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.
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.
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.
written by Ev Diedrich and John Foley.