Liturgical Leadership (Sept. 20)


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Theological question

Is leadership the eighth gift of the Holy Spirit? Do all Christians have a vocation to be leaders? How do I know if I’m called to be a leader?


The goal is to understand the role of leadership in shaping parish liturgy.


Students will collaborate to create a liturgy and reflect on that experience to develop a common vision of liturgical leadership.


(after the class has been completed)

Idea starters

  • What are my goals for this course? How will I measure my goals?
  • What is my parish’s mission?
  • How is the mission reflected and supported in our Sunday liturgy?
  • Post some thoughts in the online forum

Evaluate your Sunday liturgy (in preparation for Jan. 11)

Read (in preparation for Sept. 27)

    If you have the fifth edition, read:
    The Liturgy Documents, p. xvi-xxi

    If you do not have the fifth edition, read these files:
    The Liturgy Documents, Introduction 1
    The Liturgy Documents, Introduction 2
    The Liturgy Documents, Introduction 3
    The Liturgy Documents, Introduction 4
    The Liturgy Documents, Introduction 5
    The Liturgy Documents, Introduction 6

Bring with you to class

On Sept 27, we are going to look at liturgical books. Please bring with you any liturgical books you can find in your parish or your home. They can be pre- or post-Vatican II. Be prepared to say a sentence about what you bring.

 Posted by at 5:15 pm
  • Diana-Lynn Inderhees

    The first class of the Liturgy course was very informative. The definition of Liturgy and the descriptions of what a leader is will be helpful in moving forward. I identify with having to step up because others are not able to and personally not wanting to. Liturgy has a beginning, middle and an end. It is comprised of Word, music, environment and movement. Liturgy is participation. How do we get people to participate? What does “participate” mean: singing, reciting prayers, standing, etc? I see that everyone does some of these actions. What if you do not have a dynamic presider? I would say that 80% of American priest are not dynamic presiders.

    My goal for this class is to learn the basics (task) and to apply them to helping to prepare the Sunday Liturgy. It will help to know the why and the reason if there is one for what we do in the Liturgy. I hope to gain confident to communicate to others.
    My parish mission: growing, diverse and welcoming. In regard to the liturgy we are not growing, we are diverse but separate and we have not been able to organize a welcoming committee.

    There are many parts and we must show and empower others to find and to do their part.

  • Jane

    test post

  • Greg Ripa

    You may not be able to “like” a post, but you can vote it up (little up arrow “^” below the post) – or vote it down if you’re feeling spiteful or unkind.

  • Greg Ripa

    Your additional examples are good choices.

  • Greg Ripa

    “We have to strive to do things correctly, of course, but if we focus too much on the rules, we lose focus on the relationships liturgy engenders.” — yes yes yes; totally agree!

  • Mariann

    Last time I try to comment, but I can not joined Disqus, Now I post it again. Thank you Nick for Liturgy class. I love this class that we can learn to discuss about Liturgy. Even though we did something in Liturgy by praying together, sang a song in mass, reading, listening, and reflecting the God’s word. We understand in limit when we used talent for serve God, but sometime we did for as leaders. In first class, you mention about Martin Luther King and Pope Francis as example for us because they serve did not want to be leaders, but was chose they did what was asked to them willingly. Their vision and how they makes a good leader, leads by example and bring people close to God. It was help to as work with others in group, in community, and in Church and have to share the Liturgy together. Liturgy is Word, Music, Movement, Environment in our parish. It help me to think how I serve God for God or for me? “Liturgy is what you do”. It was good and necessary to participating and to learning for Liturgy in Church.

    For second class, we took a book we like and chosen to discuss in class. I pick the book of the order of Confirmation because I work Faith Formation of Confirmation , so i need to know how to do in Liturgy for Confirmation. We discuss about Roman Missal… I enjoy to discuss with my partner about what we read in the Liturgy book. Liturgy about relationship with Jesus, We can repair something about Liturgy before we do, not for you but for the Church. We can not do something without Jesus, so that we need to pray, the rule of prayer is the rule of faith, so that we can share what we learn. Thank you for wonderful class that Nick and Diann work together to help us understand more about Liturgy in the Church. I appreciate this very much.

  • 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.

  • Tim Logan

    Well the impromptu create a simple celebration like a mass minus the Priest was a challenge. Which in my opinion we carried off quite well, but then that shows the quality of the people in ILM. Couple that with our being together now for two years and that we interact with each other even outside of ILM also gave strength to our “homework”. Even adapting to having several people who are not part of the “group”. Does this make us better then the rest? No, that is not the point of ILM. Do we stand apart? No, we in fact show it’s together that we live our faith. This bounding of faith is no accident, but a revelation of Vatican 2 of how our church needs to respond to God’s calling and to respond to a world often in confusion and darkness.

  • Annette Mo

    I had been anxiously awaiting our 3rd year in ILM. I had chosen to take liturgy as my elective. When I was a kid, I used to be fascinated at how the Catholic masses was the same no matter what church we went to. When we sat and stood or kneeled were always well orchestrated. I used to just follow, as that was what we were taught in school. Now I thought, this course in ILM is my chance to get a deeper understanding of the why, how and when of liturgy. Our first session was interesting. I was impressed with how well our class did when we were asked to prepare an impromptu worship celebration in a short time. We collaborated, and communicated with each other, we celebrated one theme. We knew that for it to work and be meaningful, all parts of the liturgy needed to be as one. Apparently, we understood liturgy more than we thought we did. We celebrated a well thought out worship. It was creative, solemn, and heartfelt. I went to mass at St. Francis of Assisi yesterday morning, interestingly enough, my mind was still on the 4 arts of the liturgy and the service we celebrated. I was trying to be an active participant of the mass, but at the same time I was dissecting the mass into these arts. I observed that the music chosen gave emphasis to the readings. I listened to the lector and was appreciating the clarity of her proclamation. It was the feast of St. Matthew, so the priest was wearing red. The chapel was bright and airy. Funny how I try to go to mass daily yet not realize how all these correlated with each other. Doh!

  • Kurt Martin

    In class the other day we were discussing the question what will it look like when we have reached our goal. I had given the answer of when teens enjoy mass. But as I was driving home, I reflected more on that question and I realized that the answer I gave only skimmed the surface of what the true answer. I think for me we will know we have reached our goal when Mass becomes the high point of people’s day or even week. And really, that’s what we all want. We as current lei ministers see the value in Mass and probably enjoy Mass and want others to as well. There are people at Mass that go to Mass just because they feel they have to or because Mass attendance is critical so you don’t have to pay so much tuition wise at the parish school. But are they really getting the full experience out of Mass or just there because they have to be there? We are doing this elective for those that are “forced to be” at Mass will have an awesome experience and we’ll know we have reached our goal when all are participating fully at Mass and it becomes people’s highlight of the day.

  • Melby Sanchez

    “What do you know about Liturgy?” This was the very first thing that Nick asked the class. This is the question that struck me most with the class. What do I know about Liturgy? I attend liturgies in my parish – celebration of the mass, baptism and funerals. And every Liturgy exhibits word, music, movement and environment. It was very nice for our class to have manifested these elements in a very short time in our prayer. It was really nice to see everyone participating with the planning of the liturgy. Though, it did not happen what we all planned to, I think that it went well. I believe the Holy Spirit has guided us with the flow on the Liturgy. It is very important that we participate in our liturgy,

    There is a reason why I am here for this class. Our first class taught me that active participation is very important to have a good liturgy. I asked myself, how can I bring this to my community? How can I encourge them to participate more attentively with the celebration of the mass? ?

  • Yolanda C Garcia

    I am excited about this Liturgy class. When an instructor asks what we know about something, in this case Liturgy, my mind starts swimming around for an answer, a correct answer, or a definitive one. You know, our class is amazing! We began to blurt out what Liturgy is: community, prayer, rituals, signs, music, reflection, the Word, movement, etc. Liturgy is so many things and it is my goal to learn more about it. And, talk about getting out of the box! Nick assigned us to 4 groups to form a liturgy. We all went into motion, strategizing and planning our take on one of the four Liturgical arts; my group was the Word. Within a limited amount of time, we all gathered in procession, had an opening song, recited a psalm, prayed the Hail Mary and concluded with another song and a sign of the cross. That was amazing how we all formed this prayer service with limited resources and time to come up with a beautiful gathering. We especially prayed for people who have been suffering from all of these natural disasters that parts of the world are experiencing right now. I’m glad I was a part of this class last Wed. night. Learned also that Liturgy should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Never thought about these concepts – ever! Definitely going to be more aware of these concepts at next Sunday’s Mass.

  • Reina Hollero

    I chose Liturgy Course because it reminded me of 1 Corinthians 12:12 “There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ.” This speaks true to our Church as all of us have a part to serve and we must actively participate in the mass. The group activity that we did at our first meeting was a good example of different parts that work together, considering we had limited time and resources and yet we were able to come up with a meaningful prayer group.
    The 5 questions that were assigned to us made me revisit my journey to where I stand in my faith now. When we were partnered in the class to share these questions, I felt as if I was still missing something in me as a part of our Church. Our parish would always announce for volunteers to get involved in one of the many opportunities to reach out and to make a better and improved community. A part of me always wants to do it, yet my concern for time is the first thing that crosses my mind. However, that thought proves me wrong. Before I started ILM I always questioned whether or not I could do this for 3 years. Now, here I am – my last year and ready to try the next step.

  • C Thornton

    I like Melby’s question – (paraphrased)…”participation is very important…how can I bring this to my community…how can I encourage participation at Mass?”) This is what I try to intentionally weave into my daily ministry. And beyond participation at Mass (which is THE source and summit), how can we support each other in a parish community to see/understand that how we live each moment of our life reflects our participation in the Liturgy. For me our faith, and the beautiful patterns of our worship, are constant. Every breath we take is a gift from God, and it affirms the on-going presence of the Incarnation – God with us. In every moment from birth to death we are joined with God. As such, all that we do can have liturgical implications.

    During our first class we were asked to prepare a worship service. It was refreshing to have this assignment and it reminded me of the power of the Spirit and the many and diverse gifts each individual possesses. At the outset the assignment seemed straightforward – but as we began to talk in our group the myriad options for what this worship would look like, and what its purpose would be caused us to work through a steady flow of great comments and options. Different members raised different points but all smoothly supported the mutual ( and time sensitive!) goal of framing the exercise. It was lovely to see how each of the 4 groups efforts came together in a cohesive, balanced prayer experience which integrated the 4 liturgical arts.

    So, what do you think about the Theological ?…is leadership the 8th gift of the HS?

  • C Thornton

    My thoughts on…”Is leadership the 8th gift of the HS?”
    First I needed to re-run the scriptural Gifts of the HS in my mind…Wisdom, knowledge, understanding, right judgement (counsel), courage (fortitude), piety, and wonder + awe (fear of the Lord). I associate these gifts with the HS giving to each person what they need – and that there are a variety of gifts. Happily none of us needs (nor are called) to do everything. We are called to be all that we can be. As members of the Body of Christ we are supported by the whole body, and the head of the body is Jesus Christ. I have come to believe that all is gratuitous gift from God – so might leadership be the 8th gift? Sure. But who can put a number or limit on God’s gifts.

  • Carmen Macias

    On our first evening of Liturgy class we were asked if we could name a few important integrals of a celebration if Liturgy. We all gave many and it important integrals, that when we were ask d to break up into small groups to create Liturgy, we had twenty minutes to work together and bring it all together. When class was over I was so excited to be part of this Liturgy class I cannot wait to use the tools quick Nick will give us to take and use in our parishes.v

  • Lerma Simpson

    This first session opened my eyes to see that Liturgy is alive. In a sense, Liturgy seems comparable to a living being in that it not only grows if nurtured and cared for but is also a source of life and growth.
    It takes many skilled ‘caretakers’ working with each other to breathe life into liturgy, to get it up on its feet, and to make sure it develops momentum. During the class exercise, we saw the caretakers acting as ministers in the four liturgical arts. The ministers in Word, Movement, Music, and Environment each worked together, communicating with one another, diligently preparing, developing thoughts and eventually executing a plan for the birth and liveliness of a liturgy. Every minister in those areas brought, applied, and shared their special gifts to the table. In turn, Liturgy provides life and growth to the faithful as well. Liturgy provides growth not only to those involved in liturgical ministry but to those involved in other Church ministries and to the rest of the community of Christ. For example, as a lector and as a catechist, each time I prepare to proclaim the Good News by reading and reflecting on its message I feel new life, a ‘new me’, if you will, being lifted. This is especially true after days of a long week in which there were several challenging moments. It gives me momentum to meet the next challenges ahead. In addition, a vibrant and well-prepared liturgy can also create a life of faith in those who normally do not attend Mass or are not Catholic. As a catechist, I journey in faith with various individuals who want to know more about God and become a part of our Catholic community because of their positive experience with Sunday liturgy. During class, many of us shared our thoughts and comments on what we wanted to take away from this class. The majority wanted to deepen their knowledge and understanding of liturgy so that they can bring what they have learned to their own ministry. I shared these common goals. However, I look forward to the possibility of a mightier goal as my understanding of liturgy deepens.

  • Irene Dela Cruz

    What if, like our ILM class, majority of our congregation is made
    aware of the 4 elements of a liturgy?
    What if interspersed between “For the solemnity and
    sacredness of our gathering we request that you turn off your cell phones…”,
    and “Let us now center or hearts and minds to prepare for worship…” we ask
    them to pay attention to the music, the movement, the Word, and the environment
    during the Mass, giving a brief description of it. Will this help the community? Will this invigorate them and make them focus? I asked because 2 years ago, we had a
    short discussion on Liturgy where the 4 elements were introduced to us. And last Wednesday, after Nick gave us a review of what we learned then, we were able to come up, in very few minutes, with a service that although far from perfect gave credence to the fact that we have
    learned something good, something tangible that make us appreciate what a good service
    is. This is after all one of our goals,to make people want to come to Mass and not to think of how long the service will take. We want them to think, to take part and to feel good about the service. A liturgy, as was stressed last Wednesday, should have a clear beginning, middle, and clear ending. It should not be muddled. I like that part, because I have attended a few services that have confused me. I am looking forward to learning more. I certainly have a deeper appreciation of the services at my parish and I would like to have a part in making it even better.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Tim. I like how you connected our ability to participate in liturgy so fully to Vatican II. That was a primary goal of the reformers — to increase the participation of the faithful in the liturgy. As you point out, our liturgical participation then equips us to better respond to the confusion and darkness in the world. Nice reflection.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Annette. I forgot to mention to the class something you point out in your reflection. Once you start learning about liturgy at this level, you will probably never be able to go to Mass again the way you used to. You’ll start to see everything through the four arts and, at least subconsciously, start analyzing how well they flow together. Thanks for commenting on that.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Kurt. Thanks for expanding on your goal. I hope you reach it. I’m not sure, however, if we’ll ever see that day when Mass is the highlight of everyone’s week. At least not until Jesus returns. Still, I think it is the goal we are all striving for, and whatever each of us can do to increase the participation of the faithful in the liturgy moves us closer to the goal.

  • Nick Wagner

    HI Melby. Your question about how to help the assembly participate is a good one. One key is to attend to the four liturgical arts. When those are done well, participation happens naturally in an assembly. When they are not done well, the assembly gets bored or distracted.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Yolanda. I know what you mean. I had gone to Mass all my life, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I began to understand that every liturgy is a story. So the idea that Mass should have a beginning, middle, and end becomes clear once we get that. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  • Brigitte Chenevier-Donkers

    On Saturday September 23,2017, I attended Father Ed Samy’s 50th anniversary mass of his ordination. It was a beautiful mass filled with members of different parishes. There were several instances that the liturgy caught my attention. First the procession to enter to the church was powerful with many priests present. Then, they were two collections back to back. It was different to what I have seen in my 25 years in the USA, where it is done at different time of the mass. The money collected was not brought up to the alter during mass. This surprised me, as I have been an usher. Finally, before the end of mass there was a 30 minutes presentation of gifts, speech and video in honor of Father Samy.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Reina. I’m so happy to hear you are read to take the next step. That is a big deal. Most people never really get to that point. I like your insights about the body of Christ and how the different parts work together to accomplish the mission. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Carol. Thanks for pointing out that all that we do in liturgy and in life happens through the power of the Holy Spirit. And, as you say, that life-in-the-Spirit finds it’s source and reaches its culmination in the liturgy. I hope through the work we do as liturgical leaders in our parishes, we can help more and more parishioners make that connection. Thanks for your insights.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Carmen. I’m glad to hear you are excited about the class. I think studying liturgy is pretty exciting, but most people don’t share my enthusiasm. I hope you find the tools you are looking for and that you are able to help your parish celebrate more fully. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Lerma. I really like your comment about being open to the possibility of a mightier goal presenting itself as your understanding of liturgy deepens. That is such a positive attitude. I think it is an idea that can carry over into our worshiping assemblies as well. As parishioners are led to deeper participation in the liturgy, their goals for themselves as disciples are likely to become mightier. Thanks for an interesting insight.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Irene. I agree with you that asking the assembly to be more award of and pay attention to the music, the movement, the Word, and the environment during the Mass would help them participate more. However, the way I learned about those things was being at liturgies where the four liturgical arts were done really well. As I reflected on what I liked about “good” liturgies I had been at and what disappointed me about “poor” liturgies, those four artistic elements became apparent. Perhaps, ideally, we need some combination of pre- and post-liturgical reflection. Interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Brigitte. Were the collections held after the opening procession? That seems odd. From your brief description, it seems as though you are saying the anniversary mass did not have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Was that your experience? Or did I misunderstand. Thanks for offering this summary.

  • Annabel Tomacder-Ruiz

    The first class turned out to be a fruitful one to me. The group project and sharing our answers to the first assignment was a great experience. The group project made me realize that in order to get things done,communication is the most important thing. Knowing we chose one of four areas, we had to talk to one another to make it seem like we were working as one unit. We were independent of each other, but were all connected and intertwined. It made me realizes that everything that we do in liturgy needs to be connected and follow the same theme. For instance, I understand why and how my parish’s music director picks certain songs and how the songs may echo the words expressed in the homily. Having to pair up with a peer to discuss our answers to the questions was very helpful to me. Talking to someone helped me understand what I want to get out of this class. I told my partner that I don’t know what God wants me to do; I find myself doing different things, such as being a member of the choir, catechist, or worship coordinator. My partner expressed it best when he said, “we are asked to go deeper.” Maybe the Holy Spirit is guiding me to search? Tome, God is asking me to go deeper to understand what he wants of me.

  • Barb Villano

    My first lesson in this class came from the five questions Nick asked us to about where our journey began and what our plans are to complete it. It was an eye opening realization how I have taken for granted our Liturgy, and don’t appreciate its depth. So, where do I go from here? We also know that everything we do must tie in with our Church’s mission, to ” Go and make disciples of all nations.” Looking at my parish’s mission statement, it is to “…live and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ through Worship, Discipleship, and Service.” So, the first tool we are to use is Worship, or the Liturgy. How does our parish live up to that? Today, I am not sure, but will say “fair.” This will be the first question I want to be able to answer at the end of the course.
    So, if the Liturgy is the first of the actions we need to utilize to make disciples, then it must be understandable, exciting, and redemptive in nature.

    Let’s begin…..

    Lou Villano

  • Brigitte Chenevier-Donkers

    Sorry, if i did not make it clear. There was a clear beginning, middle and end of the mass.

  • Rilene Simpson

    I have heard liturgy defined as “the work of the people.” I like that definition, because I think it is our duty as God’s people to worship him: that is our work. After the first class in Liturgy, and starting to see how important liturgy was in the Vatican Council II, I really like the definition, because we are actually instructed in how the people should participate. We must respond, and sing, and move. And we are taking more active roles like proclaiming the Word, and serving holy communion. I would be interested to know what Nick and the class think of this idea of liturgy being “the work of the people.”

  • Rilene Simpson

    One of the things we are planning at Holy Family this year is to have a whole Sunday (starting with the Saturday vigil Mass) of “teaching Masses,” some are also calling them “slow Masses.” Apparently we do have the ability to stop the Mass and explain things, that is, Father has the ability to do so.

    I think this is critically important, as even those of us who know the significance of the Mass can get caught up in the day-to-day life problems, or be lulled by a sense of the familiar and not really appreciate what is going on at the Mass. And recently, we have stopped using the bells at the most important parts of the consecration, so now, if your mind wanders, we don’t have that to snap us back…Can you tell that my mind is a wanderer?

  • Ken Louie

    Hello everyone! Sorry that I missed the first class. I was on a Pilgrimage to Italy. We all have experienced good and not so good liturgies. The best ones IMHO are when everything relates to the day’s readings – the opening hymn, the Priest’s greeting, his homily, communion chant, all the way to the final blessing. Singing the Sanctus with the angels “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts…” to me is like a bit of Heaven on earth.

  • Barb Villano

    At today’s Mass, I had double duty as Lector and Eucharistic Minister due to absences, and the celebrant was a visiting Priest. So, there was a little disorganization. I tried “stepping out” of my ministerial roles to attempt to see whether the congregation was being spiritually fed by the Mass today. The early missteps were distracting as the Priest was looking for help, and I was not hopeful this would turn out ok. I had the second reading from St. Paul, whom every Lector knows can be one tough read. However, today’s reading from Philipians was poetic and powerful, and easy for everyone to understand. The best part was Father’s homily tied in perfectly with it, quoting some key verses, challenging everyone to listen to St. Paul’s words and apply them to our everyday lives. This moment lent meaning to me of last week’s discussion about the Liturgy as “the font from which all the Church’s power flows.”

    Lou Villano