20 July: Renewing the Liturgy, 5 and 6.

RENEWING THE LITURGY: Six Simple Steps 5 and 6

by Pat Travis

At the annual gathering of the priests of the Diocese in October 2018 the speaker was Tom O’Loughlin, Professor of Historical Theology at Nottingham University.  Tom gave the priests of the Diocese Six Simple Steps which could go some way to achieving Vatican II’s vision in our celebration of the Eucharist.  Today we take a look at steps 5 and 6.

Step 5:  Stand at the Table

“One of the obvious changes in the reformed liturgy was that ‘the priest no longer had his back to the people.’  Altars were ‘pulled out’ or a new one built behind which the president stood – and the change was understood in terms of visibility. But the change was really to draw out that the Eucharist takes place at a table, which can be interpreted as our altar.  This is the Lord’s table around which we are bidden by the Lord and which anticipates the heavenly table.

Step 6: The Prayer of the Faithful

“The oldest debate in Christian liturgy relates to the tension between fixed formulae and spontaneous prayer. …”  By the time of Vatican II (1962-65) many “had recognised the need for both familiar forms and for spontaneous expression, and so there is a place for this in the reformed rite: the Prayer [note the singular] of the Faithful.  However, often in practice it has become a scripted set of intentions.  …  The Prayer of the Faithful is an expression of the priesthood of the baptised and their ability, in Christ, to stand in the presence of the Father and ask for their own needs and those of all the communities to which they belong. 

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