Story by Kaelanne Jordan,
You can get everything right yet still miss the real “intentionality” of the Mass.
“You can celebrate it, but you can miss it. Fr Henri Charles use to say ‘They had the wedding, but they miss the marriage’ because you miss the importance of it and what you’re supposed to be doing,” Msgr Michael de Verteuil said during his opening presentation last Monday at the School of Liturgy.
This year’s week of activities which took place Monday, July 29 to August 3 at St Benet’s Hall, Mt St Benedict was themed Hospitality, Homilies, Hymns: Liturgy Alive.
Msgr de Verteuil’s presentation titled ‘The Mass’ sought to help those gathered to fully understand aspects of the Mass and its significance. He observed, “We do it so well that sometimes we do it unconsciously.”
He began with an outline of the Mass, an explanation of what each part includes and what Christians should be doing during each rite.
The Mass is made up of two parts: The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The rites preceding the Liturgy of the Word, namely the Entrance, Greeting, Act of Penitence, Kyrie, Gloria and Collect, have the character of a beginning, introduction and preparation.
Their purpose is to ensure that the faithful who come together as one establish communion and dispose themselves to listen properly to God’s word and to celebrate the Eucharist worthily.
The Opening Rite, Msgr de Verteuil said, occurs after the people have gathered. This, he shared was very important to note for it is the people, not solely the priests and ministers celebrating the Mass.
The Opening Rite is also meant to draw persons into one because “we’re going to share communion in a while. We can’t share communion if we are disunited, if there’s no harmony among us,” he said.
Msgr de Verteuil added the assembly is the first symbol of the Mass, not the bread and wine. “…God has always called a people. Why did God call Moses? To lead a people. When God made a covenant on the mountaintop with Moses, who is the covenant for? A people. When God called Abraham, Abraham was to be the father of a people. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of peace and unity,” he maintained.
There are many times persons recite the Penitential Rite without thinking what they are saying. “When I say ‘I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have sinned…’ I’m asking for His mercies so I can enter into His presence. And when we enter into His presence what do we do? Glory to God in the highest…a real acclamation of praise,” he said.
Commenting on the Liturgy of the Word, Msgr de Verteuil said that the “high point” of the readings is the Gospel as faithful believe Jesus is speaking to us, through the Word.
He observed that people go through the readings without actually paying attention. He suggested reading them before Mass, to make them “stick in our minds”.
“Chew the Word; ingest the Word…Unless we consume the Word of God, it will not affect us,” he said.
Msgr de Verteuil concluded that the dismissal of the people by the deacon or the priest so that each may go out to do good works, praising and blessing God.
“We continue to do this every week until one day we celebrate in fullness in the joy of heaven.”
The week included talks on ‘Hospitality’ by AEC General Secretary Fr Don Chambers; ‘Hymns’, by the Music Team; ‘Homilies’ by Archbishop Jason Gordon, who celebrated the opening Mass last Monday; ‘Caring for God’s People’, by Adana James; and daily workshops during the afternoon period.
There were also three talks by guest speaker Chris Lowney on ‘VUCA and Leadership’, ‘Becoming More Entrepreneurial and More Accountable’ and ‘Suffering, Courage, Holiness, Prayer and Gratitude’ on Thursday at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, Tunapuna.
Msgr Michael de Verteuil, chair of the Liturgical Commission
Two participants lead Morning Prayer.
School of Liturgy 2019 made a return to St Benet’s Hall after many years. Photos courtesy Felix Edinborough and Gary Tagallie