Liturgy is the public work of the whole Church. The celebration of the Eucharist has been called the “Source and Summit of the Christian Life.” And yet, there is anxiety over empty pews and half-empty churches. Speak Up participants were troubled by trite liturgies, poor music, uninspiring homilies and lack of reverence at Mass. Some Catholics attend liturgy very infrequently. Young people say that they are bored at liturgy. The reasons may be many, but this is what people often said:
- “Liturgical practices vary widely in the diocese. Train the people and priests to follow the same directives.”
- “I insist that my teens go to mass but they say it is boring and doesn’t speak to them!”
- “The quality and content of the homily needs to invite people to integrate the Word they have heard into daily life in the family and in the workplace.”
- “Music should be appropriate and support the celebration. It should be chosen and prepared with great care so the assembly wants to participate.”
- “People have forgotten the meaning of the Mass. They need to be re-educated about the meaning of Eucharist.”
The parish gathers each Sunday to celebrate the presence of Christ and to offer praise and thanksgiving. The liturgical life of the Church is expressed in all of the sacraments. Catholicism is rich in significant liturgical rituals which can express and honor the cultural diversity of the parish, and lead to transformation of the faith-filled community. The liturgy also challenges the assembly to give witness to the Gospel they have heard on Sunday through works of service and justice during the week. People appreciate the opportunity for silent contemplation that Eucharistic adoration provides. This element is absent from perfunctory or busy celebrations of liturgy.
All of the sacraments require liturgical formation and preparation of the assembly for their celebration. People want to experience the various forms of liturgical prayer and devotions. Some called for increased opportunities for retreats, prayer and devotions, including Eucharistic Adoration. Others said they hoped for increased opportunities to learn more about and more deeply appreciate the Mass, and to find ways to better integrate it into their daily life. These liturgical celebrations will enhance the prayer life of the parish.
The liturgy, well-celebrated, leads the parish toward an experience of the spiritual journey that culminates in divine communion. For this reason, liturgy is a significant pastoral priority for our times, one that supports the faith journey of the people of God.