The Liturgical Books (Sept. 27)


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Theological Question

How is liturgy “contained” in the rituals of the church?
How is liturgy something more than the rituals of the church?


The goal of this session is for students to learn the basic structures of the liturgical books.


Students will learn the history of the ritual texts and discovering their purpose and design.


(after the class has been completed)

Idea starters

  1. How can the liturgy be the “same” throughout history and yet different every time we celebrate it?
  2. How does language both conceal and reveal God?
  3. Is there a difference between ritual speech and ordinary speech?

Evaluate your Sunday liturgy (in preparation for Oct. 4)

Read (in preparation for Oct. 4)

{These readings are for the Liturgy of the Word}

    {The Liturgy Documents, p. xi-xiii}

  • 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 6:25 pm
  • Fred Tou

    Our parish mission is “St.
    Simon Catholic Parish fosters Christ-centered discipleship through lifelong
    formation, open sharing of our gifts and active participation in our Church,
    schools, and greater community.” One way our liturgy could better support our
    mission is to include a 4 minute talk on catechesis at the end of Mass (which Katie
    said in her earlier post that her parish does).
    Our parish used to have a 4 minute catechesis, but it was dropped (I
    think the reasons included inconsistency between Masses regarding the 4 minutes,
    and opposition by some parishioners to the longer duration of the Mass).

  • Christine Tran

    In evaluating my parish Sunday Liturgy I find it both celebrating and contrite:
    some missing parts remind me of the newness of the parish that still need resources,
    time and efforts to fulfill its mission.
    I especially pay attention to the important role of opening song because it is new to me and as a
    choir’s member I have noticed that a closing song was intentionally chosen so that everyone can sing well; but an opening song was usually picked to fit with the theme of a given Sunday. Therefore in supporting our music ministry I shared this part of evaluation with our music director and the leader of our choir. Hopefully we know one more way to better draw participation of the assembly.
    I am glad that the form gave me some guidelines and a direction to liturgically support my parish in the future.

  • Diane Constantino

    I find “The exercise full, conscious & active participation:
    How are we doing?” as a good
    self-evaluation guide. This exercise made me think for a moment how our community & myself participate in
    the liturgical assembly. Though my score says we are doing ok but right now our
    community is having bigger challenges because our church was burned last August
    2012. Right now we are holding mass at the school gym which was converted as
    much as possible to a chapel. I will not pretend that we did not lose parishioners
    while not having the church building.
    Our English mass has lesser number of parishioners attending than when
    we had the church building before. Because of this situation, I observed that everyone
    from the priest to every ministries in our community are doing their best to
    encourage our parishioners to continue to be with us each week and every mass
    we celebrate. Our choir is doing their best – to sound whole and full of life,
    songs were carefully chosen to invite and to encourage the community to
    sing especially at the beginning
    of the liturgy and during the communion. We know we just lost a building but we
    are still the church, the people, and we continue to strive in our own little
    ways that every liturgical celebration is meaningful and the community is
    coming together to the table. God is still here with us even we only have our gym
    chapel for now.

  • Katherine Cottingham

    Melissa gave a great presentation, even though it was an immense
    amount to cover in such a short period of time. But yes, it was a very good

    Recently I was able to use the “Rite of Christian Funerals”, as in the shortage of available priests, I was asked to lead a Funeral Parlor Vigil. I remembered the book from a couple years ago, when I had assisted at another Funeral Parlor Vigil, so I knew just whom to get the book from! This book is amazing with so many specific liturgies for a great variety subtly differing settings, situations/audience. So— this was one of the books that I borrowed to bring to our class on Liturgical Books.

    The other book I brought along was “Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest”, which I thought was sort of amazing and rather sad that this book exists because we are experiencing such a shortage of priests. This book includes the appropriate ritual to be used in the celebrating community, as well as Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and two appendices for Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest and Gathered in Steadfast Faith.

    The following Saturday after our class, I was assigned at our parish to serve as Sacristan for the 5-pm Mass, which is a capacity that I have served in only maybe a dozen or so times and not very often at that. Generally our Daily Sacristan sets out all the Liturgical Books and marks the pages, so I have never had to concern myself with the books preparation for our priests. Interestingly enough, this particular Saturday the books remained in the cupboard and were not marked to the appropriate pages, so I was given the opportunity to look a
    bit closer at these Sacred Books. I am already fairly familiar with the Ordo, because I refer to it when I prepare the Sunday Prayer of the Faithful (general intercessions), so I knew to begin there. When I got to setting up the page for the “Preface” of the Mass I was completely at a loss, because there were, as I recall, at least seven options! Fortunately our pastor, Fr. Michael walked into the Sacristy right at that time (Divine Intervention, yes!) and he gladly explained to me that really there was no set Preface, but was more or less up to the Celebrant’s discretion, usually appropriate to the Readings. So, I marked the Preface that seemed most appropriate to me in my humbleness, and surprisingly enough it was the one that I heard the priest read.

    There is so much to learn! It’s all quite exciting, as well as humbling.
    I hope to find time soon just to sit down with the various Lectionaries and the Roman Missal to obtain a better feel about their contents. As a Lector at Mass, I am fairly familiar with the Lectionary, but I would like to compare the specific time books.

    I used to pray from “The Christian Prayer” book, but the past couple of years my life has been blessedly chocked full, and so I’ve been reading daily from the Magnificat instead. One day sooner than later I hope to obtain a set of “The Liturgy of the Hours” and be able to make that part of my daily prayer.

    The Mass last Wednesday at Our Lady of Refuge was wonderful with the lively yet appropriate music, and Msgr. Cilia with his humble light-hearted good humor and his inspirational words in his homily. It is always a consoling blessing to pray with such a fully engaged group of people as is the students of ILM.

    As far as evaluating our parish . . .
    Most often my husband and I are assigned to the 11:30-am Mass, and o a few occasions we have been greatly disappointed that the opening hymn (not found in the hymnal nor known to the congregation) had been sung by the choir alone. For me, I felt sort of left out in the cold. As it is a gathering song, it should be inclusive to all present. I love when the celebrant processes up the aisle singing his heart out! Hopefully I’ll remember to discuss this with the choir director before our next Liturgy meeting.

    #5 “Begin the communion procession from the rear of church instead of the front to create a greater sense of the entire community coming to the table.”
    I love this idea!! My husband and I have experienced this a couple of times at the California Missions. I am not sure it would be so easy though to change a large community very accustomed to the reverse, but perhaps it could be done by employing ushers.


  • Christopher Pacifico

    As Monsignor Fran
    mentioned after last Wednesday’s mass at Our Lady of Refuge church, the
    celebration was a full, conscious and active participation from the
    congregation. The church was not full
    but the participation of the congregation in regards to participating in the
    singing and the responses made it as if the church was full. If only each and every celebration is like
    that every time we celebrate a mass at every parish, everyone would have a
    great experience filled with the Holy Spirit.
    It would be like a renewing celebration.
    In my observation of last Sunday’s Liturgy celebration at Saint Francis
    of Assisi, people were still coming in when they should have been already at
    their seats before the procession and should have been singing along with the
    choir. Father Jeff Hernandez was our
    presider and he delivered the homily very well.
    He made a parable to connect the gospel to reflect how people are
    today. One of the lectors was distracted
    by the fact that the reading was not ready on the ambo and he had to spend time
    to look for it. The other lector and the
    cantor did very well in their delivery.
    A song not too familiar to the choir and the congregation was sung. Because it was not very familiar, the
    congregation did not participate and the choir made a mistake. Needless to say, the celebration didn’t flow
    as it should have. Everything else was well.
    Preparation by everyone including the congregation and having a full,
    conscious and active participation in a liturgy celebration is very important
    in order to have that renewing experience.

  • Gina Pacifico

    The mass celebration last Wednesday at Our Lady of Refuge was orchestrated very well by everyone including the congregation. Everyone had a role and everyone delivered and participated fully and well. The choir sang the the songs in two languages. The readings including the responsorial psalm were also delivered in two languages. Monsignor Fran acknowledged at the end of the celebration that though the church was not filled but because of the full, conscious and active participation of everyone it was as though the church was full. What a difference between mass celebrated on regular Sunday or daily mass and the one celebrated by the ILM students. Everyone arrived on time for the celebration. Unlike at Sunday masses where people are late coming to mass. As minor as that may seem, it impacts the solemnity of the celebration. We need to prepare ourselves when we come to mass because that’s just as important as the homily by the priest, practice the readings by the lectors, practice the songs by the cantor and choir and so on. Liturgy celebration is a celebration by everyone. Therefore everyone should be prepared.

  • Jeanette

    In class last night (9/23/15) I was struck by all the many and different liturgical books on the table, so many the same in that they were about Liturgy but different in that many addressed the various facets of Liturgy. It was inspiring to touch and read through them and see the beautiful prayers, the care of the text within, that it be clear and sharp, and with graphics worthy of being considered art. In addition, the books seemed to bring the feeling of reverence from their exterior just by the color of a cover, the use of gold in the lettering, and the size of the book.

    I enjoyed listening to each person talk about the book they had brought. There was joy and excitement to share what they had sought out. I noticed that almost everyone smiled as they described the document. It was as though they had found a treasure and did not want to miss this opportunity to share it, relish it, and awaken others to its existence.

    I brought the “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults”, a book I have used as a reference over the years. However, in preparing for the “sentence” to be shared about it I realized how little I had actually used it or knew about it.

    For many years my husband and I coordinated the Sunday dismissals of the catechumen and I referred to the “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults” to keep track of the different Rite ceremonies, to know at what point we were in the program, and what would happen at the next Rite ceremony. It was my reference book, not my guide.

    My learning style is – show me, I can do it. Therefore, I don’t read the directions and it follows I don’t read the instruction book unless I need to refer to a chapter to get through a tight spot. So I had never really read the text.

    Preparing for class was a grace. I realized how much I had not known all those years. That did not seem to detract from what we did, but for me it would have been good to know the background of how the Church came to “create” today’s RCIA, and provide me with the information to catechize others about a wonderful outcome of Vatican II.

    After reading the assignment for this class, it was exciting to see that the “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults” has two Decrees. As you turn the pages, the first one you encounter is from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops United States of America (now the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB) that essentially says, this edition of this liturgical document is in accord with the norms of the Sacred Congregation of Rites and can be published and used in those liturgies in the vernacular and that it is approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the US Bishops to be used in their diocese. Lots of approvals!

    The other Decree, found further into the book is written from the Congregation of Divine Worship. This Decree describes why this Rite has come to be, and what effects it has on the prior adult Rites of Baptism. It further explains the “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults” has been approved by Pope Paul VI and now specifies when the Church may begin using the new Rite. So the first Decree from the USCCB actually completes the Decree from the Office of Divine Worship.

    From today on I am going to be reading every “forward’, every Preanotanda and every Decree I can find in every Liturgical book I pick up! Thank you Nick!

  • Patricia

    In the early days of Christianity, the Bible was the only book. Prayers and rituals were
    done and said in the same way by memory and passed down. Ritual and more formal
    speech was the vernacular used in prayers to show respect to God. Ordinary and every day speech was used among friends.

    We learned last week the early leaders of the church, like St. Hippolutus wrote the Eucharistic Prayer II and Pope Leo I wrote the first Sacramentary also St. Gelasius and St. Gregory were credited for writing sacramentaries. They understood the importance of preserving the liturgy and holding onto tradition and rituals and so they put the liturgy into writing for future

    How is the Word of God concealed and revealed in our language? The Word may be concealed due to the many translations the Bible has undergone. Originally the Bible was written in Hebrew, translated to Greek, to Latin and then to the common language. Even though great care had been taken in the translations, it would have been extremely difficult to capture the exact nuance of each language and then translate that exact nuance to another language; add to that the complexity of understanding the customs and vernacular of a specific period in time. Not being able to completely capture the nuance of the word or the exact meaning in that time period is how language may conceal the Word of God. But the Word of God is also revealed in the Bible because it is a living Bible, it changes each time you hear it because you have changed, your point of reference is different and your life experiences are different and so the same bible reading leaves you with different insight because you, the individual, have changed.

    The liturgy like the bible even though it is the same will be different every time you experience it. A liturgy will always be different because the liturgy is the service of the people and the people are always changing, your life experience and your attitude are different this week than last week so you come to the liturgy each week a different person and you will experience a different liturgy.

    External factors that make the liturgy different are many: The music, the altar servers, the environment, the priest, the readers, the congregation all make up the external variables of the liturgy. For example the musicians on a given day could be too fast, or too slow, too many mistakes. The altar servers could be less than attentive, fidgety, or very attentive. The environment, is always different maybe too many decorations that are distracting, maybe too little, maybe the toilets are not working and someone is complaining about it, maybe the lights
    over the lector have burnt out and the readers can’t read as well. The priests are different also, one homily could be great, pithy and to the point, another could be meandering and unending.
    The priests’ demeanor is different. One priest may do everything very quickly another priest may do things very slowly. The congregation is different, sometimes the community in general is just not awake or sometimes they are full of energy!

    So many external and internal variables that make up the liturgy is the reason why you will not experience the same liturgy twice. The most important thing in order to get the most out of the liturgy is to come prepared, read the readings in advance, be willing to sing and listen to the Word of God and the homily. The liturgy will be the same in the contents and rituals but due to your perspective, it will be different and you will experience something new and beautiful from the liturgy each week.

  • Bella

    In our last class I learned that early church, before printing was invented, the church asked some charistic people to preside over the breaking of the bread as Jesus did in His time. The liturgy seems the same throughout the ages because there are still the same basic principles and practices that we follow to this day. The prayers are addressed to God by a priest on behalf of the people then as now. There is still sacrifice offered during mass, only in the present time, Jesus is the sacrificial lamb. We offer thanksgiving in forms of prayers and songs as they did in early times. God’s words and Jesus’ teaching transcends time and will still be relevant till the end of time. The readings, the songs, the environment even the priest presider makes our liturgy experience seem different every time we attend mass. If there is full, active participation from the congregation, then we are nourished by the experience. A poorly executed liturgy will not satisfy the spiritual needs of the people.
    Ritual speech is prayerful and praising of God. It speaks of His love for us, and of His unending mercy. Ordinary speech, although could be factual, does not convey the same tone or sentiment or evoke the same feeling as a ritual speech.

  • Nick Wagner

    Thanks for bringing the RCIA Jeanette. Diana had put the RCIA in the stack of books she compiled for me, but she only had it on the pile because she was teaching another class last Wednesday on the RCIA. So when I realized she was taking it with her, I wished I had brought another copy. The RCIA is one of the richest sacramental texts in the church’s library. It provides a very clear and moving theology of evangelization and conversion. I’m glad you have been “converted” to reading it! I know you won’t regret it.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Patricia. You make a great point about coming prepared. I once heard a Jesuit who was giving a lecture at Santa Clara U talking about homilies. He noted that the number one complaint Catholics had about Mass is that the homily was not well prepared. He agreed that the priest or deacon should take great care in preparing the homily. But, he said, the assembly also has to come prepared. He asked how many Catholics come to Mass without even having read the readings of the day before they arrive. I thought it was a good point.

    Just to clarify a couple of things you noted above. I didn’t describe these things as clearly as I should have. Hippolytus did not exactly write EP II. He wrote a model for presiders to use at Mass. The reformers at Vatican II used that model to construct our current EP II.

    Also, the early sacramentaries are attributed to various popes, but they didn’t write them. The prayers in those early sacramentaries were collected from lots of places, and then the resulting compilation was named for the person who was pope at the time.

    Also, the only part of the Bible that was written in Hebrew was the Old Testament (with a few parts having been written in Aramaic). The New Testament was originally written in Greek.

    However, your point about losing some of the nuance with each translation is spot on. We know this just from trying to talk with our friends in neighbors in their language or they trying to say something to us in ours and never feeling like we are saying exactly what we want. Great reflection. Thanks.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Bella. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I like how you captured the timelessness of liturgical prayer. Liturgical theologians often discuss the “essence” of Mass. If you look at the Last Supper and then at, for example, the canonization Mass for Juniper Serra, they don’t look at all similar. But the core elements you mention are in both and have been throughout all of the church’s history. Thanks for the insight.

  • Patricia

    Hi Nick, Thank you for your comments and great clarification. Ironically, this exactly elucidates the difficulties posed in translations, especially over periods of generations. Thank you again for the clarification.

  • Daniel Lesieutre

    I just returned home from a pilgrimage trip to Philadelphia at 1:30AM this morning (Tuesday). Helped chaperone a group of students to the Pope’s visit – more below.

    The history of Church Liturgy and discussion of the Liturgical Books which were brought to the September 23rd class were very enlightening. The depth and breadth of the church’s liturgical celebrations continues to impress and awe me. In my Baptismal Preparation ministry, going through the Baptismal Rite with the parents provides knowledge of this depth that they may not otherwise take away in the busyness of the Baptism day. Similarly, browsing the liturgical book on the Blessing of Altars, I was impressed with several paragraphs that we as Christians “are altars.”

    The discussions in class on liturgy, church documents, and Canon Law that at times necessitate accommodations outside normal practices, etc. was good. The law and the “spirit of the law” came to mind. The history provided a reference frame for how things developed, and the church’s teachings/instructions regarding liturgy provides solid guidelines for good liturgy without intending to limit accommodations to local conditions.

    We were left with the criteria for evaluating liturgy (paraphrasing): “Did we pray?” and “Were we changed and do we carry it out into the world?”

    In our whirlwind trip to see the Pope in Philadelphia, we attended several liturgies. Our group of 55 people, 34 students and 21 adults, stayed at a youth camp about an hour outside of Philadelphia with rustic cabin accommodations. There were groups from Florida, Kansas, Wisconsin, and several other states with a total of ~460 people. On Friday night at 8:00PM,
    there was a group Mass for everyone. I estimate that more than 300 attended. It was held in an open barn-type covered activity center. Five Priests concelebrated and one was hearing confessions before and through Mass. After Mass, all Priests heard confessions, so everyone had a chance to receive the Sacrament if they desired. For the Mass, the Florida group had arranged the music and had printed song sheets, and the Cantor was excellent and had a great voice. Songs were known by all and everyone participated. Everything was well done. The Word was proclaimed well and the homily relevant to Gospel, the gathering, and everyone’s pilgrimage. Obviously, the people attending were there with a common unity of seeing Pope Francis as well as being a reflection of the U.S. church to the Pope. We prayed; it was both lively and reverent and included kneeling on the wood floors during the Eucharistic Prayer and after the Lamb of God. Almost all but our California group knelt after receiving Communion. We were in front and took no notice. Bishop McGrath has requested that we stand during Communion in unity with all who are approaching the table to receive. I have
    come to appreciate this act of unity.

    After the Mass there were various sessions the students could attend and there was a “praise and worship” service.

    On Saturday morning, we had to start early to get breakfast, board buses to the train station, train to downtown and then to walk and get through security. A 5:45AM (2:45AM PST) optional Mass was offered and all six Priests concelebrated with about 100 people. The same songs sheets were used. This was a shorter liturgy with another relevant homily. We prayed and were moved to get going.

    Our group’s goal for Saturday, was to get into Philadelphia, through security into the “Red Zone” and position ourselves along the parade route where Pope Francis would pass. We did not have the tickets to enter the reserved area. We managed to position ourselves along the route directly across the street from a large jumbo-tron screen. We spent 5 hours there and sent out small groups to explore a little. The students were great and were occupied playing games. On the screen, we saw the address of Pope Francis from Independence Hall and other coverage. Various Philadelphia liturgical groups performed on a stage nearby and these were shown on the screen. This included some liturgical dance, etc. We also saw some of the
    headliners at the World Festival of Families like: Aretha Franklin, Andrea Bocelli, Sister Sledge, The Fray, and comedian Jim Gaffigan. Pope Francis passed by and blessed us all around 7PM. At this point, most of the people without reserved tickets started making their way back to the train stations or other means of transportation out of the city. Security the whole time was very high.

    We made it back to camp around 11:30PM. Several of our students became sick with a virus, so not everyone was going to be returning to Philadelphia on Sunday. In addition, not everyone was up for embracing the crowds expected to be even larger for the Papal Mass. For these reasons our Priest offered to say the Sunday Vigil Mass when we arrived back to camp. Everyone from our group attended. We prayed and I believe were changed by the day’s events. We offered God praise and thanksgiving for the adventure and blessings of the day.

    On Sunday, we were up early again and off to Philadelphia. As a group we decided first to visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall as an educational opportunity for the students. This is where Pope Francis spent part of Saturday and had given an address. There were no crowds there today and it was moving and educational touring this historic site where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were forged, written, and signed. Some of us had planned to take smaller groups into the “Red Zone” for the Papal Mass, but the timing had us near Independence Hall. There were many jumbo-trons there, which is how we would have viewed the Mass inside with the crowds. We were able to spread out on the lawn as a group for the Mass. Father Timothy relayed later that he was moved praying the Liturgy of the Hours, before Mass started, when he encountered Psalms 23 – “In green pastures he makes me lie down” He sat behind us and observed us all laying in the grass in front of the jumbo-tron; it brought him peace. The Papal Mass was done in all its glory with huge orchestra, beautiful operatic voices, the Gospel Sung by a deacon with a voice, and an excellent homily! But, I think to truly appreciate this type of Mass you need to be “in it.” This would require reserved seats somewhere down front. I suppose being part of the enormous crowd may have given a different perspective. But our group was content with our position. Speaks to the old saying (paraphrasing), make all the plans you want, but be at peace when the Lord changes them and/or provides something better. Most of us had Philly Cheesesteaks for dinner before returning to camp by train and bus – this made our trip to Philadelphia official at least according to the locals.

    On Monday, we were up early and off to New York City before our flight out of Newark in the evening. We departed by bus which dropped us at Liberty Park on the New Jersey side. We took a ferry to the Statue of Liberty and spent some time there. We then traveled by ferry to Battery Park in Manhattan and walked to the 9/11 Memorial stopping for New York pizza on the way. While not church liturgy, the 9/11 Memorial is a spiritual experience. Most of the images we have of that day are negative: the towers coming down, the loss of life, the mess, the dirt and ash flying. On the positive side, there were the heroic actions of those striving to help. The memorial has transformed the bases where the North and South Towers stood into “fountains” – square cavities in the ground the size of the building bases with waterfalls on each side and then a smaller square cavity in the center of the bigger ones where the water appears to fall into the depths of the earth. At first, it seemed too clean, the images of destruction are ingrained in us, then with all the water flowing into the empty cavities and the new Freedom Tower rising to the sky a vision of rebirth is given! I pray that these are truly symbols of the fruits of a people who are free and generous with the gifts God has given.

    We prayed, were changed, and were sent forth from our experiences at camp, at Pope Francis’ Papal visit, at Valley Forge, at the Liberty Bell, at Independence Hall, at the Statue of Liberty, and at the 9/11 Memorial: Catholic and American liturgies.

  • Luis Urias

    I found our second class on Liturgical Books to be very enlightening as well, also mentioned by Daniel.

    I too was amazed at the wide variety of Liturgical books that were brought in from our parishes and were either mentioned or discussed. How does Nick know so much about all of them?

    I learned that Catholic books are a very important part of HOW we are to carry out the action of Liturgy, in that we should follow specific processes, procedures and/or guidelines specified in the respective document, text or book. Take for example the “Daily Roman Missal” or the “Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers and Proclaimers of the Word” workbook for lectors.

    I wanted to mention a book that nobody picked up. It was one that I brought in because
    I see myself and fellow parishioners of the congregation struggle with how to deal with end of life. This is a time when there are often many things going on and you might find yourself in a
    care-giving situation for a loved one. From a third person standpoint we often do not know what to say or how to best give our respects to those in their time of need, other than prayer.

    The book Glimpses of Heaven by Trudy Harris offers many insightful thoughts and ideas to assist those going through end of life or are in a end of life situation.

    I would associated this book “Glimpses of Heaven” with a book that Nick mentioned in class during his lecture, “The Order of Christian Funerals”. Here we see Liturgy at work, as this document provides the official Guidelines for the Order of Christian Funerals.


  • Anai

    Wednesday’s (9/23) class was enjoyable and informative on both the history of liturgy and liturgical books. There are so many different types of liturgical books and some aren’t just to celebrate mass. I very much enjoyed getting information on morning and evening prayers and liturgy of the hours. It was also interesting to know that the roman missal is more like a collection of books, Sacramentary, Lectionary, and Antiphidnal; a collection of prayers from all over Europe. Nick had mentioned the liturgy is not in the books, that what was in the books was compilation of what people have done throughout the centuries. Liturgy is when we get together to pray. One doesn’t really think about that when attending mass or the liturgy of the word. When I attend the 9:30 am English mass on Sunday, it is enjoyable, and the church participates. Whenever I go to the 7:45 am Spanish mass it’s different, not only because it’s in a different language. I’ve been to other Spanish masses and its not the same. I personally think it’s the people that attend that mass. It can be a different presider every week and that vibe is always there. During that mass, The church is fully, consciously and actively participating and even if you don’t know the language, you can still feel a real presence there. Im realizing that it really does make a difference when a community is doing their parts of the mass and it makes for a better experience. We were given an assignment to evaluate our parish liturgy and I did. The questions seemed simple but it will be interesting to get a further insight when we go to clajss.

  • Luis Mariano Estrada

    On September 23rd we were nourished with a lot of great information from technical to spiritual and pastoral.

    We compared the Church to other forms of government structures in the sense that it has the executive, legislative, and juridical powers.

    Nick pointed out that although Pope Francis could be more conservative than liberal, but his pastoral approach is very refreshing.

    Liturgy should change in terms of the world around us. Any argument or question related to Liturgy is governed by the Constitution

    We also learned about all of the Liturgical books that all of the classmates and Nick shared.

    We learned that the Prenotanda is the introduction of the liturgical books. That the Roman Missal is composed of TheSacramentary, Lectionary and Antiphonal. We also learned that the early church didnot worry about writing much, and they would call Mass “The Breaking of the
    Bread”. We learned that the roots of our Liturgical documents start to get formed with the invention of Press, and that a standardized set of prayers was practical. The Council of Trent standardized the prayers into the first Roman Missal.

    Towards the end of the class Nick emphasized
    that Liturgy is not in the books, it is important that what is in the books
    helps us to assist with Liturgy.

    I enjoyed it very much


    How can the liturgy be
    the “same” throughout history and yet different every time we celebrate it?

    The Liturgy is different every time, because it is alive. The Holy
    Spirit is present every time, and when we are more open to do what God calls us
    to do during our Liturgy, it becomes more engaging and vibrant.

    How does language both
    conceal and reveal God?

    Sometimes is not what we say, but how we say it. We may say the
    same thing, but if the language we use is arrogant, it portraits arrogance, and
    if the language we use is pastoral, spiritual and humble it portraits a more
    meaningful message that can reach out to the heart of others.

    Is there a difference
    between ritual speech and ordinary speech

    Ritual speech is a way of speaking that follows structure in
    respect to a rite we are part of. Ordinary speech is informal in nature and
    more relaxed, not connected to a specific rite.

  • Laura Barker

    I’m back from travels and mostly over jet lag. It looks like I missed A LOT in class but your posted comments have been extremely helpful in recapping the class. I thought all of your comments were helpful but a few I would like to comment on. Patricia noted that so many external/internal variables make up the liturgy which is the reason why you will not experience the same liturgy twice. Anai talked about how the mass experience is different when you attend it in a different language. Daniel wrote about his experiences in Philly with the youth group. I got to participate in mass at the Univ. of Notre Dame. When my sister-in-law from NJ visited our church she was a little taken aback when she saw the the large screen TVs. “What is this, karaoki Catholic?” She saw the Baptismal pool and remarked, “You even have a holy hot tub!” We all have different experiences, but as Luis said the liturgy is different because it is alive and the Holy Spirit engages us. Though different all across the U.S. and the world, the word and rhythm of the mass is the same. This is what keeps Catholics, unlike Protestants, bound together for almost two thousand years.
    Since I missed class I did the readings a couple of times because it is quite dense. A couple of things popped out for me. In regards to liturgical law, “Pastors must therefore realize that when the liturgy is celebrated something more is required than the mere observance of the laws governing valid and lawful celebration; it is also their duty to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.” I got to see this in action one time during a First Communion celebration. The priest realized that one of the children was not responding to the questions posed on faith. He stopped the service and asked her directly, “Do you believe?” Needless to say she was mortified but he certainly had her attention as well as all the other children (and parents I might add).

    Finally, the reading concludes by noting that, “It might seem to some people that the Church has an over-abundance of legislation on liturgical matters.” Coming from the protestant tradition it is precisely this legislative oversight that keeps the Catholic Church alive and growing for so long. Many complain that the Church moves too slowly and does not respond quickly enough to the changes taking place in the secular world. God’s word is timeless. I think John 1:1 sums it up best: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    See you tonight and don’t forget it is our turn for snacks!

  • Jocelyn

    Last Wednesday’s class was very interesting. There was an array of Liturgical books that
    we brought in class and we were able to have a glimpse of most of them. I brought the Ordo in class which is a small book that contains a lot of information. It is the order of services for Liturgy of the Hours and Masses for specific dioceses. As all of us described the books we brought, we have seen many samples of books from the pre and post Vatican II. I have realized that we have
    so much richness in Liturgical Books from Liturgy of the Hours (or Breviary or The Office), Missal (composed of Sacramentary, Lectionary and Antiphonal), book of Rites (Baptism, Marriage, Funeral, Penance), Book of RCIA, Book of Blessings, Ceremonial of Bishops to name a few. I
    have learned that each of these books have Pastoral Introductions and it is very important to read it to be familiar with each book. It is also crucial to read the “rubrics” which are the instructions in between prayers which contain more detailed instructions. We have also learned that liturgy is the
    balance between structure and rules with the help of the Holy Spirit. The ultimate question that we need to answer in liturgy is “did the assembly pray?” There is so much to learn about liturgy and I
    am looking forward for more.

  • Klarissa dela Fuente

    I found it fruitful to evaluate the liturgy at Queen of Apostles using the form provided. Never before have I been asked if our parishioners fully, consciously, and actively participate in the liturgy. I found that our strengths are:

    1. that our musicians intentionally choose songs that the congregation is familiar with, thus the Mass begins with many people singing and worshipping God together

    2. that the atmosphere during communion is like a celebration — parishioners stand, sing, and connect with Jesus and one another

    One area that we can improve on is engaging the congregation in the readings. Our lectors oftentimes prepare 15 minutes before Mass begins, therefore they themselves may not have experienced the Word of God alive in their experiences that week. It is also the responsibility of each parishioner to prepare themselves by reading and reflecting on the readings before Mass. I know I will strive to do that more often!

  • Semi Gurbiel


    On Wednesday 9-23 our class was very interesting. I realized how many books are involved in liturgy. I got to see the Roman missal in English and Latin for the first time. I borrowed the book from my DRE and the one she gave me was from 1963. It was interesting for
    me to realize that the Roman Missal is composed of three books, the Sacramentary,
    the Lectionary and the Antiphonal. (If I’m not mistaken Nick said that St. Francis of Assisi was the first one to use it).

    Wednesday I heard the word Breviary; it had been so long that I had not heard that word. And learned that is the same thing as the
    Liturgy of the hours, or the office.

    Also I learned that the detailed instructions between prayers are called rubrics.

    But over all I learned that the “Liturgy is summit toward which the activity of the Church
    is directed; at the same time is the font from which all the Church’s power
    flows”. As taught by the Second Vatican Council.

    These classes are really showing me how little I know about liturgy.

  • joseph


  • Joseph Vu

    The Liturgical Books.

    To me, this is a very interesting class we had last Wednesday; Jan. 11, 2015
    and tell you the truth, this is the
    first time I saw many different kind of Liturgy books on one table. As
    requested by our instructor, Nick, each student must bring at-least one book(s)
    using in Liturgy of the Catholic Church, old or new books are OK. Our church (Our Lady of Refuge) are newest in
    the San Jose Diocese but I believed we also have all the basic Liturgy
    books. Anyway, after talking with one of
    my co-pastor, I brought to the class a Bible and a Catholic calendar (2015
    Special Edition Catholic Appointment Calendar).
    As my Co-pastor (Fr. Truyen) explained about this calendar, with this
    calendar, we know each day what color (green, white, red, pink…) of the
    vestment/chasuble the priest will wear to celebrate for every daily mass. Also
    with this calendar and by each day, we know exactly what
    intention/celebration/dedication to what Saint of the day. And finally, with this calendar, all the
    readings of the mass must be selected correctly.

    I wish I can read all the Liturgy books in order to understand and serve the
    church (in Liturgy) more effectively. At
    this time I will try my best to read and understand little by little about
    Liturgy and complete all assignments/home-works as my instructor requested.

    May God bless our Class of

    Joseph L. Vu

  • John

    I thought it was absolutely beautiful to see many class members bring liturgical books in so many forms. The part that stood out to me in tonight’s class was the “Praenotanda” which are the pastoral introduction and notes for many of the books. I love the outline that Diana presented about the Praenotanda which included: (1) first number of paragraphs is the theology of the document that can be used for greater understanding, (2) what are the rites that are being carried out, (3) the people necessary to carry some of the items in the book out, (4) the times within the liturgical year that can and can’t be used, (5) and the adaptations that can be made by the bishops, pastors, and lay ministers. Having these points in mind can help me see the beautiful of the liturgy and also help others see it similarly.

    Lastly, I want to note “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi” which states that the rule of prayer is the rule of faith. Love when there’s always a nugget of new knowledge!

  • Greg Ripa

    I really liked learning that some of the rites in different liturgical books are in conflict with one another. In that case, we go back to the levels of authority with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy having the most authority. In the case of conflict, which of the rites between the two makes the assembly more actively participate in the liturgy. Or, as a rule of thumb, which one makes people sing louder and pray more? I’m going to keep repeating this to myself… liturgy is about what we do, not going through the motions of a ritual and only saying all the right words and doing all the right things because that may be an empty ritual and not liturgy.

    It was also mentioned that sometimes we need to give up control of liturgy. This really struck home to me. I learned this idea of giving up control through trial and error. Emphasis on error. I was helping create a script for a Sunday Eucharistic liturgy that would be the closing liturgy of a young adult retreat entitled SEE LOVE WALK (see God in all things, knowing and showing God’s love and mercy, and our call to serve others especially the marginalized) and I became a little too controlling. I showed the initial draft of the liturgy script to my parish liturgist and she said it was too scripted; in addition to the usual parts of the script such as crafting prayers of the faithful that dovetail nicely into the retreat and the readings of the day, I also chose minutia and things like which Eucharistic prayer to use. There was no room to let the Spirit move. There was no room to let people pray in their own way. So I prayed and let things go. I revised the script and asked the Spirit to work. And in the end, the liturgy turned out better than I imagined. And one other way the Spirit worked, the priest ended up choosing that Eucharistic prayer that I initially wanted anyway! Lesson learned: don’t be too controlling and give room for the Spirit. That is one reason I wrote last week that “The Holy Spirit must have room to work and move within the prepared liturgy”. God is good and the Spirit does indeed work!

  • Lee Campbell

    From the very beginning of our faith I see how things can be done incorrectly. A friend of mine once said ” do something even if it is wrong.” I don’t necessarily think that was good advice , but I can see how that happened in the beginning of the Catholic church. Practices would grow up through tradition. Over time they would start to do things incorrectly. Because of this there became the need to create uniformity. So the early leaders of the church, developed structure. They created written guidelines for all to follow. From this Liturgy became more of an organic flow. Each Bishop and pastor had some wiggle room to emphasize what he thought would be best for his diocese or parish. I can see it today at any mass I may attend. Similarities and differences, but the Liturgy is the same. The idea is to have consistency yet remain zealous in our faith. Liturgy holds the key and the basis from which we believe. The example of the monks going into war torn areas to recover bibles so we can preserve the tradition and history is incredible. Talk about going to any lengths. Liturgy truly is humbling.

  • Marcy Golebiewski

    In class last Wednesday, we discussed the challenge with being able to discern between the legislative weight in the documents from the church and the Roman Curia which come in the form of decrees, instructions, circular letters, official responses, declarations, and directories. Some public documents have binding force and other documents lack binding force as might be the case of pastoral advice. The various branches (legislative, executive and judicial) of church government issue the documents, It is important to note to whom the document is addressed. In class we discussed the challenges of uniform liturgies or liturgies that were being done wrong, prior to having written documents, when the church was dependent upon oral tradition. Our liturgical books are important because they tell us about the tradition, the core teaching and provide instruction for doing what the church teaches.

  • Anthony Ordona

    A very useful and informative session, thank you Nick and Diana for a great session! It was interesting to get more insight into the different types of Liturgy books, in particular the different types of breviaries among the different Benedictine monasteries and learning about why the different structures among them. I also liked the reasoning that it is not about the rubrics of liturgy but the intensity of the prayer that we put into it. After all it is the main prayer of our faith! After learning about the early liturgy of the Church was at the beginning, it is much more clear to me the specific need for the Bishops to enact structure into the liturgy. The explaination of how the Bishops have wiggle room to have their own preferences in the Liturgy was important to me. I also had a deep appreciation of your talk on the preservation of the Bibles in Syria given my interest in that part of the world and having been to the Holy Land during the summer.

  • miguel guzman

    Thanks to Nick Wagner and Diana Macilntal for a great Class presentation. We tlkd abo

  • Paty R.

    Wow! What an interesting and enjoyable class we had. Nick and Diana gave us very useful information. Beside all information about the books we brought to class, or if a document is binding or not I love the small bits of information we get every class but this one had tons. As John mentioned the “Praenotanda” was one of them, also that our daily obligation is the Liturgy of the Hours, and how the difficult is to find the the book The Roman Pontifical.
    Nick mentioned that one of his liturgy teacher said “master the basics first… then inculturate”. The night before to our class we had the Liturgy Committee meeting where we were evaluating our December Liturgies and I think this is something that we should keep in mind.
    Also, as Anthony says, I was very touched by the way some documents and books are rescued by monks in war conflict areas.
    Thank you Nick and Diana for the joy and love you put in what you do.

  • Jane

    Music in Catholic Worship #5. Celebrations need not fail, even on a particular Sunday when our feelings do not match the invitation.
    “What mass do you want to go to?” my husband asks. Sometimes I feel like saying “none” but I go, even when I feel like I’m going just because it is Sunday and I’m supposed to. The reality is these times when I feel disconnected are the most important times for me to respond to God’s invitation. I am connected to Him even when I may not feel it and being in His house spurs the reconnection. It is often these times when I come out of mass the most fed. Yes, from the Word and Eucharist but also from other aspects of the Liturgy: the hugs and smiles of the community that remind me I’m not alone, the homily when it feels like the presider is speaking just to me (wow, how’d he know?), or the music chosen are songs that open my heart. Oh, yeah, I AM HIS.

  • Stella Lal

    Liturgy is very intrinsic, organic and relevant. Initially it comes across as an elaborate complex bureaucracy, similar to the constitution of a country, which it is. However, as we study its history, interpretation and application, it becomes very relevant and meaningful. It empowers us to explain to others how and why we celebrate liturgy as we do.

    Its essence is the celebration of the Scriptures and worship by the community and the changes from Vatican II aims at formation of the faithful and making it the summit and source.

    I shared the thought that for us as leaders in training it is okay to learn about the complex liturgical documents, however, for the participants it may seem very complicated and bureaucratic and they should not necessarily be exposed to it. Nick agreed with this and explained very beautifully that just as movie goers are meant to enjoy the production and not get into the technicalities of how it is produced, similarly, parishioners should be able to participate and celebrate the liturgy without getting into how it is put together.

  • Marcy Golebiewski

    Just completed the evaluation of the 11a.m. Liturgy at QofA high. The 11 a.m. On Sunday is the choir mass. Definitely different scores given Han if I had evaluated the Saturday at 5 p.m. Mass when the assembly’s participation singing is significantly less robust. I scored the 11a.m. as a 15. Questions 5 and 6 received a 2 and 1 respectively. We could do more to boringly the heavenly banquet to the masses. Interested in how others scores masses within their parishes.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi John. I’m glad you took so much away from the discussion of the praenotanda. The addition of such extensive pastoral notes to sacramental rituals was one of the great innovations of Vatican II. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Greg. It’s a fine line to walk between giving up control and letting ritual devolve into chaos (or just boredom). I’m glad to see that you recognize the challenge. Thanks for sharing your story about planning a Sunday liturgy. It really helps illustrate the point.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Lee. The early church valued unity more than uniformity. This is also a fine line to walk, however. There has to be a core that we all hold in common and celebrate in our worship. Sometimes discovering that core is a challenge. I heard a conference speaker once say that American Catholics would feel more at home in an American Lutheran liturgy than in a African Catholic liturgy. His point was that some places have so successfully inculterated the rites that they truly reflect the local communities. (I’ve never been to Mass in Africa, so I can’t verify his claim.)

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Marcy. I’m glad you see the scope of writings that surround liturgy. Sometimes trying to wade through them and discern their weight can be daunting. But it can also be a bit like a treasure hunt — trying to discover why one document says one thing and another something else. If we stay focused on the relationships liturgy builds, usually we’ll be on the right track. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Anthony. The development of the role of bishops in the church is fascinating. Sometimes I wish we had more time just to look at that office. Theologically, the church teaches that a bishop is the head of his church. So, for example, when Bishop Daley was here, Bishop McGrath made a big point of saying the auxiliary did not “answer” to him. When that spirit of independent leadership is applied to liturgy, interesting things can happen! Of course, every bishop has to be in unity with Rome, so that’s the safeguard.

  • Nick Wagner

    Wow, Mike, you really took a lot away from this class! I’m glad you were able to summarize your learning so succinctly. I’m happy to hear that the class was beneficial to you. You are spot on about the church functioning through liturgy. It is liturgy that makes us who we are. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Paty. That idea to master the basic first has always stuck with me too. I grew up helping to plan high school liturgies and retreats with my classmates. Looking back, we spent a lot of energy being “creative,” when we should have been more focused on the basics. Now, even when I’m planning a liturgy I know well, I always go back to the source documents to see what the church intends. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Phan Nguyen

    I am very impressed with the amount of liturgy books that everyone brought to the class. Diane mentioned that every liturgy is unique even though they all come from the same source. There are many liturgies performed in the whole world every day and every moment, but each has its own substance. For example the language used is different, the environment is different, the songs are different, and the intentions are different from day to day, from occasion to occasion which make the praying different. Our Christian church is really diversified therefore the liturgy is designed to accommodate every member to unite with God in a special way. In addition, I think that the book “Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word” is one of the most important book for the lay ministers besides the Holy Bible. This book covers the readings on Sundays. It points out the main idea of the readings. It helps to understand the readings in details, to pronounce the names of people and places. It provides a great assistant before attending the mass.

  • Diana-Lynn

    I enjoy listening to you and Diana explain and inform about the history of the liturgy and liturgy today. There are many liturgical books. The word for me is “participation”. I keep coming back to that. What does participation look like? I have felt that participation was personal and now I am looking at it as community. There is a lot of information and it is dry reading. It has to be used as reference material. I attended St. Margaret Mary in Cedar Park, Texas this weekend. I attended the 10:30 Mass in a fairly new church building where over 700 people were in attendance. It is a big difference from St. Catherine’s in Morgan Hill where the church has not been attended to because it may be renovated or a new church built and the highest attendance at a weekend Mass is 350. In Texas, they knee at the congregation and they have the bells. It is the same Mass but different. I am not sure how the liturgy at St. Catherine’s could better support the parish mission at this time. I need to understand more.

  • miguel guzman

    I enjoyed last Sunday’s 9:30 Mass at St. Julie’s. My Mass evaluation totaled 16 points. Our Parish’s Mission is that all are welcome. Regardless of Race, Gender. or Divorced. The Lector is firm, when he states that this is our Parish Mission. As we all greet each other before the start of Mass, I always have a warm feeling of being welcome at my Church. That is why I do look forward to going to Sunday Mass at St. Julie’s. The opening song is sung and the Church assembly participate and recognize it. The Church Choir does a great job even if their are 5 who are singing which includes the Piano player. The Lectors do the readings and are well versed. Our Priest does the Homily. The message of the Homily usually reflects on the Readings that were read. What was special about last Sunday’s Mass, was that there was a Baptism. The Parents, Baby, and Godparents were introduced by the Priest. Since we had the Baptism, there was no childrens class. he Prayers of the Faithful were read on the needs of the Community. The Assembly prayed. Then, the Priest called for the Assembly to pray for the RCIA Catechumens, before being released, to go to their class Then, the Priest went on to Baptise the Baby. Our Priest said a few words in welcoming the Baby and his Parents, and Godparents. The whole Church Assembly participated by witnessing the Baptism. And praying for the Baby and the Parents. It felt good, cause I could feel the presence of God. It was a touching moment. Our Priest then ended with the Mass, by asking if anyone was celebrating a Birthday, or Anniversary. We prayed and blessed them. Then the Priest ended the Mass with a Prayer. And then the Mass was over. I always get a good vibe after going to Mass. Seeing the people as we assemble into Church as a Community who cares..There is so much Love that is shown, and it helps me to prepare for the week. In what challenges lie ahead for me, in my life.I always come back from Mass with my faith strengthened. God is good

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Jane. Thanks for pointing out that quote from MCW. If liturgy depended upon our feelings, we’d be in a pretty bad state. I sometimes worry that folks who don’t come to Mass are expecting the liturgy to make them feel good all the time. I think of our relationship to the liturgy like most relationships. There are good days and bad days. But mostly good.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Stella. You have a good grasp of the role of leaders in liturgical formation and celebration. Liturgy is complex, but not really any more so than organizing and leading a family. Or a parish committee. It just requires a skill set that isn’t always natural to a lot of us. And, as you point out, we aren’t requiring all of our parishioners to be liturgical leaders. But we do need to empower them to participate fully. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Phan. You make a very good point about how liturgy is different in every instance while still serving as a source of unity for the whole church. That is the goal of effective incluturation. I feel blessed to live in the Bay Area where we have so many different cultures and so many different ways to express ourselves liturgically. Thanks for your insightful comments.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Diana-Lynn. I really resonate with your question, what does participation look like? As liturgical leaders, I think it is important to come up with at least a baseline of objective measures for participation. But participation is also subjective, and what it looks like can vary from parish to parish and person to person. It is a very interesting question. Thanks for raising it.

  • Jane

    HI Nick- thanks for your comment. I struggled a little to put my thoughts and feelings about God’s invitation and my response into words. You helped add clarification by speaking to the relationship. Yes, and the tending of the relationship is our constant response to God’s invitation. Thanks.

  • Mariann

    I am really like liturgy book that everyone brought in last week’s 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.

  • Tim Logan

    I found it interesting which books people picked and why. What it shows is the desire to understand the what, how and who of Liturgy and the what, how and who to apply it to our worship/lives. Of point how do these books (post Vatican 2) uphold the Constitution of the Liturgy either by Theological expression or by actual judicial framework to implement these changes. And how then do we who are continually in formation in our leadership roles apply these to take, make and perhaps in some cases remake our Liturgy to fully express the Constitution of the Liturgy or what our Bishop’s vision of the Liturgy. It is clear that it is not a cookie cutter solution, but it does show that the Liturgy is a living, breathing entity that does it best with the cooperation, adaptation and serving people it is entrusted to.