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Monday, June 27, 2011


Paul Inwood wrote on June 27, 2011 on 
To be perfectly accurate, “Christ has died” was not fashioned [by ICEL] but borrowed.

No one knows for sure who wrote it, but it seems to have been the work of an Anglican clergyman attending a World Council of Churches meeting, possibly in India, in about 1963.Already by 1965 it was in fairly wide use in Anglican Churches, and found its way into the Series 3 Eucharist. 

ICEL simply borrowed it without acknowledgement for the 1970 translation of the 1969 Latin Order of Mass (and, worse still, claimed copyright in it themselves — naughty!). 

... [I]t was about Christ, rather than addressed to Christ, and the other three acclamations were indeed criticised by liturgists for addressing Christ in the middle of a prayer addressed to the Father. 

(rather in the same way that Rome instructed the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales on two separate occasions — but they did not take any notice — not to include the Hail Mary in the General Intercessions because the thrust of these prayers was towards the Father and a prayer addressed to the BVM interrupted that).  

There has always been some justification, therefore, for saying that “Christ has died” was more appropriate than the other acclamations.  

When in July 2003 I interviewed Joseph Gelineau, who had worked on the Eucharistic Prayers and was responsible for the inclusion of the Memorial Acclamation in the EP, I quizzed him closely on this. 

He said that in the tradition as they found it (for example in Greek liturgies), such acclamations of the people were always addressed to Christ because, it was surmised, the people felt “closer” to Christ than to the Father. (My [Inwood] reaction to that would be that today, it is possible to say that people feel a lot closer to the Father than they once did — and it’s also possible to point to the openings of the 1973 ICEL collects as a reason for that!.)  

Gelineau also told me that he had frequently been asked questions by other liturgists about why these acclamations were addressed to Christ instead of to the Father.  

I asked him if there was any reason why the three acclamations might not have been on the lines of 

“We profess his death, O Lord, and proclaim his resurrection, until he comes again” or 

“When we eat…. we proclaim his death, O Lord,…”, 

in each case with “Lord” being addressed to the Father rather than to Christ.  

He said there was absolutely no reason why this couldn’t have been done; it was simply that they hadn’t thought of it because of what they found in other traditions.  

Paul's comment is a good example of questioning ourselves about every little thing we do in liturgy.  In order to make a good decision as a liturgical presider (or planner) regarding the proclamation of the Mystery of Faith (following the Institution Narrative in the Eucharist), it is helpful to have the sort of information Paul provides.

He has pointed out an inconsistency and simple ways to eliminate it by either rephrasing or selecting the more consistent option.  It could be an example of something “feeling better” to the congregation without them even knowing that an inconsistency has been eliminated. Maybe it explains why so many congregations are most comfortable with the “Christ has died” response.

Using Paul's information could fit under a heading I have in preparation, "Decide to Preside."

In order for one to be the best possible presider one possibly can become, each presider needs to decide, on a good basis, what is to be done with each word or action and not just accept the practices one has seen previously or fallen into using without making a specific decision. 

If you preside at Eucharist, can you say why you use every particular word in that particular delivery with those particular postures or gestures, for all of your presiding? 

Do you think that too much to ask?  Talk to any good actor after a performance and they can probably answer such questions.  They are well aware that everything they do or omit can affect how effectively the meaning of the playwright gets to the audience and how easy it is to distract from that effectiveness. Does not sacramental presiding deserve at least as much care?

Many clergy could benefit from realizing that having such reasons can make the liturgy clearer to persons in the pews. They can benefit from someone asking how the presider might make the intentions of the church even clearer.  
That is, I think many clergy could benefit from a presiding coach asking such questions and discussing possible alternatives for the presider to select.

If any priest or minister who presides at Eucharist would like to have a presiding coach, please email

If you think some presiders you know could improve with a little bit of coaching, send them a link to or copy of  this blog posting.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


So much good here, and so much which is misleading in very usual ways, in this blog in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by Rev. Pamela Dolan
In a previous post, I wrote a bit about looking for God in unlikely places--in a homeless woman on the subway, for instance, but also perhaps in our own closest relationships with friends and family. Now I'd like to turn from the unlikely to the obvious: seeking God in worship.

Scripture and our faith both promise us that we can always find Jesus in our midst by gathering together and breaking bread together in his Name. Of course that does not mean that God's presence is only available to us in church. Christ's risen presence is a bodily presence, and we are being asked to meet Jesus again and again in our incarnated lives, in flesh and blood.

Nevertheless, when we are seeking God's presence in our lives, we must not forget to look in the obvious place, the place that the Psalm 116 calls the "courts of the Lord's house." In other words, we still might need to learn to trust that God is truly and readily available to us in worship.
Some seem to think that “worship” is entirely about praise going up.  This is  vertical imagery.



Others see praise going up with attraction and holiness coming down, vertical but bi-directional.


Liturgy, unlike simple worship, goes downward to the assembly, then upward to the divine. It also goes in all the horizontal directions. The sharing, being one-with [communion], is essential to Christian liturgy. It distinguishes it from other beliefs which only engage in worship or appeasement of the divine.


Rather than being drawn heavenward, after being strengthened in community through the liturgy, we are sent out to mission, to live our individual Christian lives.  

It is hard to live a Gospel of Love in a world of competition.  In liturgy, we experience that we are not alone in our attempts. 

This is why I suggest avoiding the word “worship” to name or describe the Christian liturgy, because it is more downward and outward than the upward which "worship" suggests.  

Many get trapped in our accustomed vocabulary in much worse ways than this author has.  What is conspicuous is how much she comprehends yet she still gets misled by terminology which reflects non-liturgical concepts of public prayer, indeed, concepts which can even lead one away from what is distinct about Christianity from other sorts of belief.  She has the big picture, but some of the verbal tools she has inherited can lead away from her own good points.
Worship can take a nearly infinite number of forms and occur in a nearly infinite number of places, but I am particularly interested in corporate worship, in what happens when people gather as a community and offer "a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving" in a place set apart for just such an activity. This is not to denigrate individual prayer, also a necessity in the spiritual life, but to remind us that--however unfashionable it might be--repetitive, predictable, tradition-bound, liturgical worship [prayer] is a primary place for encounter with the living God. Such worship is corporate and incorporeal--it is done in community, and it involves our whole body, through gesture, posture, and all the senses.
I have added emphasis for these very important points, except substituting “prayer” where the author had “worship”.

Liturgy, beyond worship/adoration, includes, as mentioned, thanksgiving, but also petition and contrition. To refer to liturgy as worship is to re-enforce, through omission, some misconception of liturgy's origins and essence.

God made us to be people who worship him, who regularly come into his presence as a worshipping community. Worship is both the gift given to us and the most right and proper gift we can give back to Him; as the Psalmist says, it is how we "repay the Lord for all the good things God has given us."

C.S. Lewis rightly points out that our worship now, important as it is, is really just a tuning up for the time when we are gathered together as a communion of saints, caught up in eternal praise and worship. In his thorny little book, Reflections on the Psalms, he writes,
It is along these lines that I find it easiest to understand the Christian doctrine that "Heaven" is a state in which angels now, and men hereafter, are perpetually employed in praising God. This does not mean, as it can so dismally suggest, that it is like "being in Church." For our "services," both in their conduct and in our power to participate, are merely attempts at worship; never fully successful, often 99.9 per cent failures, sometimes total failures. We are not riders but pupils in the riding school...
There is a myth that liturgy is an earthly imitation of angelic worship, and Lewis is one of its prisoners. Liturgy is not about heaven at all. It is about God nurturing the members of the Christian community that we might be supported in the difficult way of life which is to

Follow Jesus instead of
-the stock market,
-the home team,
-any political ideology,
-the almighty dollar,
-the fashions,
-or any of the other Mammons advertised to us.

This myth of angelic liturgy on earth ends up putting the emphasis on cultural expressions under the banner of "offering our best to God". In contrast, when describing Christian liturgy, the bishops of the Roman Catholic church called for “noble simplicity” [Second Vatican Council document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, #34 and other places]
Leave it to a starchy old Anglican to puncture any self-importance a clergy person might be tempted to feel! And yet I do not despair. As imperfect as our attempts at worship [communal prayer] are, nonetheless they are the great gift of the Church to the world. They are, or can be, the place where the vertical and the horizontal planes of life come together, where we sense for a fleeting moment our lives and souls being drawn heavenward.
Again, I have added emphasis for these very important points, except substituting “communal prayer” where the author had “worship”. Yet, the point is not to be drawn heavenward but to be drawn to Jesus who came to earth to show us how to live.

In the liturgy, God offers nurturance to the people of God through the Scriptures and the Eucharist, sharing of the Word and of the Meal. We respond with thanks and praise. Liturgy is much more a gift of God to the Church than an offering of the Church to God, who has no need to receive anything from us.

This is well captured in Dolan's “where the vertical and the horizontal planes of life come together”. Yet the “horizontal” immediately gets “drawn heavenward.”

Worship was demanded of subjects by rulers, and adoration was worship of the divine ruler. [See blog on latria and dulia.] 

Living as Jesus taught is to bring forth the rule of God on earth, much more so than to imitate some apocalyptic image of greatness based on monarchy, domination and power, royal cities and royal courts.  These are not the only images of God and are probably not the best images for our times and culture.
The same Jesus who walked with his friends on the road to Emmaus calls us to the table and asks us to "do this in remembrance of me." What if we lived our whole lives in remembrance of Him? The more deeply we immerse ourselves in prayer and worship, the more we can become attuned to the revelation that is also available to us in our everyday interactions, and especially in our relationships with those we love. When we are out in the world, living our lives, and we feel our hearts strangely warmed, we can stop and take a moment to recognize the presence of God in our midst--and give thanks for it.
A final caveat to the blog readers: Do not mistake immersing oneself in prayer with turning inward or turning to a “me and Jesus” spirituality. Christians are called to pray always, yes, to be immersed in prayer. This call is the “Ora et Labora” of St. Benedict. We are called to work and pray. That is, we are called to always be mindful of God as we do our daily work, even our recreation.

Morning and Evening Prayers are reminders, as are Meal Prayers and recited prayers, that we are not called to focus inwardly or on heaven but called to live as Christians. We change the world through living the commandment to love. We keep ourselves on that task through prayer which includes contrition, petition, gratitude, and, yes, worship, adoration, and honor to God. These are our self-improvement tools.

Liturgy is more like our work-out class where it is easier to do the exercises because we are led and are not alone. We do not go there to admire the style of the place or of the leader. We go in order to get in better shape for daily living. That is also the reason for participating in the communal prayer called liturgy.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Biblical archaeology is not really relevant to liturgical practicalities, but I find this web page to have a very interesting theory.
If this author is correct, it would make a peace settlement in Jerusalem much easier because the holiest sites for the Jews and Muslims would be separate.

He posits that the present "Temple Mount" is actually the base for the "Antonia Fortress" and that the "Second Temple" site was to the south, between the present mount and "City of David" [with has the Gihon Spring and the Pool of Siloam].

One reason this makes sense to me is that the mount is the one thing in Jerusalem NOT destroyed by the Romans. 
There is also evidence that there  was later a Roman temple on the site when the city was Aelia Capitolina under Roman settlement.

I suggest you at least look at the illustrations and see whether they give you pause.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


“The trouble with some of us is that we have been inoculated with small doses of Christianity which keep us from catching the real thing.” -- Leslie Dixon Weatherhead

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it." 
-- Robert A. Heinlein, naval officer and novelist.

“There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.” 
-- Lazarus Long, according to Robert A. Heinlein

There is that wonderful quote from Charlie Gardner years ago: 'The pastoral musician must learn to love the sound of a singing congregation above any other sound.' All of our efforts should point toward THIS sound.” -- David Haas on May 29, 2011 - 9:19 pm

How can one cope with liturgical distractions? This is a liturgical skill which one cannot learn too early. Inspired by the rule of St. Benedict, one mother taught her son a prayer he could say when he was having trouble listening at Mass. He liked it because it simultaneously released him from the distraction and from his awareness of the distraction, so he didn’t continue to be distracted by the guilty thought that he should be paying better attention.
Jesus, help me listen with the ear of my heart.” 

--  Robin Drake Iwasawa

Christian liturgy consists of those practices organized into official communal rites by a church and required for or considered necessary to the continued functioning of a local church community and which the local community must provide for its members. 
-- [Author unknown]

“According to G. K. Chesterton, 'Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried;' the same might be said of liturgy.” -- Tom Poelker

“There is no single right way to do liturgy.” 
-- Tom Poelker

“Anything which turns an assembly into an audience is counter-liturgical” -- Tom Poelker

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


  1. Liturgy is public prayer.
  2. Liturgy is communal prayer.
  3. Liturgical prayer is regulated by the church.
  1. Liturgy is more a gift from God to the Church than an offering to God from the Church.
  2. Liturgy exists to strengthen communal support for personal Christian living.
Role of the Assembly
  1. The assembled believers are themselves the ones who are praying, the ecclesia.
  2. Christian liturgy is an exercise of the priestly office of the baptized.
Implications (from the role of the assembly)
  1. The members of the assembly should learn the importance and fullness of their roles in liturgy.
  2. The elements of the liturgy should be comprehensible to the assembly without explanation.
  3. All of the members of the assembly should be supported in actively participating in all the liturgical elements not specifically requiring a ministry expertise.
  4. The assembly needs to be prepared by its ministers before complications or variations are added to a liturgical service.
Nature of Ritual
  1. Liturgical prayer involves ritual, whose positive effects are supported by repetition over a lifetime.
  2. The primary role of liturgical music is to unify the prayer of the assembly.
  3. Ritual music is based on the repeated use of melodies and texts, which assists the assembly's participation in song.
General Guidelines
  1. Liturgical preparation is based on the text of the church and must support its flow and climaxes.
  2. Christian liturgy is based on Scripture and should use vernacular translations of Scriptural texts rather than paraphrases in prayers and songs.
  3. The texts of the liturgy and the Scriptures have priority over musical expression.
  4. Liturgy needs to be prepared with the size of the assembly in mind.
  5. Liturgy needs to be prepared with the nature of the prayer place in mind.
  6. Liturgical celebrations, even of a particular congregation, vary in formality depending on the occasion and the size of the assembly.
Role of Ministers
  1. Liturgical ministers, ordained or not, are called to serve and support the praying of the assembly.
  2. Things should not be added or expanded in the liturgy for the gratification of the tastes or demonstration of the talents of the ministers.
  1. Unity in liturgy does not require uniformity in performance.
  2. Beauty in liturgy is an element of acculturation and varies among societies, classes, and places.
  3. Elements of the liturgy require craftsmanship of noble simplicity rather than artistic expression.
  4. The essentials of any liturgical service need to be distinguished from accretions and protected.