Vol 53 No 3 September 2023
|Worship/Prayer across Faiths||Naylon, Margaret||Liturgy - Other Churches/Religions||3-4|
|A Reflection - Liturgy in our Lives and Liturgy in Catholic Schools||Rowlands, Kris||Schools||5|
|Mass of the Land of the Holy Spirit - A Timeline||Pilcher, Carmel||Indigenous Australians||6-7|
|A Theology of Christian Initiation for Sacramental Preparation||Foster, Judith||Sacramental Preparation||8-9|
|Congratulations - Clare Schwantes||-||People||10|
|National Leadership - Jason McFarland||-||People||11|
|New ICEL Director||-||People||11|
|Societas Liturgica||-||Conferences and Special Events||11|
|In Memoriam - Maurice Taylor||-||11|
|National Conference - Mystery and Mission||-||Conferences and Special Events||12|
|Syro-Malabar Update||-||Eucharist / Mass||12|
|SC@60+ Retrospects and Prospects||-||Conferences and Special Events||13|
|Women's Voices1||-||Conferences and Special Events||13|
|Our Cover: Liturgy Snapshots - Processions at Mass||-||Eucharist / Mass||13|
|Suitable and Singable - Composing Music for Liturgy||Mangan, Michael||Music||13-14|
|Books: Singular Vessel of Devotion - The Sacramental ody at Prayer||Cronin, James||Eucharist / Mass||15|
|Liturgical Calendar 2024||-||Calendar||16-20|
Liturgy and Synodality
The first session of the Synod for a Synodal Church is set to begin in October 2023. The working papers rely on material gathered since 2021 by listening to dioceses and episcopal conferences along with the feedback from seven broader continental assemblies. This material is grouped under three themes: communion, mission, participation.
Liturgy is mentioned explicitly only in about a dozen paragraphs of the working document for the synod but the dynamics envisaged by it are thoroughly liturgical. For a start, a synodal Church is founded on the recognition of a common dignity deriving from baptism (# 20). This means that all the members of the family of God, ordained and lay, are filled with the same Spirit, sent to fulfill a common mission, and consequently to participate together in the life and work of the Church. This insight has long been recognised as the foundation for the liturgy: full, conscious and active participation by all in the corporate action of the liturgy is a right and duty which derives from baptism (SC 14). The synod, like the liturgy, has a special concern to welcome and include all the baptised, especially those who experience discrimination or who feel themselves to be marginalised.
Secondly, the synodal process begins with local Churches as the privileged point of reference, taking into account their variety and diversity of cultures, their languages and modes of expression (# 11-12). Likewise, the liturgy is always celebrated by an assembly of the baptised at a particular place and time. The liturgy as the action of the ‘whole Christ’, that is, the Church, sacrament of unity and Body of Christ, is made manifest in the concrete local event of the rite celebrated. Both liturgy and a synodal Church cannot be understood other than within the horizon of communion, which is also a mission to proclaim and incarnate the Gospel in every dimension of human existence. Communion and mission are nourished in the common participation in the Eucharist that makes the Church a body ‘joined and knitted together’ in Christ (# 20).
Thirdly, a synodal Church engages in a culture of encounter and dialogue, embracing variety without forcing it into uniformity. It demonstrates unity in diversity; therefore, a synodal Church promotes the passage from “I” to “we” (# 25). Here we find ourselves exactly in the dynamic of liturgical language. A synodal Church is open, welcoming and embraces all (# 26); so too, in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters that do not affect the faith or the good of the whole community; rather the Church respects and fosters the genius and talents of the various races and peoples (SC 37).
Fourthly, a synodal process proceeds by listening and responding in the Spirit (a conversation in the Spirit), again a profoundly liturgical movement. Our liturgical rites include the reading of Scripture, times of silence to hear and receive the word, and a homily which opens hearts to respond. In synod as in liturgy, a process of discernment builds a common mind or consensus. It is here that the working document for the synod is most explicit about the liturgical dynamic.
The liturgy, it says, is the place where the Church on its earthly journey experiences communion, nourishes it and builds it up… it is to the liturgy then that we must look in order to understand the synodal life of the Church. First and foremost, it is through shared liturgical action, and in particular the eucharistic celebration, that the Church experiences radical unity, expressed in the same prayer but in a diversity of languages and rites: a fundamental point in a synodal key (# 47).
A synodal assembly is not akin to a parliament with representatives engaging in debate, voting and lawmaking; rather we are called to understand it by analogy with the liturgical assembly (#48).
The process of discernment in a synodal Church illustrated in the preparatory document could just as easily describe what is taking place in a Liturgy of the Word.
Silence and Prayer
♦Taking the Word and Listening
Silence and Prayer
♦Making Space for Others/‘the Other’
Silence and Prayer
Final Prayer of Thanksgiving
The worksheets which constitute the second part of the synodal working document present the priorities which emerged in the early listening phases at various levels around the world. They are not presented as assertions or stances but as questions for discernment. This is not a draft text to be discussed and amended. It is a resource to help participants engage in discernment or the ‘conversation in the Spirit’ using the pattern outlined above. Obviously the three key words for the Synod – communion, mission, participation – all have an important place in our liturgical vocabulary.
If we can study the synodal process, reflect upon it and understand it, I suggest we would gain a profound insight into the dynamic of the liturgical celebration. The Liturgy of the Word might no longer be experienced as an individual and passive hearing of the Scriptures read aloud and instead grow into a Spirit-filled engagement with the word of God which is communal and transformative.