The synod has begun.
The Australian representatives are Cardinal Pell, Archbishop Doyle, Bishop Toohey and the experts Monsignor Peter Elliott and Father Francis Moloney.
At the 11.00 am cathedral Mass on Sunday 2 October Archbishop Hart was back to sitting for the Gloria. The was even though the congregation sang part of it and despite standing for it two weeks ago.
My hope is that the synod will lead to improved celebrations of the Eucharist. That those in authority will be more willing to speak out. As St. Gregory the Great expressed it in yesterday's Office of Readings: "Negligent religious leaders are often afraid to speak freely and say what needs to be said -- for fear of losing favour with people."
I think there has been too much silence about (for example) the need to bow the head at the name of Jesus, to have Communion-plates at communion, about instituted lectors wearing vestments and that the instructions of the 2002 Roman Missal should be followed.
Along these lines I was encouraged by the 3 October report by the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic:
"... In silence, in dialogue, in songs, in body gestures, Eucharistic action develops and through which salvation is communicated to the assembly of the faithful. About what has been said, we sense the need for studies on liturgical formation addressed to the entire people of God - our catechesis should recuperate the fundamental mystagogical dimension of the first centuries - and, in particular, to all those who are called upon to practice ministries or offices during the celebration (presbyters, deacons, readers, acolytes, ministers, schola cantorum). ....
"In this context one can also appreciate the enormous utility of the liturgical norms that the Holy See, the Episcopal Conferences and the Ordinaries make available to the Churches.
"In this framework all the ministers and offices connected to the liturgical rite are included and lived. Their function is not that of gratifying whoever carries them out, as an inappropriate and actually quite exterior idea of the active participation of the faithful suggests. Their essential action has as its aim to assure the beauty and objective dignity of the celebration for the whole Assembly."
5 Octoer 2005
Reading the speeches of 3 October I am particularly impressed with Archbishop John Foley's (in briefing 5):
"I would ask that bishops around the world take advantage of the opportunity to telecast the liturgy and to take great care about the manner in which such telecast liturgies are celebrated.
He highlights how the televised Mass can help prepare for Mass, reflect on it, evangelise and serve the sick and elderly unable to attend. He provided figures to highlight the importance of the Vatican's midnight Mass.
Another particularly important point was by Father Mark R. Francis, C.S.V., Superior General of the Clerics of Saint Viator (in briefing 6):
"If the synod is to have a positive effect on the Eucharistic life of the faithful, practical means for training and encouraging priests to better understand the Sacred Scriptures, to prepare homilies that truly proclaim the Good News, and to cultivate an effective celebratory style all need to be emphasized in seminary formation and in on-going programs of formation for priests and deacons. For example, how many of our seminaries devote time to the practical matter of preaching or to liturgical presiding? As a Superior General, in reviewing the seminary formation of my candidates for priesthood in the 14 countries where my community is at work, it is my impression that they are given little in the way of practical help in homiletics or liturgical presiding. Undoubtedly there are sociological and other factors that militate against Mass attendance of the Christian faithful. But rather than simply blame our Catholic people's lack of faith and the secularization of society for the small percentage who attend Mass in many countries, we also need to acknowledge with sadness that bad preaching, and poorly prepared and poorly executed Eucharistic celebrations sometimes drive good people away from the Church."
10 October 2005
I think Cardinal Skoza made a particularly good contribution (in briefing 13):
"... In my own opinion, the core problem for the consideration in this Synod is with our priests and ourselves as bishops. About 55 years ago, I read a book called "Keepers of the Eucharist" by William Henry Schaefers, no longer in print. It is a book for priests as those who celebrate the Eucharist. From an ascetical and spiritual point of view, it is one of the best and most inspiring books I have read on the priesthood. It emphasizes the great gift and dignity of the priesthood - the greatest gift God could give to a man. The love for the Eucharist and its centrality to the life and faith of our people depends to a great extent on the priest - his own faith, the life he lives, his prayer life, the simplicity of his life, his willingness to bring his own sacrifIces to the Mass and the manner in which he celebrates the Holy Eucharist. ...
Bishop Alba Diaz also makes good points, in the same briefing:
"... The Instrumentum Laboris gathers suggestions that denounce serious negative practices. They are not only transgressions of the rubrics, but the expression of attitudes that ignore or deform the sense of the reform of the Council.
13 October 2005
I think Cardinal Pell (in Briefing 19) could have done a lot better than:
"There is no such thing as “lay-led liturgy,” because lay people can only lead devotional prayers and para-liturgies."
Perhaps he would like to rename the "Liturgy of the Hours" the "Devotional Prayers of the Hours". Instead of regarding the Book of Blessings as a liturgical book, he seems to think it is para-liturgies, having ceremonies that can be lead by lay people.
19 October 2005
I am pleased by the contribution of the French working group, in Bulletin 23, presented by Bishop Le Gall:
"- The ars celebrandi, it would seem to us, should widen to the different liturgical actors, from the ordained ministers to the instituted ministers, to all those participating in the Eucharist, so that the liturgy will be more beautiful and more capable of nourishing everyone.
23 October 2005
The 50 final propositions have been published in Italian here at www.vatican.va.
It seems that the use of instituted ministers has been encouraged.
Part of Proposition 18 seems to have come from the French working group:
"Conviene perciò che le Letture siano proclamate con cura, se possibile da lettori istituiti."
I think it means that the readings should be proclaimed with care, if possible by an instituted lector.
Proposition 38 expresses gratitude to a range of ministers, listing instituted ministers first among the laity.
Proposition 25 is on the dignity of celebrations and emphasises the importance of following the liturgical books. It includes this sentence:
"In particolare il ruolo dei diaconi e il servizio dei lettori e degli accoliti meritano una maggiore attenzione."
Using the Babelfish website I think this translates as: "In particular the role of the deacons and the service of the readers and the acolytes deserve greater attention."
It is encouraging that the Synod Fathers seem to have voted to propositons that support instituted lectors and acolytes.
1 November 2005
Zenit.org have published their translations of propositions 18 and 25, similar to mine above:
By J.R. Lilburne, 3 October, 2005. Updated 4 October 2005, 5 October 2005, 10 October 2005, 13 October 2005, 19 October 2005, 23 October 2005, 1 November 2005, 5 November 2005 and 9 November 2005. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.
Final Propositons at Zenit.org: