By Morgan Davis
As the parish level of the Eucharistic Revival rolls out, the executive team has called us to consider four invitations as we move forward. The first of these invitations is called “Reinvigorating Worship.”
What a way to start a revival at each of our parishes! However, what exactly does this reinvigoration look like? Does it mean ditching the plain hosts and celebrating Mass with Cinnabon rolls and a peach wine from Aldi? Reinvigorating the energy of the Mass by incorporating liturgical dance or skits? Adding screens and strobe lights for effect? Fortunately, the revival calls for none of that. However, one question that must be asked is this: Why does our worship need to be reinvigorated?
In the almost 60 years since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has seen a plethora of liturgical innovations crop up. At some parishes, Scripture readings became a theatrical performance as opposed to the proclamation of the Word of God, homilies were transformed into skits and some Eucharistic Prayers were improvised on a whim. This innovation directly opposed the wishes of the Council. Instead of the hermeneutic of continuity, specifically with regards to the liturgy, the “spirit of Vatican II” brought with it abuses that weakened the liturgy and its beauty. This innovation is clearly seen and has led to weakened faith in the Eucharist and the meaning of the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
Now, we are at the precipice of a new opportunity! The Eucharistic Revival is a call to reconsider the art of celebrating the Mass. More specifically, the art of celebrating the Mass reverently and in accord with the richness of the liturgical norms that have been set forth. Rather than personal innovation, the Church is being called to task. No matter how well-intentioned and creative, liturgical richness should not be expressed through innovation. At the heart of this call to reinvigoration is the rediscovery of the beauty of the liturgy and the deep meaning behind each word and action.
If you’re familiar with liturgy, you know the adage: “Do the black, say the red.” In the Roman Missal, the words in black are those spoken by the priest, the most important of which are the words of consecration. The red words are the liturgical actions the priest should perform, such as bowing slightly, elevating the host or speaking in a low voice. For some, the rubrics are a mechanical and dry approach that suffocates creativity. However, if we trust the Church, we should trust that the rubrics are there for a good reason and then faithfully carry them out.
This call doesn’t solely fall on our priests. Yes, our priests are being called to a higher standard as stewards of the liturgy; however, as lay faithful, we too are being called to deeper participation. Similar to our priests, we are called to prayerfully consider what is taking place before our eyes, spiritually and physically. By entering into the Mass with all of our mind, heart, soul and strength, we then open ourselves up to the rich graces that our Lord desires to give us. If we are not prayerfully embodying the words and actions taking place during the Mass, then we lack active participation. By expressing the true nature of active participation, we complement the ars celebrandi (the art of celebrating the Mass).
What our Church needs more than anything else right now is the Eucharistic Revival. With that, we are being called to reconsider how we celebrate liturgy and whether we are giving our best to the Lord. By reawakening our sense of the sacred through the beauty of tradition, we will foster a healthy reverence and love for the Eucharist and the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Ultimately, it is not through innovation that we will ignite a Eucharistic Revival in our nation. It starts with a reinvigoration of liturgical beauty steeped in the richness of our 2,000-year-old faith.
(Morgan Davis is director of faith formation and evangelization for Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf.)