The Liturgy Documents Summary and Reflection
While reading the Liturgy Documents I found out many things about the Mass that I did not know, among them: the rules that one has to follow at mass, the right way to say certain prayers or do certain actions during the liturgy, and the ministries involved in the celebration of the liturgy of the word and their role. A summary of the Liturgy Documents discloses much interesting information and provokes thoughtful reflection on its contents.
The elements that comprise the Liturgy of the word are the readings from scripture and the chants between the readings, the homily, profession of faith and the general intercessions or prayers of the faithful (P. 130). The first reading is from the Old Testament and during the Easter season from Acts. The chant comes from the Psalms. The second reading comes from the New Testament or an Epistle and the Gospel from the one of the four Gospels. None of these biblical readings or Psalms can be omitted, shortened, or replaced by nonbiblical readings. For it is through the readings that God is speaking to his people today. One of the rules says that you can only proclaim the word of God from the lectern and no other place. The Liturgy Documents puts a special emphasis on the importance of the Gospel and how the presider should give special attention to the Gospel. There are different ways to satisfy this rule. For example, the Deacon or reader should carry the book of the Gospels during the entrance procession; then after the second reading the deacon or priest should take the book from
the altar and carry it reverently to the lectern. When the deacon is about to read the Gospel, he should first bow in front of the one presiding, asking to receive his blessing. Finally when he finishes reading the Gospel he should kiss the book.
The Liturgy Documents tells us that the homily “sets forth the mysteries of faith and the standards of the Christian life”(P.133) and “that it must always lead the community of the faithful to celebrate the Eucharist wholeheartedly”(P.133). The homily may not be omitted without a serious reason. The announcements should be omitted from the homily and given after the communion prayer. After the homily, the prayers of the faithful are read. According to the Liturgy Documents during the prayers of the faithful, the priest is the only one who has the authority to make the intercessions for all.
As I reflect about the importance of each and every one of the actions taken during the liturgy of the word and during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, it is interesting how the church puts the readings in an order of importance; first the Old Testament, then a Psalm, a reading from the New Testament, and finally the Gospel. The importance that the church gives to these readings is made clear by the rule that says that you can not omit the reading or replace it. I really like the fact that the church emphasizes the importance of the Gospel with all the little ritual details. The actions that are performed before, during and after the homily show respect, value, and dignity for the Word of God. It is God himself using the readers as instruments to transmit His holy message.
According to what I understood from the Liturgy Documents I discovered that the purpose of the homily is to prepare the congregation to receive the Almighty Son of
God in a tangible form. It is the presider that breaks open the word of God.
I believe that the reason other people are not allowed to preach during the homilies is because the church wants to make sure that people’s hearts are touched to acknowledge the greatness of what they are about to receive, not a piece of bread and a drink of wine, but the body and blood of He who gave his life to save us, Jesus Christ.
How interesting the Liturgy on the word really is! What precision goes into its very format! Really, everything is spelled out, so that the people of God can have an edifying experience. The Liturgy Documents certainly contain the total experience of joyful praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and petition to the Lord.
It is a shame that not all clergy follow the dictates of these writings. It saddens and upsets me when Priests sometimes are not infused with the Holy Spirit yet; they expect their congregation to be infused. Another thing that bothers me is when Priests makes certain changes in the Liturgy. For example: I knew a priest who wrote all the prayers and then used them during the mass. Once a Priest asked a member of the congregation who was sitting on the corner of the first pew to move to a different pew. The man got up and moved, then the Priest stood on the pew and gave his homily from that spot. The efficacy of the Gospel is taken away from, when Priests vary from the Importance of the liturgy that surrounds the Gospel, the very word of Christ. In essence this work has opened up in my mind some of the things that are not Liturgically sound, but also those things that are.
The Liturgy Documents Vol. I