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Articles: Liturgy
Method for Planning the Liturgy by Ev Diedrich, S.J.  and John Foley, S.J.

 John Foley, S.J. published a description of this method for liturgical planning in Pastoral Music, vol. 12, 1979 entitled, "Planning for the Liturgy." Edited by Roc O'Connor.
In it he stated, "... we are to be lovers of the word, who hold it close and let it speak within... Listening to God's word means a trust, a belief, that the word of God is alive and active in our midst, that it will touch us if we let it." (p. 20) This method aims at neither a thematic statement or an intellectual understanding of the Sunday Scriptures. Rather, it seeks to highlight the mood or affective atmosphere that the Word creates.  By means of a quiet and prayerful listening to the readings, by noticing images, phrases, and feeling responses to the Word, a planner or planning team names the mood(s) of the liturgy and plans the music, environment, etc... from that sense.
A series of six steps follow in order to more easily familiarize the reader with this method of planning.
Step One: Prayer to the Holy Spirit for openness
Step Two: Read the scripture passeages slowly and listen closely
Step Three: What words, phrases, or images stand out?
Step Four: What is my feeling response to the reading?
Step Five: Collect the data and listen to other responses
Step Six: Plan the music, environment, etc... / OR take the data to prayer and reflection.
This Method works well for planning a single Sunday. But, the method can also be extended so that a planner or planning team can consider the Scriptures of an entire liturgical season.
This method recommends grouping the readings of a season in the following order: Entrance antiphons, First Readings, Responsorials, Gospels, Second Readings. The tendency of the Second Readings to be more of an exhortation led us to want to place them last.
For example, a planning team begins by reading each of the Entrance Antiphons from Advent. The team listens and comments on each antiphon individually, as directed by the Method's six steps. Next, they read and listen to the four First Readings, commenting on each one in turn. Having heard them all, the team then looks at all the collected data to see whether any patterns appear from first week to fourth week. For example, how does the First Sunday of Advent, Cycle C, relate to Christ the King, Cycle B? Same intensity? Quieter? Once the team comprehends these relationships the musician can go off to choose music accordingly. Other ministers design the environment. The presiders / preachers plan their homilies and consider how they will lead the prayer of the community accordingly.  As the planning group gains a facility for planning from the Scriptures it will engage the Mass itself with a renewed freshness each season. This could lead to further study, to greater creativity, and / or to deeper insight into the mysteries the Church celebrates.    Ev Diedrich and John Foley

Praying with the Lectionary
The liturgical reading of the most important Scripture passages in the eucharistic assembly, especially when accompanied by a good homily, is one of the great formative forces in Christian life. No one assumes, however, that it is enough. Beyond reading and hearing the word of God, and beyond homiletic reflection on it, we need to pray with it, and an excellent way of doing so is to pray with the readings selected for the liturgy that Sunday or that day, as the case may be.

Praying with the Lectionary should normally begin with the Gospel reading, since the Gospel text is what governed the choice of the first reading, that from the Old Testament, and the responsorial psalm which moves us beyond stories of faith, prophetic announcements and wisdom instruction directly into prayer.

The same is true of the Alleluia and its verse. After the Gospel, on can then take up the first reading, the psalm and the second reading, in that order. That way we follow the order that governed the formation of the liturgy of the word for each celebration. The second time around, someone may prefer to start with the first reading and follow the order of the liturgy of the word as it is actually celebrated.

In praying with the Lectionary for a particular Sunday, it often proves helpful to recall the previous Sunday's readings and even to glance at those for the Sunday that follows. That way the Gospel text will be seen in biblical context as well as in liturgical context. This is especially helpful when the reading is the continuation of a long discourse of Jesus and such as we find in the Gospel of John. It is good to recall the concrete setting in which Jesus gave the discourse. Otherwise, the reading appears too abstract, even in the case of something as familiar as the Sermon on the Mount. Sometimes one has to go back several Sundays to find the setting.

In seasons such as Advent and Lent, when the Gospel readings for each Sunday are meant to form one continuous Advent Gospel and Lenten Gospel, it is even more helpful to place each Sunday's Gospel reading in the context of the entire season. For example, it is much easier to pray with the Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent, which looks to the final return of Christ, when we know that it forms the introduction for the Advent Gospel. With it, the Church wants us to situate ourselves squarely in our own moment of history. Jesus' life, teaching and miracles, as well as his passion, resurrection and ascension, all are behind us. We are in the era of the Church, looking ahead to the final coming of Christ, his second and definitive advent. Then on the second Sunday, for all three cycles, a Gospel story about John the Baptist and his mission models how we are to prepare the way for Christ's final coming.

Prayerful reading is, first, a close attentive reading, open to what the Gospel and the other lessons say to us. This requires that we respect the Gospel's literary form. We do this easiest in the case of actual prayers, such as the Lord's Prayer, the Psalms, and the Magnificat, Mary's great song of praise. All of these were meant to be prayer. Even so, a prayer of supplication is not the same as one of repentance or praise, and our prayer must respect the difference. Our attitude should be attuned to the nature of each prayer.

In praying with the little stories told by Jesus, his parables, respecting the literary form includes taking note of the context in which the story was told, to whom Jesus told it, and what occasioned his telling it. The story of the prodigal son, for example, is well understood when we note that it came in response to the complaint of Pharisees and their scribes that Jesus was welcoming tax collectors and others who failed to observe the law and that he was actually eating with them. Only then does it become clear that its principal focus is on the older brother who refused to celebrate the return of his younger brother who had gone astray but had now returned home (Lk 15: 1-32). We are never told what the older brother did. Did he persist in resisting his father's pleading? Did he finally overcome his anger and hurt feelings and join in the reconciliation banquet? We do not know. The reading invites us to provide our own feelings and answer those questions based on what we would do. It provides an excellent launching pad for prayer.

Prophetic texts and the letters of Paul speak to us directly in the second person. We need to listen to them, meditate on how they apply to us and ask for the strength to hear their message and live by it. Like some of Jesus' own prophetic statements, which ask that we reform our lives and believe the Gospel, they can be extremely challenging. Even to hear what they ask of us is a difficult and purifying experience.

Then, of course, there are the stories, usually written in the third person. There are stories of Abraham and Sarah, stories of Moses and the exodus, stories of Jesus, his disciples and the apostolic community. These require special attention.

In every case, but especially in that of stories, it is most important to engage the imagination. This means we have to resist the temptation to rest satisfied with finding the point of the story. We need to enter the story, that is, think of ourselves among its personages, listening and responding with them to what Jesus and others say. We need to enter eager to join in the dialogue.

There is no engaging the imagination without taking time to picture the place where the event in the story takes place. We need also to pay attention to the time at which it occurs. Being in Jerusalem for Passover is not like being anywhere else at Passover, and eating Passover away from Jerusalem is not the same as eating it in the ancient city of David, Israel's great symbol of freedom, of the Lord's presence, and of every blessed hope.

Only when the imagination is engaged can we follow the contours of the story as participants, attentive to those moments when it invites prayer. The moments of invitation include the sayings and other teachings of Jesus. Sometimes no one in the story responds to them. This silence calls for our response. Other moments consist in questions, such as Jesus' questions to the disciples: "Who do people say that I am?" We know how the disciples and Peter answered. How shall we answer?

The biblical stories are filled with great images: the garden of Eden, the tower of Babel, Mount Sinai, the desert of the exodus, the Jordan crossing, the ascent to Jerusalem, the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Simon's fishing boat, the loaves, the fishes, drinking the cup Jesus drinks - all of these must lodge in our imagination. Then when we leave formal prayer they accompany us throughout the day. What was it like to cross the Sea of Galilee in a little boat when a storm suddenly descended? Does that ever happen to us? Where is the Lord Jesus at those moments? Is he sleeping in the bow of the boat? And what are we to think when Jesus chides his disciples for having so little faith?

The readings in the Lectionary ask many questions of us. We too must be able to ask many questions of them. Why does Mark call his Gospel. "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God"? Was this story of passion and death really a beginning? What does this say to us of moments in our lives that seem to be the end? Might they not, like Mark's Gospel, be new beginnings? Passion and resurrection are over and over again. Ah, yes, Lord! That we may see!

Reprinted from THE CATECHUMENS COMPANION, published by Paulist Press, 1999 Paulist Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Articles: Liturgy
Articles: Liturgy
New Optional Readings for Four Feasts
from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops

The 1970 Lectionary contained three different sets of readings (Years A, B, C) for most Sundays and major feasts of the year. For certain feasts, the same first reading, responsorial psalm, and second reading were used each year, although different Gospels were provided for the three years.

The 1998 Lectionary has added optional selections for Years B and C on the following four feasts:
The Holy Family (#17) new optional first reading, responsorial psalm, and second reading

The Baptism of the Lord (#21) new optional first reading, responsorial psalm, and second reading

The Ascension of the Lord (#58) new optional second reading only; first reading and psalm remain the same

Pentecost Sunday (#63) new optional second reading and Gospel; first reading and psalm remain the same

Actual Changes in the Reading Selections
In several instances, one or more verses have been added to or deleted from the readings in the 1998 USA Lectionary, as compared with the 1970 USA Lectionary. In most cases, these reflect changes made between the 1969 Latin first edition and the 1981 Latin second edition. In some cases, these are corrections of errors in the 1970 Lectionary (i.e. discrepancies from the 1969 Latin edition). In a few cases, however, these are the result of new errors in the 1998 USA edition (while the 1970 USA edition had the correct reading). Finally, there are some cases in which the readings in the 1970 and 1998 USA editions are identical to each other, but different from the prescribed readings given in the 1969 and/or 1981 Latin editions.

Reprinted from the National Bullentin on Liturgy, copyright 1993, Concacan, Inc. Used with permission.

The Body of Christ, Two Meanings
Why do we speak of the "Body of Christ" in more than one sense?

First, the Body of Christ refers to the human body of Jesus Christ, who is the divine Word become man. During the Eucharist, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. As human, Jesus Christ has a human body, a resurrected and glorified body that in the Eucharist is offered to us in the form of bread and wine.

Secondly, as St. Paul taught us in his letters, using the analogy of the human body, the Church is the Body of Christ, in which many members are united with Christ their head (1 Cor. 10: 16-17, 12: 12-31; Rom 12: 4-8). This reality is frequently referred to as the Mystical Body of Christ. All those united to Christ, the living and the dead, are joined together as one Body in Christ. This union is not one that can be seen by human eyes, for it is a mystical union brought about by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Mystical Body of Christ and the eucharistic Body of Christ are inseparably linked. By Baptism we enter the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, and by receiving the eucharistic Body of Christ we are strengthened  and built up into the Mystical Body of Christ. The central act of the Church is the celebration of the Eucharist; the individual believers are sustained as members of the Church, members of the Mystical Body of Christ, through their reception of the Body of Christ in the Eucharist: "Be what you see, and receive what you are" (Sermon 272). In another sermon he says, "If you receive worthily, you are what you have received" (Sermon 227)
The work of the Holy Spirit in the celebration of the Eucharist is twofold in a way that corresponds to the twofold meaning of "Body of Christ." On the one hand, it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the risen Christ and his act of sacrifice become present. In the eucharistic prayer, the priest asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit down upon the gifts of bread and wine to transform them into the Body and Blood of Christ (a prayer known as the epiclesis, or "invocation upon"). On the other hand, at the same time the priest also asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit down upon the whole assembly so that "those who take part in the Eucharist may be one body and one spirit" (Catechism, no. 1353). It is through the Holy Spirit that the gift of the eucharistic Body of Christ comes to us and through the Holy Spirit that we are joined to Christ and each other as the Mystical Body of Christ.
By this we can see that the celebration of the Eucharist does not just unite us to God as individuals who are isolated from one another. Rather, we are united to Christ together with all other members of the Mystical Body. The celebration of the Eucharist should thus increase our love for one another and remind us of our responsibilities toward one another. Furthermore, as members of the Mystical Body, we have a duty to represent Christ and to bring Christ to the world. We have a responsibility to work against all the forces in our world that oppose the Gospel, including all forms of injustice. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches to: "The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren." (no. 1397)

Reprinted from The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist  Copyright 2001 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

How many versions of the New American Bible are there?
The original version of the New American Bible (NAB) was published in 1970. The New Testament was revised and published in 1986. The Book of Psalms (the Psalter) was revised in 1991. A revision of the Old Testament, excluding the Psalter, is currently underway and should be published in 2003. Therefore, the most recent editions of the NAB include the 1970 Old Testament, 1991 Psalter, and 1986 New Testament, though some older editions are still in print.
Besides the various versions of the Scriptural text, many different publishers have produced editions of the NAB. Each publisher has added other material, such as photographs, maps, devotions and prayers, and reference matter, to the basic text.

Do we read from the Bible at Mass?
Readings from Scripture are part of every Mass. At least two readings, one always from the gospels, (3 on Sundays and solemnities) make up the Liturgy of the Word. In addition, a psalm or canticle is sung.
These readings are typically read from a Lectionary, not a Bible, though the Lectionary is taken from the Bible.

What's the difference between a Bible and a Lectionary?
A Lectionary is composed of the readings and the responsorial psalm assigned for each Mass of the year (Sundays, weekdays, and special occasions). The readings are divided by the day or the theme (baptism, marriage, vocations, etc.) rather than according to the books of the Bible. Introductions and conclusions have been added to each reading. Not all of the Bible is included in the Lectionary.

Individual readings in the Lectionary are called pericopes, from a Greek word meaning a "section" or "cutting." Because the Mass readings are only portions of a book or chapter, introductory phrases, called incipits, are often added to begin the Lectionary reading, for example, "In those days," "Jesus said to his disciples," etc.

How is the Lectionary arranged?
The Lectionary is arranged in two cycles, one for Sundays and one for weekdays.
The Sunday cycle is divided into three years, labeled A, B, and C. 1998 is Year C, 1999 will be Year A, 2000 will be Year B, 2001 will be Year C, etc. In Year A, we read mostly from the gospel of Matthew. In Year B, we read the gospel of Mark and chapter 6 of the gospel of John. In Year C, we read the gospel of Luke. The gospel of John is read during the Easter season in all three years. The first reading, usually from the Old Testament, reflects important themes from the gospel reading. The second reading is usually from one of the epistles, a letter written to an early church community. These letters are read semi-continuously. Each Sunday, we pick up close to where we left off the Sunday before, though some passages are never read.

The weekday cycle is divided into two years, Year I and Year II. Year I is read in odd-numbered years (1999, 2001, etc.) and Year II is used in even-numbered years (1998, 2000, etc.) The gospels for both years are the same. During the year, the gospels are read semi-continuously, beginning with Mark, then moving on to Matthew and Luke. The gospel of John is read during the Easter season. For Advent, Christmas, and Lent, readings are chosen that are appropriate to the season. The first reading on weekdays may be taken from the Old or the New Testament. Typically, a single book is read semi-continuously (i.e., some passages are not read) until it is finished and then a new book is started.

The year of the cycle does not change on January 1st, but on the 1st Sunday of Advent (usually late November) which is the beginning of the liturgical year. So the liturgical year 1999 begins on November 29, 1998, and ends on November 25, 1999.

In addition to the Sunday and weekday cycles, the Lectionary provides readings for feasts of the saints, for common celebrations such as Marian feasts, for ritual Masses (weddings, funerals, etc.), for votive Masses, and for various needs. The Lectionary used in the United States also includes a special appendix containing readings for use on Thanksgiving Day. These readings have been selected to reflect the themes of these celebrations.

Is the New American Bible the only translation of Scriptures we can read from at Mass?
In the United States, three versions of the Bible may presently be used in the liturgy: The New American Bible, the Revised Standard Version, and the Jerusalem Bible. In Masses with children, the Lectionary for Masses with Children, based on the Contemporary English Version may be used.

After May 19, 2002, the revised Lectionary, based on the New American Bible will be the only Lectionary that may be read at Mass, except for the current Lectionary for Masses with Children which will remain in use.

How can anyone own the copyright on the Bible? Isn't it free to everyone?
No one owns the copyright on the Bible itself. Rather, the copyright is held on particular translations or editions of the Bible. The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) owns the copyright on the New American Bible translation. Some versions of the Bible, such as the King James Version (not the New King James Version) are in the public domain.

The copyright allows the owner to protect the integrity of the text so that individuals may not introduce changes without permission. Royalty fees earned by licensing the text to companies who publish and sell Bibles help to provide funds for Scripture scholarship and other educational needs.
Copyright 2001 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

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This article contributed by Jane Turner.