Light Breaking into the World

I have been somewhat delayed in sharing this post about recent goings on in the Liturgy Office since we have been kept rather busy by nine instances of the combined Rite of Election and Call to Continued Conversion as well as several consultations for a Vatican music survey. During the two dark months that made up the long stretch of winter Ordinary Time after Christmas and before Lent I was blessed to gather with several different groups of liturgical ministers throughout the Archdiocese of Seattle. Though rather exhausted I am also exhilarated by the many who have responded to the call implicit in their baptism to offer their gifts for the building-up of the Church through the sacred liturgy and thankful for the opportunity to offer these formation opportunities through the Liturgy Office.

My predecessor in the Liturgy Office, Tony Varas (now Director of the Office of Worship of Metuchen, New Jersey), began the Liturgical Ministries Institute for the Archdiocese of Seattle in order to offer lay liturgical leaders an opportunity to learn more about the liturgy and improve the craft of nurturing the prayer of the Church. The LMI offers, in addition to foundational courses (e.g., Liturgy, Sacraments, Liturgical Music, Sacred Space, Scripture and Liturgy, Liturgical Year, Eucharistic Theology) three separate tracks of workshops to certificate parish liturgy coordinators, pastoral musicians, and ministers of Christian initiation, respectively.

Working within this framework I gathered in early January with a half-dozen ministers of Christian initiation at St Joseph in Vancouver, Washington for a two-day intensive certification in the catechumenate/RCIA. We discussed the various periods of the Rite, shared many best practices, and tackled pastoral and canonical issues using our handy instrument for determining under what sacramental process those seeking (completion of) initiation are treated.

Two weeks later, together with Brother Aelred Woodard, osb, a Benedictine brother of St Martin’s Abbey, more than a dozen folks gathered for a three-day intensive immersion into and deepening understanding of the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office). During our just over forty hours together we prayed twelve offices, all seven each day, while in between spending time on the spirituality of the Psalms, learning to sing and chant the music with Brother Aelred, and enjoying the fantastic environment at the Archbishop Brunett Retreat and Faith Formation Center at the Palisades. One of the highlights for me came in watching a catechumen who joined us and who, by the story below, showed how much he had made this shared prayer his own, bridging the supposed gap between public and private prayer. Due to two different schedules being in circulation, he happened to miss Morning Prayer (Lauds) on our final day and was arriving just as the rest of us were finishing. But rather than shrug it off, our catechumen said to me, “I’ll do it on my own” and proceeded to make his own the postures we had adopted, intone the Psalms in that “do whatever works way” Brother Aelred had modeled for us, and in so doing he became a powerful reminder for me that what we are about as pastoral liturgists is handing on a method, a series of practices, disciplines, and habits so that other people can, like use, be opened up to encounter Christ therein.

That same week, together with Corinna Laughlin, we provided training for about twenty parish liturgy coordinators in preparing for the Sundays and seasons of the liturgical year, navigating the various ritual books, forming and scheduling liturgical ministers, making and worship aids, and quite a bit more. It was a joy to be among others who speak the same language and who are doing great things in the parishes of the archdiocese and with whom I could share ideas from my previous parish—some implemented, some only dreamed of.

Somewhere in the midst of this I was blessed to spend an evening with present and prospective altar servers of Saint John Vianney on Vashon Island in order to share with them What Happens At Mass?, lead the liturgical ministers at St. Louise de Marillac in Bellevue for a day of reflection and commissioning, and spend two days in Olympia transforming a gym into a worship space in order to celebrate the Washington March for Life (about which the Northwest Catholic wrote a brief summary). You can listen to Archbishop Sartain’s homily online.

The occasion for the most recent formation event, something of a double-header to culminate the previous six-weeks, was NPM‘s sponsoring Jerry Galipeau (of WLP) for an annual choral reading session which concluded a Friday on which twenty-some liturgical musicians spent the entire day gathered at the Ignatius Chapel at Seattle University for formation by Jerry, James Savage, Bob McCaffery-Lent, and myself. The following day, as the pastoral musicians continued their formation with Dr Savage, Jerry Galipeau and I gathered with over 100 ministers of Christian initiation for ‘Rebuild your RCIA!’ (about which Jerry has also written on his blog, Gotta Sing Gotta Pray). The full-day pastoral training concluded with a celebration of the Rite of Acceptance and Welcoming at St James Cathedral followed by a guided in vino veritas mystagogy with those just accepted into the Order of Catechumens, those welcomed to the Church, their sponsors, and the rest of us. Jennifer shared her thoughts on her blog and Jerry has just revisited the weekend on his blog as he thinks about what our websites say about the RCIA.

All in all it was a good start to 2014 and I look forward to many more liturgical formation opportunities to come, especially as we launch into a new round of foundational LMI courses offered throughout the archdiocese and anticipate our TeamRCIA institute September 5-6.

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