Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe
On March 25, 1999, Cardinal Jorge Medina-Estevez, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, published a decree declaring the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe on December 12th as a feast in all the countries of America. This decree implements the decision of Pope John Paul II as expressed in his Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in America. In a letter to Cardinal Medina dated June 25, 1999, Bishop Joseph A Fiorenza, President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, noted that "The Holy Father's decision is particularly gratifying to the bishops of our episcopal conference in the light of our earlier decision to establish Our Lady of Guadalupe as a Feast in the dioceses of the United States of America, as confirmed by a decree of your Congregation on January 8, 1988 (Prot. N. 1341/87)." The following unofficial translation of the Latin decree is provided as a service to our readers.
Concerning the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe
to be celebrated annually on December 12
in all America
In consenting to the Divine Word, Mary, the daughter of Adam, became the Mother of Jesus and, while embracing the salvific will of God with a full heart and unburdened by any sin, she devoted herself completely as the handmaid of the Lord to the person and works of her Son, serving the mystery of redemption under Him and through Him by the grace of God. She poured Life itself into the world, renewing all things, and appearing for us as a Mother in the order of grace as well. Finally, raised to the glory of heaven, she accompanies the Continued pilgrim Church always and everywhere with motherly love, so that the Church, contemplating the image of her own perfection and mission in the holy God-bearer (Theotokos), may instruct all nations with the praise of the Gospel's salvation, and, by the working of the Holy Spirit, fill the whole world with children of a new people. For this reason, the Christian people greatly revere this Mother and Queen, and invoke her aid in the difficulties and trials of life, so that she may obtain grace for them by the mercy of God.
Pope John Paul II on Sacred Space
On June 29, 1999, Pope John Paul II published a letter "Concerning Pilgrimage to the Places Linked to the History of Salvation." In that letter, the Holy Father offered an extended reflection on the meaning of "sacred space" as it applies to pilgrim sites and the sacred liturgical spaces which mark the holy places.
My meditation...turns to the "places" in which God has chosen to "pitch his tent" among us (Jn 1:14; cf. Ex 40:34-35; 1 Kgs 8:10-13). In a sense, I am completing what I wrote in Tertio Millennio Adveniente, in which the dominant perspective, against the background of the history of salvation, was the fundamental relevance of "time". In fact, the spatial dimension is no less decisive than the temporal in the concrete accomplishment of the mystery of the Incarnation.
At first sight, it may seem puzzling to speak of precise "spaces" in connection with God. No less than time, is not space completely subject to God's control? Everything has come from his hands and there is no place where God cannot be found: "The Lord's is the earth and its fullness, the world and all its people. It is he who set it on the seas, on the waters he made it firm" (Ps 24:1-2). God is equally present in every corner of the earth, so that the whole world may be considered the "temple" of his presence. Yet this does not take away from the fact that, just as time can be marked by kairoμ, by special moments of grace, space too may by analogy bear the stamp of particular saving actions of God. Moreover, this is an intuition present in all religions, which not only have sacred times but also sacred spaces, where the encounter with the divine may be experienced more intensely than it would normally be in the vastness of the cosmos.
In relation to this common religious tendency, the Bible offers its own specific message, setting the theme of "sacred space" within the context of the history of salvation. On the one hand, Scripture warns against the inherent risks of defining space of this kind, when this is done as a way of divinizing nature: here we should recall the powerful anti-idolatrous polemic of the Prophets in the name of fidelity to Yahweh, the God of the Exodus. On the other hand, the Bible does not exclude a cultic use of space, in so far as this expresses fully the particularity of God's intervention in the history of Israel. Sacred space is thus gradually "concentrated" in the Jerusalem Temple, where the God of Israel wishes to be honoured and, in a sense, encountered.
The eyes of Israelite pilgrims turn to the Temple and great is their joy when they reach the place where God has made his home: "I rejoiced when I heard them say, 'Let us go to God's house'. And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!" (Ps 122:1-2). In the New Testament, this "concentration" of sacred space reaches its summit in Christ, who is, in his person, the new "temple" (cf. Jn 2:21), in which dwells the "fullness of Godhead" (Col 2:9). With his coming, worship was destined radically to surpass material shrines in order to become worship "in spirit and truth" (Jn 4:24). In Christ, then, the Church too is considered by the New Testament to be a "temple" (cf. 1 Cor 3:17), as is the individual disciple of Christ, since each is inhabited by the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 6:19; Rm 8:11).
Clearly, this does not mean that Christians cannot have places of worship, as the history of the Church well shows; but it must not be forgotten that these are intended only to serve the liturgical and fraternal life of the community, at the same time knowing that the presence of God by its nature cannot be restricted to any one place, since his presence, which has its fullest expression and communication in Christ, pervades all space. The mystery of the Incarnation therefore reshapes the universal experience of "sacred space", on the one hand relativizing it, and on the other hand underlining its importance in new terms. The very "taking of flesh" by the Word (Jn 1:14) is in fact a reference to space. In Jesus of Nazareth, God has assumed the features typical of human nature, including a person's belonging to a particular people and a particular land. "Hic de Virgine Maria Iesus Christus natus est" these words take on a peculiar eloquence in Bethlehem, inscribed over the place where, according to tradition, Jesus was born: "Here Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary". The physical particularity of the land and its geographical determination are inseparable from the truth of the human flesh assumed by the Word.
June Meeting of the NCCB Committee on the Liturgy
On June 15-16, 1999 the members, consultants, and advisors of the Committee on the Liturgy met in Tucson, Arizona for the annual committee meeting in conjunction with the Special Assembly of the NCCB. Brother Joseph Rocco, New York Provincial of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart was welcomed as advisor, representing the Council of Major Superiors of Men.
On the Committee's agenda were six action items, six information items, and reports from the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions and the Instituto de Liturgia Hispana.
The first action item concerned the revised International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) translation of the De Ordinatione Episcopi, Presbyterorum et Diacanorum. In response to the observations from the Holy See received in November 1997, ICEL prepared a new translation of the ordination rites. The Liturgy Secretariat received the final version of the ICEL translation on June 8, 1999. These texts had been discussed, amended, and approved by the ICEL Episcopal Board at their meeting on May 27-30, 1999. Since the Secretariat and the Liturgy Committee members lacked sufficient time to study the translation or the modifications made by the ICEL Advisory Committee and Episcopal Board, the Committee scheduled a meeting of the members and consultants for August 16, 1999 in Chicago. In preparation for the meeting, the Liturgy Secretariat was directed to prepare an analysis of the revised translation, including background information from the ICEL Secretariat. In August the Committee will review the text and make a final recommendation to the Administrative Committee of the NCCB at its September meeting.
With the confirmation and use of Volume I of the new Lectionary for Mass, parishes and publishers have requested a new edition of the Book of Gospels. The previous edition contained the Gospel texts for Sundays and major solemnities, but it did not have its own introduction. An introduction has been prepared based on the Praenotanda to the Lectionary for Mass and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. The Committee members reviewed the English version of the Introduction and made several suggestions on content and style. A revised version of the text will be considered at the August 16th meeting. If the Committee approves the final text, it would be considered by the Administrative Committee in September and then presented to the de iure Latin rite bishops of the Conference for vote in November. Following approval by the NCCB, the Introduction would require the confirmation of the Apostolic See.
The Committee members spent a significant period of time discussing the seventh draft of the art and architecture document. Bishop Frank Rodimer, chair of the Task Group on art and architecture, presented a brief history of the document and the composition of the Task Group. The Task Group met in February and in April 1999 to complete the seventh draft of the document.
The Liturgy Committee offered suggestions on the sections of the draft treating the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, the sacrament of Baptism and the placement of the baptismal font, the authority of the new document and its relationship to the prior committee statement on Environment and Art in Catholic Worship, the role of the liturgical consultant, and the position of choir and musicians. Members also made stylistic suggestions and recommendations on footnotes to assist the bishops in their discussion and study. Over the summer months, members of the Task Group will prepare a glossary of terms and an Appendix with discussion questions for use by parish committees. The Committee approved the document in principle and asked Sister Ann Rehrauer to edit the draft and to prepare the document for presentation to the Administrative Committee in September. If the Administrative Committee approves the document for the November agenda, it will be discussed by the members of the NCCB at the November 1999 meeting, revised, and a final version will be prepared for discussion and vote by the Latin rite bishops in June 2000.
The fourth action item concerned the approval of the translation of the USA texts in the Spanish language edition of De Benedictionibus. The Book of Blessings contains texts from the Roman Ritual as well as forty-eight additional texts proper to the United States. The Hispanic Subcommittee recommended the translation approved by the Mexican episcopal conference for the texts from the Ritual. The translation of the additional USA texts was prepared by the Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee.
The Bendicional will also contain texts from the Lectionary for Mass. Although the Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee will recommend a Lectionary translation at its July meeting, the Committee was asked to approve the translation of the entire Bendicional (Book of Blessings) at this time. The Committee approved the translation by a unanimous vote.
Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of the Diocese of Honolulu presented a petition and supporting documentation to the Liturgy Committee requesting that the NCCB include the optional memorial of Blessed Damien (DeVeuster) of Moloka'i on the proper calendar for dioceses of the United States. In preparation for the Committee's discussion, the Liturgy Secretariat, through ecclesiastical representatives of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC), surveyed the various regions concerning devotion to Blessed Damien. The Committee voted to recommend the inclusion of Blessed Damien of Moloka'i on the proper calendar for the United States. If the NCCB votes to approve this request in November, the decision will be forwarded to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments for confirmation.
The final action item concerned catechesis on the liturgy in preparation for the new Sacramentary. The USA edition of the Pastoral Introduction to the Order of Mass was approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops as a helpful summary of rubrics drawn from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and a variety of other documents of the Holy See. The document was originally approved for inclusion in the revised Sacramentary. At its June meeting, the BCL unanimously recommended that the NCCB seek the consent of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to the publication of the Pastoral Introduction as a separate catechetical fascicle. This request does not prejudice the question of the eventual inclusion of the pastoral introduction in the revised Sacramentary.
Father Edward Hislop and Father Michael Spillane presented a report from the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC). Father Spillane noted that as of June 1999 there were fifteen dioceses in the United States which did not have a liturgical commission or an office of worship. The lack of qualified candidates for liturgical positions is a concern of the FDLC as well as the Liturgy Secretariat.
Each year the FDLC and BCL co-sponsor the National Meeting of the Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. Delegates to the National Meeting are either diocesan directors of liturgical offices or appointed heads of diocesan liturgical commissions. During the 1998 meeting in Memphis, delegates representing 129 dioceses approved two position statements and one resolution of immediate concern. Two of the three statements directly impact the work of the Committee on the Liturgy. The first position statement requested the formation of a Task Force by the BCL to study and augment the pastoral, liturgical, and theological notes in the Leader's edition of Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest. The Resolution of Immediate Concern, which arose from a session at the national meeting, requested that the BCL prepare and publish guidelines for weekday celebrations in the absence of a priest. At its March meeting, the Liturgy Committee discussed the resolution and directed the Liturgy Secretariat to consult with diocesan liturgy directors and to prepare draft guidelines on weekday celebrations in the absence of a priest for consideration by the Committee.
Father Heliodoro Lucatero, president of the Instituto de Liturgia Hispana reported on the activities of the Instituto during the past year, as well as for the next year. The Instituto will participate in the planning for Encuentro 2000 to be held in Los Angels July 6-9, 2000. In addition, the Instituto is providing mobile teams through St. Meinrad Seminary to help train priests in Hispanic ministry, and members continue to prepare for a symposium on liturgy at Yale University in 2001.
Among the other information items discussed by the Committee were a request for clarification on posture during the Eucharist, the celebration and growth of the Divine Mercy Devotion, and the implementation and application of Ecclesia Dei in the United States. A discussion on devotional and popular participation aids was postponed until the November Committee meeting.
Composition of Mustum
On June 19, 1995, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, addressed a circular letter to Presidents of Episcopal Conferences containing revised procedures for permitting the use of mustum to priests affected by alcoholism (Prot. N. 89/78). In recent months the Secretariat has received inquiries from several dioceses whose Ordinaries have granted permission for the use of mustum to priests adversely affected by even a small amount of alcohol. The correspondents have sought a more precise definition of mustum.
Article II-C of Cardinal Ratzinger's letter describes mustum as "fresh grape juice from grapes, or juice preserved by suspending its fermentation (by means of freezing or other methods which do not alter its nature)." While several brands of grape juice are available commercially, not all varieties meet the requirements of mustum.
Any commercially produced grape juice whose fermentation process was arrested, even at a very early stage, may be used for mustum. However, those grape juices which have been pasteurized are not proper matter for Eucharist because such pasteurization removes even trace amount of alcohol produced in the natural fermentation process.
The insistence on the purity and integrity of the grape juice used as mustum is to assure that the matter used for the Eucharist retains, as closely as possible, the characteristics of the matter intended by Christ to become his own Precious Blood.
The Sacraments via Electronic Communication
The Secretariat for the Liturgy has received several inquiries concerning the celebration of the sacraments via various types of electronic communication. The celebration of the Sacrament of Penance via telephone, participation in Mass via television or the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation via video conference have on occasion been proposed. However, electronic communication via telephone, television, video conference or internet is not sufficient for the celebration of the sacraments. The celebration of the sacraments requires the physical and geographic presence of both the gathered faithful and the bishop, priest, deacon or other presiding minister.
- Liturgical celebrations depend upon the physical presence of the gathered faithful. While the Ceremonial of Bishops enthusiastically recommends large diocesan liturgical celebrations the emphasis is always placed on the invitation to the faithful to gather. Indeed, the idea of gathering of the members of Christ's faithful in one place is fundamental to the celebration of the Liturgy.
The faithful from different areas of the dioceses should be invited to gather and, as far as possible, the priests should join them. To encourage and make more convenient gatherings of the faithful and the priests, arrangement should be made for gatherings of this kind at different times in the various parts of the diocese." (Ceremonial of Bishops 13)Thus the ritual for the Sacrament of Confirmation calls for the entrance song to take place "after the people have assembled." The clear presumption is that the people are physically present and in the gathering are enabled to enter into a relationship with each other and the priest in the sacramental action.
- Liturgical celebrations require the physical presence of the bishop, priest, deacon or the approved presiding minister. The multiple dialogues between priest and people which are at the heart of all Christian liturgy require the physical presence of "the bishop, either in person or through the priests who are his helpers." ("episcopo sive per seipsum, sive per presbyteros adiutores ipsius."General Instruction of the Roman Missal 59)
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, number 5, states that "It is of the greatest importance that the celebration of the Mass, the Lord's Supper, be so arranged that the ministers and the faithful may take their own proper part in it and thus gain its fruits more fully." The part of the priest celebrant would seem to be characterized first by his physical presence in order that he might enter into the necessary relationships with the gathered faithful and their God which form the basis of Christian worship. Electronic projections appear to lack a capacity for communication on the level of word, action and physical perception which are natural to those who are physically present.
Some might suggest that an electronic "presence," especially when oral and visual communication is made possible through electronic means, is sufficient. While the use of media can lessen the impact or temper the limitations of distance and time, it also affects the way things are perceived. What people come to know and experience is not reality as such, but what they are shown. (cf. The Pontifical Council on Culture's recent instruction Towards a Pastoral Approach to Culture, no. 9).
The liturgy, however, requires a full, conscious and active participation which demands the presence of the whole person in contact with the reality (not merely an image or concept) of the saving presence of Christ. A "live" telecast of an event allows a limited kind of "presence" for the viewer, but the viewer is very aware that he or she is not "really there" in the same manner as those physically present at the event. Effective participation and communication require that one be "present at" and "present to" the reality to be experienced.
As regular participants in video conferences report, electronic communication is incapable of transmitting the full range of human communication. As the ancient maxim ubi episcopus, ibi ecclesia implies, true "presence" is physical and geographical by definition.
New Chairman for Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee
Archbishop Jerome G. Hanus, OSB, chairman of the NCCB Committee on the Liturgy has appointed Bishop Carlos A. Sevilla, SJ as chairman of the Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee. Bishop Sevilla succeeds Archbishop Roberto O. Gonzalez, OFM. During Bishop Gonzalez's time as chairman the subcommittee completed Spanish language editions of the Sacramentary (Sacramentario), the Order of Christian Funerals (Ritual de Exequias Cristianas) and the Book of Blessings (Bendicional). The Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee is the only standing subcommittee of the NCCB Committee on the Liturgy.
Forty-Seventh International Eucharistic Congress
On June 18-25, 2000 the Forty Seventh International Eucharistic Congress will be convened in Rome under the title "Jesus Christ, the Only Savior of the World: Bread for New Life." The following excerpt entitled "Liturgical remembrance of the Lord's sacrifice" is taken from the Basic Text for the Congress. The full text is provided on the BCL website (www.nccbuscc.org).
- The greatness of the Eucharist lies precisely in this: through the words spoken and the actions performed by the priest - who presides over the liturgical assembly in Christ's name (in persona Christi, according to the well-known expression) - the Pasch of the Lord Jesus is made present and effective: "He is the true and eternal priest who established this unending sacrifice. He offered himself as a victim for our deliverance and taught us to make this offering in his memory."1
The sacrifice of the Cross is not repeated, just as Jesus' historical events are not repeated, but these mysteries of the Lord's life are made present in the sacramental action: "Father, we celebrate the memory of Christ, your Son. We, your people and your ministers, recall his passion, his resurrection from the dead and his ascension into glory; and from the many gifts you have given us, we offer to you, God of glory and majesty, this holy and perfect sacrifice: the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation".2
The liturgical memory includes the whole historical mystery of Christ the Savior, the Son of God, "born of a woman" (Gal 4:4): "If the Body we eat and the Blood we drink is the risen Lord's inestimable gift to us, viators, it still brings along with it, as fragrant Bread, the taste and scent of the Virgin Mother."3 In truth, from the first instant of life in his mother's womb, Jesus offered himself up for the glory of God and for the life and resurrection of the world (cf. Heb 10:5-10). The high point of his sacrifice is the hour of the Cross; its fruit is the Resurrection; the saving gift is people's sharing in divine life.
By making the past present, the Eucharistic memorial anticipates the promise of future glory. This is acclaimed in chorus in the heart of every Mass: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again."
Ecclesial remembrance of Christ's command
- Obedience to Jesus' words, "Do this in memory of me", is paid as a community. The Eucharist is not a private matter and its Ecclesial nature does not allow it to be thought of or experienced as an individual action, even if it involves the individual person. On the contrary, it is always an action of the Church for building up the Church.
With the awareness that the Church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the Church', the Christian community has always celebrated the memorial of Christ's Pasch as the source and culmination of its identity and mission. For this reason, gathering together each Sunday, in the Lord's name, to be nourished at the table of the Word and the Bread of life, is obedient to the wishes which Christ made known on the eve of his Passion. We cannot call ourselves Christians and then neglect Jesus' command, "Do this in memory of me".
In celebrating the Lord's death and resurrection, the Church finds her vitality again and rediscovers her vocation as the people of the New and Everlasting Covenant, a pilgrim people, along the byways and amidst the trials of the world, moving toward communion with God in the heavenly Jerusalem. There "he will make his home among them; they shall be his people, and he will be their God; his name is God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone" (Rv 21:34).
Living remembrance of Jesus' example
- By remembering Christ's Pasch, the Church is called by the Spirit to unite herself to the immaculate victim presented to the Father. In this way Christ's sacrifice also becomes the sacrifice of those who take part in it. 4
We know in fact that the command, "Do this in memory of me", is closely connected with the new commandment which was also given by Jesus to his disciples when he was at table with them: "If I then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet you should wash each other's feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you" (Jn 13:14-15).
In truth, Jesus cannot be remembered in the liturgical act without remembering his act of total love in daily life. It is this that makes the disciples truly obedient to their Lord and Master. It can never be thought that Christ's disciples will follow a path which is not the path of the dead and risen Lord. Obvious proof of this is the martyrdom that has accompanied the history of the Church until our times. The relics of martyrs which have been placed since ancient times under the altars where the memory of the "Victim whose death has reconciled us" is celebrated, are a constant reminder of the living memory of Jesus' command. Only the strength the Eucharist has enabled, and still enables countless men and women to give witness with their lives to the extraordinary newness of the Lord's Pasch.
New Position of Staff Advisor for the Secretariat for the Liturgy
The United States Catholic Conference is seeking applicants for the position of Staff Advisor with a specialization in multi-cultural liturgy in its Secretariat for the Liturgy. Duties will include assisting the Executive Director in the development of vernacular typical editions of the liturgical books of particular ethnic and cultural groups; assisting with the development of responses to a wide range of liturgical inquiries from bishops, liturgy directors, organizations and others, particularly (though not exclusively) as they deal with his or her particular specialty; serving as Secretariat staff member to one or more of the committees and task groups of the Committee, including making arrangements for meetings, preparing all documentation for meetings, issuing the minutes of meetings, and providing follow-up work to those meetings. Other duties include research and preparation of documentation for meetings of the Liturgy Committee and its various subcommittees and task groups, assistance in the preparation of liturgies for the plenary meetings of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and in the oversight of the publication of liturgical books, development and editing of various publications and assistance in the preparation of the BCL Newsletter.
Qualified candidates must have completed at least the master's level or its equivalent in liturgical studies. In addition, he or she must possess writing and proof-reading skills. While a working knowledge of Latin is desirable, a fluency in Spanish language and a familiarity with Hispanic cultural and liturgical issues are essential. A reading knowledge of some other modern languages, especially Italian or French, is recommended. The candidate must have had experience assisting in the work of a diocesan Office for Worship, a center for liturgical research or similar responsibilities. Clergy/religious require prior approval from their diocesan bishop or religious superior before an application can be considered. Diocesan lay employees also require prior approval from the local bishop. Competitive compensation package including excellent benefits and relocation assistance. Qualified and interested applicants can submit their letters of introduction and rιsume with appropriate approvals no later than September 1, 1999. Position located at NCCB/USCC offices in northeast Washington D.C. Respond to: Office of Human Resources, United States Catholic Conference - LIT, 3211 Fourth Street, N.E., Washington D.C. 20017 (FAX 202-541-3412).
1 Cf. Roman Missal, Preface of the Holy Eucharist I.
2 Roman Missal, Eucharistic Prayer I.
3 John Paul II, Allocution at the Angelus Domini (5 June 1983).
4 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (31 May 1998), nn. 31-54.