Why Do We Do What We Do? - Making a Joyful Noise
My brothers and sisters,
Whether your associate pastor back in the mid 1990’s or your pastor now, I’ve always been edified by the attention given to the celebration of Eucharist (Mass) at The Catholic Community of Pleasanton. Mass requires the participation of one and all to be a fitting offering we make to glorify God for what He gives us in the Eucharist – the gift of His Son and our Savior, Jesus. Because of this, we are called to be aware of what we are doing and why we are doing it. When we are speaking, we do so with strong voice. When we are listening, we do so attentively, when we are singing, we make a joyful noise.
We need equally to be aware that we celebrate liturgy according to the Novus Ordo from 1969 that was called for from the Second Vatican Council. In a nutshell, The New Order is the backbone of our worship at the Catholic Community of Pleasanton. It remains the foundation and upon it, mass will be celebrated. Such is the normative case for Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Oakland – Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Such is the case for western Catholic parishes throughout the world.
There is also great allowance for diverse expression of this New Order. Here at the Catholic Community of Pleasanton, consider how full, active and conscious participation looks at 4:00pm or 6:30pm Sunday masses. It is a different experience of full, active and conscious participation at the other masses. In fact, we could go as far as to say that each mass celebrated at the Catholic Community of Pleasanton is the same and each has particular “cultural” characteristics or a specific genius.
For the past two years, I have been hearing thought-filled reflections from some who attend 8:00am mass on Sunday, some from other masses as well as those who go elsewhere asking for a “quieter” mass. I’ve been deliberately slow responding to the valid and kind request. This is the same care by which we decided to do the month long “Why We Do What We Do” series on the mass in 2014 when we reflected upon our posture, gesture and voice (language). Liturgy is the best use of our time and shifts made at mass require thought-filled consideration. They need to take time. Changes cannot be frequent or random. Good ritual runs deep and that is the beauty of the tradition of the Church. When we consider adjustments to the celebration of the “New Order,” this goes deep.
You’ve heard me say on many different occasions that we need to be aware of our posture, gesture and voice (language). Otherwise, worship gets sloppy. For now, let’s focus on the voice of the community gathered. It’s paramount. It might be the priest or deacon’s voice, the lector or cantor’s voice and most certainly it is the whole assembly’s voice. Music is an essential part of this voice. It has a deep seeded place in our worship and we make a “joyful noise” at the Catholic Community of Pleasanton. We have good voice. It is also important to consider that sacred music fulfills its role in liturgy when: (1) the amount of singing aptly corresponds to the solemnity of the occasion, (2) the selected music provides for the unanimous participation of the assembly at the designated moments, and (3) the beauty of the compositions and their performance is expressive of prayer (cf. CCC 1157). These three points provide us with a range of opportunity.
The Acclamations in the Eucharistic Prayer are Sanctus (Holy, Holy), Memorial Acclamation (Christ has died etc.) and Great Amen. They are, with the Gospel Acclamation, a PRIORITY for singing in any celebration of Mass, Sunday or Weekday. These are the “designated moments.” They are a priority for singing because they are the assembly’s participation in the Eucharistic Prayer, ‘the source and summit of the celebration’ and because, in the tradition of the Church, singing better articulates acclamation, affirmation, and assent. I would like us to consider this priority as what we sing at the 8:00am mass on Sunday. Any other music would be instrumental without the sung voice and depending upon the liturgical season, the amount of instrumental music might vary as well.
This possible adjustment at the 8:00am mass has been a point of conversation between Deacon Gary and me for almost two years. Recently, I brought the consideration to the liturgy committee, the pastoral council and pastoral staff leadership. Each body gave their assent. From their considerations, it is now time to bring this to the wider parish. If we go forward with this shift, then the adjustment will be made after Labor Day 2017. For more information, please feel free to contact me directly at (925) 846-4489 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your input will help us look at this in a more constructive manner.
As we consider this shift at the 8:00am mass, one point is paramount – I am introducing this opportunity as your pastor considering the needs of the People of God in Pleasanton and the Catholic Community of Pleasanton. This decision must be based on the needs of the whole parish according to the principles of Novus Ordo. We can celebrate who we are at 4:00pm and 6:30pm Sunday evening masses and we can celebrate the same mass in a more soft and reflective environment at 8:00am Sunday morning. The other opportunities to celebrate remain as we presently participate in them. There will be NO adjustment in the mass schedule whatsoever. In the end, perhaps what is paramount for us to consider is what is required from all of us at any mass. We need to be an assembly that is fully, actively and consciously participating in the celebration. This is what we are sent to do. This is Mass.
Let’s celebrate well and let us make a joyful noise.
Fr. Paul Minnihan