This weekend, the Church resumes celebrating the Sundays in Ordinary Time. During the Fifty-day Easter Season, with several celebrations of the sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist), and the Solemnities that followed (The Most Holy Trinity and The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ), we celebrated in a very festive manner. We “pulled out all the stops,” so to speak. It was done in several of the following ways: using festive arrangements of music (sometimes including the bells on the Gloria), having the Presider sing some of the prayers (or prayer introductions) at Mass, using a full complement of ministries including both Psalmist and Cantor or Choir, having an extended Gospel Procession, repeating the Gospel Acclamation after the proclamation of the Gospel, occasionally using incense, and the extent to which the worship space/environment was enhanced. We have been using what is called in liturgy: the principle of Progressive Solemnity. Now, as we move back into Ordinary Time, the manner of our celebration will change a bit; as we have reached a crescendo, we enter into a bit of a decrescendo. Just as in our own lives, we don’t always live on an emotional high, nor do we celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, ordinary days, or summer vacation in the same way, so, too, in the Church, we have the same kind of ebb and flow when it comes to liturgical celebrations. So, how will we celebrate Ordinary Time at Saint John Paul II Parish? What differences will we notice? The Parish Worship Commission had a conversation this past Tuesday regarding this question. In the course of the conversation, the suggestion was made to explain the principle of Progressive Solemnity to the parish (thus, my column this week). During Ordinary Time, we will be using the simplest of the options for the Penitential Act which will be found in the Worship Aid. The Book of the Gospels will be placed upon the Altar before Mass begins (emphasizing the unity between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist) which means a lector will not be carrying it in the Entrance Procession (saving that ritual action for Solemnities, and the Christmas and Easter Seasons when there is also a lengthier Gospel Procession). As you know, we have been using the Apostles’ Creed during Ordinary Time and will continue to do so. You will also note, as has been the practice, you will see more green plants and fewer flowers and the church environment will be simpler and less adorned. We will continue singing a variety of music but a single individual will act as psalmist and cantor. All of this will reflect the principle of Progressive Solemnity: the difference between the celebration of Ordinary Time, and the “high Holy Days.”
Todays’ Gospel passage calls us to reflect upon unity. Jesus says, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” This week, let us reflect upon the ways in which we contribute to unity within our families, our neighborhoods, our places of work, our schools, and our parish.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ