Finally! It’s taken almost five months, but in these ti morceaux we’ve come to the end of our “walk through” of the Liturgy of the Word at Mass. I have to admit it has not been a comprehensive liturgical study. In fact, mostly I’ve just shared with you some of my favorite observations: things I find inspiring (if positive!) or “pet peeves” of mine (if negative!).
Looking back at the entire first part of the Mass, I’m struck with how far the Church has come in the past 45 years. For centuries the Church was “stuck” with a limited number of Bible readings used at Mass, and even these were rarely proclaimed so the congregation could appreciate the Holy Word of God directly. The opportunities for the whole assembly to take part by responding or singing had grown pretty restricted (heck, even listening was pretty impossible, what with everything recited silently – in Latin – by the priest!). The magisterium of the Church – that’s the authoritative, infallible teaching office of the bishops of the Church, together with the pope – consciously decided that this was not a good thing. They purposely determined to change it, and change it they did.
I would suspect that now most people find the Liturgy of the Word fairly accessible. We can more readily understand what’s going on, and as the part of the Mass that changes with each celebration, it’s more likely to be interesting. Of course, the really important change has not been in this kind of “external” thing. The “inner,” more spiritual changes which have come about in the hearts of the faithful are much more significant. After all, one of the principal “reasons” we bother to worship God at all is to ensure that we do not remain the same, but change more and more into the image of His Son.