Designing Ritual (Oct. 4)


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Theological Question

How do ritual flow, art, architecture, and silence influence and “construct” the liturgy?


The goal of this session is for students to learn the key elements for designing a prayer.


The students will examine the four liturgical arts and explore how they are used to plan a full, conscious, and active liturgy.


Designing Ritual Handout.doc
God as Architect.jpg


(after the class has been completed)

Idea starters

  • Describe the ritual flow in your parish’s Sunday liturgy. What flows well? Where is the flow disrupted?
  • Write a you-who-do-through prayer.
  • Post your prayer or some thoughts about liturgical flow in the online forum.

Read (in preparation for Oct. 18)

  • Introduction to the Order of Mass, 29-30, 33-34, 53, 56, 66-98
  • Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 24, 51-53
  • General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 28-29, 55-71, 309
  • Lectionary for Mass: Introduction, 6-10, 24, 44-48, 66-68
  • Fulfilled in Your Hearing, 1-7, 41-43, 47-48, 60-62, 112-115
  • OPTIONAL: Lectionary for Mass: Introduction, 73-91 
 Posted by at 6:35 pm
  • Christine Tran

    I am glad that Ramon raised a question about the “robotic” liturgy which created a chain of discussion among us and finally was concluded with Nick’s powerful explanation that the familiarity with elements of liturgy does not make liturgy boring but the lost of liturgical structure does; just like fans lost interest if the baseball game doesn’t follow the play rules.
    It is because lots of our Catholic brothers and sisters did not understand enough about the fundamental structure of liturgy are Word and Eucharist that participating in liturgy become a heavy obligation instead of a joyful personal home coming to our true self, to our divine family and partake of the banquet.
    The image of “God as Architect” with one foot outside of the frame makes me think of our Catholic
    church on its journey to spread and live the Word shouldn’t be timid – as I witness some church groups still limit their members in discussing Gospel afraid that they might misunderstand the meaning .

  • Fred Tou

    I would rate my parish’s liturgies as 2s and 3s. I think everyone is engaged in the readings and homilies, and in the Eucharistic Prayer, but singing by the assembly is spotty—some sing and
    some don’t. Our choir sings familiar songs for entrance and closing, and the assembly generally sings those. We use screens, and that has helped considerably with getting people to sing.
    When we introduce new songs for gifts or communion, our choir director spends time before Mass teaching the assembly the refrain and one verse, but many people arrive at church late and miss learning the song. On some Sundays, the assembly seems to double in size between the time of the entrance procession and the first reading. Last year, one of our ILM teachers, I think Fr. Chris Bennett, emphasized the importance of coming to Mass on time (meaning early), and he said that from the time when he was a young man, if he arrived at church after the procession had started, he’d consider himself late and turn around and go to a later Mass. It reminds me of meetings at my work, which latecomers sometimes miss out on important information that was said at the start of the meeting.

  • Candice Lyle

    I enjoyed as well learning about the Berakah – loved how it always remembers what God has done for us – first….. Something I think people can tend to forget when praying. And then asking him to bless us again… another thing that is hard because the “again” part recognizes that it has happened before and it will happen over and over, truly praying with a grateful heart. Sometimes in the midst of our pain and suffering remembering God has continued to bless us is hard to do. Most often, after the pain has past or the trial is over, people think they “survived” on their own strength. I’m not saying people aren’t strong, just that they take credit for all of it. It’s hard to move past the pain and truly thank God for his blessings even the pain.
    My favorite part of the night was “Liturgy should help people deepen their relationship with Christ” I agree with that so much. I feel that at Holy Spirit we do a really great job with our liturgies a lot of people do a lot of planning and preparation. We are blessed to have so many ministers that participate. I have been to a few other parishes especially some outside of our Diocese where I have left feeling that I should not have gone to mass; lecturers we not prepared or proclaiming with inspired enthusiasm, no one was engaged in the music, I even had people stare at me as I sang and they didn’t, I felt I should have celebrated prayerfully on my own without attending. It is not that way for me at Holy Spirit. I always leave feeling fulfilled, looking forward to Mass the following weekend. We are blessed to have a community that is really engaged in participation. I think all parishes suffer with the late arrivers to mass. Sometimes as a lecturer I look at the seats and think wow what game is on today?.. Then when I look up again as I proclaim more seats are filled. How do we get people to include the “gathering” as part of mass?

  • Katherine Cottingham

    BERAKAH is another wonderful word addition to my vocabulary! I love this simple structure to form a meaningful proper prayer, and that this ancient form of prayer, used by the Jews, has remained, with Christians only adding “Through Christ, we pray.”

    God is infinite; infinite in all ways, but namely I ponder in His Love and Generosity. No wonder we can have infinite NAMEs for our Almighty Ever Loving God.

    Before I go to sleep and again before I rise in the morning, I feel the need to THANK our generous good Lord God for so many blessings. As I am growing in my faith, I am also beginning to understand and appreciate that our sufferings are also blessings, because these are spiritual times of growth and also offerings we can give back to the Lord. It is the most important part of prayer in my humble opinion: to give thanks and praise–so no wonder, that after addressing God, naming a BLESSING is the first part of Berakah from ages long ago and until now.

    And of course we are so completely ever dependent on our God to supply our every NEED, that yes, we will always be asking for His favors and blessings.

    Rituals do not need be boring. They provide familiarity that enables a group to participate in union. Rituals of the Mass are steeped in beauty and evolve from the Word and Tradition. Rituals at Mass might, however, seem boring to those who have not yet come to understanding their meanings. Things that we don’t understand usually make no sense and sometimes seem meaningless–and perhaps boring. Perhaps… one way to educate the masses who attend Sunday Mass (mostly only out of duty, and not love) might be to include a weekly blurb in the bulletin describing our various rituals and symbols?

  • Katherine Cottingham

    Oh one more thought… I loved the Icon discussion and how as a class we together drew out a deep and rich meaning. God as (the infinite) Architect!

  • Christopher Pacifico

    I was amazed by how our opening prayer was formed – from the notes we wrote on three pieces of paper. What we name God other than word “God” on one post it note, a blessing on another and a petition on another and then used those words in our opening prayer. In other words, glorifying His name, praising him for the blessings and graces we received from him and lifting up our petitions. As I have mentioned in class, it was in Couples for Christ that my wife and I learned this format of praying. It makes the prayer more meaningful.

    We talked about rituals as a form of prayers and celebrations. We need to keep rituals from becoming robotic by making sure that the ritual does not lose the meaning of the celebration, not making it repetitious and not boring. The opening prayers we had was nothing in any way robotic. That’s how prayers should be. The most important goal of the liturgy is to help people
    learn how to pray. If the liturgy is not put together well then it is not inviting and not engaging. Then it becomes boring. This is why some Catholics are drawn to other religion. Other religions or denominations have a lot of external activities that engages the community. I think it is that part of being humans that we need the sense of belonging. If we are not engaged and not participating, something is missing. As lay ministers we need to help improve our liturgy celebration so that the community is engaged. This is why the 4 arts of the liturgy, music, movement, environment and word, are very important.

  • Gina Pacifico

    Berakah or naming of God such as “Merciful God”, “Loving Father”, “Abba”, “Heavenly Father”, and so on are forms of glorifying God’s name. It is our way of naming God that has more meaning to us because of his goodness through our experience in life with Him and therefore suggests more intimate relationship with Him. Our opening prayer started with naming of God followed by thanking God for his goodness and lastly with our petitions. It was mentioned that this format of prayer is similar to how Jewish pray. After all, Jewish people were the first Christians.

    We know that rituals are actions that are done repetitively. We also know that rituals can become robotic where celebrations will lose its meaning and celebrations may become boring. Rituals are part of liturgy celebrations therefore we need to keep rituals alive, uplifting, engaging and spiritually renewing. Well prepared and well executed liturgy is very
    important in bringing the community in prayerful celebration not just relying so much on the Holy Spirit to make happen for us which is why we have rules in this celebration. This is where the 4 arts of the liturgy celebration are helpful. We as Christians and as Catholics we need to learn more about and what the liturgy does for us. There are a lot of Catholics who do not know that the Eucharist celebration really is a celebration of the body and blood of Christ. Most of our brothers and sisters in Christ believe that the Eucharist is
    nothing more than a representation.

  • Vince Duong

    After reading “How important is the homily”, an article that states that poor homilies are one of the primary reasons why people leave the Catholic Church. One woman wrote, “I tried different Catholic churches in the area because I just didn’t seem to be getting anything out of the Mass, especially the homily.” Another person said, “I stopped going regularly because the homilies were so empty.”

    I don’t criticize these reasons for leaving the church because I understand them through my own personal experiences. For example, one of my daughters recently requested to attend another church because the Mass at the church by our house bored her.

    In “The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis emphasizes the importance of good preaching. “The homily,” he writes, “is the touchstone for judging a pastor’s closeness and ability to communicate with his people.” Pope Benedict XVI similarly writes in his post-Synod Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini: “The homily is a means of bringing the scriptural message to life in a way that helps the faithful to realize that God’s word is present and at work in their everyday lives. It should lead to an understanding of the mystery being celebrated, serve as a summons to mission, and prepare the assembly for the profession of faith, the universal prayer and the Eucharistic liturgy. Consequently, those who have been charged with preaching by virtue of a specific ministry ought to take this task to heart.”

    Sometimes good Catholics justify or excuse bad preaching because they believe that they are “Still getting the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. [And] that’s what is really important.” We are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the fullness of our faith, acknowledging the importance of every aspect of the Mass. The Mass is a sacrament of the Word and the Eucharist. It is not “either/or”, it is “both/and”.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi everyone. I mentioned in last night’s class that I saw three paintings at the Art Institute in Chicago that “taught” me about the paintings because I had seen them all roughly at the same time. I think what we were discussing at the time was how to “teach” people about liturgy. I was hoping to make the point that the best way to teach parishioners about liturgy is to focus on the four dramatic arts as best we can and let the artistic (or poetic) nature of the liturgy teach through the power of beauty.

    Anyway, I thought you might like to see the three paintings I had seen. Seeing them online isn’t the same as seeing them for real, but at least this will give you a taste:

  • Luis Urias

    I found our third class on Designing Rituals to be very educational and inspirational in the form of gaining more knowledge on Liturgy.

    During this class we learned that:

    The effect of Liturgy
    should be action inspired by the Holy Spirit


    Prayer Structure

    will alliterate on the Prayer Structure aspect of the lecture as we learned
    that Jesus Christ myself used this form of prayer known as Berakah. The Berakah prayer type is an expression of
    praise or thanks directed to God; or is a blessing or benediction, usually recited
    according to a traditional formula.

    formula has four components:





    found that by using this formula the one can put together prayers dynamically on
    the fry as demonstrated by Nick.

    have been applying this prayer structure to my family grace prayer and it is
    elevating the liturgy/liturgical aspect of the prayer.

    simple example of this prayer type would be:

    You God Almighty, who are Creator of all things, May you bestow your sanctifying grace upon us, we make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Laura Barker

    Nick talked about liturgy as “theology of the first instance”– Is God being revealed by the way we celebrate the liturgy? Before class I had the opportunity to attend Karen’s mom’s funeral. It was the first Catholic mass I had ever been to. If I was to rate it according to the scale sheet Nick gave us it was an 18! It was a mass that caused “deep change,” not only in me but in the congregation. Karen did an amazing job at the eulogy. She shared funny anecdotes about her mom and gave examples how her mom lived a Christ-centered life. Though I didn’t know Rose, the service made me want to be more like her. She was an amazing woman who embodied the teachings of Christ throughout her long life. She loved everyone of her 11 children, 25 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Her life at the mass was celebrated not only thru the eulogies but in the readings, homily, music and environment. It all tied together so seamlessly and beautifully.
    Then on Sunday I went to mass at another church. It was a totally opposite experience. A lot of people were there, it seemed, because they had to show face. The youth in front of me talked and joked and provoked each other the whole time. People walked out of the mass after receiving communion before the mass had even ended. I felt sorry for the priest and I grieved for the other people who really wanted to be there. It showed me that mass can have a profound effect on whether someone walks away enriched or empty.

  • Jeanette

    Agg! I will try to do this post again. I think my computer fell asleep and would not connect when I went to post! Oh Well, now that my cold meds are working they way out of my system the second time around should be easier.

    Yesterday, Monday I pulled myself out of bed and resisted my cold med, self-induced stupor, to go to daily mass. Why would I do that – after all, I really don’t want to give my cold to anyone else? Because my “Liturgy Goal” was taking form that morning and I could not miss it.

    Two years ago our church began hosting the school students at the Monday morning Mass. Our pastor wanted them to come so badly he moved the 7:30am Monday Mass to 8:05am to accommodate their schedule.

    However, they came sporadically and we never really knew if they would show up. Every Monday my husband and I would arrive at 730am and scour the church for music books and the Revised Missal handouts so the students could participate more fully in the mass. But often it was in vain.

    This last year the eight grade teachers brought their students every Monday they were in session and available. It became apparent the music books and liturgical handouts were more of a distraction than a help. First there were not enough of either for them foe even two students to have one. The students thumbed through the music books and never really found the song and flipped the Revised Missal sheet all thorough the mass and few referred to them at all.

    Half way through the year we convinced the pastor to let us us the projector and screens so that the students had the songs, prayers, and responses right in front of them. This helped a little. One need was obvious in the student lectors. They came in without having any knowledge of what they might be proclaiming, and they stumbled and raced through the readings. It was one more “problem” in our liturgy.

    A few weeks ago, at the beginning of the school year, a small group of parishioners came together to help the students at the Monday mass come into full, active participation. We felt a lot could be accomplished with just training the ministers first and then working with the teachers for the full class.

    As a lector, I looked at this situation and realized my “Liturgical goal” this year is to find ways for the student lectors to enter into full, active and conscious participation through being trained as a lector.

    So far the past two Friday mornings I have taken two 8th graders the first week and two 7th graders the second week and walked them through the readings that they will proclaim the following Monday. I read to them, they read to me. We talked about each reading and they were able to ask questions and walk around the Ambo to get comfortable with the “path” to and from the Ambo.

    The 8th graders, who have a lot of lectoring practice, did well and their Friday practice was reflected in their confidence and slowing down in their actual proclamation.

    This Monday, I really wanted to be there since it was the first time for one of the students. I was excited, and it was rewarding to be there. The first reading was particularly long and the student took his time, took a breath to keep from running along quickly and waited those few moments before saying . . “Word of the Lord”. Before mass both students said they felt shaky but they said they were confident they “could do this”. They did as well and better than some of our adults!

    I think if we can get the students interested in listening to the readings it is one more step towards their full, active, conscious participation! Also, our “regulars” really appreciate having the Word proclaimed so they can hear it.

  • Klarissa dela Fuente

    I applied the you-who-do-through to my prayer time after class last week. Many of my friends sent me prayer requests regarding loved ones who are sick. Oftentimes, my husband leads us in spontaneous prayer before bed, yet on Wednesday night I volunteered to lead.

    Before I began, I took a minute to think of divine titles of God, specifically related to how powerful He is. Next, I thought of a great thing God has done, specifically related to how He has healed His people in their sickness and brokenness. Afterwards, I gathered the petitions from my friends. Lastly, I brainstormed titles of Jesus Christ, specifically titles that describe Jesus’ humanity.

    All powerful and loving God,
    You heal the brokenhearted and bind up wounds.
    Pour out Your abundant love towards those who are sick, and give them Your grace to accept Your will for them in their lives.
    We ask this through Your son, the suffering servant, Jesus Christ. Amen.

  • Patricia

    Did anyone experience “chaos and change” from the mass we celebrated at St.Elizabeth’s Church in Milpitas? “Chaos” stemming from our inner selves breaking away from the unnecessary worldliness of our society and “change” stemming from a deep inner sense of Divine peace. I thought we all shared in a very blessed and beautiful evening and also shared
    the “chaos and change” that comes from a good liturgy that Nick talked about in our last class.

    The environment was simple and respectful, the movement followed the rituals, the Word was spoken in Spanish and English which I felt added to the sense of oneness in the community. I truly enjoyed the Music. The bi-lingual Spanish and English music was so positive and upbeat I could not help myself from singing “Open My Eyes Lord” and “Somos El Cuerpo de Cristo” all the way home.

    I think and hope everyone was emotionally moved and changed by this mass. One reason may be because we came to this particular liturgy being more prepared for the mass. Most of us volunteered to have a role to perform which led to more preparation, planning and working together prior to mass promoting a sense of community spirit. Even those who didn’t have a special role, were friendly, welcoming and joyful, actively singing and responding. The sense of community was very strong. I think when people enthusiastically participate together in the mass it adds to the oneness of community and also rewards the individual with a deeper and richer experience.

    We all experience the liturgy differently each time we attend mass because we are different people every time we attend mass because we bring new thanks, hopes and needs to the Lord. Do you remember Nick’s analogy from last week about falling in love and a good liturgy? Did you experience a big change? Did you a make the plunge and fall head over heals in love
    with Jesus? Did you experience the chaos in your soul immediately? Or are you experiencing the change more slowly over time like taking baby steps?

    Don’t be afraid of change, change is the result of growth. No growth is stagnation. Open your hearts to the change that the Lord is leading you to, after all He knows what He is doing.

  • Semi Gurbiel

    I missed our last class on Jan. 18th, but I did all the
    readings and learned from them. Probably not in the same way as my classmates
    did, but I read their comments and the reading
    made more sense after reviewing the comments. Looking at Luis’ comments about the formula
    for prayer reminded me that I had heard this from Diana, in the first year of
    ILM. I was a little lost during my first year, now I have a better understanding
    of it. Klarissa’s comment on the issue clarified it for me.

    Patricia’s comment about the Mass on Wednesday is beautiful.
    I agree with her, in the sense of oneness. I had been in various bilingual
    masses, but I think this is the first time that I really felt the mass as truly
    bilingual. It was beautiful seeing all these monolingual people singing bilingual
    songs; as if they were native speaking Spanish, and vice versa, it was wonderful listening them . There was no
    race barrier, we were all one. Father Andy gave a fantastic homily.

    On September 30, I participated in the Mass for victims of
    violence. I had the opportunity to see how the liturgy can sometimes change
    without losing the usual elements. I saw
    how a regular person could preach from personal experience, instead of a
    Bishop, priest, or deacon. Telling us how to change our hearts. It was astonishing
    to hear how a victim of violence can change her heart and forgive the assassin
    of her relative. The victim not only forgave, but is also visiting the accused
    in jail.

    Liturgy is great when you can leave church with a great

  • Daniel Lesieutre

    Again the beginning of class was very enlightening. Each person writing down on post-its 1) a name for God, 2) something God has done, and 3) a request/petition, and then in small groups constructing our own you-who-do-through prayer. What was enlightening was that it was the simple and short responses that seemed to create the most effective prayers.

    I will share a few thoughts on liturgical flow at my parish over the past year and a half because changes have been implemented. One of the first things to change was related to the use and lighting of candles used on the Altar. Previously, Mass began with a single candle burning next to the Ambo. Symbolically, this makes sense since the Word will first be proclaimed from the Ambo. The issue with liturgical flow arose after the homily and the prayers of the faithful. While the collection was taken up, an altar server would use one of those instruments with the wax wick (name?) and take the flame from the Ambo candle to light three candles on one side of the Altar (three for Trinity?). Even for experienced Servers this was often a show for the congregation: flames would go out, candles would not light, wax would drip, another server would need to help, or even the Priest on rare occasion. So every Mass included this potential entertainment with many of us praying in the pews for the server’s success (especially if it was your child’s responsibility). It was a distraction from the movement of liturgical prayer. The solution was to have Mass begin with two candles burning – one on each side of the Altar. This relieves the Altar Server and permits us to more fully join in the song at the presentation of the gifts without the distraction, or, if you like, the entertainment of the candle lighting.

    The second major thing to change was with the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. It started several years ago in the flu season when antiseptic gel was place on tables in the Sanctuary in the back corners where ministers would go and wash. This practice was held over for all seasons of the year. It was now a ritual for all ministers to go and perform the cleansing as part of the liturgical flow, again something else for everyone to watch. Elimination of this new ritual was achieved by education and resources. Ministers were asked to carry antiseptic gel or wipes with them and to take care of it before Mass or before coming up to the Sanctuary; the parish supplies wipes if needed. Hygiene is important, and this seems minor, but it improved the liturgical flow. One might question why not have the ministers wash, the Priest washes? Yes, the Priest cleanses himself, but it is a ritual prayer before the Consecration “Lord wash me from my iniquities and cleanse me from my sins.” There is a tremendous depth of meaning to this prayer and its fulfillment. I find myself saying this prayer silently at the same time.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Luis. I think it’s great you are using the You Who Do Through structure for your meal prayer! That’s exactly what Jesus did. Folks who work with children tell me that kids pick up the You Who Do Through structure very quickly.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Laura. This is great “compare and contrast” reflection on how different Mass can be. As Catholics, we’re fond of saying Mass is always the same. Which is true on one level. But Mass can also have a strong or weak spiritual impact based on how well we attend to the design of the liturgy.

  • Nick Wagner

    Jeanette, that is such a cool story! Kudos to you for showing real liturgical leadership, and helping your parish and school community worship better. I really believe that if all of us come to Mass with the attitude you have about fostering full participation, we could change liturgy across the diocese. Nice job.

  • Nick Wagner

    Klarissa, that is just awesome. I feel so honored that you shared your night prayer with us. And it is a very fine example of a You Who Do Through. Thanks for telling us your story.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Patricia. This is very heartfelt and clear reflection on the liturgy at St. Elizabeth’s. I like how you pointed out the chaos and change aspect of it. I also like your description of the bilingual nature of the liturgy. We are so blessed in this area to be among people of so many different cultures. I think you are spot on about how that promotes a sense of community. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Semi. Thanks for sharing this. I was touched by the last part when you described the victim of violence forgiving the assassin. That is what liturgy is supposed to strengthen us to do, and it is what I teach. But I don’t know if I’d have the strength to do it if I were ever in that situation. Still, it is inspiring to hear about those who are strong and who can forgive unforgivable things. Great reflection.

  • Nick Wagner

    Daniel, I laughed out loud at your description of the altar servers trying to light the candles. I have been at so many Masses that included that very show. And I cheered when I read that your parish had eliminated the Purell ritual. I cringe every time I see that. The ministers at one parish in the diocese use so much of the stuff that you not only see the show, you also smell it as the “incense” wafts out into the assembly. Great insight about how these things interrupt the liturgical flow and detract from the prayer of the assembly. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jocelyn

    The class on September 30 was very interesting. The class activities stirred our thoughts and
    feelings. The “you-who-do-through” way of putting the elements together to form
    a prayer reminds me of a previous class with Diana. This is very useful in the formulation of all
    types of prayers at any time. YOU pertains to an image of God; WHO is an active divine blessing or an amazing event that happened in the past; DO is a pressing need today (what we need now); and THROUGH is a title of Christ with the name of the Son. Like Nick mentioned in class, the “you-who-do-through” structure is also applied to the liturgical structure of the mass. The Opening (Collect), Eucharistic and Closing Prayers have the same structure. Now I am more aware on how prayers are created.
    I would also like to comment on the Mass last October 7 at St. Elizabeth. I agree with Patricia and Semi, the mass was beautiful. The liturgy was carefully prepared although I have to admit, it was a little awkward for me. I joined the choir and all the songs were bilingual. This is beyond my comfort zone, singing in Spanish I mean, but I love to sing and when they called for volunteers, I always try to answer the call to serve. It was a privilege to be a part of the choir. Moreover, I left the church with a renewed sense for the institute.

  • Joseph Vu

    Our third class (9/30/15) on Designing Rituals was very interesting and I am very happy to learn another way to pray. This class, Nick taught us how to pray with a special formula has only Four simple words: YOU, WHO, DO, THROUGH. I think this simple structure is very easy way
    to compose a prayer for use as an opening or concluding prayer. Just to follow the YOU, WHO, DO, THROUGH pattern.

    YOU: We have to praise our Lord, who created universe, everything including each of us.
    We must use the right term/name to call God such as: “Loving God”, “God of Mercy”, “God who heals”, “Father in Heaven”, “Almighty God”, “Great Healer”, “Light of the Word”…

    WHO: We have to say thanks God for everything God did for us. He himself is the “ Giver of all good gifts”, He/ God are always ready to forgive”, “Our strength and hope”.

    DO: We ask God to act, we offer a petition which connected us or who we have just said to God. We ask God to ‘DO’ something to ourselves or to someone who need our prayers and intention to pray for. And finally, we put intention on what our need at this moment and nicely to invite God to be with us as we gather together in God ‘s name.

    THROUGH: At the end of the prayer of this prayer formula, we conclude our prayer with a simple sentence “Through Christ our Lord…. Amen”, or “Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever…Amen.”

    According to Nick, this pattern or structure can be used to compose a prayer for any occasion; grace, opening prayer, closing prayer, blessing.

    I really like this prayer formula YOU, WHO, DO, THROUGH very much, it is easy to remember and simple (but enough meaning). I’ll practice to pray with this formula from now on.
    Thanks Nick.

  • Anai

    Excuse my tardiness of my entry. I as well enjoyed our last class (9/30) and also took the prayer formula given to us and put it to use right away. It could have been more elaborate but it having to do it of the top of my head, it was alright. Along with Semi, we did learn a bit of this formula on a Saturday class given by Diana in our first year. The first time around it was how to use it in a prayer, this time Nick let use know that it was through out other aspects of our liturgy, I found that to be very insightful. One doesn’t really pay attention to details like those, at least I hadn’t. I go back to what I first wrote in our very first entry, “God works in mysterious ways,” because for some reason or other I am more involved with Liturgy. I helped out in the ILM mass, which normally I stay in the back somewhere, and I am now part of the Children’s mass committee at my parish.

    I agree with my class mates that the mass on October 7th was very beautiful, I volunteered to help in the choir (though that isn’t my ministry, like Jocelyn I answered the call to serve.) Wow….. I have a new admiration for the people that are in that ministry, it is so much work. I work with Nina (3rd year, Spanish track) and saw she did a lot to prepare for the mass. The preparation as an individual is a lot as well, learning the music, practicing, and the “main event” all takes a big effort. I also put more attention to the different “jobs” that one is called to do during the mass and it was done so well. From the readers, to the sacristan and to the servers, the mass flowed nicely. But it does goes to so that doing the proper preparations, leads to a beautiful result. I quick kudos to my class mates that help in the liturgy, you guys did awesome!

    Going to mass and participating is one thing, but preparing for a liturgy/mass is no walk in the park. Our parish going to have monthly children’s mass and being part of the “Mesa Directvia” for catechists, I was invited to be part of the committee. I’m just amazed as to how much work it is, recruiting children to serve as readers, greeters, actors (for the homily), etc. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I haven’t had the experience of being directly involved with the Liturgy. We had our first Children’s masses on October 4 and got many positive feedback. The English mass you only see a handful of children and we had like over 30 that day, and even more in the Spanish mass. The few things that I have already learned in class has been guiding me in this new journey of mine and am excited to to see where else it will take me.

  • Bella arnaldo

    I have observed that of things that we do on a continual, repetitive basis, we tend to develop rituals that we tend to follow every time we perform that certain act. Mass is no different. In our parish preparation of the credence table always begins half an hour before mass. Then everyone-EMs, Lectors and greeters are expected to be lined up in front of the church to greet and hand out collection envelopes to incoming parishioners. Most everyone stops by and dips their fingers in holy water, gives themselves the sign of the cross and heads to the same side/section of the church they always sit every Sunday. Even the mass celebration follows it’s own uniform rituals for each mass. Or so I thought. I found out by attendeding different mass times, that although all our masses follow the same ritual, each mass takes on its own ritual that is in part an adaptation from the community of parishioners that a particular mass serves.
    For the first Sunday (8:00 am ) mass, the lights, temperature and tabernacle key have to be prepared for the rest of the day’s masses.
    For The Vietnamese masses, the people come a half hour early to do their pre-mass prayers, someone collects mass petitions and intentions and choir ladies, all dressed in their native Ao Dais rehearse songs.
    For the Spanish mass, family groups gather outside before and after mass to socialize and buy treats from the food vendors that instinctively know to gather outside the church for the Hispanic mass.
    I realize that these subtle rituals although may be unique only to those masses, but they serve to bind the communities they serve and gives that particular mass an ethnic taste thus uniting us all in one Liturgy while preserving our ethnic diversities.

  • Luis Mariano Estrada

    It is incredible how something that
    comes from God can be presented by two people of God, and teach us in different

    Last year Diana introduced to us
    the model of building a prayer using “You, who, do, and through”, and it was beautiful
    to learn it. The way Nick presented them to us this year with the post-its’ activity
    was also great, and very refreshing, especially using the connections:

    Image of God————————You

    Blessing from God___________Who

    Actual Need________________Do

    Image of the Son/Christ_______Through

    I also learned that these 4
    elements are called “Berakah”.

    I also learned that it gets even
    better when metaphors are use (like the example of water)

    This teaching is really something that I can use in daily life. I don’t know if I’m mistaken, but I think that it would give a more profound sense of praying if we implement it in the prayers
    of the faithful.

    When I was in youth ministry in my early 20’s, I remember being more able to improvise a prayer, or if I was asked for my opinion, etc., the Holy Spirit would help me to say the right
    thing. However, I kind of lost that ability, and I miss it very much.
    Using “Berakah” can surely help me start oiling my gears, and hopefully one day I can be of more service when having to evangelize on the spot.

    Thank you Nick and Diana

  • John

    In tonight’s class, one of the activities that stood out to me was comparing between a Thanksgiving gathering in the United States and Sunday Mass. These were the elements that our class came up with: entrance / gathering with the assembly, word, forgiving / sacrifice, breaking of bread with communion, prayers of the faithful, music, sending off, space (for an altar, cross, lights, ambo), silence, movement, and participation. Understanding this will better allow me to evangelize to someone who might not understand our Sunday Mass liturgy and understand why it’s so beautiful and powerful. Moreover, it reinforces the cycle that we come to believe GOD, we GATHER as a public act, we share a story as our WORD, we give THANKSGIVING to acknowledge how Jesus loves us, we have COMMUNION together, we are SEND OFF to the world, we share to the WORLD about our conversion, and in return, the evangelization brings others back to come to believe GOD. And this cycle is carried out beautifully if a liturgy is carried out beautifully if all parts of the cycle is experienced by the entire Church.

  • Greg Ripa

    We talked about liturgical flow from gathering to sharing our story to giving thanks to sending. This flow made me think about retreats that I went on in the past. So I decided to write a You-Who-Do-Through prayer for the start of a retreat to be said in an opening liturgy.

    Creator of all days, at the beginning of time, you separated the light from the darkness, calling the light “day” and the darkness “night”. You created the Sabbath not for yourself, but for us, so that we, your people, might refocus our lives, honor you, and find rest. Your son, Jesus, showed us how to live this Sabbath: he went away from daily life and prayed because he knew that his relationship with you is the primary focus in life. Bless this retreat; let us grow closer in relationship with you, our world, and each other; and may we, during this time away, find our Sabbath moment to be rejuvenated in mind, body, and spirit, so that, at the conclusion of this retreat, we might glorify you with our lives. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

  • Jane

    It was an interesting class tonight. Kavanagh’s writing made a great discussion subject that I enjoyed very much. It was a re-affirmation that the chaos is okay, when something goes wrong in Liturgy it is still okay. We work through it and move on. If Liturgy is first of all an experience of conversion, does the chaos aid that if it keeps the assembly’s attention and draws them in to the humanness going on?

    Like many of my classmates I had learned the You-Who-Do-Through prayer style in first year ILM. That was a long time ago so the refresher was appreciated, especially the way it was done with the post-it notes. Did we know when we were writing ours out that we were collectively creating prayer? Kudos, class, we did a great job! Here is what I came up with as a You-Who-Do-Through prayer:

    Almighty and loving God,
    You created us with love in your image.
    Guide us as we strive to share your love with all those around us.
    In the name of your son, Jesus Christ, who gives us strength. AMEN

  • Marcy Golebiewski

    The ritual flow in Queen of Apostles’s Sunday Liturgy flows smoothly. I think this is to be expected since this is a liturgy that we do frequently and the participants know what to expect and when to do in terms of movement and responses what from the entrance, the singing, the Liturgy of the Word, the prayer of the faithful, the collect, the liturgy of the Eucharist, the breaking of bread and communion to the sending forth. This Saturday, I watched on TV the prayer service attended by the first family, Having just covered ritual flow in class, I noticed the the flow of the prayer service left something to be desired. While it was certainly diverse and inclusive of numerous religions, I thought it lacked in participation, and was hard to follow since there were not translation materials. It also had way to many speakers to that the people coming and going became distracting from the prayer.

  • Lee Campbell

    Anything done in the Church is done through Christ. We are supposed to be growing closer to Christ through Liturgy and Liturgy has an order. This order is necessary: Everyone has an experience with God. We gather as a public act. God tell’s us a story. We give thanks and praise. We receive communion. This changes us, it is a conversion over time. Because we went to communion we are ready to make something happen. We are then sent out into the world so others can come to know Christ. This is called liturgical flow. (Did I get this right?) This occurs every time we attend mass. It is to help stimulate us to go out into the world and profess our faith to others with zeal. I find it inspiring that from start to finish this what we are called to do as Christians. Maybe we don’t get it all at once, this conversion, but over time we see the changes that occur through His word. The opening of our hearts mind and soul. To be His soldier.
    Anywhere there are humans chaos is sure to follow. What Holmes describes, ” it seems that what results in the first experience is deep change in the very lives of those who participate in the liturgical act.” This is what we are looking for. A deep change in ourselves growing closer to God and to become willing to do his will, whether we like it or not. Liturgy should move us. I can see why this may take time for the conversion to take place in us.

  • Anthony Ordona

    Another informative class again tonight. Enjoyed the refresher on the you who do through structure of prayer. Honestly, I had forgotten all about it, so that part of the class was really beneficial for me, since I am the one at my parish who does the communion services when we have no priest. The class time spent on Cavanaugh was very helpful in the sense that liturgy is indeed an experience of conversion. I believe that strongly since in the Liturgy of the Word, it is Christ who is directly speaking to us. That is maximum conversion from my point of view! Good liturgy should inspire us to go out into the world and make disciples. I am fortunate that at my parish, we pay careful attention as to how the Word should be proclaimed and that our pastor always has well crafted homilies that relate the readings into our daily lives. It was also good to get further reinforcement on the importance of the 4 major aritistic elements in Liturgy, word, music, movement and environment. I used to go to the vigil mass on Saturday evenings where 3 out of the 4 elements were good but the music was lacking. Again, good liturgy should flow! the Sunday morning mass that I now attend has all those elements and flows nicely.

  • miguel guzman

    Hello Nick, Thank for another great Class. I just wanted to write about Cavanaugh on Liturgical Theology, . and how he wrote about Urban Holmes noting that good Liturgy borders on the vulgar. He said that Liturgy leads regularly to Chaos. Chaos leads to Doom. What He’s saying is that Chaos is the deep change in the very lives of those who participate in the Liturgical act. And deep change will affect their next Liturgical act. So every Liturgical act is different from the other. The adjustment to change is real. The Liturgy changes. That is how Liturgies grow.Their growth is a function of adjustment to deep change, caused in the Assembly by its being brought regularly to the brink of chaos in the presence of the living God. A deep change in ourselves. It is the adjustment which is Theological in all this. This is where Theology is being born. This is where Tradition has called it “Theologia Prima.”. Liturgy brings change to the order of Chaos .God is inserting into the Chaos,by bringing order to the Chaos. Change is sometimes necessary. The Church intent on Liturgy = ( Lex Redendi). = Change or Resist. ( Lex Orandi) = the way that we pray, is what we believe. The Church fuctions through Liturgy. Liturgy serves as a source of Unity for the whole Church, their History and Tradition.Their Teachings provide instruction for doing what the Church teaches and practices, and how they function .Liturgy is what we do. Sometimes change scares me .And,sometimes I try to resist. I guess because that’s my human nature. But, I’m willing to try and change the person who I am. I leave it in God’s Hands.

  • Paty R.

    Thinking about rituals and the flow of the Liturgy, I realize that sometimes the ritual become just a “custom” when we do not know why are we doing it or our mind is not “present”. It becomes just a mechanical mindless thing to do. This is an issue that I see arises with the long-time ministers and with the assembly when it is not fully present in the celebration and this, definitely, affects the flow of the Liturgy and this make the ritual meaningless.
    In one of the masses the priest changed the way he usually greets the community, and he got the usual response – nothing to do with what he was saying- so he asked, “Are you here? You need to be here, your whole being not just your body…!” In another mass the EM’s where going up and coming down the altar like they did not know which one was serving that day. Then I overheard the conversation of a couple of ladies in the pews in front of me, one was talking about the antibacterial gel saying to her friend “I totally get distracted with that EM, I guess she is a surgeon because of the way she put her hands in front of her face to disinfect them just in the way a surgeon does before the surgery. Does she realize that she is standing behind the priest and it is very distracting?” After hearing this I only could smile and thank the Holy Spirit for sending me to this particular mass because I was planning to go to a different mass but everything was against me so had to go to this one.
    I thought that most of our masses have a nice flow but these last 2 weekends, making the evaluations for our homework, showed me things that can be improved.

  • Stella Lal

    It was really beautiful to see God’s reign on earth being fulfilled through the cycle of participating in Mass and being sent forth to be and in being witnesses to Christ.

    In Christology we learnt about bringing God’s reign on earth and this Liturgy class explained to us on how to fulfill it.

    This is the essence of the one and only prayer that Christ taught us “Our Father” bring His and our father’s reign on earth; His kingdom come.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi everyone. For those of you who were not part of the second-year liturgy class, these are the readings the class covered. They are taken from The Spirit of the Liturgy by Goffredo Boselli.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Stella. I’ve never formally studied Christology, but it makes sense that we would understand who Christ is, what his mission is, and how to fulfill that mission by celebrating the liturgy. It is in the liturgy where Christ is most fully present and most fully revealed. Thanks for making that connection for us.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi John. I’m glad the analogy of Thanksgiving was helpful in exploring the structure and flow of Sunday Mass. Sometimes there is a tendency to overthink or over-spiritualize what happens at Mass. In some ways, it is a very ordinary, human activity. Paradoxically, that’s what makes it so holy.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Greg. That’s a terrific prayer! I like how you connected the name for God with the action that God has done. I also like the connection with the Sunday dismissal formula (“glorify you with our lives”). Very nicely done.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Jane. This is a beautiful prayer! I very much like the simplicity of it. I am happy to hear you enjoyed Kavanagh’s piece. It’s a tough reading, and not everyone always “enjoys” it. But I do think there is some good insight in the reading for thinking about liturgy. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Marcy. What a great idea, to apply the concept of liturgical flow to the first family prayer service. I didn’t see it, but I’ve seen similar public or civic prayers. Often times, the goal of “prayer” is intermixed with the goal of “politics.” I think it is probably a good motive to bring prayer into politics, but betting the balance — and the flow — correct is difficult. Great insight.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Lee. This is an excellent summary of liturgical flow. And you also have given us a very good description of how conversion happens in the liturgy. I think if parishes would more diligently focus on these aspects of liturgy, we would greatly enhance the work that Jesus has given us. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi everyone. I wanted to say a word about “chaos.” One of my theology professors began class one day in front of a white board and said the board represented chaos because it was completely empty. It was a void. Then he put a dot on the board. Now, he said, there was order. There was “dot” and “not dot” — a separation. In the creation story, God brings order to chaos by separating the earth and the sky out of the void. Essentially, God created points of reference that gave order to the nothingness.

    Liturgy is a continuation of that act of bringing order into the void. The world continues to tend back toward chaos, and the cosmic struggle of the liturgical act is to continue to be a point of reference that give order to the chaos.

    When liturgy is messy or distracted, we might tend to say it is “chaotic,” meaning things kind of fell apart and didn’t go very smoothly. But l don’t think liturgy can ever be chaotic in the sense that the creation story talks about chaos. Chaos is always the void, the nothingness. And liturgy is always the dot or the point of reference. Even when liturgy is messy and badly done, it is still an act of creative order.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • Phan Nguyen

    The concept of the Mass tells a story is new to me. Even though I have learned about it last year but it did not dwell in me until this class. The more I thought about it, the clearer I can see; it is indeed telling a story. First, every mass has a theme, either a memorial of a saint or a feast as the church observe in the six liturgical seasons during the year. The readings are carefully selected to reflect the theme of the day. The mass tells a story that expands the time from the creation of the world to the present day laid out in the readings and the prayers. Not long ago I discovered a direct connection between the reading of the Old Testament and the New Testament in a Sunday Mass and thought it was a revelation to me. But actually our Catholic Church has discovered that 2000 years ago! There are many details that are either taken from the Bible or from the Tradition such as the pouring of water into the wine or putting a piece of bread into the consecrated wine. When realizing that the Mass is a story, I felt wanting to go to Mass, eager to find out what the story will be.

  • Mariann

    An Art picture As I looked at the picture of art that Nick show us to look and placed it on the table for last week’s class for everyone in class to discuss. For my opinion, I thought that art relate to liturgy we learn in class, the symbol of image, so I question in my mind, who was in picture? God, Lord, Jesus and What did He do in picture? The picture was great art: Jesus is the center of the world, , in the perfect circle and Jesus will be in the center for what we do in the Church in Liturgy, we have Jesus in center of our life. The Liturgy is center about relationship with Jesus, when we do with Jesus although success or not will be happy to serve. If we have other vision about that art, the image as God is constantly of work that liturgy is constantly of God. God continue work with us until now. God is always looking at our heart and care for us because He is create the world, so that Liturgy is create. We can look this picture in many vision difference and working with each other we will have a great liturgy.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Anthony,

    I really like your statement that good liturgy should inspire us to go out into the world and make disciples. That fact is what keeps me excited about learning about and teaching liturgy. I’m glad to hear your parish is such a good model. Keep up the good work!

  • Nick Wagner

    Wow, Mike, you have given us a very extensive summary here. Nice job. I hear you about change being scary. It scares me too sometimes. But in my better moments, I remember the gospel mission is to reconcile the world to God. That means change — in me first of all. Thanks for your good insight.

  • Nick Wagner

    Paty, I love your story about the communion minister disinfecting her hands! That is one of my pet peeves. It is always distracting, even when done at at side table. And it always disrupts the flow of the liturgy. I also think you are right about people not being fully present in the liturgy. We have to start with ourselves, of course. And then I think we have to help the ministers of the liturgy be more present. Hopefully, that will eventually influence and encourage the parishioners to be more present. Good food for thought.