Roman Missal, Third Edition has been a good thing for liturgy committees like ours at Saint James. We are actually looking at the Missal as a primary source, the first place we go for answers, rather than to a history of liturgical innovations that may have meant that we strayed from the intentions of the official liturgical books.
That's one good thing I will say about the Missal. I am still struggling with trying to settle into this new style of English.
Tomorrow I leave for Anaheim, California, for the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, one of the largest annual gatherings of Catholics in the world. I am presenting two workshops: "RCIA: Back to the Basics" and "The Roman Missal and the RCIA: A Catechetical Method." It is a wonderful gathering and afford many of us in Catholic publishing opportunities to network and catch up with one another.
Please pray especially for the safety of many of us from WLP who will be traveling tomorrow to Southern California. It is forecast to be 84 degrees in Chicago today; an enormous record (the record thus far is 76). The forecast for Anaheim today is a high of 69! Who could have imagined? More from California over the next few days.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.