“[Then] suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire which parted
and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim(Acts 2:1-21.)
The Spirit of God is still transforming people dramatically. Bishop William Donald Borders ordained me 44 years ago this week in 1969 for the Diocese of Orlando and instilled in me a sense of personal responsibility and confidently shared some of his authority as a priest and diocesan liturgist.
Oh, the joy and excitement and enthusiasm I had in my priestly ministry. As a priest I was encouraged to discover and develop my gifts for ministry and to help people do the same.
Some of us have lost faith that the Holy Spirit can and will direct the Church as Jesus told us like “the wind that blows where it wills . . . though you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit”(John 3:8).
The Splendor of the Spirit is to encourage gifts. To invite risk.
To reach out beyond safe boundaries. To make connections.
To unite. To celebrate diversity.
The story of Pentecost states that the Spirit of God is uncontrollable – by us.
It comes as a “strong driving wind’ and “tongues [on] fire!
Or in “Trekkie” language, to go “where no one has gone before.”
The greatest saints did just that! Catherine of Siena (a woman religious!) chastised the pope;
Francis Xavier, undaunted stepped off the boat in Japan into a culture very foreign to him;
a peasant girl named Joan rallied the French army to victory and was burned at the stake because of it;
Katharine Drexel stepped beyond boundaries as she insisted upon treating Blacks and Native Americans as persons;
and a supposed “care-taker pope” John XXIII shocked everyone by calling a solemn Council of the Church.
They improvised! They pushed the boundaries of the established ways of doing things!
They were not afraid to do things differently.
They were bold in the confidence they received from the Spirit of God – just like at Pentecost.
They were the innovators, the Reformers. The ones who led and changed the Church.
They listened to the Holy Spirit who prompted /disturbed / prodded / led them/ inspired them / and became their “Defense Attorney or Advocate,i.e.“Paraclete.”
They simply learned to trust that they were in tune with God from moment to moment who would guide them in what to say and do at the appropriate time.
The Holy Spirit is about freedom, about encouraging gifts,
about inviting us to use our ingenuity, resources and gifts to help build up the [kin]dom of God.
We become co-creators with God.
The source of our talent is the Spirit, yes. But we have to shape it.
The Spirit is not afraid that people are going to make mistakes or go too far when given such freedom.
Thus, I believe it is a sin to demand absolute obedience of mind and will for bishops and priests and people who have also been given their portion of the share of the Spirit. The Nuremberg trials condemned men who excused themselves by saying they were only following orders. Responsible authority calls us to use the gifts of intelligence and courage and pastoral conviction for the sake of one’s people no matter what the cost. If that means risking ridicule or criticism for taking an unpopular stance, then fidelity to the gospel demands it.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful,
and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
and You shall renew the face of the earth.
May it be so. May it be so.
Now, here’s the ancient Sequence for the Feast ~ or if you will, a poem that occurs within the Mass . . .
Come, Holy Spirit, come! And from your celestial home Shed a ray of light divine! Come, Father of the poor! Come, source of all our store! Come, within our bosoms shine. You, of comforters the best; You, the soul’s most welcome guest; Sweet refreshment here below; In our labor, rest most sweet; Grateful coolness in the heat; Solace in the midst of woe. O most blessed Light divine, Shine within these hearts of yours, And our inmost being fill! Where you are not, we have naught, Nothing good in deed or thought, Nothing free from taint of ill. Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour your dew; Wash the stains of guilt away: Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray. On the faithful, who adore And confess you, evermore In your sevenfold gift descend; Give them virtue’s sure reward; Give them your salvation, Lord; Give them joys that never end. Amen. Alleluia.
And before you go, here is the haunting chant melody “Veni Creator Spiritus” and the English “Come Holy Ghost.” Click here. Be sure to enter full screen. There are many images of Pentecost in art displayed there.
We are in the third of a series of reflections on the premier document of the Second Vatican Council ~ The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.
Last time, we said that “the Church earnestly desires that all the faithful be led to that full, conscious, and active participation that is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy(no. 14).
Today, we want to look at the implications of this amazing statement. It indicates a dramatic change from the way we used to worship before Vatican II when we were mostly silent in Church and the priest was up there doing something we couldn’t see with his back towards us in a language we couldn’t understand. Moreover, we didn’t look to the right or the left of us and the choir sang everything, usually, Mother, Dear, O pray for Me or other hymns in a solemn, pious voice.
Full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgy brings us together in community.
That was the reason they turned the altar around. The Eucharist became an experience of family, of communion. Our worship was no longer individualistic – between me and Jesus, me and God.
We were to find God in each other – to experience the horizontal dimension of the Cross, as well as the vertical. All this becomes evident when we sing together.
Do you really pray when you go to Mass? Do you listen to the readings and the homily? Do you sing?
We Catholics were not known for our singing like the Protestants, but singing is an act of praise. St. Augustine taught that the one “who sings prays twice,” though apparently he did not have a great voice himself. So, you see, you can sing from your heart, even though you can’t carry a tune in a bucket!
Give praise to your God for what he’s done for you this past week.
When you say the “Our Father,” do you say it by rote, or do you pray it mindfully?
When you offer the sign of peace to someone, do you look them in the eye and smile; in other words, do you do that well – or do you do it only because you’re supposed to?
The Liturgy Constitution also wanted dioceses to set up liturgy commissions (no.44). I recall right after my ordination driving the 68 miles from Orlando back to my parish in Satellite Beach late at night on a dark two-lane highway every few weeks for two years to set up the Diocesan Commission and then, as I said, the bishop appointed me Director of Liturgy.
I was all over the diocese giving training sessions for both priests and lay folk for four years, hoping that I could help them be “imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy. I’ve had that spirit all my life and though I had to attend to my own ongoing liturgical education and training, I did the best I could to set the Diocese of Orlando on a solid foundation in liturgical renewal.
One of the achievements I’d especially like to note is to this day almost every parish in the diocese offers communion from the chalice whereas some other dioceses do not.
We had to work hard to improve the music in the parishes. When I started, I had to wean the organists off of the “tremulo” that had the funeral parlor effect. So, early on I brought in Lucien Deiss for a workshop and later Alex Peloquin and others.
Today, most parishes have competent music directors and the hymn books are much improved as well. The National Association of Pastoral Musicians with my friends Dr. Michael McMahon and Dr. Gordon Truitt provide excellent support for parish musicians across the country.
The Council also restored the catechumenate for adults (no. 64). I was very interested in getting hands-on experience with the new Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. A few years earlier, I had attended a seminar led by Father Aidan Kavanagh who was the leading American authority on the catechumenate in those days. I had the opportunity for two years to work with the new Rite and to form a catechumenate in a large parish in our diocese from ’66 – ’68 and then again in another parish in 1980. We made a lot of mistakes in those early years.
The last quote I’d like to give from the SC is this:
“The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetition; they should be within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation” (no.34).
The reasoning that Pope John Paul set forth in calling for the revisions of the English translations of the Mass was to be more faithful to the Latin.
For example, the 2010 translation of the Gloria,
“and on earth peace to people of good will” is a literal translation of
“ et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.”
The 1970 translation has:
“and peace to his people on earth.
For most of our people the meaning of the sacred texts now is murky, not clear; encumbered, not simple.
And for many who’ve not known any of the old church, much of it is beyond their powers of comprehension – especially children. Jesus used plainspoken words in his parables and in prayer.
Our people seem resigned to the literal and arcane vocabulary “oblation,” “beseech,” “prevenient grace,” venerable”.
Let’s compare a few phrases from the 1970 translation (in red) and the present one (in black).
The Lord be with you . . .
And also with you.
And with your spirit.
We Americans are used to being quite direct. “And also with you,” connects with us better than “with your spirit,” that comes from the Latin “et cum spiritu tuo”.
From the Creed
one in being with the Father
consubstantial with the Father
Most ordinary folks haven’t the slightest idea what the heck “consubstantial” means – and a child would stumble over it. They might think it was a special sandwich! (When I came home from first grade, I told my Mom I learned the Apostles Creek today.
born of the Virgin Mary
incarnate of the Virgin Mary
Why not speak simply?
He suffered, died and was buried.
He suffered death was buried.
Lord God of power and might
Lord God of hosts.
The former is more understandable, more powerful.
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
Lord. I am not worthy for you to come under my roof but . . .
I realize that the latter reflects the Scripture story of the centurion and the formula from the old Latin Mass but it is weird, again, for children and just sounds odd to the American ear. If you have children, ask them what that calls to mind. OK, that’s all for today. We’ll tackle the priests’ parts ~ the Eucharistic Prayer that is a bit more problematic in our next section.
But before you go, here’s one of our beloved songs that came later in our repertoire of American liturgical music by the famous St. Louis Jesuits with a beautiful slide show ~ Be Not Afraid. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen. CLICK HERE.