Saturday, November 8, 2008

APLM Colloquium

The inaugural Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission Colloquium took place on November 6 at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, CA. The Rev. Dr. Paul Bradshaw was the featured speaker. Dr. Bradshaw has taught at the University of Notre Dame since 1985 and is acknowledged as one of the foremost liturgical scholars not only in the Anglican Communion, but throughout the Christian world. He has also published extensively on the subject of Christian liturgy, having written or edited more than 20 books and over 90 essays or articles. His major books include Daily Prayer in the Early Church, The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship, and Eucharistic Origins.

His topic for the address was "The Liturgical Movement: Gains and Losses." Dr. Bradshaw also sat in with students at a seminar for liturgical specialists, preached on William Temple on the latter's feast day, and delivered his address relating some of the history of the liturgical movement, with its successes and shortcomings, and finally answered many questions in both the closing part of the proceedings, and an informal questions thereafter.

A video of the talk will be linked at this website when it becomes available.

Monday, September 29, 2008

La Sacra Vida

San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio, Texas
The APLM Council will meet May 7-11, 2009 at the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio. One major focus of this meeting will be inculturation. The Rev. James "Jake" Empereur, S.J. will be a presenter.

Jake is vicar and liturgist at the San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas. He was for many years a professor of systematic and liturgical theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union. Reading his book La Sacra Vida: Contemporary Hispanic Sacramental Theology in advance will help participants to engage in the conversation at the meeting.

Look for more information to come at this website as we continue to plan for this meeting.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Baptismal Life

To live as a Christian is to live the baptismal life as it is expressed and experienced in the liturgy. It is in the liturgical context that the implications of the Gospel for contemporary life should be drawn out, through preaching and pastoral ministry. If the liturgy does not provide answers to contemporary questions, such as nuclear disarmament, world hunger, or abortion, it does provide the context in which these issues can be considered, and it proclaims the theological principles we must learn to apply to them.
—Leonel L. Mitchell in Praying Shapes Believing

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Strength of Ritual

Episcopal Life has excerpted a column from the Rev. Patrick Malloy's book Celebrating the Eucharist: A Practical Ceremonial Guide for Clergy and Other Liturgical Ministers (Church Publishing, 2008). Malloy is the rector of Grace Church, Allentown, Pennsylvania, and has served on The Episcopal Church's Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. The essay says in part,
Nothing is more important to the life of a community than what happens during that one hour on Sunday. At the most pragmatic level, the Sunday liturgy is the only time in the regular life of a community when everyone gathers.

From Sunday to Sunday, individual members of the community and subgroups within the community live out their particular vocations within the baptismal vocation. On Sunday, however, the body of Christ experiences itself in its totality. The Sunday Eucharist is a pivotal moment, both in the church's expression of what it is and in being formed into what it is.

If the Sunday liturgy is largely a clerical affair done by the priest for the people, so that the people are mere responders or observers rather than key actors, the chances that the parish will grow into a group of integrated, self-starting, empowered ministers is greatly decreased.

The liturgy will have expressed a worldview and simultaneously instilled a belief that "Father knows best" or "the priest has all the power" or "we lay people know how to take care of the nuts and bolts of this operation, but when it comes to God, that's better left to the professionals."

The liturgy is precisely common prayer, expressing and creating a common life. For the majority of the worshipping community, the liturgy's message is not easily resisted.

There always will be those in any Sunday assembly who are not members of the church, but seekers who have come hoping to find something that will give their lives meaning and direction. They are true participants, but they usually keep a safe distance, often literally, from the group. The Sunday Eucharist paints a picture for them of what the church is – or, more truly, what the church aspires to be.

It is not the only place they could explore the church. They could visit the parish soup kitchen and see the church as a force for social change and compassion. They could sit in on a midweek reading group and experience the church as a community of learning and exploration. They could observe the children's Sunday school and see the church as an agency that cares for the vulnerable and includes everyone, regardless of age.

At the Sunday Eucharist, though, all of what the seeker might see in any of those venues is on display at one moment. The Sunday assembly of the church is the most important moment in the church's relationship with itself and in its relationship with the world. Done well, ministering at the Sunday Eucharist facilitates the church's seeing and experiencing itself as the body it is growing into and, at the same time, showing the world an image of how human beings live when God's kingdom comes on earth as in heaven.

Ultimately, all of this depends on God. But, as the catechism says, the sacraments are means of grace, of an encounter with the Divine. They change people, and so they change the world, even on those normal days when hearts are not moved to conversion and worlds do not seem to be blowing up.
The full text of the Episcopal Life column, which also makes a thoughtful comparison to underground nuclear bomb testing in North Korea, is online here: The Strength of Ritual

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Way and Style of Life

The APLM booklet Parish Eucharist says the following about the sending out that takes place at the conclusion of the liturgy and how this gets lived out in the week ahead:
It has been said that the most sacred moment in the Liturgy comes when the Body of Christ, having been fed by the Body of Christ, goes forth to be the Body of Christ in the world. We have been nourished by the Lord's Body and Blood, and now it is time to take up the Lord's life and work. We pause briefly to give thanks for the loving act of feeding us and to ask for guidance as we set out in mission....

The Liturgy is over, but the Eucharist is not. At the beginning of this booklet we observed that Eucharist is what the parish does. It is that...and more. It is the way the parish lives: thankfully, joyfully, as a participant in the resurrected life of Christ and servant to the world. That which we have just symboled in the Liturgy gets worked out in the day-to-day life of the parish and its members. That daily life, in turn, becomes the offering of our next liturgical celebration. Eucharist is a way and a style of life.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Celebrant as Intruder

Any practice which communicates the notion that the leaders in public worship are "stars" is basically and desperately counterproductive, whether the leaders in question are clergy or musicians or any other ministers. Desirable gifts in the leader are no excuse. If her or his style in the particular role fails to communicate a sense of prayerful performance, of being (first of all) a worshipper and a member of a worshipping assembly, then he or she is not a leader but an intruder. And the gifts of such a one or such a group damage rather than enhance worship.
—Robert Hovda, Worship, March 1990 (emphasis above in the authors)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Buildings shape theology

Don't argue with the building,
the building always wins.
—Louis Weil

In his essay, "Rending the Temple Veil: Holy Space for Holy Community" for Church Publishing's book Searching for Sacred Space, Donald Schell writes,
Saint Grogory of Nyssa, San FranciscoToday most Christian buildings shape our communities to a theology Jesus rejected. Christians who remember and want to live Jesus' teaching and practice must ask if the Middle Ages or even the Reformation or the Vatican II reforms offer us spaces for worship that are adequate to an authentic community and lively sacraments. Like it or not, the church building and furniture literally will shape the community's ways of gathering and the ways people will see one another. Brick and mortar theology, our walls, our furniture, and our seating will define relationships, lines of communication, and all the invisible dynamic aspects of community. Whether our church buildings appear loving, daring, inviting, or forbidding, each one holds a church community and defines how it can act or move.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Individualists are incapable of worship

The awesomely corporate act of public worship assumes, requires, demands a celebrating assembly of believing persons who have not lost the sense of being part of humanity, the sense of relation to, interdependence with, even identification with every other human being—as consequences of the love of God. People who approach that act, who gather on Sunday as self-contained unites, individuals for whom all others are merely competitors or makes, are simply incapable of it. Any sensitive pastoral minister has long since observed that the Sunday assembly's liturgical problems (participation, engagement, understanding, experience) cannot be solved by liturgical reforms alone.

Of course the church needs continuing liturgical reform. The bed of a living tradition has to be dredged constantly, as a maxim has it. One of the glories of this confusing and promising century is the resumption of that invaluable service in so many parts of the faith communities of Judaism and Christianity. No question about it. Pressing those issues is a most important contribution to the life of faith.

But it is insufficient in itself. the cancer of Western and American individualism infects that Sunday assembly and produces as church that is barely capable of celebrating the eucharist or any other liturgical rite. We cannot blame the liturgy for the fact that we who celebrate it, the faith community, are so mesmerized by the idol of rugged individualism that it is dreamy to call us a "community" at all. It is quite impossible to see in our corporate life a community of biblical faith committed to witnessing in the world the advent of God's reign of justice and peace.
—The Rev. Robert Hovda, Worship, January 1991

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Open, Spring 2008 Issue

Spring 2008 Issue of OpenThe Spring 2008 issue of Open is now online in Adobe PDF format.

In this issue of Open, “What is Baptism for?” is the organizing question, whether it is directly addressed by our authors or not. The gifts of the font in each of our lives reaches far beyond its immediate environs, and when a church community begins to really live out the power of God’s blessing in water, we all take note.

Articles including those on "Public Work" at St. Paul's Chapel in New York City, When Signs Signify by Louis Weil, Baptism or Confirmation? by Joe Morris Doss and an accompanying report by Robert Brooks, Against Inclusivity by Juan Oliver, and Going to Church in the First Century by Jamie Howison. The articles are listed below and this blog is intended to be a place where we can dialogue with the authors and one another on the ideas presented in the journal of the Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission.

Open: Good Liturgy at 9/11

Real Stories of Good Liturgy: Saint Paul's ChapelThe Spring 2008 issue of Open includes the latest of Donald Schell's ongoing look at real stories of good liturgy.

What might worship might look like that is a “Public Work” for pilgrims who visit the 9/11 memorial at St. Paul’s Chapel adjacent to Ground Zero in New York City? Donald Schell describes the power liturgy has to create meaningful connections between worshippers and visitors pouring off tour buses. The article is online here: Real Stories of Good Liturgy.

Open: When Signs Signify

When Signs SignifyThe meaning of our sacraments must be transparent, reminds liturgical theologian Louis Weil. We see, feel, touch, hear and smell the rites of the Church, and we experience the transformation they effect. Anything less than that trivializes those sacramental rites. The full text of the article is online here in Adobe PDF format: When Signs Signify

Open: Baptism or Confirmation?

Baptism or CommunionBishop Joe Morris Doss asks whether we really believe that Baptism is at the heart of Christian ministry in the Church. In thishistorical review, he warns us that recent General Convention actions are returning Confirmation to a central role we decided against over thirty years ago.

As a companion piece to Doss’ article, Robert Brooks reports on recent years’ efforts to respond to the canonical actions of General Convention, and the amazing coalition of theologians, bishops, educators, parish clergy and others who have been energized to bring Baptism back to the center of our understanding of ministry, while addressing the needs of the Church for adequate formation and leadership training.

The full text of the two companion articles is online in Adobe PDF format here: Baptism or Confirmation?

Open: Against Inclusivity

Against InclusionJuan Oliver begins his article “As a Latino Episcopalian, I am against being ‘included.’” What are the special liturgical gifts of bicultural Episcopalians, and what are the opportunities for the vast majority of “monocultural” Episcopalians? The full text is online in Adobe PDF format here: Against Inclusion.

Open: Going to Church in the First Century

Going to Church in the First Centruy
Jamie Howison’s parish in Winnipeg—already highly identified as a table-centered, Eucharistic community—experiences a richer engagement with the meaning of Eucharist as they gather to practice pre-Nicene liturgies. The full text of the article is online in Adobe PDF format here: Going to Church in the First Century

Open: Faith on the Ground

Faith on the GroundAmy McCreath introduces us to the chaplaincy at the University of Michigan which finds that the practical meaning of Christian living is revealed through intentional engagement with the lives and stories of the saints.

In the same file, Rebecca Wolf, a student at the University of Michigan, preaches on how the story of Constance and Her Companions reveals the meaning of her own choices and vocation as a follower of Jesus.

The two are online in a single Adobe PDF file: Faith on the Ground

usus antiquior

The blog of the New Liturgical Movement within the Roman Catholic Church shows a group excited about reform the reform. They wax eloquent on turning back the tide of changes brought on by the Second Vatican Council. Typical is this from an interview with the Rev. George William Rutler, who is frequently seen on the EWTN network:
As any reading of the Pope's liturgical logic will show, the "reform of the reform" is all about the beauty of holiness, without which ritual externals are not much more than cosmetic. The holiness of worship is at the heart of the true renewal that the Second Vatican Council intended when it spoke of the liturgy as the "source and summit" of redeemed life. Without a full dedication of mind and heart, the reform of the liturgy would quickly degenerate into a vain aestheticism little different from the aesthetic movement which marked the decay of the Victorian age.

There are Christian denominations that have gradually cloaked their abandonment of Gospel truths in outward ceremonials which become a kind of fancy dress paganism. A defect in some of the recent liturgical innovations has been an exaggerated emphasis on affective piety as a substitute for objective sacrifice. The sturdy language of the traditional texts assumed that the "ex opere operato" fact of the Sacrifice of the Mass will issue from and lead to an evangelical expression of this Sacrifice in the dedication of the worshipers to Christ's commission: to proclaim the Gospel and manifest the Faith in works of mercy.

I think one way to get this across is for the liturgical calendar to embrace the many new saints who have lived the Eucharistic life in the challenges of modern conceits. Otherwise the sacred tradition will only be an indulgence of nostalgia.
Another post that offers a good example of what the New Liturgical Movement intends is this one from May 20: Measuring and Implementing the Reform of the Reform with practical advice on how to get the altars back against the wall and the priests' backs facing the congregation once more.

The group is a far cry from the baptismal theology we so treasure. Is this reforming the reform an RC phenomenon? There is certainly the Prayer Book Society within Anglicanism, but is there any sense that they are gaining traction as, for example, Latin Mass proponents have within the Roman Catholic Church?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

There is no going back

Henry Breul was a leader of liturgical renewal in The Episcopal Church for forty years, and served as a longtime editor of its publication, Open. In 1991, he and his wife, Sally, retired to a small community in Maryland where the parish church was not reformed in its worship. But he felt strongly that one attends one's parish church and so they remained. Here is a reflection he wrote for the Fall 1991 issue of Open on going back to an earlier piety:
I think it is difficult for those of us immersed in the liturgical reforms of the past twenty years to understand the profound changes that have taken place. We have become used to many things that have, as a result, disappeared from our consciousness and become part of the furniture, as it were. When one of these young people moves into a "time warp" there is culture shock lurking in the pews. Imagine, if you will, a lovely, riverside community with colonial houses and a slow living pace. A place where all the store clerks are genuinely helpful and where people stop to "chin" on the streets. A place where blacks avert their eyes from white gaze and the supermarkets are filled with farm folk on weekends, folk who speak a special patois related to the watermen and the colonial past. Put all this together and then place yourself at the 8 a.m. eucharist in the parish church—liturgically it is 1938. The priest faces that wall, he wears brocaded Barclay Street vestments, he reads all the lessons, moving from lectern to pulpit, he says all the "Amens," and nobody passes the peace.

Now what? Does one simply leave? Look for another church in the next county? Surreptitiously read Rite Two as he reads Rite One? Or hunker down and let it all flow over one? There are more options, but let's not get into Rome or Presbyterianism. If one stays and participates it is necessary to rediscover the piety that served well in seminary. In other words, if you accept the time warp of the streets and the market place, the concomitant liturgical time warp is part of the deal, and it is surprising how easy it is to slip back and worship in a past mode, even secretly rejoicing in the forgotten richness of an outmoded piety.

All this triggers questions. Is it possible that the ethos of the 1930s remains in worship because it still speaks to a cultural backwater? Do people who meet almost daily in a small town find the Peace a very exciting option? People who have a strong sense of community are hard to persuade that the eucharist is community building. It is for them, rather the celebration of individualism with everybody, including the priest, doing their own thing.

The late medieval problems of Rite One become clear when one returns to it after a long absence. Indeed, Cranmer's doctrines of the atonement become offensive to the alert theological ear. The one thing that comes back loudly in all this is that there is no going back. Even a backward, charming community deserves better of its worship that Rite One offers. Cable TV has arrived, drugs have appeared, four people were shot in the public park last Friday, and the signs of the late twentieth century are everywhere. It is time for the local parish to move toward reform.

Those battles that many of us fought years ago are about to break out here in the midst of elms, formal gardens, and boutiques. Retirement seems to be getting more interesting.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Shape of Mission

In the most recent issue of the APLM online magazine, Open, the Rt. Rev. Joe Morris Doss writes The Shape of Liturgy is the Shape of Mission. He asks in that article:

I will offer two statements of faith. Consider which is the most important statement for you personally?

  • We are called to embrace this life, as it is, as a gift, and to make gratitude for this gift the basic attitude of our life (especially through belonging to a people of thanksgiving), becoming at home in the world and achieving the fullness of our humanity as lovers – finally, lovers of all that is, of the entire created order.
  • We are to make this a better world. This world is not the final reality or our true destiny. We are to resist evil, identify where there is wrong and name it, support the weak, the oppressed, and the deprived; we must strive for that justice, compassion, and righteousness which reflects the inner life of God and which finally will be established when the prayer is realized that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven.
The retired Bishop of New Jersey goes on to show how the statements are not only mutually compatible but that they are in fact both essential. He shows this through the liturgy of Justin Martyr. The full text of the article is here: The Shape of Liturgy is the Shape of Mission.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Wonder and Power

At his blog, A New an Unending Kind of Life, the Rev. Rob Bell writes, "Many evangelical Christians disdain liturgy as too "high church," but Mark Galli thinks that's starting to change. Mr. Galli, an Anglican and senior managing editor of Christianity Today, urges Christians to rediscover traditional liturgy in his new book, Beyond Smells and Bells: The Wonder and Power of Christian Liturgy."
In today's individualistic culture, we need liturgy to establish us in community. In a culture that values spontaneity, liturgy grounds us in something enduring. In a culture that assumes truth is a product of the mind, liturgy helps us experience truth in both mind and body. In a world demanding instant gratification and immediate relevance, liturgy gives us patience to perceive a deeper relevance and joy that the larger culture can hardly perceive.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Do we really mean it?

The following is from the conclusion to the APLM booklet Holy Orders: The Ordination of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons
The contrast between what the rites of ordination say and mean, and the way in which bishops, priests, and deacons exercise their ministries today in the church is conspicuous to say the least. The present rites may in time shape a richer understanding of orders, just as the ordinal of 1552 brought the Anglican Communion to its present understanding of ordained ministry.

Those responsible for planning and carrying out ordinations in dioceses need to look at the rites carefully and thoughtfully. The focus of the rite is not an ecclesiastical Academy Awards ceremony, but rather a celebration of the ministry of the whole people of God in that place. The ordination of a bishop offers an opportunity for an entire diocese to understand baptism as well as to understand bishops. There is usually ample time for education on the meaning of the rites to be studied in the diocesan paper as well as parish education programs. It is also possible to do the same for ordinations of priests and deacons. If an ordination is seen as the recognition of the achievement of an individual, then the integrity of the rite has been lost along with the gospel.

The paschal mystery, which is the heart of the gospel, is enacted in every baptism, is present in every eucharist, and is manifested in every ordination. The mystery is Christ making himself known in the people whom he calls to be his own. There is no greater gift.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

You are what you have received

... I promised you, who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the Sacrament of the Lord's Table, which you now look upon and of which you last night were made participants. You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend His Body and Blood, which He poured out for us unto the forgiveness of sins. If you receive worthily, you are what you have received.
—Augustine of Hippo in his Sermon 227

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wikipedia: Liturgical Renewal

There is a rather lengthy entry at Wikipedia on Liturgical Renewal here: Liturgical Renewal. Any thoughts on changes or additions we should make to correct or fill out the entry?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Let's Get a Conversation Started

Since 1946, Associated Parishes has worked to further the dialogue on issues vital to liturgy and mission. Since the creation of this group amazing changes have followed. Churches across North America now take for granted the primacy of Holy Eucharist in Christian worship and the parish life. We have seen the restoration of the catachumenate, the return of the diaconate as a full and separate order of ministry and the use of inclusive language.

Today we are once again leading the way with a major leap forward for baptismal theology. APLM and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori are jointly sponsoring a national consultation on the implications of baptismal theology as it is envisioned by the Book of Common Prayer (USA) and the Book of Alternative Services (Canada). This includes liturgical scholars and practitioners, bishops, parish clergy and Christian educators representing the diversity of the Church. The goal is to provide educational resources to equip people to fully implement in parish and diocesan life the baptismal vision long championed by APLM.

This blog is created as a means to keep the conversation going. You are encouarged to comment on the items posted here, but are further challenged to write blog entries of your own. To request permission to be added as a regular contributor to this blog, email frank[at]kingofpeace[dot]org.