PRIMARY SYMBOLS OF WORSHIP
And the Call to Participation
Mary Amore
Paper, $7.95
48 pages, 5" 8"
ISBN 0-89390-607-7


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The purpose of this pastoral resource is to catechize the faith community about their baptismal call to active participation in liturgy through spiritual awareness of the primary symbols of worship. By awakening the spiritual imagination of the faithful, they may enter into a deeper faith experience through authentic and active participation in liturgical prayer and ritual. This book is a powerful tool for group discussion or individual reflection. Each chapter concludes with discussion questions, a prayer, and a ritual or meditation. The final chapter offers recommendations, creative prayers, and rituals for temporary worship settings.
 
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About the Author

Mary Amore is director of liturgy at St. Mary of Gostyn Parish in Downers Grove, Ill. She is pursuing her Doctor of Ministry degree at the CTU in Chicago, while also lecturing, presenting workshops, and writing about liturgy for publications such as Celebration. She lives in Downers Grove with her husband and two children.


Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction
THE EVOLUTIONARY CHURCH: Our Roots and Our Future
THE WATERS OF BAPTISM: Doorway to New Life and Call to Community
THE AMBO: Altar of the Living Word
THE ALTAR: Table of Transformation
THE WORSHIPING ASSEMBLY: The Living Body of Christ
THE PILGRIM CHURCH: Sacred Space in Transition
Bibliography


Introduction

On December 4, 1963, the bishops of the Second Vatican Council promulgated the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and instituted renewal of the sacred liturgy:

In the reform and promotion of the liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else. For it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit (14).

For Roman Catholics of the twentieth century, this profound proclamation would be a watershed in the liturgical life of the church, for it would alter the ecclesiology of the assembly.

In the decades that followed the Second Vatican Council, a considerable amount of time and effort has been spent nurturing this call to active participation on behalf of the laity. From catechizing the people on their roles as ministers of the assembly to diligently recruiting and training people for various liturgical ministries, parishes everywhere have worked in the spirit of Vatican II to bring about full and active participation for all believers. As both a member of the assembly and a full-time director of liturgy, my experiences working with laity and clergy have taught me that our task is far from complete!

The Birth of this Book

The concept for this book came from my experience as the liturgical advisor for the renovation project of my home parish, St. Mary of Gostyn in Downers Grove, Illinois. It became evident that our vibrant, spirit-filled faith community needed liturgical catechesis to help them make a connection between their worship experience and the primary symbols of the rituals that shape our lives as Catholics. I began a yearlong series of bulletin articles, adult faith formation talks, town hall meetings, and small group discussions, which focused on helping the parish gain a deeper insight into the intimate relationship between the assembly's call to participation in the liturgy and the primary symbols of worship.

Focusing on the liturgical rituals of baptizing, proclaiming, feasting, and commissioning as primary liturgical actions of the Christian community at prayer, we studied the following questions:

What is our experience of the life-giving waters of baptism?

How is baptism intimately linked to the celebration of Eucharist?

In what ways does the word of God work within us and prepare us for mission?

In what manner are the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist connected?

How are we transformed at the eucharistic banquet?

As disciples of Christ, in what ways are we called to be the Body and Blood of Christ in the world?

How do we gather for prayers as a faith community?

How do we welcome the strangers in our midst?

The results of our discussions led us to focus on the primary symbols of worship: the font, the ambo, the altar table, and theassembly and how these symbols engage our spiritual imagination and active participation in the liturgical life of the church. Over time, the parish family of St. Mary's grew in spiritual awareness of the nature of these powerful liturgical symbols and how these symbols call forth their full, conscious, and active participation in the saving mission of Jesus Christ.

Using This Book

This book is for the primary ministers of liturgical celebrations: the baptized faithful. It is a pastoral resource intended to catechize each of the primary symbols of worship and how these symbols influence the community's call to active participation through theological and liturgical insights. The opening chapter offers a glimpse into the history of Roman Catholic Christian worship and the effects thereof of the liturgical renewal brought about by the Second Vatican Council. Chapter Two looks at the communal call to active participation rooted in the sacrament of baptism. In Chapter Three we examine the assembly's communal call to active participation, rooted in God's word. Chapter Four covers the community's call to active participation in the eucharistic banquet and mission work of Christ. In Chapter Five we continue with the important work of the assembly actively accepting the invitation to communal worship as the living Body of Christ. Chapter Six offers insight into how we claim nontraditional, temporary worship settings for full and active worship experiences. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter are useful for personal study and for parish gatherings, small groups, and families. Also included are guided meditations, which are experiential in nature and intended to enhance liturgical spirituality.

A Word of Thanks

I'd like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Reverend Thomas Paul, pastor of St. Mary of Gostyn Parish, for sharing his wisdom and knowledge and the people of St. Mary's, who taught me the true meaning of church and who have been a continual source of inspiration and support during this project. Most importantly, I am immensely grateful to my husband, Joe, and my two teenage children, Lauren and Joey, for their enduring love, patience, and understanding during the writing of this book.