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Worship Times

Not as individuals …

The Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania have penned a pastoral letter on the Eucharist. (You can check it out on their website www.pacatholic.org.) Though primarily a catechetical document (question-and-answer format), it does include a good reflection on why we should celebrate Mass on Sunday: “Since we are constituted God’s family — God’s people — his Church — precisely by our participation in the Eucharist, we cannot grow into Christ’s new body as a healthy and full member without sharing in the Eucharist. On each Sunday, which is a commemoration of the day Jesus rose from the dead, the faithful come together not only to profess the faith but also to renew the life of Christ within them. Not as individuals isolated from each other and related only to God but precisely as God’s family interrelated to each other and through the Church related to God do we gather — made one in the Eucharist.”

The appeal continues that opting out of the Sunday Mass diminishes one’s spiritual life. However, nothing is mentioned of the loss to the parish community. It seems that some individualistic appeal must be made; that’s the main drive in American spirituality these days.

The only disappointing item in the letter is that the Pennsylvania bishops seem to have bought into the notion that, according to one secular poll, “a significant number of Catholics do not have a complete understanding of the Eucharist and specifically the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.” Expecting a secular pollster to articulate a theology of real presence for Catholics polled may be a bit of a stretch. Give our catechists a little more credit.

Extending the community of love

Archbishop Thomas Collins of Edmonton gives a balanced effort in his pastoral letter acknowledging that “good music and good preaching are two basic elements of a Eucharistic celebration that evangelizes.” He also develops the liturgical aspect in better detail, drawing in themes of the Sabbath, community and action in the world. His letter can be accessed at www.wcr.ab.ca /euchcoll.htm.

The archbishop was refreshingly direct in challenging people: “We need to make the way we live with others outside the celebration of the Eucharist an extension of the ordered community of love that we are called to be at the Eucharist. How can the hand that receives our Lord Jesus himself in communion be used later to strike another person, or to grasp at possessions? How can the tongue that receives our Lord Jesus himself in communion be used later to destroy the reputation of another or to lie?”

The holy father concludes his talks 
on the Eucharist

Last November, Pope John Paul II concluded a series of addresses on the Eucharist. His last talk dealt with ecumenical issues. Acknowledging that baptism “is the deep root of a basic unity that links Christians despite their divisions,” he reminded listeners that separated Christians cannot fully share the sacraments with Catholics because of doctrinal divisions.

However, in recognizing an existing degree of unity, the pontiff pointed out that “it is possible to introduce into the eucharistic celebration, in specific cases … certain signs of participation.” For a good reason, a local bishop might approve a non-Catholic serving as a lector at Mass.

Sacramental sharing between Catholics and Eastern Christians has been a disputed question since Vatican II. It is also noteworthy that the pope would allow “a certain reciprocity regarding the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and the anointing of the sick,” acknowledging that such a sharing may be “lawful” when necessary or if a “genuine spiritual advantage” exists.

through service: 
That we may be one

The ecumenical movement in the church has been battered lately, so it is encouraging to hear of inventive and constructive initiatives. Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, notes two levels of ecumenical dialogue: one theological and intellectual and another that involves people in service and in love. His forthcoming book, Toward a Land of Unity: Reflections on Ecumenism, develops this theme.

Vanier describes his experiences in the L’Arche communities of welcoming non-Catholics. In the struggle to involve severely disabled people in community life, the connection with Christians separated by doctrinal beliefs became clearer. “On this road, we have often realized our limitations and made errors, but we have also discovered the joy of walking together as pilgrims toward the land of unity.”

Vanier presents that perhaps it is appropriate to feel the pain of division in the separation we experience in the sacraments. He asks, “Is it not important, perhaps, to experience this suffering? Is it not the same suffering felt by the Father and Jesus when they see our separations? Many among us are unaware of this type of suffering, and they live shut-in in their churches, communities, unconscious of the scandal of these divisions.”

Vanier relates the story of Nick, “a man with a mental handicap,” who lived with others in a small L’Arche apartment in London. He felt hurt that every Sunday each one went to a different church. One Sunday, when it was his turn to cook dinner, Nick put bread and a glass of water on the table. When everyone was seated, he blessed the bread and water and gave it to each one. It was his way of crying: “That we may be one as the Father and Jesus are one.” (Material courtesy of Zenit News Agency)

Jubilee Concert

Nearly 1,000 people attended The Jubilee Concert on World Disability Day, Dec. 3, in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City. Singers, dancers, actors, and others contributed to a “most extraordinary concert,” according to Rick Curry, master of ceremonies. Anne Coghlan, director of the archdiocesan Office for Persons with Disabilities, asserted, “Any one of these people could be a lector or a choir member in the parish.” Performers included the Deaf Choir of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Manhattan (signing “O Come O Come Emmanuel”), actor Chris Burke (from the TV show Life Goes On), Julliard graduate Tanya Crist and many others. All joined in singing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” at the end of the concert, penned after the composer had gone totally deaf. (Story courtesy of Catholic New York)

It’s not the Grammy,
but …

Would they call the award a “Uni”? Liturgical composer Marty Haugen won four Unity awards — one for each of his nominations — from the United Catholic Music and Video Association on Nov. 18. Forty-eight total citations were given, including Haugen’s All Are Welcome for liturgical album of the year, Dana’s “We Are One Body” for Song of the Year and John Michael Talbot for Artist of the Year. Awards were also given for such musical categories as alternative, hip-hop (won by a priest), country, rock and children’s music.

It’s not the Grammys but UCMVA hasn’t dodged some of the inconsistencies of other award platforms. In offering separate categories for song and songwriter of the year (both won by Dana for the same song), one wonders about that latter category. If you’re giving two distinct awards, why not recognize a songwriter for a volume of work, not just one song?

It’s UCMVA’s first set of awards, and they seem to acknowledge there’s some catching up to do. For example, “Shepherd Me, O God” was deemed Liturgical Song of the Year even though published in 1986. You wonder about these categories: Mass of Creation won Musical of the Year and the 1984 Haugen-Haas-Joncas collaboration Come and Journey was Choral Collection of the Year. Access other info on the Uni’s at www.ucmva.com and check out how your favorites fared.

What do YOU Think?
Send an e-mail to ML Editor or post an entry on the ML Current Issue Discussion Board. (All submissions become the property of RPI and may be edited for length.) 

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