20 takeaways from a pastoral letter aimed to help Catholics get more out of Mass

November 15, 2011

SpiritBlog

Snippets of meaning from Archbishop John Nienstedt’s pastoral letter “Do This In Memory of Me”

With my highlighter in hand as usual, I read the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ first pastoral letter on the Sacred Liturgy. Here’s what caught my eye or touched me as worth remembering — or at least giving more thought to:

  1. “The words of the priest gave voice to the unspoken prayers of those gathered in faith.”
  2. “The words obviously are important, but their true importance lies in the mystery by which those words are animated, inspired and inflamed.”
  3. “…with the implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal . . . we have the marvelous opportunity to stop and reconsider the important role that the Mass plays in our lives as individuals, as parish communities and as an Archdiocese.”
  4. “…the purpose of the Church is to call her members to holiness.”
  5. “…sanctity for the Christian is not a solitary activity.”
  6. “In the community of believers, our own hearts’ hopes and sorrows, joys and disappointments find reception, affirmation, and transformation as they are offered as one with Christ to the Father in prayer.”
  7. “The Liturgy . . . finds its origin in Christ’s call to be ‘gathered’ . . . . He calls us to holiness, but always in and through the church and her Liturgy . . . . this is the reason for the Church’s existence: to bring the baptized into a closer relationship with Christ as members of His one Body who pray the Liturgy together with Christ for the glory of God and the good of all.”
  8. “Our corporate prayer is thus a prayer that what has been accomplished in Christ might be accomplished in us, and that like Christ we might be sent to bear fruit for the life of the world.”
  9. “Unity does not mean ‘going along to get along.’ That would be a false unity, and one that cannot endure.”
  10. “As we are gathered around the one bread and the one cup, we are strengthened and summoned to form an ever greater unity of mind and heart with Christ Himself, so that we might be joined more closely to one another. Our unity with each other comes from this unity in Christ.”
  11. “Fundamentally, the Church’s Liturgy is not the expression of local customs or the particular interests of a parish or a priest. True enough, an assembly or a presider often do bring with them gifts and talents that should be shared with all, including at the offering of praise that is the celebrations of the Mass. But at its heart, the unity of the Roman Rite, reflective as it is of the Church’s universality, is meant to shine through our liturgical celebrations as an expression of our unity through one common expression of faith.”
  12. “How we pray together manifests what we believe.”
  13. “The new texts of the Church’s prayer provide a grace-filled moment to re-examine our liturgical practices, and to ensure that the liturgical life of our parishes, religious communities, and various apostolates are in conforming to the liturgical norms of the Church.”
  14. “Of course, it is not enough that we simply follow the liturgical law of the Church . . . we must strive to understand more fully just what it is that we are doing when we assemble. “
  15. “. . . take the time simply to listen to the Liturgy itself. We all must strive, clergy and laity alike, to hear with true docility the words the Church has given us, and the memories she cultivates within us as her prayers are proclaimed in our midst.”
  16. “When we stop to listen to the words of the Mass . . . we discover anew the mysteries of faith and enkindle the sense of wonder which marked the disciples on the road to Emmaus when they discovered the Living Christ, present to them.”
  17. “(Author Matthew) Kelly suggests that every Catholic ought to bring a journal to Mass which has inscribed on the cover, ‘What’s the one thing I need to do today to be a better person?’ He guarantees that if we have that single focus in mind as Mass begins, we will discover the joy and meaning that lies at the heart of the Eucharist. I think he’s right. I suggest we try it out.”
  18. “For many, even good Catholics, Sunday Mass can become just one more activity to fit into the schedule, rather than the culmination of the past week and the beginning of a new period of time.”
  19. “For human beings caught up in a whirlwind of activity, Sunday is meant to be a call to a contemplative re-examination of where our lives have been and where they are going. Sunday is meant to give meaning to the other six days of the week.”
  20. “We listen to the words of the Liturgy so that we may truly speak them in our daily lives.”
Care to read the pastoral letter in its entirety: Click here and you’ll have the option of reading it as it appeared as a special section in The Catholic Spirit or downloading a PDF.
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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 42-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

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