Archdiocesan Instructional Videos for Liturgical Ministries

The Office of Liturgy and the Office of Adult Faith Formation have produced instructional videos for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and Lectors in both English and Spanish.  The videos present the history and theology of these ministries and also discuss the practicalities of serving in these roles.  Presenters include faculty members from St. Joseph’s Seminary.  Parishes interested in obtaining copies of these videos may access them at our website.

June 18: Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

A procession of the Blessed Sacrament may take place on this day or on another appropriate day near this feast.  In 1975, the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship indicated that processions should not take place only within the body of a church, as this practice does not fully express the character of a “procession,” which should move from one place to another.  The Congregation stated that a procession with the Blessed Sacrament should instead ordinarily move from one church to another church.  Nevertheless, if local circumstances require, the procession may return to the same church from where it began.

June 4: Pentecost Sunday

The extended Vigil of Pentecost may be celebrated on this feast.  The readings and psalms associated with the extended Vigil are newly included in the Lectionary for Mass Supplement, which was recently published in April of this year and announced in the March 2017 edition of the Liturgy Update.

The sequence Veni, Sancte Spiritus is obligatory only on Pentecost Sunday and not at the Vigil, unless, for pastoral reasons, the readings of Pentecost are proclaimed at the Vigil Mass.  The extended dismissal consisting of “Alleluia, Alleluia” is said or sung at both the Vigil Mass and on Pentecost Sunday itself.

Upcoming Liturgical Workshop: First Communion in the Liturgical Life of the Church

The Office of Liturgy will be hosting a workshop on Friday, October 13 from 3:00-5:00pm on “First Communion in the Context of the Liturgical Life of the Church.”  This talk will be given at Saint Joseph’s Seminary by Dr. Donna Eschenauer, Ph.D., associate academic dean at Dunwoodie and the author of First Communion Liturgies: Preparing First-Class Celebrations.  Registration for this workshop is $10 and may be accessed on the Liturgy Office website.

Summer Liturgical Year/Environment of Worship Course – June 12-July 24

Clergy, religious, and lay faithful are invited to attend a ten-week course on the liturgical year and the environment of worship.  The class will be taught by Fr. Matthew Ernest, S.T.D. and will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays, from June 12-July 24, at 7:00-10:00pm.  Class meetings will be held at Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie and televised via in-classroom technology to Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.

Tuition Rates:

First-time students: $250 (audit)/$750 (3 credits)

Parish Musicians : $500 (audit)$750 (3 credits)

Others: $500 (audit)/$1500 (3 credits)

This course is being offered in conjunction with the Saint Cecilia Academy for Pastoral Musicians, a four-course, fully accredited program offered through Saint Joseph’s Seminary in the field of liturgical music for the purpose of introducing musicians to the history, theology, and pastoral principles of liturgy and sacred music.  For more information about this summer liturgy course or the Saint Cecilia Academy, visit the Liturgy Office website.

Liturgical Q and A: Concelebrants at the Celebration of Confirmation

In recent years, the Office of Liturgy has received several questions regarding the actions of concelebrants during the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation within Mass.  Specifically, it has been asked whether all concelebrants should extend their hands over the confirmandi during the prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit which precedes the imposition of hand and anointing with chrism.  This question may stem from some ambiguity in the rubric which accompanies this prayer in the newly translated Order of Confirmation.  That rubric reads, “Then the Bishop lays hands over all those to be confirmed (as do all the Priests who are associated with him).”

The question as to whether those “Priests who are associated with the Bishop” refers to all concelebrants or only those who assist him in administering the Sacrament of Confirmation was addressed by the USCCB’s Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy in 1972, at the time of the promulgation of the post-Conciliar Confirmation rite.  The Committee indicated that a distinction should be observed between those concelebrants who assist the Bishop in performing the chrismation and other priests who may be present to concelebrate the Confirmation Mass, but who do not perform the anointing associated with the conferral of the Sacrament of Confirmation.  In this case, only those priests who anoint the candidates with the Bishop (as in the case of especially large groups of confirmandi) are to participate in the extension and imposition of hands during the prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

New Liturgical Books Announced

The USCCB’s Divine Worship Secretariat has announced the forthcoming publication of several liturgical books which have recently received the recognitio from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.  The first of these is the English translation of Exorcisms and Related Supplications.  This is the first English translation of the post-Conciliar De Exorcismus et supplicationibus quibusdam, which was promulgated in Latin in 2004.  The English translation of this ritual book will be published by USCCB Communications and sold only to Bishops and designated exorcists.  However, it is expected that Appendix II of this book, which contains a collection of prayers and supplications for the private use of the faithful, will be published for general use.  More information about this ritual book may be found on the USCCB’s website, which offers a series of questions and answers regarding the Rite of Exorcism and its use in the life of the Church.

The Secretariat has also recently announced the Congregation’s confirmation of a “Book of the Chair,” which is entitled, Excerpts from the Roman Missal.  This ritual book contains only those prayer texts which are used at Mass by the celebrant when he is at the presidential chair.  Those portions of a typical Mass formulary which will be listed in Excerpts from the Roman Missal are the Entrance Antiphon, the Collect, and the Prayer after Communion.  As well, this new book will include other ritual texts that are usually proclaimed apart from the altar, such the introductory rites for Palm Sunday and the Easter Vigil, the Rite for the Blessing and Sprinkling of Holy Water, and Solemn Blessings and Prayers over the People.  This resource will be of particular value to those parishes with young altar servers, inasmuch as the book is only half the size of the current Roman Missal and much lighter and easier to carry and hold.  It is expected that publication information for Excerpts from the Roman Missal will be announced in the forthcoming months.

The Parish Liturgical Committee: The Ministry of Formation and the Work of Assessment

The Parish Liturgical Committee: The Ministry of Formation and the Work of Assessment

Throughout the twentieth century, the Holy See has consistently called for the organization of commissions to assist the bishop in his oversight of the liturgical life of his diocese.  The Second Vatican Council, in particular, asked that these commissions should also promote and regulate sacred music and art under the direction of the bishop (Sacrosanctum concilium, 44-46).  Following the Council, many parishes erected analogous committees to oversee the various aspects of the liturgical life of the parish under the guidance of the pastor.

It has been noted in recent years that many parishes no longer have liturgical committees.  Many commentators have suggested that this phenomenon is perhaps due to the lack of a clearly defined mission for these groups.  At the same time, it has been recognized that parish liturgy committees can be very helpful to pastors in providing feedback, ongoing support, and a well-informed assessment as to how the liturgical life of the parish can be enhanced.  With this in mind, pastors and pastoral staff members may wish to consider and discuss the many benefits which a liturgical committee can provide to a parish community, particularly if this group is not currently active or already a part of the parish structure.

If a parish does not currently have a liturgy committee, the first question which may arise is, who should be invited to participate in this group?  Certainly, the pastor, assisting clergy, parish music director, RCIA coordinator, Director of Religious Education, sacristan, and the coordinators of the various liturgical ministries (e.g., lectors, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, altar servers) are persons who might initially be asked to be part of the parish liturgy committee.  As well, other interested parishioners who are well-versed in the Church’s liturgy may be invited to serve.  Although the population of the liturgy committee will be different for each parish depending on need, it would be important for committee members to recognize the distinction between their role and the ministries of those who regularly prepare liturgies, especially the priest-celebrant and the parish music director.  That is, experience has shown that parish liturgy committees work best when they understand their role as assisting the pastor in assessing the needs of the worshipping community, while leaving the actual preparing and execution of liturgies to those who are entrusted with doing so by virtue of their particular role within the parish.  Relatedly, parish liturgy committee members should understand that the liturgy of the Church is, in most respects, already planned and described in detail by the Church’s official liturgical books.

When beginning or reinitiating a parish liturgy committee, pastors may discover that some of the group’s members need additional formation in the theology of the liturgy and the Church’s liturgical documents.  To that end, committee members could be invited to engage in a joint study of resources, such as the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the Introduction to the Lectionary, Redemptionis Sacramentum, the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar, and Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship.  Following this study, the group may then be in a position to assess the current liturgical life of the parish in light of the principles outlined in these documents.  This process of assessment could include a study and discussion of:

  • the celebration of Sunday Mass;
  • preparation for the various liturgical seasons;
  • the liturgical environment;
  • the training of liturgical ministers;
  • the celebration of the RCIA;
  • school liturgies;
  • the celebration of baptisms, first communions, confirmations, funerals, and weddings;
  • the music program; and,
  • the ministry of hospitality and welcome.

To assist parishes in this work of assessment, the Office of Liturgy has recently published an online, comprehensive tool which covers many of the aforementioned areas.  Pastors may wish to use this tool as is or adapt it depending on the needs of their particular parish.  As well, the Liturgy Office has in its library a number of practical resources for parishes interested in starting liturgy committees.  Pastors are invited to contact the Office for additional information.

April 13: Mass of the Lord’s Supper

As announced last year, when the optional rite of foot-washing is celebrated within the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, those whose feet are washed should be representative of the variety of persons and groups within the parish community. Those to have their feet washed need not be twelve in number.

April 11: Chrism Mass

The archdiocesan Chrism Mass will be celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Tuesday, April 11, at 4:00pm. Holy oils will be distributed after the Mass in prepackaged six-ounce containers, as in previous years. Oils will also be distributed at Saint Joseph’s Seminary on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday of Holy Week. Old holy oils may be disposed of at Saint Joseph’s Seminary throughout the year.