Today, as we were learning all the new responses for the liturgy, I was struck by how much we at Notre Dame have done by way of preparing for this transition.
This is not to toot our own horn. But at the end of the roster of this weekend's Vigil and Sunday liturgies, I had to look back and say, "that went off, really, without a hitch."
Truthfully, good part of the reason for this was beyond my own doing. All of us in the pews were all wired for this change, and anticipation was high. And we had a great presider strongly guiding us through the whole first-time experience (my colleague, Fr. Peter Rocca, the rector of the Basilica).
But now comes the tough part: the day-to-day, the working with priest presiders who aren't as comfortable in the sanctuary or as knowledgeable as Fr. Peter, the looking into all the residence hall nooks and crannies to find out who's not keeping up. At the Basilica, things have gone well. But there's a lot more to the liturgical landscape, as those who know Our Lady's campus well, than what happens in the Big House on the weekend.
I am, though, immensely proud of what this campus has done in getting ready for these changes. My administrative colleagues have not just encouraged the devotion of a lot of time, planning, passion and resources to these changes; they have mandated them. This is, in my opinion, Holy Cross spirituality, and Holy Cross educational philosophy, at its best.
And here's why: Liturgy is relational. And like all relations, if we put nothing into it, we get nothing out of it. It's as simple as that. When I am told of, or witness, parishes or prayer communities that are on the rocks, it's seldom because they have devoted too much attention to their spiritual expression. Rather, it is because they simply took it for granted.
The confreres I have worked with for some thirty-plus years recognize this. And while we flub up every once in a while, I do think that liturgy is taken very, very seriously around here. We do not take liturgy, or liturgical expression, for granted. And you can point to this, simply by the people involved in celebration week to week.
"Full, conscious, active..." These three precious attributes were given to us through the wisdom of the Spirit, in the first official document of the Second Vatican Council. These principles are still the prevailing law of the land, and they continue to challenge and cajole us into a never-ending, healthy, dynamic pursuit of our Maker. And we need to make sure that our resources: financial, creative, human resources as well – that all are nourished and allowed to thrive.
Over the weekend, friends and family who work in liturgy were calling in, all with stories to share. Every so often, a story would come to light, where the parish was completely shell-shocked by the events and expressions of the weekend. This happened because no preparation, no catechesis had taken place. In other words: no resources were committed to the relationship.
If there's one thing we humans know, it's that everything we do is about relationship. If we put nothing in, we'll get nothing out.
But to be intentional: to fully, consciously, actively articulate our joy and our sorrow each and every week – this is the stuff of the healthy spirit.