I was privileged to attend two ordinations earlier this year, and I recall thinking how well we catholics do a good liturgy.
It is the liturgy that is often the introduction to the catholic faith for non-christians. Do we use the opportunity to its best advantage? How innovative are our liturgies?
I remember one lady in our RCIA team and the skill she had with fabric and simple props, turning a grey walled meeting room into a liturgical wonder where our faith came alive. An RCIA session always had that element of joy and discovery as we uncovered a new layer in our worship. I experienced that on Saturday with the blessing of our Altar Missals and their being sent forth with representatives from each local church in our parish cluster.
The symbols were simple: the Altar Missals impressive in their design, laid out on a low table, against the backdrop of the Altar with its bright candles. The quiet solemnity of the blessing was awesome. How different from the blessing of the Advent wreath and the lighting of the first Advent candle on Sunday. One could sense the air of expectation in the Assembly. It is that time of year again, when we are ready to ‘stay awake’. A lot is going to happen over the next four weeks of Advent.
There is the chance for further blessings and celebrations. In the extended period of the catechumenate why not have a special celebration of the Word of God.
- To give them instruction and experience in the different aspects and ways of prayer;
- To explain to them the signs, celebrations, and seasons of the liturgy;
- To prepare them gradually to enter the worship assembly of the entire community: RCIA 82
The structure of a celebration is suggested in RCIA 86-89, with an opening song, one or more readings, a brief homily and finish with a blessing. This would work well on Gaudete Sunday or during the third week of Advent.
Or how about Advent Stations of the Cross with a Blessing of Oil and anointing [see RCIA 101B – 102].
There is also the opportunity for blessing of the Christmas tree or the manger, or even someone’s home.
Perhaps this week as the English speaking churches turn to the New Translation of the Roman Missal, catechumens could have the chance to see and touch the Altar Missal and gain a sense of just how well we catholics do liturgy, as they develop a love of the liturgy and its symbols.