Last week we saw the manner in which certain adaptations can be made to the liturgy for cultural considerations. For example, in this country, though the norm for vestments at a funeral is violet and, secondarily, black, we have an indult that allows us to wear white on occasion. Beginning in paragraph 41, the document moves to consider how the liturgy is to be promoted through the ministry of the bishop, the successor of the apostles.
In paragraph 41, we read: “The bishop is to be considered as the high priest of his flock, from whom the life in Christ of his faithful is in some way derived and dependent. Therefore all should hold in great esteem the liturgical life of the diocese centered around the bishop.” Therefore, according to the Council, the ideal liturgy is accomplished when the faithful gather around the Bishop who is joined by all the priests of the diocese for the celebration of the Mass.
The following paragraph, however, realizes that this is not always possible and so acknowledges the need for smaller gatherings of the faithful. In particular, it notes the importance of individual parishes with pastors who take the place of the bishop in the celebration of the Mass. However, it emphasizes the necessity of connecting our individual parish celebrations to our own bishop. For that reason we see that in every Mass we pray specifically for our bishop and remember that our community is only a small part of the bishop’s greater flock throughout the diocese.
This section of the document concludes in paragraphs 43-45. These paragraphs encourage the diocesan bishops to form some instrument by which he can receive learned advice from experts on those things that pertain to the liturgy so as to assist him in fostering the liturgy throughout his diocese: “It is desirable that the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority […] set up a liturgical commission, to be assisted by experts in liturgical science, sacred music, art and pastoral practice.” This requires opportunities for continuing education and advanced studies for all those engaged in liturgical ministry.
Opportunities to grow in the understanding of the many various aspects of the liturgy come in many and various forms: from conferences held by the Church Music Association of America to regular publications by The Institute for Sacred Architecture—from the Diocesan Know Love and Serve assembly held in Spokane last fall with Msgr. Kevin Irwin, a liturgical scholar from the Archdiocese of New York, to a simple bulletin letter from your pastor!
Opportunities like these continue to foster the liturgy in the life of our parishes and diocese and ensure the vision of the Council which desired that “pastoral-liturgical action may become even more vigorous in the Church.”
Next week we begin looking at Chapter II “The Most Sacred Mystery of the Eucharist.” Stay tuned!
Praised be Jesus Christ!