Re-energizing the Sunday liturgy


Day of renewal targets Catholic youths and adults

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Full, conscious, and active participation in the Eucharist involves more than lots of movement and lots of speech, says Uni­versity of Notre Dame theologian Timothy O’Malley. “Instead, it means learning to practice the Mass as a way of life, one that transforms everything that we do throughout the day. I think this is ultimately what the new evangelization of the Church is about.”

Anne Marie Amacher
Bishop Martin Amos prays the Eucharistic Prayer during Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral earlier this year.

O’Malley will share these and other insights in his keynote address at the diocesan “Liturgy is Life!” conference on Sept. 27 at St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City. He will be one of four presenters helping parishioners from around the diocese become re-energized and re-enthused about gathering on Sunday as a worshipping community. And, through the liturgy, to be inspired to be salt, leaven and light in the world, says Deacon Frank Agnoli, diocesan director of liturgy.


Youth Minister Tommy Fallon of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Daven­port listened to O’Malley speak at a Notre Dame Vision conference in July. “He stuck out among all the presenters there. You could tell he has a ton of intellectual knowledge … but he was still grounded and entertaining, very engaging, very witty, very funny,” Fallon said. “I am very interested in the liturgy day because I’m trying to get my youth more involved in the liturgy; and, on the other side of the coin, getting our liturgy commission more youth-focused. I’m very interested to see what he has to say on all of these topics.”

Fallon recognizes that the “best shot” at drawing people into the Church is through the liturgy. “If it’s engaging and speaks to their lives, you’ve got them.”

Break-out sessions will also be offered at the Iowa City conference on preaching, music and other topics. Bishop Martin Amos will lead the mid-day prayer.

Eleanor Kiel, director of liturgy and music at St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf, will speak on engaging communities in active, Spirit-filled liturgy. She has experience in establishing youth ministry programs at parishes. Her par­ish’s youth choir, “Ap­ostles of Hymn” will provide music during the mid-day prayer.

Anne Koester, who teaches in the theology department at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., will explain how “Liturgy has everything to do with life!” She has published nu­merous ar­t­icles and books on the con­nec­tion be­twe­en liturgy and justice.

Father Brendan Moss, OSB, will focus on “Preaching for youth that all ears might hear!” A monk and priest of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana, Fr. Moss teaches at the Sem­inary and School of The­ology and enjoys making the Gospel accessible to all, but especially to youth and young adults.

O’Malley will specifically address teens and youth ministers in his break-out session, but his keynote address, titled “The Eucharist as Spiritual Practice,” is intended for a broad audience. He’ll identify the three stages of liturgical renewal in the Church: first, the research into the history of the practice and theology of the rites of the Church; second, renewal of the rites themselves following the Second Vatican Council; and third, the stage occurring now, learning to pray the rites well.

He agreed to be a keynote speaker for the Iowa City conference “because I’m deeply committed to this third stage of the liturgical renewal. As a lay person, my primary experience with the Mass is one in which I go from week to week because it forms me to praise God not only in the walls of the church but in my office. The Mass forms my memory so that the world is not simply a random series of events but is connected to the Paschal Mystery, the events of love that change what it means for me to be a human being. It forms me for mission, a Eucharistic vocation in which I learn to give myself away as foolishly as the God who first loved us. I want people to walk away from this event thinking about the Mass not as an onerous obligation but as a duty of delight, a practice that enables us to be more fully human and thus in the end, more divine,” O’Malley said.

The idea for the conference grew from two separate but related threads. The first: celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium, Dec. 4, 2013). The second: the U.S. bishops’ three-year pastoral plan, which in 2014-15 focuses on the liturgical life of the parish, Deacon Agnoli said.

The Constitution on the Liturgy provides an excellent frame of reference for the liturgy day’s content, he and other organizers decided. “We asked ourselves, ‘What was the aim of the constitution? What was it trying to promote? The aim was ‘the full, active and conscious participation of the faithful in the liturgy.’ That’s a vision that has been incompletely embraced,” Deacon Agnoli continued. “What as a diocese can we do to help parishes grow into that vision?”

He noted that all of the baptized, not just the clergy, “have a right and duty to be the celebrants of the liturgy. We are the body of Christ.”

Liturgy day

What: “Liturgy is Life!” A day for youths and adults
When: Saturday, Sept. 27, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: St. Patrick Parish, Iowa City
Intended audience: Liturgical ministers, catechists and youth ministers, high school youths and young adults, anyone interested in growing in their love and appreciation of the Mass.
Cost: Adults, $20; Youths, $10 (must be accompanied by an adult)
Registration deadline: Sept. 15
Etc.: Books and Fair Trade items will be available for purchase (cash or checks only).

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