In a recent episode of The Simpsons, Ned Flanders is confused that his sons obviously prefer the supervision of neighbour Marge Simpson to that of their own father. When he asks them why they like it so much when Marge spends time with them, his boys reply, ‘She makes us happy. And not Church happy – real happy.’
I wonder if this isn’t true of our worship at times. Surely Church happy and real happy should be one and the same – not a superficial or contrived happiness, but a peacefulness and blessedness, a passion and commitment to life that comes from real encounters with our God. The synod was filled with hope-filled expectation and a desire to encounter God in so many ways and so transform the world in which we live.
Many wonder why there are not people filling our churches given the great gift of God who is wonderfully present in and to us. No doubt there are as many answers as there are readers of Wel-com – too much ritual, not enough ritual, too much love, not enough hell, too formal, too informal, brilliant organ music, banal music, great guitar Mass … the list could go on.
When it comes to liturgy I am always reminded of the way in which we can touch God and God can touch us where heaven and earth unite. This is what the synod was calling for when people reflected on how we can truly celebrate God in our lives.
Websites of our parish
Life needs to be celebrated in its entire colour. All time is sacred and we need to see the opportunities to gather in prayer as moments of grace, of blessing, of pastoral care.
The liturgical life can be likened to a website of our parish and diocese and is indicative of what we treasure about life and its moments of birth and death, of dark and light, of the ordinary and extraordinary.
Room for all
We are in danger of sucking the life out of liturgy, of believing that there is only one way to celebrate a birth or a marriage or a death; of saying that this is a sacrament and that is not, that you are welcome and others are not.
We can miss so many opportunities if we start limiting the way God wishes to sacramentalise all of life. In fact Jesus had the amazing ability to welcome saint and sinner, to take the stuff of everyday life and give it a meaning beyond our wildest imaginings.
…and so to PALS. Taken from our more colloquial expression for mate or friend, PALS embraces Jesus Christ who calls us friend rather than servant, who shared his whole life with us, who is present in the liturgy of the Church and the liturgy of the world. I also wish to evoke a sense of the preparation for a ministry that is enjoyable and for which we can feel a deep sense of enthusiasm.
There are a few definitions of liturgists that are not always well received and it is my intention to rid us of any siege mentality when it comes to prayerful preparation of the Church’s prayer. We have nothing to lose and much to gain.
We may even be surprised as to what God rejoices over when it comes to our liturgical life. God may even be happy about a whole lot more than we think. What a privilege it is to prepare liturgical celebrations for our communities so that we are in no doubt at all that Jesus is in our midst. Amen.
2007 prayer, discernment and selection
2008 reflection, formation and study
2009 conclusion of the programme and commissioning
In the coming months you will read more about this initiative. My hope is that through PALS we will delight in God’s presence as we worship together and that our lives will continue to be radically transformed by Jesus Christ who is in our very heart and soul, body and mind – who is present to the very core of our being!