CHRISTIAN LIFE: AN EVER ENDURING
WORSHIP RENDERED TO THE LORD
1. You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, says St. Peter to the disciples of Christ, a people he claims for his own to proclaim the glorious works of the One who called you from the darkness to his marvelous light (1 Pt. 2:10). The Christians’ being a chosen people is at the end of a long story of God’s desire and attempt to become close to and dwell in the midst of his people. The Lord says: I will set my dwelling among you... Ever present in your midst, I will be your God and you will be my people (Lev. 26:11-12).
2. In the Old Testament those who were assembled by God as his people set apart to worship him by listening to the Word of the Lord and serving him in his presence (Cf. Dt. 4:9-14; also 2 Chron. 20:5; 2 Chron. 29:33; 2 Chron. 30:2ff.; Neh. 8:2) were called Qahal Yahweh (Dt. 4:10).
3. In the New Testament all the believers in Christ, even non-Israelites, are incorporated into this people so that once you were no people, but now you are God’s people; once there was no mercy for you, but now you have found mercy (1 Pt. 2:20; Cf. Mt. 16:18). The new people of God composed of us Christians became “a dwelling place” of God (Cf. Eph. 2:22; 1 Pt. 2:5) or “temple of the Lord” (Cf. 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21). This is the fulfillment of God’s plan to build up a new people of the elect, the Church (Cf. Eph. 1: 2-6; Col. 1:15-20). In union with Christ, who became a life-giving Spirit after his resurrection (Cf. 1 Cor. 15:45), Christians became a “spiritual body” (Cf. 1 Cor. 6:16-17) and a “spiritual temple of God” by the power of the Spirit living in them (Cf. 1 Cor. 6:19).
4. Christ Jesus—the Word of God become man—is the true temple because the divinity “dwelt” in his body (cf. Jn. 2:15-16). In this temple of his body, the true worship happened, which is a spiritual sacrifice unlike the material sacrifice of animals in the Old Testament (Cf. Heb. 9-10) because he offered himself through his total obedience to God’s will. This is in fact the spiritual sacrifice required by God (Cf. Jer. 7:22-23; Am. 5:25), and it has been the foundation for the existence of a new and everlasting Covenant (Cf. Jer. 50:5).
5. For this reason, the existence of Christians in union with Christ the Lord—who is the Temple, Victim-Sacrifice, and Priest—is a life of ever enduring worship of God. St. Paul exhorts us: Brothers, I beg you through the mercy of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship (Rom. 12:1). Hence, in Christian life there is neither a sacred sector nor a profane sector because the entire existence of the believer, spent in fidelity to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and according to Christ’s commandment of love, becomes true spiritual worship. Just as the entire existence of Christ Jesus is an act of worship of the Father, which has its apex at the offering of himself on the cross (Cf. Heb. 10:5ff.), the whole life of Christians with and in Christ is a life of continuous worship of God, which has its summit in the celebration of the Eucharist and other sacraments.
6. Christ summarized his earthly existence in ritual mystery that can be repeated and celebrated so that his disciples could make a remembrance of it both in ritual celebration (Do this in memory of me) and in their daily living (Take and it). This ritual mystery is no other than the liturgy—which for the greater part is constituted by the sacraments, especially the Eucharist —and in celebrating the mystery, the faithful share in salvation by the power of the Holy Spirit within the Church, and in doing so they have a foretaste of eternal bliss even in this life.
7. The liturgy is both the memorial celebration of the paschal mystery and the kairos of salvation or the moment when the believer shares in the salvation wrought once by Christ for us (Cf. Heb 9:25), which is now being actualized in the sacraments. In this “act of mediation” of Christ, God is glorified and Christians are sanctified by being united in the paschal mystery of Christ. This is the memorial celebrated by the Church, the new community of the saved, the mystical body of the Risen Christ Cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-13 the true priestly people who worship God the Father through Christ and in Christ “in spirit and in truth,” the memorial celebration of the paschal mystery. This celebration is the summit of daily Christian life, which is always given up to the worship and service of God.
8. This document, entitled Christian Life: An Ever Enduring Worship Rendered to the Lord, has seven chapters: (1) Celebration of Sunday, the Day of the Lord, and the Basic Ecclesial Communities, (2) Meaningful and Fruitful Celebration of Liturgy and Religious Activities, (3) Mystagogy or Ongoing Formation of the Faithful on the Mysteries Being Celebrated, (4) Ministry of the Lay or the Special Service Rendered by the Laity in Worship, (5) Groups Dedicated to Serve the Community Worship, (6) Participation Aids to Guide the Assembly During Celebration, and (7) The Liturgico-Pastoral Guidelines of the Diocese of Lucena.
CELEBRATION OF SUNDAY, THE DAY OF THE LORD, AND THE BASIC ECCLESIAL COMMUNITIES
9. In obedience to the command of the Lord to celebrate the paschal mystery in memory of him and as our sharing in his work of salvation, we celebrate the Holy Mass—in a special way—on Sunday in our communities. This is the “Day of the Lord” because on this day he was manifested as the Lord, the only Begotten-Son of God sent by the Father to become the Savior of mankind, which was enslaved to sin for a long time. Through his sacrifice on the cross our sins were forgiven; through his resurrection we were given new life. This is the “Day of the Resurrection,” which is the summit of salvation history because everything that was said in the Holy Scripture about the Coming Messiah was fulfilled. On this day, the Holy Spirit that softens the hardness of man’s heart so that he could be obedient to God, was given back and poured upon man (Cf. Ez. 36:26) as the realization of salvation and the birth of the Church. This is the “First Day” of the new creation, the perfection of God’s creative action by which everything is renewed from sinfulness of man to being the new People of God, which is founded on the new Covenant ratified by the blood of Christ the Lord. This is the true and perfect Shabbat, “the Day the Lord has made,” when God looked at everything he created and was perfectly satisfied (Cf. Gen. 1:31) and when he entered into his perfect rest together with his New People. Hence, this is also the “Eighth Day,” “the beginning of new and everlasting life in the Lord’s Kingdom.”
10. The Shabbat is sanctified through the praise and thanksgiving to the Lord because of his greatness, love, and mercy to his creatures. The Catholic Christians are able to do this by celebrating the Holy Mass, which is the actualization of the paschal mystery. Here they are able to witness to their being disciples of Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Mass, Christians fulfill their duty to worship the Lord Creator because they unite themselves with the unique spiritual worship wrought by the Lord Jesus on the cross; as the saved and adopted sons of God, they renew the new Covenant in the blood of Christ. There is no other effective means of worship that Christians can make except by participating in the celebration of the Mass. Here they are able to unite their personal and daily spiritual sacrifices with the only sacrifice pleasing to God, which is no other than the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. They offer together with the offering of Christ, in the spirit of praise and thanksgiving, their life of the past week as well as their life in the week that is beginning. In this way, the entire life of spiritual worship of the faithful is always given up to God in virtue of the unique sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.
11. Besides all this, Christians also receive sustenance for the growth of their spiritual life at Mass. They partake of two tables which the Lord prepares during the Mass for his children: the table of the Word and the table of the Bread of eternal life, the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus. On this occasion, the truth is made manifest that worshipping the Lord Creator and Savior gives further blessings and holiness to those who fulfill their duty of serving the Lord. Through the Word of God proclaimed in the celebration, the Lord reminds them of his goodness.
12. At present the parishes make it possible for the faithful to attend Mass in their parochial churches at different times: in the morning, in the afternoon, and even in the early evening of Sunday. In big parishes, there are Masses in chapels and shades in barrios in addition to the Masses celebrated in the parochial churches.
13. According to the Church’s calendar, Sunday begins at the First Vespers, that is, around 6 o’clock in the evening of Saturday. Hence, the first Sunday Mass is in the evening of Saturday (which, according to the calendar of the Church, is already Sunday). In many parishes, the faithful go to Sunday Mass in the morning although in big parishes the Mass is said in the afternoon until the early hours of the evening. Masses are celebrated at different hours in parishes so that the faithful can have the opportunity to go to Mass according to their needs.
14. Since childhood, many Catholics are accustomed to participating in the celebration of the Mass on Sunday as a primary obligation that they learned from their parents. Celebrating the Mass on Sunday has been a sign of being a Catholic Christian even though many Christians go to Mass by force of habit and it never occurs to them that it is an obligation of a baptized Christian. Nevertheless, we cannot deny that many Christians feel that their Sunday is incomplete if they do not attend Mass. Even the sick—who, on account of their illness, are not obliged to attend Mass—try their best to unite themselves in spirit with the celebration of the Mass and to hear the Word of God on this particular day by viewing televised Mass.
15. In the first place, Sunday is sanctified through the celebration of the Holy Mass during which the gathered community encounters the Risen Lord in the Word of God proclaimed and in the table of the Paschal Lamb at the reception of Holy Communion. Moreover, the very gathering of Christians for the purpose of worship is a source of consolation to the faithful because it encourages them to see other Christians worshipping and thanking God for his glory, love, and mercy and to know that they are not alone. They are united in the one Lord, one table, one faith, and one hope. For this reason, even those living in far-flung barangays where the Mass is not regularly celebrated by the parish priest assemble in their chapels. With the leadership of lay ministers, especially acolytes and lectors, they receive the Word of God and Holy Communion brought from the parochial church in the town.
16. The entire day of Sunday as true Shabbat is not only dedicated to the celebration of the Holy Mass but is also spent in activities that mirror the triumph of the Risen Lord. First of all, heavy work is avoided not only in order to give time for worship but also to honor and praise the Lord God because of the wonderful works he has done and continues to do for the welfare of us all. On this day, therefore, the faithful perform their spiritual activities like prayer meeting, Bible study, spiritual reading, and meetings of religious associations, as well as spiritual and corporal works of mercy like visiting the sick and those in prison. This is also the reason why business establishments are closed on this day. This is a good opportunity for families—who are busy with earning a living during the week—to get together, share meals, and recreate in order to show the joy that comes from the victory of the Risen Lord.
MEANINGFUL AND FRUITFUL CELEBRATION OF LITURGY AND RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES
17. Christian communities carry out their worship through the communal celebration and actualization of the memorial of the paschal mystery. This activity is the work of the whole Church, the Head and the members of the Mystical Body of Christ. The ordained minister leads the celebration, with the entire assembly participating. Hence, this is an activity of the whole assembly. Historically, there was a time when the celebration of the Mass became the sole activity of the priest at the altar while the faithful silently watched what was going on there. Many factors contributed to this situation. One of them was that Latin, the language used in the celebration, was not understood by the faithful. As a result of the liturgical reform implemented by the Second Vatican Council, the Mass is now celebrated in the language used and understood by the people. Besides, we now have a clear theological understanding of the liturgy. Today the way we understand the Mass is different from how people in the past understood it. If then people “heard” Mass, now we “celebrate” Mass together with the priest as leader. The Mass is not an event that we watch but a celebration in which we all participate. Each person in the assembly has a role to play in this celebration.
18. The Mass is an official act of the Church, not simply a personal affair. Being a ritual action, it is governed by an order of celebration prescribed by the authority of the Church. This order concerns the prayers, actions, and gestures of the priest and the community. There are rules to be taken into account. In general, the celebration of the Massas well as the celebration of the other sacramentsis in the form of a dialogue: dialogue between the people and God, and dialogue between the presiding priest and the gathered assembly. In this dialogical form, the Lord God talks to his people at the Liturgy of the Word, and at the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the assembly praises and gives thanks to God for the grace of salvation that they receive. Moreover, in the Liturgy of the Word and in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the dialogue continues in the interaction between the people and the Lord represented by the presiding priest. For this reason, there are prayers and instructions (monitiones) that only the presiding priest may pronounce and to which the assembly must answer. This is the primary obligation of the participants in the celebration of the Mass.
19. The first sign of solemn celebration is the singing of both the presiding priest and the assembly according to the different degrees of solemnity stated in the First Synod of Lucena. Solemnity is measured neither by the number of ministers, whether ordained or lay, nor by the number of candles, nor by the beauty of the decorations in the sanctuary, but by the quality of singing done by the assembly, with the choir leading it. The choir does not sing alone except when the assembly is processing during the preparation of the gifts, when it received Communion, and during the recessional at the end. There are parts of the Mass that are hymns or songs in themselves and so must be sung such as the Responsorial Psalm and the Alleluia before the proclamation of the Gospel. In many parishes, the “response” to the Responsorial Psalm is sung although, as much as possible, the entire psalm should be sung. The “Alleluia” in itself is a hymn and, hence, should be sung; when not sung, it may be omitted altogether.
20. Those who participate in the Mass manifest their active participation in the celebration not only by saying the responses and singing but also by performing the various functions proper to the assembly such as processing, which is done, first, to carry the gifts to the altar during the preparation of the gifts and, second, to receive Holy Communion.
21. Although there are definite texts assigned for a particular celebration and found in the liturgical books like the sacramentary and the lectionary, there are optional prayers to choose from in order that the truth or doctrine contained therein may be proclaimed in various ways and in order that monotony may be avoided; hence, for instance, there are different Eucharistic Prayers. The invitations called monitiones may be changed with “similar or equivalent words” according to the creativity of the presiding priest in order to adapt them to the occasion. But the greetings taken from the Holy Scriptures like “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” may not be changed to secular greetings such as “Good Morning.”
22. Another element of celebration that must be taken into account is the “short silence” before the penitential invocation by the priest at the beginning, before the Opening Prayer (Collect), after the homily, and after the reception of Communion. As it contributes to a devout participation in praying, silence is part of the celebration.
23. The service of the commentator is of great help in ensuring the orderly flow of the celebration by giving signals for uniform gestures of the assembly and by doing the invitation, introduction, and announcement at the beginning and closing of the celebration. The presiding priest himself, however, should give the short introduction to various parts of the celebration like before the start of the Eucharistic Prayer or in cases when he gives “running commentaries.”
24. For a meaningful, fruitful, and orderly celebration, the place of celebration must be prepared, the faithful must come on time and properly dressed, and the ministers in the sanctuary must wear liturgical vestments. Churchgoers must be disciplined to come before the start of the Mass. The first rows of pews must be taken before the others so that any latecomers could minimize the distraction to the assembly by taking the back pews. Churchgoers must not wear sports attire; the women must not wear indecent and provocative clothes.
DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY AND OTHER SAINTS
25. The faithful have other non-official devotional practices besides the Holy Mass and other sacraments. These non-liturgical practices, such as novenas to the patron saints, are performed in a communal manner and sometimes even presided by a priest. The Second Vatican Council in its document on the liturgy, SacrosanctumConcilium, recognizes that the religious life of the lay faithful consists not only in the liturgy but also in the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints.25 As regards these practices, the faithful need not be encouraged to participate actively in them because they originate from the people themselves.
26. The content, however, of these religious practices must be renewed and be made to conform to the spirit of the liturgy according to the demand of the Second Vatican Council: Such devotions should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some way derived from it, and lead the people to it, since in fact the liturgy by its very nature is far superior to any of them.
27. Giving cult to the saints is in reality rendering glory to God Almighty because their holiness is only shared by the Lord God with them. Indeed, the Lord God is the source of all things and from him comes all holiness.27 The blessings we ask from the saints, even from the Blessed Virgin Mary, do not come from them but from the Lord God, and he gives them to us through the intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ.
28. Prayers in liturgy are never addressed directly to the saints because all liturgical prayers are directed to God the Father, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Here is an example of a prayer commonly used in the Mass in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
give your people the joy
of continual health in mind and body.
With the prayers of the Virgin Mary to help us,
guided us through the sorrows of this life
to eternal happiness in the life to come.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.
And here is a prayer in the Mass for several martyrs:30
We celebrate the memory of Saints N. and N.
Give us the strength to follow their example,
loyal and faithful to the end.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
29. The annual cycle of commemorations of our Lord Jesus Christ constitutes what we call Temporal Cycle of the Liturgical Calendar. Yet we celebrate not only the Mysteries of our Lord Jesus Christ but also the commemoration of the saints, who, while still living on earth, shared in a heroic manner in God’s justification and holiness given to them through the Lord Jesus Christ while they were living in this world. The celebrations in memory of the saints on the day of their birth onto eternal life or the day of their death constitute what we call the Sanctoral Cycle of the Liturgical Calendar.
30. In the past reforms made in the Liturgical Calendar, efforts were exerted to limit the feasts of the saints so that the Temporal Cycle might not be overshadowed by the Sanctoral Cycle.31 The Sanctoral Cycle is now constituted by important feasts while the commemorations of saints who are less significant are reduced to mere optional memorial. Other celebrations are simply relegated to communities who have a special relationship to the saints who are not known by many.32 Saints who are products of legends and who did not live as historical persons have been stricken out altogether from the Liturgical Calendar.33 Nevertheless, saints representing diverse continents of the world have been included in the Universal Liturgical Calendar.34 For this reason, when a community is preparing to celebrate the liturgy, it would be better to celebrate the Ferial of the Temporal Cycle instead of the saint with merely an optional memorial and is not known to the said community.
MYSTAGOGY OR ONGOING FORMATION OF THE FAITHFUL ON THE MYSTERIES BEING CELEBRATED
31. Our Christian communities are in general composed of those who received their Christian faith from the community into which they were born. They were baptized in the hope of the Church that they would receive Christian formation from their parents. But oftentimes, whatever Christian formation they have received is deficient and remains so until they reach maturity. The observation of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines that many Filipino Catholics are uninformed regarding their faith is therefore true.35 They are so deficient in the understanding of their faith and the rites of the Church that they are unable to live them out properly. It is the duty of the Church to design a program of formation in order that the faithful may grow in their life of faith and worship.
32. Teaching catechism36 to children as well as to adults cannot be overlooked. The Church, however, has a particular formation to do concerning the celebration of the sacred mysteries. This is called “mystagogy,”37 which aims at elucidating the meaning of the ceremonies or rites of the Church and their relationship to spirituality and the workaday life of the faithful. In short, mystagogy is the study of liturgy, which is the life of the Church. Mystagogy, in other words, is a kind of catechesis whose object is worship.
33. Most parishes already conduct pre-sacramental catechesis for the celebration of Baptism, Confirmation, and Marriage. Nevertheless, this catechesis is often inadequate because the time spent for it, usually about an hour, is limited. Even the catechesis given to schoolchildren suffers from this inadequacy. If parishes conduct any post-sacramental catechesis at all, the methods of formation used are still vague. Even those of mature age who are being prepared for Baptism and who should undergo a long formation as catechumens38are baptized without sufficient preparation. Hence, parish priests should organize and implement a regular formation program in the form of seminars that they must facilitate themselves. Priests fulfill their duty to teach the faithful not only by giving homilies but also by teaching through seminars and conferences.
34. In order to have a meaningful and fruitful celebration of the sacraments, there is a need for an ongoing mystagogy or continuous explanation or formation about the mysteries being celebrated by the Church. This work, which promotes the spiritual growth of the faithful, is actually never finished. One of the purposes of the Liturgy of the Wordthe homily is an essential component of itin every celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments is to show that the mystery being received or celebrated have relevance to and fruits in daily life.39 Since oftentimes little or no effort to point out this connection is exerted by the priest celebrant, the faithful are not led to understand the relationship between the mystery being celebrated and their Christian life.
35. One effective means of doing mystagogy is to look into and meditate on the texts of liturgical euchology and the symbolisms used in liturgical celebration. The ideas, which are taken from the Sacred Scriptures and the history of salvation, include the love of a husband for his espouse, the care of the shepherd for his sheep, and the father’s love for his son. The symbolisms, on the other hand, are derived from nature and things of everyday use and experience such as light, wind, water, oil, and the rising and setting of the sun.
36. Another effective way of doing mystagogy is to live out or follow the liturgical seasons laid out by the liturgical calendar. The celebrations of the Temporal Cycle should be preferred to the optional celebrations of not-too-well-known saints. Following the Temporal Cycle, we see the center of all celebrations, which is no other than the paschal mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ, the center of our religion.40 The liturgical calendar is founded on two pillars: the Pasch of the Nativity and the Pasch of the Death and Resurrection. They are two faces of the one great Pasch of the Lord Jesus.
MINISTRY OF THE LAY OR THE SPECIAL SERVICE RENDERED BY THE LAITY IN WORSHIP
37. The celebration of liturgy or the worship of the people cannot happen in an orderly fashion without someone taking charge of the flow of the celebration. Alone, the priest celebrant cannot perform his parts in an orderly manner. The assembly, on the other hand, cannot act within the celebration without the help of lay ministers. Therefore, the service of lay ministers is needed.
38. In order that the priest celebrant and the gathered assembly may perform their functions and offices during the celebration, both of them are served by various ministers. Acolytes and lectors are ministers who help the priest celebrant. Acolytes are primarily the priest’s attendants and servers.41 If there are altar boys serving at Mass, they act as helpers of the acolytes, whose main function is to assist the priest. Lectors help the priest in proclaiming the Word of God. It is the office of the lector to proclaim the First and Second Readings, together with the Responsorial Psalm, but the Gospel is to be proclaimed by the priest or the deacon. Lectors may also announce the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful.42
39. The distribution of communion is normally or ordinarily done by the bishop, priest, and deacon, not by the acolyte.43 If acolytes are asked to help in distributing communion, they do so in the capacity of extraordinary ministers of communion. As a matter of fact, the priest, if necessary, may ask the help of anybody in distributing communion. According to the rules set by ImmensaeCaritatis, acolytes and lectors may help, and even any of the faithful, seminarians first before the religious sisters, men first before women, in distributing the Holy Communion.44
40. There are also ministers who help the members of the assembly carry out their roles. First, there is the choir together with the instrumentalists such as the organist. The primary duty of the choir is to lead the assembly in singing the parts that are sung. Another minister who helps the assembly is the commentator. He gives the introduction to the different rites, like the introduction to the celebration, if the priest celebrant himself does not do so; he also gives the cue for the simultaneous action of the assembly. He can also read the announcements at the end of the celebration. It is the task of the collectors, on the other hand, to take care of the orderly gathering and carrying up to the altar of the gifts offered by the people for the support of the Church. For the orderly taking of pews or seats, ushers are needed. They see to it that not only the pews or seats in the rear of the church are occupied but the front ones as well.
41. Among the various lay ministers hitherto mentioned, two have been part of the Church’s life for a long time and in all places that they are now institutions in the Church: the lector and the acolyte.46 In the Diocese of Lucena, acolytes and lectors are installed according to the requirements laid down by the Diocesan Commission on Worship. They submit themselves to a program of preparation and ongoing formation and training under the conditions approved by the said commission. Commentators also undergo a formation and training program although their ministry is not yet an institution. The formation of music ministers is under the care of the subcommittee on music of the Diocesan Commission on Worship. Other lay ministers are under the care of the parish priest of the parish.
42. Besides the quarterly meeting of the acolytes and lectors under the supervision of the Diocesan Commission on Worship, most parishes hold a monthly meeting although some have one on a weekly basis. The parishes also have recollections, retreats, and seminars for the continuous growth in spiritual life and life of service of their ministers. Still other parishes conduct Bible studies for them.
43. It is the wish of all that in our Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs),there will also be similar lay ministers. But while we are in the process of building up the BECs, the lay ministers of the parish will assist them, especially in the celebration of the liturgy in the absence of the priest.
44. Even though the lay ministers mentioned are originally meant for liturgical services, they also serve in other activities of the Church by acting as leaders at novenas, Way of the Cross, vigil and wake for the dead, and Bible studies. They also teach catechism occasionally.
45. Although any lay faithful may perform the blessings of things—except religious articles, like rosaries, that are reserved to priests and deacons47—it is more proper to ask the acolytes and lectors to exercise this function in the absence of a priest. Hence, the blessing of vehicles, houses, or any working instruments, may be performed by the said lay ministers. The so-called “blessing of the dead,” which can be done by lay ministers, is not a blessing but an act of leading the final prayers of the Church and farewell at the funeral rites of her deceased members.
GROUPS DEDICATED TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY WORSHIP
46. Since the start of the liturgical reform in the diocese in 1975 according to the directives of the Second Vatican Council and in the wake of the First Synod of the Diocese of Lucena in 1979, the people’s life of worship in the diocese has significantly changed.48 With the help of the Diocesan Commission on Worship, the bishop guides the life of worship in the entire diocese. This commission assists the bishop in managing the liturgical apostolate in the diocese.
47. Because of the increase in its work, the Diocesan Commission on Worship branched out into three subcommittees. The Subcommittee on Lay Ministers takes charge of the training and ongoing formation of the acolytes, lectors, and commentators. The Subcommittee on Liturgical Arts and Architecture sees to it that the liturgical norms are implemented regarding places of worship such as churches, Blessed Sacrament chapels, and altars. It is also concerned with baptisteries that are being constructed or rebuilt in the parishes. The Subcommittee on Music is tasked with ordering the singing during the liturgical celebrations in the parishes by enriching the repertoire of songs and improving the quality of singing through seminar-workshops on liturgical music.
48. The first committee ever to take charge of the liturgical renewal and even the formation of the Diocesan Commission on Worship as decreed by the First Synod of Lucena was the Lucena Diocesan Liturgical Service (LDLS).49 In time the LDLS was separated from the Diocesan Commission on Worship, and it became a branch of this commission and continues to do its task (this matter is discussed in Chapter VI).
49. In parishes, there are Parish Worship Committees, which take charge of parish worship in collaboration with the Diocesan Commission on Worship, which, in turn, promotes the liturgical apostolate in the entire diocese. The parochial committee has the following subcommittees: (i) Subcommittee on Celebration, (ii) Subcommittee on Music, (iii) Subcommittee on Environment, and (iv) Subcommittee on Lay Ministers.
(i) The Subcommittee on Celebration prepares the texts of the Mass such as the intentions for the Prayer of the Faithful.
(ii) The Subcommittee on Music prepares the songs for the celebration. If necessary, it takes care of practicing the assembly in singing before the start of the celebration, especially when there are new songs. It will see to it that the people know the new songs by providing them with copies or through the use of electronic media.
(iii) The Subcommittee on Environment takes care of the orderly, clean, and peaceful surroundings of the celebration. It must ensure that the sound system as well as the lighting system in the venue of the celebration are in order. It is also the task of this subcommittee to care of the sacred vessels and linens, décor of the church, but especially the altar. It also assigns collectors and, if necessary, ushers for every Mass.
(iv) The Subcommittee on Lay Ministers is in charge of assigning lay ministers who are to serve at every celebration: acolytes, lectors, commentators, and sacristans.
50. There should also be similar committees on worship in the Basic Ecclesial Communities that are already well-organized and living out their Christian life well. But if they are not yet well-organized, or if only few of the faithful constitute them, one worship committee that could take care of all the functions and activities, in coordination with the Parish Worship Committee, would be sufficient.
PARTICIPATION AIDS TO GUIDE THE ASSEMBLY DURING CELEBRATION
51. The celebration of the liturgy is done in the language of the people. The treasures of the Holy Scriptures continue to be opened for the faithful celebrating the liturgy. For a meaningful, conscious, and active participation of the people in the celebration of the mysteries of our religion, participation aids are needed. One of the tasks of the original liturgical committee in the Diocese of Lucena, namely, the Lucena Diocesan Liturgical Service, was to prepare participation aids and guides for the liturgical celebration, besides giving seminars in parishes and establishing and coordinating Parish Liturgical Committees.
52. Initially, when the faithful were not yet trained to participate at Mass, the Diocesan Liturgical Service used to publish PatnubaysaPagdiriwang, a weekly guide for participating in the Mass. When people, however, became used to participating actively, the printing of Patnubay had to be stopped because the celebration in the form of dialogue is not realized when the participants are busy reading what the minister is proclaiming.UgnayansaLiturhiya, a monthly publication of the Diocesan Liturgical Service, has remained since this is an aid in preparing for celebration.
53. UgnayansaLiturhiya contains the texts of the readings and explanations about them. There are also points for reflection, which can serve as starters of reflection for homilies or for sharing in a prayer meeting. It also contains articles on liturgy that can broaden one’s knowledge on worship, spirituality, and living out the Gospel. Sometimes it has reports from parishes about liturgical and devotional activities and liturgical news from the Episcopal Commission on Liturgy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines as well as from Rome. Since, according to the rubrics of the Mass, the priest celebrant may adapt the greetings and invitations during actual celebration, UgnayansaLiturhiya occasionally publishes such adaptations of liturgical texts.
54. The celebration will be profitable, active, and conscious if before going to the church for Mass on Sunday, we are already familiar with the theme of the particular celebration. Hence, those who attend Mass should have knowledge about the specific theme. UgnayanSaLiturhiya can help in preparing for the Mass, which is celebrated, not just heard and seen. It is for this purpose that UgnayansaLiturhiya is published. This synod hopes that more faithful will profit from it in the future.
55. Nowadays the faithful cannot go to Mass without the knowledge of the mystery being celebrated and of the Word of God being proclaimed. The sensusfidei or the knowledge of the believer must be alive in the faithful. They must possess at least a little understanding of the history of salvation contained in the Bible. There are many guides for reading the Holy Scripture today like the UgnayansaLiturhiya, Bible Diary, Simbahay, Sambuhay, The Word in other words, and Word Among Us.
THE LITURGICO-PASTORAL GUIDELINES OF THE DIOCESE OF LUCENA
56. The community celebration of the sacraments, or of the liturgy in general, must follow the norms established by the authority of the Church since the liturgy is not a personal matter of the priest or of the celebrating community but the official action of the People of God. The norms to be followed in the celebration of liturgy can be found in liturgical books like the Sacramentary or the Roman Missal and Lectionary for the Mass, and the Roman Ritual, which is composed of various Ordines or Guides for celebrating the other sacraments. Then we have the Book of Blessings and the Ceremonial of Bishops. All the norms have been organized according to the principles laid down by the Second Vatican Council, especially in the document on liturgy, SacrosanctumConcilium, and systematized by the Code of Canon Law of the Church.
57. In a decree of Bishop Ruben T. Profugo in 1989, the Liturgico-Pastoral Guidelines of the Diocese of Lucena were confirmed.51 This present synod orders these guidelines to be reorganized as soon as possible and to be reconfirmed after the revision. But even now this synod clarifies some matters that should be adapted to the present needs of the particular Church in Lucena.
58. Concerning the Sacrament of Baptism:
1.The subject of baptism is either “child” or “adult.” An “adult” is one who can decide for himself, and the Code of Canon Law decrees that he or she is seven years old. A person who has not attained this age is a “child.” The manner of Baptism of an adult differs from that of a child. The adult answers for himself the questions asked in the rite of Baptism; on the other hand, the parents and godparents answer those questions in the name of the child. The preparation for adult Baptism is much longer than the preparation for child Baptism.52
2. The child should be baptized “within the first few weeks after birth.”53 Parish priests must study how to change the habit of postponing the Baptism to the day of the fiesta when many children are baptized.
3. Baptism is a sacrament of faith; that is, the subject is one who believes. In the case of children, it is their parents or the Christian community to which they belong who believe. Children are baptized because of the desire of their parents; in the case of children, whatever the parents desire for their children is also the desire of the children.
For this reason, the parents and godparents assume the responsibility for them, and this is the foundation of their promise to take care of giving the children Christian formation. At the time of Baptism, the mother and the father must be present to offer their child to the Lord.54
4. Because they should help the parents in forming the child, the godparents must be chosen well. They must be Catholics who are responsible and well-informed about their faith.
5. Godparents in Baptism must not be numerous but only a pair. They cannot stand as godparents by proxy. Only those who are actually present can act as godparents, and they are the ones whose names must be entered in the parish Record of Baptism.
6. It is urged that Baptisms during fiestas in the barrio be performed within the Mass.
7. The Diocesan Commission on Worship must take care of the design and use of baptismal clothes for the sake of uniformity in all parishes.
8. The parochial church must have its own baptistery, and all residents of the place that is under its jurisdiction, whether children or adults, must be baptized there. Only in an extremely pastoral need may Baptism be performed in other places such as the barrio chapel, but it should never be celebrated in a private house.
9. Parents and godparents must be prepared for the celebration of Baptism by means of seminars. Those who have attended pre-baptismal seminars thrice in the past may be exempted from this requirement if within two years they will again present a child for Baptism or act as godparents.
10. The preparation of adults for Baptism must not be taken lightly. The preparation and instruction must last for at least three years and, as much as possible, the cetechumenate program contained in the new Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults must be followed.
59. Concerning the Sacrament of Confirmation:
1. Confirmation is the second sacrament of Christian Initiation, but because of historical factors, it is not now given after Baptism. When the baptized person is able to use his own judgmentnormally children who are seven years old and above have this capacityhe is prepared for confession, and then he receives First Holy Communion. It is only later that he is prepared to receive Confirmation, usually when he is nine or ten years old, at the time when he is in the Third Grade of elementary school.
2. Confirmation is the sacrament of the Holy Spirit; that is, in this sacrament the Holy Spirit is given in person as the gift of God the Father and of God the Son to the subject of confirmation in order to dwell in him.57 For this reason, his relationship with Christ deepens and he is empowered to live out his Christianity,58 and so he now lives according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. This truth must be well understood by the subject; knowing the different gifts of the Holy Spirit is not enough.
3. It is desirable to have the schoolchildren attend a “Confirmation class,” that is, year of preparation for Confirmation. Other candidates for confirmation must be prepared by means of seminars.
4. Only one godparent is allowed for confirmation, and he should also undergo preparation by means of a seminar.
5. An adult who is baptized is also confirmed immediately by the priest minister of Baptism in a continuous rite during which the former also receives Holy Communion.
60. Concerning the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist:
1. The 1989 Liturgico-Pastoral Guidelines is dedicated almost entirely to the Eucharist. Now this synod further clarifies various aspects of this sacrament. First, the Mass is celebrated only in a sacred place that is no other than the church or chapel in the barrio. Only in two cases is celebrating the Mass permitted in a private house: (a) when there is a wake for the dead, and (b) when there is a bedridden sick person who has not been to Mass for a long time. In the second case, the celebration should not be a private affair; relatives and friends should be invited to participate in the Mass.60 With the exception of these two occasions, the celebration of Mass in private houses is not allowed.
2. For pastoral reasons, the Mass sometimes has to be brought to public places like malls, multi-purpose buildings, business places, and even on the streets, especially when it is related to the assemblies of BECs. In these cases, the place of celebration must be so prepared that it is conducive to prayer. A proper sound system must be available.61
3. The reception of Holy Communion is part of the Mass. Hence, those who attend the Mass must receive Holy Communion except when there is an obstruction of grave sin. Sometimes necessity compels the faithful to attend Mass more than once on a given day. The liturgical norm permits them to receive Holy Communion twice a day.62
4. The Mass is sharing of the adopted children of God and members of the Church in the paschal meal of the Lord. Hence, communicating at the table of the Lord in the Mass is for Catholic Christians only. The non-baptized, those cohabiting without the sacrament of marriage, and those publicly living in sin are separated (excommunicated) from the Church and thus have no right to partake of the table of the Lord.
5. Concelebration is the celebration of the Mass by many priests together at the same time at one altar in order to show the unity of the sacrificial offering and the unity of the priests in participating in the one High Priest of the New Testament, who is no other than the Lord Jesus Christ.63Concelebration is not a sign of solemnity. No stipend is given to priests who concelebrate.64
6. The Mass is the center of worship and the most important activity of Catholic Christians. For this reason, the faithful should prepare to attend the Mass, and those who stand before the Lord should be properly and decently dressed. Parish priests should give detailed norms regarding the attire of churchgoers.
61. Concerning the Sacrament of Penance:
1. The obstruction for the reception of Holy Communion, which is grave sin, can be removed by means of the sacrament of Penance. Although there is no need to go to confession before every communion, nevertheless, it is imperative to go to Confession when one has committed mortal sin, and it is a good custom to receive the sacrament of Penance every three months.
2. Nowadays there are three ways to celebrate the sacrament of Penance: (a) community celebration with general confession and general absolution, (b) community celebration with individual confession and individual absolution, and (c) individual celebration with individual confession and individual absolution. The community celebration with general confession and general absolution may be done when there is a grave necessity such as when a great number of penitents cannot be confessed by the priests at a determined time so that the people might not be able to go to confession for a long time.65
3. Sufficient time must be allotted for the penance of schoolchildren so that they can go to confession individually with individual absolution. If needed, the help of other priests must be sought.
4. During special times like Advent and Lent, it is good to have kumpisalangbayan when many priests hear simultaneously the confessions of people. In this way, the faithful acquire spiritual preparation for the coming liturgical celebrations.
5. The new OrdoPoenitentiae contains sample Penitential Services for different occasions and different liturgical seasons. This type of celebration can help the faithful grow spiritually in the spirit of penance, which is required for a fruitful reception of the sacrament of Penance.
62. Concerning Pastoral Care of the Sick and the Sacrament of Anointing:
1. It is the duty of all to care for the sick members of the Church because it is part of the new commandment of love entrusted by the Lord Jesus Christ to his disciples. God himself has special care for the sick. Hence, the Book ofAnointing the Sick enjoins all Christians to look especially after the spiritual needs of the sick like spiritual counseling, the sacrament of Penance, and Holy Communion.66
2. The gift of healing, which is a charism of the Holy Spirit, is for the good of the sick members of the Church. Hence, those who have received this charism are called for the ministry of healing their sick brothers and sisters. The norms laid down by the Church, however, must be followed in order to avoid abuses concerning this ministry.
3. The sick should be encouraged to ask for a priest who could bring the sacraments to them. But no priest should be asked to administer the sacraments of the sick unless the sick person himself desires to receive them.
4. The sacrament of the Anointing of the sick is for the consolation and healing of the sick. That is why the sacrament will be more beneficial to the sick person if it is administered when he is not at the point of death.67 The sacrament of Anointing is for those who are gravely sick but not necessarily bedridden.
5. Sometimes the sick can be gathered in a suitable place for communal Anointing of the sick.68
63. Concerning the Sacrament of Marriage:
1. A Catholic marries another Catholic69 in order to found a Catholic family in which no conflicts about religious matters can weaken the solidity of the family.
2. Catholics only civilly married are considered not truly married because the marriage of Catholics must be a sacrament,70 and only the Church administers it. Consequently, civil marriage is not sufficient for Catholics.
3. The government also recognizes the Catholic Marriage as good as civil marriage, and the former has civil effects. Hence, the documents being prepared are those required by the Church as well as by the government.
4. Weddings are prepared seriously with the Church within at least six months. The priest himself shall examine the bride and groom concerning their preparedness and, above all, with regard to their freedom to marry and the purpose of Christian Marriage.71 This preparation shall be done even with those who have been cohabiting for a long time.
5. The Pre-Cana Seminar is part of the preparation for a Christian Marriage. The seminar consists of at least three sessions. A seminar lasting for only an hour or a day is not sufficient to meet this requirement.
6. Candidates for Marriage who are non-baptized and non-confirmed need a longer preparation because they are being prepared not only for Marriage but also for the reception of Baptism and Confirmation.
7. Marriage banns will be done four times, not thrice, within four Sunday Masses or Holy Days.
8. Those preparing for wedding may select the texts for the Mass and the wedding rites, but this must be done in consultation with the priest who will officiate at the wedding.
9. The bride must wear a decent wedding dress. Similarly, the female members of the wedding entourage have to be decently dressed.
10. The children carrying the marriage symbols such as the rings, flowers, arrhae, and Bible must not be numerous and they must be old enough to participate in the wedding rites with the minimum of adult supervision. Otherwise, they tend to disturb the flow of the rites.
11. Both the Church and the civil authority ask for at least two witnesses for the validity of a wedding. Having many godparents as witnesses is an allowance or license given to Filipino custom. Nevertheless, in order to avoid inconveniences due to their large number, this synod orders that only three pairs of godparents are allowed in weddings.
12. During the wedding ceremonies, cameramen using whatever kind of cameras (still, video, digital, and others) must position themselves at the place assigned for them in order not to obstruct the flow of the ceremonies. Only photographers with permit from the parish office may take pictures.
64. Concerning the Sacrament of Holy Orders:
1. The Lord does not leave his flock untended, and he continues to send priests who serve in his Church. The community must be zealous both in praying in order that some from among them may be chosen for this kind of service and in supporting spiritually, morally, and financially those preparing for the priesthood.
2. The community headed by the parish priest must cooperate with the seminary formators in order that their seminarians may properly respond to the formation being given to them.
65. Concerning Funeral:
1. The Church devotes prayers and last commendation to Catholic Christians who die. There is a special Mass for the dead, which includes the ceremonies for the funeral.
2. This last service has been imposed by the Church to herself so as to honor her deceased family member. Those who lived as public sinners by cohabiting without Catholic Marriage or having many wives or being members of masonry and who died without show of public conversion to the Lord, are considered separate or excommunicated from the Church. For this reason, the Church does not give honor to their remains since at the moment of death they were not family members of the Church.
3. According to psychological studies, those who commit suicide are not in their right mind. Hence, their suicidal act cannot be considered fully sinful. Therefore, those who committed suicide may be subjects of the Church’s last services.
4. In the past, cemeteries were inside the church premises, as can be seen in old churches in Europe until today. The reason for this arrangement is to show the entire Church in one place: the Church in glory (ecclesia in gloria), the Church on pilgrimage (ecclesia peregrinans), and Church in purification (ecclesia purificans). Whenever they go to church, the faithful can visit the graves of the dead and pray for them. For health reasons, a decree ordering that cemeteries be transferred outside the poblacion(town) was issued during the Spanish times.
5. Non-Catholics may be buried in a Catholic cemetery only with the permission of the bishop.
6. Instead of the traditional ground burial of the remains of Christians who died, cremation is now allowed by the Church if this is done without contempt to the traditional ground burial.75 But the ashes must be placed in the proper resting place, now called columbarium, not just in a corner of the house or in a garden.
CALL TO ACTION
This synod recommends the following Call To Action (CTA) so that the whole community of the faithful may lead a truly Christian life and offer to God a worship that is celebrated and lived.
I. CELEBRATION OF SUNDAY, THE DAY OF THE LORD, AND THE BASIC ECCLESIAL COMMUNITIES
CTA-1. The faithful, especially non-churchgoers, need to be reminded anew in homilies, for instance, about the importance of going to church on Sundays and Holy Days.
CTA-2. The Diocesan Commission on Worship shall coordinate with the Diocesan Commission on Mission and Evangelization and the Diocesan Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education in order to emphasize in their work of formation the obligation of the baptized to celebrate Sunday.
CTA-3.The schedule of religious activities of the parish shall be made public by posting it on a permanent bulletin board, preferably in places that are visible to the people, for instance, at the main gate.
CTA-4. The importance of sanctifying Sunday needs to be reemphasized by avoiding heavy work, performing spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and doing Bible study and other spiritual activities.
II. MEANINGFUL AND FRUITFUL CELEBRATION OF LITURGY AND RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES
CTA-5.The community shall be united in their gestures, postures, responses, and singing to show their active participation in the celebration. No one shall be a merely passive spectator.
CTA-6.Activities foreign to the Mass such as texting, eating, conversing, and praying the rosary and novenas shall be forbidden during its celebration.
CTA-7.Eachparish shall have an effective and proper sound system with at least four microphones so that the chair of the celebrant, the altar, the ambo, and the place of the commentator will each have their own microphones.
CTA-8. The celebration of the Mass on Sunday shall be sung.
CTA-9.The various optional texts of prayers, readings, and invitations (introductions) appropriate to different occasions shall be used by the priest celebrant and other leaders so that the riches of the liturgy can be shared with the faithful and so that monotony can be avoided.
CTA-10.The intention for the unity of all Christians shall be included in the Prayer of the Faithful during Sunday Mass.
CTA-11.The members of the assembly, that is, the priest celebrant, the lay ministers, and the assembly, shall perform only the functions assigned to each of them and not usurp those assigned to others.
CTA-12.The assembly shall be already gathered at the place of celebration before the Mass begins. The celebration starts at the making of the sign of the cross.
CTA-13.Some moments of silence shall be observed before reciting the penitential prayer at the start of the Mass, before saying or singing the Opening Prayer (Collect), after the homily, and after the reception of Holy Communion. Periods of brief silence are part of the celebration.
III. DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY AND TO OTHER SAINTS
CTA-14. The texts of novenas used in the parishes, especially the novena to the patron saint of the parish, shall be revised in order to adapt them to the spirit of the liturgy.
IV. MYSTAGOGY OR THE ONGOING FORMATION OF THE COMMUNITY ON THE MYSTERIES BEING CELEBRATED
CTA-15.The study of the rites or ceremonies of the Church or mystagogy shall be a continuing activity not only as a preparation but also as a way to deepen the understanding of the ritual mysteries and their relationship to everyday life.
CTA-16. In the parishes, the parish priests shall exert effort to conduct a regular study of the life of worship (liturgy). Since this study is part of their duty as pastors and prophets, they have to dedicate time for it.
CTA-17.For their growth in the life of service, lay ministers serving in the parishes shall be given the opportunity to undergo special studies at certain institutions and to attend conferences or conventions, with financial help from the diocese and parishes.
CTA-18. The use of liturgical texts in meditation and study can help in gaining a better understanding of the celebration and its relationship to everyday Christian life.
V. LAY MINISTRY OR THE SPECIAL SERVICE RENDERED BY THE LAITY IN WORSHIP
CTA-19. The lay ministers who must serve the priest celebrant are the acolytes, assisted by the sacristans (boys or girls), and the lectors. The ministers who shall serve the assembly are the choir, the commentators (men or women), the collectors of offerings, and the ushers.
CTA-20.The primary duty of acolytes is to assist the priest celebrant and to prepare the altar and its furnishings. In fact, the service being rendered by sacristans really belongs to the duties of acolytes. But in the present the situation, acolytes share their ministry with sacristans.
CTA-21. The distribution of communion is the normal (ordinary) duty of the bishop, priest, and deacon. When a sufficient number of priests and deacons is present, they have the first duty of distributing communion at concelebrated Masses. Acolytes act as extraordinary ministers of communion when they distribute communion to the sick.
CTA-22.In cases of grave necessity, ad casum, the priest celebrant may ask the lector or anybody in the assembly to help him distribute communion.
CTA-23. Besides the ongoing formation given by the Diocesan Commission on Worship to the lay ministers, parishes shall have an additional program of continuing formation of their lay ministers.
CTA-24. Although the lay ministers are originally intended for liturgical services, they shall also serve at the general activities of the Church when needs arise by, for example, leading novenas, Way of the Cross, vigil for the dead, and funeral rites.
CTA-25. In the absence of a priest or deacon, the acolyte or lector may bless objects except religious articles the blessing of which is reserved to the ordained minister.
CTA-26. The lay ministers are enjoined to participate in the activities of the AdoracionNocturna Filipina.
VI. GROUPS DEDICATED TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY WORSHIP
CTA-27.The Parish Worship Committee shall help the priest in preparing for the celebration of liturgy, especially on Sunday, by coordinating with the Diocesan Commission on Worship and the BECs.
CTA-28.The Parish Worship Committee shall establish at least four subcommittees: (a) Subcommittee on Celebration, (b) Subcommittee on Music, (c) Subcommittee on Environment, and (d) Subcommittee on Lay Ministers.
CTA-29. The Subcommittee on Music shall be consulted regarding musical pieces to be used in the celebration of the Mass.
CTA-30.Beforeconstructing structures related to worship in the parish such as church building, Blessed Sacrament chapel, altar, and baptistery, the Subcommittee on Arts and Architecture of the Diocesan Commission on Worship shall first be consulted and its approval sought.
CTA-31. When BECs are not yet able to act by themselves, the Parish Worship Committee shall help the group that is in charge of worship activities of the BECs.
VII. PARTICIPATION AIDS TO GUIDE THE ASSEMBLY DURING CELEBRATION
CTA-32.The publication of UgnayansaLiturhiya shall continue. It shall be improved both as a diocesan aid in the preparation of the Sunday Mass and as a guide in studying the Word of God.
CTA-33.Like in years past, the UgnayansaLiturhiya shall have its own editorial staff that manages its publication.
CTA-34.The UgnayansaLiturhiyashall be supported by and propagated in the parishes and institutions so that its publication can continue.