Bishop Donald W. Trautman Elected BCL Chairman
On November 18, 2004, the members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops elected Bishop Donald W. Trautman, Bishop of Eire, as the new Chairman of the Committee on the Liturgy following the resignation of Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I. Cardinal George resigned following his election as USCCB Vice-President.
At the conclusion of the November plenary meeting, Bishop Trautman announced the appointment of the Committee:
Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, Archbishop of PhiladelphiaBishop Trautman also appointed four consultants to the Committee:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati
Bishop Edward K. Braxton, Bishop of Lake Charles
Bishop Blase J. Cupich, Bishop of Rapid City
Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, Bishop of Las Cruces, CSB
Bishop Emil A. Wcela, Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Center
Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., Archbishop of ChicagoBishop Ramirez was also appointed as the new chairman of the Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee, while Bishop Gross was named chairman of the Liturgy and Music Subcommittee.
Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles
Bishop Thomas J. Curry, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles
Bishop Edward M. Grosz, Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo
Bishop Trautman previously served as Chairman of the Committee on the Liturgy from 1993-1996, and is the seventeenth chairman of the BCL since its inception in 1965.
November, 2004 Meeting of the Committee on the Liturgy
The USCCB Committee on the Liturgy met on November 14, 2004 in Washington D.C. The Committee considered at length amendments to the three action items presented to the USCCB plenary meeting and heard reports from the Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee, the Music and Liturgy Committee, and the Ad-hoc Committee for the Revision of the Lectionary for Masses with Children. It was noted that the revised Lectionary for Masses with Children was nearing completion and should come before the Committee in draft form in March, 2005.
Use of Sense Lines in the Lectionary for Mass
In response to a request from a Bishop member of the USCCB, the Committee reviewed the requirement for the use of sense lines in the Lectionary for Mass. The practice of using sense lines for the Lectionary for Mass originated with the 1972 Pueblo Press edition of the Sunday Lectionary for Mass, (Year B published in 1972, followed by Year C in 1973 and Year A in 1974), and was endorsed by the 1981 Ordo Lectionum Missae, editio altera, no. 115, which recommended that “even non-poetic texts be printed with division into sense lines to assist the proclamation of the readings.”
In 1993, the Lectionary for Masses with Children for use in the dioceses of the United States of America was published with all readings divided into sense lines and on June 17, 1997 the Committee on the Liturgy approved the Editorial Requirement for granting the Concordat cum originali for the second edition of the Lectionary for mass for use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, which reads, in part: “Sense lines, as exemplified by the typical edition, must be observed in all cases.” (no. 2)
The Committee expressed strong support for the use of sense lines in scriptural texts in the Lectionary for Mass and its gratitude for the real assistance such a layout has provided to those ho proclaim the Sacred Scriptures at Mass. At the same time, the Committee directed the Secretariat to seek ways in which the particular needs of economically constrained parishes in some parts of the United States and other particular pastoral needs might be met. The Secretariat will publish possible strategies for meeting such needs, without compromising the effective use of sense lines, in a future edition of the BCL Newsletter.
Ecumenical Dimensions of Liturgical Texts
The Committee also discussed ecumenical dimensions of the translation of the Ordo Missae currently underway by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. In particular, the Committee assessed the impact of the instruction Liturgiam authenticam on the continued use of liturgical texts generally held in common by Catholic and Protestant Churches. These common texts were developed by the International Consultation on English Texts (ICET) and the English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC) between 1969 and 1990.
Liturgiam authenticam requires the mixed commission to follow the principles of Liturgiam authenticam in regard to producing a translation which emphasize doctrinal precision, rejects dynamic equivalency, and requires a critical look at inclusive language. In addition, participation in future ecumenical collaborations is now assigned to Episcopal Conferences and not to mixed commissions.
The Committee was in agreement that the Catholic Church continues to desire that common translations of major devotional and liturgical texts be developed and used by all Christians in the English-speaking world. (See Ecumenical Directory, no. 187) At the same time, it was noted that the Catholic Church’s participation in such endeavors is informed and guided by the fact that Catholic liturgical practice is rooted in the doctrinally precise translation of Latin liturgical texts. In the light of Liturgiam authenticam, the Catholic Church’s participation in national and international liturgical/ecumenical bodies will continue at a higher level with the direct collaboration of the Conferences of Bishops, the bodies responsible for the preparation of the translation of the Latin texts of the Roman Rite. There is, therefore, a need to facilitate this new collaboration by appropriate institutional changes in the structures for ecumenical consultations.
The Committee suggested that the imminent completion of an English-language edition of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia as quickly as possible remains a high pastoral priority for the Catholic Church. The significant differences between the translation principles of Liturgiam authenticam and some of the working principles of the English-language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC) should be faced with charity and truth. In the light of such differences, the arrival at a new generation of commonly agreed upon translations remains a significant and long term pastoral challenge.
Experimental Revision of the Lectionary for Mass
Finally, the Committee received a report on an experimental revision of the Lectionary for Mass in the light of the 2003 consultations on reception of the Lectionary undertaken in fulfillment of the five year review of the Lectionary for Mass mandated by the USCCB in 1997 and 1999. The problems which were indicated by the consultation involved questions of suitability for liturgical proclamation, poetic expression, grammar, and vocabulary. On April 12, 2004, a joint task group of the Committee on the Liturgy and the Ad-Hoc Committee for the Review of Scripture Translations met to consider this report. The Task Group was chaired by Bishop Arthur Serratelli. Members included Cardinal Justin Rigali, Bishop Blase J. Cupich and Bishop Richard J. Sklba.
At its June, 2004 meeting, the Committee on the Liturgy discussed the report of the task group and directed the Secretariat for the Liturgy to conduct an experimental revision of the readings of the present Lectionary for Mass for Advent in consideration of the present critique, engaging pastors, scripture scholars, and those with special skills in proclamation and literature.
Over the course of the summer of 2004, the Secretariat for the Liturgy engaged Scripture scolars, specialists in proclamation and drama, pastors, and others to examine the New Testament readings of the Sundays of Advent. The results of the recommendations which emerged from these consultations were then reviewed by the Committee on the Liturgy at its November, 2004 meeting. The Secretariat was instruced to continue the experimental for the entire Advent Season. The Committee expressed its hope that such a revision would result in an effective revision of those aspects of the present translation which has proved problemmatic in the course of the use of the revised Lectionary for Mass.
November, 2004 Meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Three Liturgy action items were approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the course of its meeting on November 15-17, 2004. The first two items were approve by all of the Latin Church Bishops present and voting, while the third item was approved with only one negative vote. All three action items were developed by the Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee, chaired by Bishop Carlos Sevilla.
The first item consisted of an adaptation to the U.S. edition of the Bendicional for the Bendición Al Cumplir los Quince Años (Blessing on the Fifteenth Birthday) in English and Spanish. This rite for the Quinceañera was developed in response to the request of many Bishops and is designed to help them to guide and regulate celebrations of the Quinceañera, a coming of age ceremony now placed in the context of a renewal of Baptism by a young woman reaching the age of fifteen. A resource document entitled Fifteen Questions on the Quinceañera may be following this article and may be used for catechesis on this rite.
The USCCB also approved ritual editions of the Ordo Celebrandi Matrimonium, under the title Ritual del Matrimonio, and the Ordo Baptismi Parvulorum, under the title Ritual Para el Bautismo de los Niños. Both ritual books, while based on the approved editions for Spain and Mexico, were adapted to utilize a vocabulary which is accessible to the faithful from Spanish speaking countries of diverse linguistic expressions in the dioceses of the United States of America. They incorporate rubrical and textual adaptations of the English language editions and are intended for eventual publication in Spanish and in bi-lingual editions.
While the Ritual Para el Bautismo de los Niños contains no adaptations beyond those contained in the English language edition of the Rite for the Baptism of Children, the Ritual del Matrimonio does contain additional rites for the arras, the lasso and a velacion as approved and confirmed for the edition developed by the Episcopal Conference of Spain.
Having received the approval of two thirds of the Latin Church Bishops, all three ritual texts will now be submitted to the Holy See for the requisite confirmation.
Fifteen Questions on the Quinceañera
1. What is a quinceañera?
The quinceañera is a traditional celebration of life and gratitude to God on the occasion of the fifteenth birthday of a young Hispanic woman. The ritual emphasizes her passage from childhood to adulthood. The family usually requests a Mass or a blessing to be held in the Church. The rite is frequently celebrated in several countries in the Americas, including Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. It is frequently requested by Hispanic Catholics in the dioceses of the United States of America.
2. What is the origin of the quinceañera?
The tribes of Meso-America, possibly the Mayas and Toltecs, celebrated elaborate rites of passage for their young men and women. Rites of passage are known to have existed in the Iberian Peninsula as well. The Spanish conquistadores may have brought the practice to Meso-America. It is possible that the missionaries would have approved of this practice, since these rites closely paralleled Christian practices of initiation and marriage. The ancient Mozarabic Rite of the Iberian peninsula had elaborate rituals marking the passage of baptized adolescents, each of which included specific references to Christian initiation and each of which was celebrated following the reception of Holy Communion at Mass. With the suppression of the Mozarabic Rite, many of these rituals passed into popular religious practice.
3. How is the quinceañera celebrated?
In the presence of family and friends, the young woman (the quinceañera), often accompanied by fifteen young men and women of her choice, (damas y chambelanes), enters the Church in procession, together with her parents and godparents. If she has prepared the readings, she may serve as the lector for at least one of the readings. After the Liturgy of the Word, the quinceañera makes a commitment to God and the Blessed Virgin to live out the rest of her life according to the teachings of Christ and the Church by renewing her Baptismal promises. Then, signs of faith (medal, Bible, rosary, prayer book) may be blessed and given to her. A special blessing of the quinceañera concludes the Liturgy of the Eucharist. After Mass, the young woman is presented to the community. The ritual continues with a dinner and sometimes a dance in her honor.
4. Who are the participants in the celebration?
The quinceañera and fifteen young men and women of her choice are joined by members of her family and friends for the celebration. The priest(s) or deacon has a key role as the one who represents the Church and who prays the blessing over the young woman. The local community is also encouraged to gather for the celebration.
5. May the quinceañera take place outside Mass?
The ritual may be celebrated simply, outside Mass with the young woman, accompanied by her parents and godparents, coming before the priest or deacon to receive a special blessing in the Church. Or, there may be a more elaborate celebration with elegant clothes, flowers, music and decorations and with more than one priest presiding.
6. Why would this blessing be included in the Book of Blessings?
The Book of Blessings (De Benedictionibus) provides blessings for persons, places, and objects in a wide variety of circumstances and occasions. The Bendición de la Quinceañera is proposed for inclusion in Part I: Blessings Directly Pertaining to Persons, alongside order for the blessing of a family, a married couple, children, sons and daughters, etc.
7. Why is it necessary to have an approved order of blessing for this practice?
The traditional blessing, part of the popular religion of Latinos and common in some countries of Central and South America and the Caribbean, has developed in the United States into an unofficial “liturgical rite” and is regulated in some dioceses with specific guidelines and norms.
In recent years, the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy has been approached by a number of Bishops requesting the development of a quinceañera ritual for use in the dioceses of the United States of America. There is currently no approved Blessing for the Quinceañera. In a number of US dioceses, unapproved “rituals” of a variety of origins are in widespread use. In the absence of an approved rite, celebrants often spontaneously create prayers and ritual actions. Since only approved and confirmed rites may be used in the Liturgy, a Blessing for the Quinceañera has been proposed by the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy.
8. Why do parents present their daughter for this celebration?
The parents, in coming to the parish Church seeking the blessing, acknowledge that their daughter has reached the age where she is capable of handling additional responsibility. They see the quince años Mass as a way to thank God for the blessing of their daughter’s life and to seek God’s blessing and guidance as she enters adulthood. The extended family, (grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles and cousins) is usually present, to celebrate with the quinceañera. Esponsores, other couples acting as sponsors, may bring the religious articles forward to be blessed and presented to the quinceañera.
9. What is the positive value of this celebration for the parish?
The Virgin Mary is a model for women of every class and age group. In a culture where machismo is still evident, the choice by a young Hispanic woman to celebrate her fifteenth birthday in the Church offers a host of possibilities for her and the parish. If the young women are received with understanding and a willingness to meet their needs, the celebration of the quinceañera can be a “teachable moment” for the parish.
10. Could a parish institute a period of preparation for the quinceañera?
The quinceañera, and the fifteen teens who form part of her celebration, could be asked to participate in a day of retreat or in one or several sessions of preparation with talks, activities and prayer, together with the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance, prior to the date of the celebration. The focus on the positive contribution of women in society as well as their becoming active participants in the life of the parish can also be emphasized. They may be encouraged to take a more active part in the various parish ministries.
11. Why is this celebration necessary when the Church has the sacrament of Confirmation?
The Sacrament of Confirmation is one of the three sacraments of initiation by which the baptized “are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.”1 The celebration of the quince años complements the Sacrament by providing a special blessing for a young Catholic woman as she enters adulthood, preparing her for her new responsibilities.
Today’s teenagers live in a culture which urges them to embrace “the facile myths of success and power,”2 in direct contrast to the Catholic values espoused by their parents. At the time of the celebration of the blessing of the quinceañera, a young woman comes to the Church seeking a blessing. Standing before the altar, she is publicly presented by her family and friends in a gesture of thanksgiving.
12. Does this celebration sometimes become too costly and extravagant?
Yes. Unfortunately, the advantage of living in a country where material things are readily available often encourages families to give into a competitive consumerism and spend exorbitant sums on such celebrations. The same tendency is often seen in the planning of celebrations of the Sacrament of Marriage.
However, as with weddings, many Hispanic families save for years to provide the celebration for their daughter, granddaughter, goddaughter or niece. While to an uninformed observer, the financial expenditure may appear far beyond the means of the family, the reality may be very different. The custom of having padrinos/madrinas and esponsores makes it possible for there to be a larger array of donated gifts and services. Family members who are seamstresses, musicians, drivers of limousines, florist shop workers, cooks, bakers and photographers often donate their services as gifts. The church decorations, food and music for the fiesta, are often provided by family and friends.
Parishes may also give pastoral guidance in having the celebration for several girls at one Mass, thus focusing more on the liturgy than on any one family, or offering the use of the parish hall for the fiesta which follows. A parish, a parish organization or several parish organizations could sponsor a fiesta following a monthly religious celebration for all the quinceañeras of the parish. It is suggested that a time of preparation be set before the date of the celebration so that all participants understand the meaning of the religious celebration and have an opportunity to ready themselves spiritually.
13. How can this celebration be a means of strengthening the faith of Latino youth?
Adults have a responsibility to pass on the faith to younger members of the community. The celebration of quince años is a crucial time in the life of a young Hispanic woman. While society invites youth to gang membership, drug and alcohol abuse and irresponsible sexual behavior, the Church can offer the quinceañera an opportunity to reflect on her role as a Catholic Christian woman in a society which often distorts the woman’s role.
The U.S. Bishops’ pastoral letter, Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry is a call to personal discipleship, evangelization and leadership of youth so strong that the bishops ask the entire Church to make ministry with adolescents its concern as well. The letter focuses on three goals: empowering young people to live as disciples of Christ in today’s world; drawing young people to responsible participation in the life, mission and work of the faith community; and fostering the personal and spiritual growth of each young person.
The quinceañera ritual is valuable for the religious message it sends not only to young people, but also to parents, grandparents, godparents and the entire parish in calling them to prayerfully join with youth in making a commitment to God and the Church.
14. Why is the rite just for girls?
According to traditional usage, the Bendición de la Quinceañera has been a celebration for young Hispanic women. This is the practice in the countries of origin of the young women requesting the blessing. Recently, in the Western and Southwestern parts of the United States a limited number of young Hispanic males have requested this blessing for themselves or, in one case, twins (male and female), requested a joint celebration. There is no basis in the traditional usage, however, for the inclusion of young men in the rite.
The celebration also can be a strengthening of the identity of the quinceañera within her family and as a Catholic, as well as an affirmation of the gift of women as a blessing to the Church. In the Hispanic community, traditionally it has been the women who hand on the faith. The abuelita (grandmother) holds a special place in the family for that reason. Women organize feast days, celebrate rituals and offer prayers. The mother sets up the altarcito in the home where prayers are offered for the living and the dead. She makes the home a domestic church. Hispanic women are the evangelizers and teachers of values, yet their leadership has often gone unrecognized. The Quince Años Blessing publicly acknowledges this historic role.
15. Why is the Bendición de la Quinceañera presented in English and in Spanish?
In many parishes the young women who come to the church asking for the Bendición de la Quinceañera speak only Spanish, others are bilingual, and some of those who were born in this country speak only English. Those participating in the celebration, the parents, godparents, relatives and friends, also share in this linguistic diversity. Many young women who choose the Eucharistic celebration in English and who pray in this language, nevertheless desire to participate in the traditional custom of the Quinceañera and prefer that at least some of the celebration be done in English.
November, 2004 Meeting of the Vox Clara Committee
The following is excerpted from a Press Release, issued by the Holy See in regard to the November 9-11, 2004 meeting of the Vox Clara Committee. The Committee of senior Bishops from English speaking countries was established by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2001 to give advice to the Congregation regarding matters of liturgical translations of Latin liturgical texts into the English language, and to strengthen effective cooperation with the Conferences of Bishops in this regard. Members from the United States of America are: Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb, who serves as First Vice-Chairman, Cardinal Justin Rigali, who serves as Treasurer; Archbishop Alfred Hughes; and Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I.
In the course of their meeting, the Committee received a progress report by teleconference from Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I. on the development of an English-language vernacular edition of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).
The Committee was provided a copy of the latest revision of ICEL’s translation of the Order of Mass, recently revised in the light of comments from Bishops throughout the English-speaking world. The Committee was impressed by the significant progress made by the mixed commission. At the request of the Congregation, the members conducted a review of the latest ICEL translation in the light of the instruction Liturgiam authenticam. In this way the Committee sought to respond to the desire expressed by Pope John Paul II in his message to the Vox Clara Commission of April 20, 2002 “of making available to the faithful, as quickly as possible, the vernacular translation of the editio tertia of the Missale Romanum…”
The Vox Clara Committee also discussed the implications for its work of pursuing the development of common liturgical and devotional texts with Christians of other Churches and ecclesial communities. In this regard, the Committee stressed the pressing pastoral need for the translation of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia as a first priority.
At the Congregation’s request, the Committee reviewed outlines of three appendices to the Ratio Translationis for the English-language, recently revised in the light of a world wide consultation with the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops. The appendices are designed to provide concrete application of the Ratio Translationis, which itself serves to apply the principles of Liturgiam authenticam to the translation of Latin liturgical texts into the English-language.
Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments addressed the Committee on November 10, 2004 and expressed his hope that the recently successful efforts by ICEL would result in a timely completion of the Roman Missal. He also thanked the members and advisors of the Vox Clara Committee for helping to encourage the realization of “the very best translation that can be provided for the English-speaking world.”
The next meeting of the Vox Clara Committee is scheduled for March, 2005.
The twenty-fifth day of December.
In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth; the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood; the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham; the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt; the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king; in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel; in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad; the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome; the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus; the whole world being at peace, in the sixth age of the world, Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months having passed since his conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh.
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.
The Members and Staff
of the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy
1 Lumen Gentium, no. 11; Cf. OC, Introduction 2.
2 Pope John Paul II, World Youth Day Address, August, 2005.