Magazine article U.S. Catholic

There's Still Room for Mass Improvements

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

There's Still Room for Mass Improvements

Article excerpt

Effective lectors, better preaching, and good music can help improve our Sunday Masses.

MORE THAN A FEW U.S. CATHOLICS ARE RESTIVE about the quality of the Sunday (or weekend) worship they are asked to take part in. Even some bishops. It is obviously risky to generalize about the thousands of such Mass services that are celebrated weekly. The quality of some may be superb; others may be stale, flat, and all but unprofitable. But, it is to be hoped, all are works in progress.

Bishop Thomas Dupre of Springfield, Massachusetts, in a pastoral letter issued last Easter, was insightful and helpful. To wit:

"Quality Sunday worship which is inviting, nourishing, and faith-sustaining does not just happen," Dupre writes. "Through greater understanding, education, and appreciation, Sunday worship may be approached with the conviction that the eucharistic liturgy is indeed the most important act that can be performed by the people of God."

Scripture makes clear "that both the disciples and other members of the early community perceived the Eucharist as central to their faith experience," says Dupre.

"The New Testament bears witness to the importance and centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the early church. In a similar way, it highlights the intention of Jesus to identify himself with the gifts of bread and wine, so that he might nourish his followers and be recognized as remaining with them `in the breaking of the bread.'"

Not satisfied with offering only broad theological insights, Dupre offered practical advice on such matters as Mass lectors and music in worship.

His suggestions for the lector's role and preparation set a high standard, one that won't be easy to live up to but would obviously be desirable. "To be an effective proclaimer of the word of God, the lector must be a person of prayer and a lover of the scriptures. Besides possessing the skills of a good communicator, the lector must take the word of God to heart, understanding that he or she is proclaiming a word of faith to people from whom the Lord desires a response."

Another bishop, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati, also addressed himself to Mass quality recently, speaking of a subject that is under-the-skin for many people in the pews.

Is preaching getting better in the church? …

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