Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Sacred Liturgy in the Digital Age

From the March-April 2011 Newsletter of the Committee on Divine Worship:

With increased use of e-readers (e.g., Kindle and Nook), tablet computers (such as iPads), and an ever-increasing variety of mobile device applications (apps), it is no surprise that many have begun searching for liturgical texts in digital formats. Publishers have received inquiries about whether published editions of the Roman Missal would also be available in digital formats (such as on Kindle or other e-readers or as downloadable or CD formats). As new technologies continue to emerge, there will undoubtedly be new ways to make use of them even in the context of the ministry of the Church and the Liturgy in particular.

Some say that the Church has been slow to embrace technology. The invention of the printing press in the 15th Century allowed for the standardization of liturgical books after the Council of Trent, but not before some initial resistance to “modern” technology. Many believed that the transmission of the inspired Word of God in the Bible was enabled through the work of monks in the scriptorium, and use of a printing press would preclude that ministry. Obviously the caution eventually gave way to its extensive use that allowed for new forms of teaching and spreading the Gospel.

Today, the Church makes use of a wide range of technology to teach, share news, and even build community. Parishes, dioceses, and Conferences of Bishops make use of websites, Facebook, and Twitter, and many pastors and bishops host their own weblogs. Within the Liturgy, people take for granted the use of sound amplification for spoken words, but see more and more the use of sophisticated amplification for vocal and instrumental music. In an effort to be flexible as well as “environmentally friendly,” some parishes make use of LCD projectors and screens to project texts and music in lieu of printed participation aids, which also creates the possibility of multimedia applications. Little guidance for the use of new technology has been given thus far, and liturgical norms do not specifically address many of the questions that have begun to emerge. In the Information Age, how does the Church transmit the Faith that is ageless?

In regard to liturgical books, there has been speculation about the future. In the secular world, some envision a paperless society as books and other print media are replaced by tablets, e-readers, and other mobile devices. What would happen to liturgical books? While it is impossible to speculate about the future, liturgists wisely caution about moving too quickly in this direction. On a practical level, such devices are not foolproof and can occasionally freeze up, requiring a restart. On a deeper level, we treat objects admitted for liturgical use with respect and understand that once given over to liturgical use, they are used solely for that purpose. To use an iPad, for example, in place of a printed Missal, what happens after its use in the Mass? Is that same iPad later used to check e-mail, browse the Internet, play games, or watch streaming video?

Liturgical books also have a physical form that points to the “substance” of prayer and worship. Liturgical texts are not “disposable,” and yet downloadable texts that can be printed and then discarded, or digital formats that can be deleted, would seem to indicate otherwise. Mobile apps that deliver prayers, including daily Scripture readings and the Liturgy of the Hours, make prayer at any time and any place convenient, and by doing so they promote habits of prayer. But should these digital formats replace the printed texts and ritual editions?

The question of copyright is also a sensitive matter. The Latin texts of the Missale Romanum and other liturgical books are protected by copyright, held and administered by the Holy See. The copyright of English liturgical texts, including the Roman Missal, is held and administered by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, on behalf of its member Conferences of Bishops, according to its mandate from the Holy See. Texts proper to the Dioceses of the United States, including the Lectionary for Mass, are copyrighted by the USCCB. Any digital reproduction of liturgical texts, even excerpts thereof, including projected texts, on websites or other mobile devices, is also subject to copyright guidelines. Developers of websites and of mobile apps must secure permission for the inclusion of liturgical texts, even if such products are available free of charge.

When the final approved text of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, was sent to the USCCB in August 2010, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments also included a series of Observations Regarding Publication of the New English-Language Missal. Many of these particular observations addressed matters of format and design, indicating what decisions could be left to the Committee on Divine Worship or to individual publishers. In addition, the observations addressed the question of digital or online publication: “The Congregation considers it inappropriate that the text of the Missal, or other liturgical books, be published online” (no. 47). Still, some limited texts of the Missal, including the Order of Mass, have been made available on the USCCB Roman Missal website,, for catechesis and preparation for implementation.

These questions will not be answered quickly or easily. While the Liturgy follows tradition as part of a hermeneutic of continuity, the Liturgy is also celebrated in the era of the New Evangelization. Technology can serve the Liturgy well, but we must be cautious not to put the Liturgy at the service of technology. The Committee on Divine Worship, aware that existing liturgical norms are inadequate in addressing these questions, already began discussion about some questions in regard to publication of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, and plans to continue with a discussion of the larger questions of new technologies and the Liturgy at its meetings this year. Bishops, pastors, liturgists, and publishers must discern carefully not only the opportunities available but, more importantly, the needs of the Church in establishing liturgical guidelines or norms for the digital age.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Archbishop Sartain Takes it to the Mountaintop

A high point of the already towering program for World Youth Day 2011 was Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain's talk at Theology on Tap to English-speaking pilgrims. Co-sponsored by the National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association (NCYAMA) and the Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth office of the USCCB, the archbishop's talk could have come at the conclusion of World Youth Day rather than the eve of the pope's arrival; his message focused on the everyday realities awaiting pilgrims when they returned home.

He urged them not make unfavorable comparisons between the euphoria of World Youth Day and their other experiences, particularly experiences of their faith lives. He recalled the Apostles, who literally experienced the highs of some "mountaintop moments" only to have Jesus warn them not to tell anyone. (Archbishop Sartain stopped at this point to read a Gospel account of the Transfiguration.) In short, the archbishop explained, a follower of Christ should not become fixated on the highs of the Gospel at the expense of the rest of the Christian message and lifestyle.

In an effort to help pilgrims build a solid faith practice on the heights of their World Youth Day experience, the archbishop then offered a reflection on how to grow in a relationship with God, complete with a handout for them to take home.

So here's the resource for use by the rest of the Church:

Growing In Our Relationship With Christ
(A few simple steps)
Archbishop Peter Sartain

How does one strive to know the Lord? How does one become God's intimate friend? Perhaps these simple points will help.
  • Speak to God. Carrying on a conversation with God in prayer, the same kind I have with close friends, gives me a chance to tell him what's in my heart and on my mind. As in all friendships, honesty is required. Why lie to God?
  • Listen to God. Prayer is much more than getting things off my chest. It also involves quietly giving God the opportunity to respond. As St. John of the Cross once remarked, God speaks his everlasting Word in silence. In our noisy world, we must not forget that silence can be much more intimate than speech.
  • Read what God has to say. This is another way of saying, "Read the Bible." The bible recounts what God has revealed to us about himself through creation, history, prophecy, and most especially through the Son, his perfect self-revelation. And as Rabbi Abraham Heschel once wrote, the Bible is also God's book about man. We learn both about God and about ourselves by opening the Sacred Scriptures.
  • Learn the faith. Faith has an objective component: the truths we are to believe. By studying the Church's teaching, we give heart and mind to God.
  • Become true disciples of God's Son. The Father sent the Son so that we could abide in the deep intimacy they share. "Father, they are your gift to me... I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them" (John 17:24, 26). Jesus is The Way, and giving our lives in discipleship takes us to the bosom of the Father.
  • Commit yourself to a life of conversion. Being a disciple of the Lord Jesus involves allowing his grace to go to work in me -- to transform me more and more into Christ himself. This is entirely the work of grace, but God calls me to cooperate with grace. I am called to discover my sinfulness and repent. I am called to accept the gift of God's merciful forgiveness. I am called to change what needs to be changed in my life. I am called to do good and avoid evil, to relinquish habits and ways of living which are not compatible with faith in Christ and thus not compatible with Christ's living presence in me. The goal is to say, with St. Paul, "For to me, life is Christ!" (Philippines 1:21)
  • Call on the Holy Spirit. From the beginning to the end of time, whenever the Father sends the Son, he also sends the Spirit, because their mission is inseparable. The Spirit keeps us faithful and makes intimacy with God possible.
  • Seek out the presence and action of God. The sacraments are the public worship of the Church, but they are first and foremost the work of Christ. If we want to know God better, we look for opportunities to be where he is at work, especially the sacraments of Eucharist and Penance.
  • Love the Mother of God. As the first disciple, the Blessed Mother gives us the best example of giving oneself to God, and she is our powerful intercessor. She presents our need to Jesus ("They have no more wine") and directs us to him ("Do whatever he tells you").
  • Make friends with the friends of God. Reading the lives and writings of the saints reminds us that we are surrounded by great witnesses who insire us to live faith to the full. Likewise, surrounding ourselves in daily life with friends who share our love for God helps us stay the course.
  • "Do not give your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart," wrote Abba Poeman. Poeman was referring to the fact that we often amue ourselves and spend our time with things -- entertainments, conversations, etc. -- which can never nourish us because we were made for greater things. That which seems harmless on the surface can gradually erode the quality and depth of our commitment to the Lord.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Don’t you know kids aren’t interested in the Church?

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York says being “a bit over the age limit” doesn’t deter him from seeking “this opportunity to grow closer to Christ.” This testimony by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ president closes our “Bishops Energized for WYD series.” May all who have journeyed to WYD in Madrid have a faith-filled experience and a safe return home.

I’m going to World Youth Day first as a pilgrim, to be with our Holy Father, with fellow Catholics, and to grow in my own faith. Even though I’m just a bit above the age limit, I know that I will be moved by this opportunity to grow closer to Christ.

Secondly, I am one of over two hundred bishops from around the world who have been named “bishop-catechists,” and I am happily anticipating being able to share the message of Christ and his Church with English-speaking pilgrims from around the United States and around the world. We bishops have been asked to concentrate on St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians focusing on the theme, "Planted and Built Up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith."

What do I hope the youth in my diocese and from the world get from participating in WYD? Simply put: to grow closer to Christ, to conform their lives to His Life. I also hope those attending will be confirmed in the faith, strengthened in their missionary zeal, inspired by the universality of the Church, and, on returning to New York that they will begin a new stage in their journey with the Lord in bringing the joy of the Gospel to every aspect of their work and personal life back home and with their friends.

I think all attendees will bring their own unique, personal gifts to World Youth Day—but especially those that are characteristic of youth: a zeal and energy for the faith that is contagious.

Those coming from New York will be young professionals from every aspect of our culture here: from the arts, film, theater, fashion, media, finance, and law, among others. New Yorkers will bring all of the natural gifts that they have in these professions, and unite them with the similar gifts of millions of other pilgrims from every nation, culture and background around the world.

My first World Youth Day was Denver, in 1993. I was profoundly moved by the impact that World Youth Day had on vocations. One of my responsibilities when I was rector of the North American College was to read the spiritual biographies of the young men who were to be seminarians, and I was struck by how many identified attending a World Youth Day as a turning point for them to answer God’s call to the priesthood. And the impact is not just vocations to the priesthood and religious life, which were plentiful. World Youth Day has also had a tremendous impact on the vocation of marriage and family as well.

George Weigel recounts how, when Blessed John Paul II first suggested the idea of World Youth Day, many of his advisors told him, “Forget it. It’ll be a flop. Don’t you know kids aren’t interested in the Church? It will never work, never catch on.” But what did John Paul do? He responded with his characteristic, “Be not afraid”—and of course, it was a tremendous success. World Youth Day will probably be seen as a turning point in the history of the Church. It is a vibrant, visible witness of our faith and an opportunity to grow in the faith and to meet the face of Christ in our fellow pilgrims.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I had not seen that smile in three years!

Another World Youth Day veteran, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, relates on our blog how deeply past World Youth Days have touched him. He also told us a little secret: He was in St. Peter’s Square when Pope John Paul II first announced WYD.

Question: Why are you going to WYD Madrid 2011?

Answer: This will be the fifth World Youth Day that I have been privileged to attend. The previous ones were Denver, Toronto, Sydney and Cologne. In fact, I was present in St. Peter’s Square on the first Pentecost Sunday that Pope John Paul announced this initiative and the World Youth Day cross was brought into the piazza, having traveled from Poland. I had been asked that day to be the English speaker, as I was, at the time, a member of the Vatican Secretariat of State. I marveled at the occasion and continue to marvel at the great vision that Blessed John Paul II had in bringing the youth of the world together to celebrate their being Church. I am convinced that for the majority of these young people, this is a life-changing religious experience. They come to pray, to sing, to meet other Catholics and to wallow in the grace of being a member of the Catholic Church.

I am going to Madrid to underscore the fact that the leadership of our Church has great pride in our young people and looks to them as the hope for the future of our Catholic faith.

Q: What do you hope the youth from your diocese and from the world get froparticipating in WYD?

A: As I indicated earlier, I believe that all the young people will have a tremendous experience of their universal faith. Catholic youth come from all over the world to celebrate with our Holy Father. As my dad used to say, “It’s seeing the forest for the trees.” It gives one a new vision of being a part of something much bigger than ourselves, or even our own parishes or local dioceses. I hope that this reality of belonging to something so vibrant and so alive will help the spiritual life of these young people to grow and to blossom.

Q: What do you think are the gifts that U.S. participants will bring to WYD Madrid 2011?

A: I believe that the U.S. participants will bring great enthusiasm, as well as the firm conviction of their faith. Young people here in the United States are searching for answers to spiritual, economic and vocational questions. There is a great lack of leadership in our government and political bodies. Young people are looking for a sense of direction and I am hopeful that they will gain that from their participation in this WYD.

Q: You have been at a prior World Youth Days. Can you share any special moment or anecdote that touched you?

A: There are so many fond memories that I have of the WYD, beginning with that first Pentecost Sunday in Rome. I especially remember the torrential rain that was falling on us in the mile-high stadium in Denver. As soon as the Pope’s plane touched down, the clouds disbursed and the sun began to shine. The minute the Popemobile arrived in the arena, there was an outpouring of cheering, singing and clapping. I was terribly moved by the excitement that the Holy Father was able to engender in the youth who were gathered. He had a very direct way of being able to touch these young people.

Another key moment was in Toronto when the pope first came on stage. The cheers were deafening with the cry, “John Paul II, we love you!” At that, the Holy Father, who had been suffering from Parkinson’s for so many years, looked up and a beautiful smile came over his face. I had not seen that smile in three years! But again, it showed the deep affection that our Holy Father had for these young people.

Q: Why is participating in WYD important to you and how has it impacted your ministry?

A: I continue to be concerned about the wellbeing of our young people and the practice of their faith. I make regular visits to our Catholic high schools and colleges in order to be present and available for our young people. The WYD gives me ideas about how I can be more accessible to the youth and to share the gift of my faith with them. I really take the example of our Holy Fathers, Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, as models for me to emulate in my ministry.

Friday, August 12, 2011

At WYD Enthusiasm and Faith are Contagious

The Diocese of Brooklyn is sending an impressive 636-person delegation to World Youth Day, which is set to start Wednesday in Madrid. In a short interview, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio tells us why it is important for him to accompany his group. He says the “shot of adrenaline” that a bishop gets from witnessing the enthusiasm and faith of the young people is priceless.

Question: Why are you going to WYD?

Answer: I am going to travel to Madrid for World Youth Day 2011 to accompany over 600 youth from the Diocese of Brooklyn. This is a wonderful occasion to be with the young people of Brooklyn and Queens to witness their faith expressed in this pilgrimage and to give them direction and guidance.

Q: What do you hope the youth from your diocese and from the world get from participating in WYD?

A: It is my hope that the youth from the Diocese of Brooklyn will return home from WYD with an appreciation of the vibrancy of the Church and its universal character. Meeting young people from all over the world who share the same faith is truly an inspiring experience. To see the Holy Father and listen to his wonderful words will also give our young people an opportunity to see the Church in its fullness. Taking this opportunity to be with the youth of Brooklyn and Queens is such a privilege.

Q: What do you think are gifts that U.S. youth will bring to WYD Madrid 2011?

A: Gifts that the youth from the United States will bring to WYD Madrid, I believe, are the experience of living in the United States in its present secularized form, and yet, still expressing a deep religious Catholic faith will make an impression on those whom they meet in Madrid. It is amazing that so many youth from the Diocese of Brooklyn have worked hard and sacrificed to raise the funds necessary to make this pilgrimage of faith. That alone will be a great witness.

Q: Can you share any special moment or anecdote that touched you in any prior WYD?

A: I have been to every World Youth Day since the Year 2000. Perhaps the most special moment was seeing how Blessed John Paul II inspired our youth in such a tangible way. He became for them the universal grandfather. Pope Benedict XVI has followed this example and also has inspired youth people with clear and direct words of encouragement and instruction. The Holy Spirit was certainly present at all of the World Youth Days that I have attended.

Q: Why is participating in WYD important and how have past WYDs impacted your ministry?

A: World Youth Day is important because it gives us direct contact with some of the most promising young leaders in our diocese. These are our young people who live the faith and whom may respond to a priestly or religious vocation, and certainly the vocation to be good lay Catholics, and fathers and mothers of our families. It is quite a shot of adrenaline to witness the enthusiasm and faith of the young people of Brooklyn and Queens on this pilgrimage of faith.

+Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio

Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, USA

Youth hunger for truth, love and at WYD there is plenty

From the heart of the Rockies, Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colorado, says World Youth Day addresses young people’s hunger for God’s love.

I am going to World Youth Day because I can think of no greater act of pastoral care for our young people than to help introduce them to our Holy Father. It is wonderful to see in the faces of the young that, in some profound way, they have met Jesus in the person of the pope.

Blessed John Paul II called the first World Youth Day to express his love for and hope in the young people of his day. He wanted the participants to hear from his own lips of God’s love for them. He wanted them to know that God created them to be saints, and that this was a vocation that was possible for everyone. This is the message that will once again be heard and experienced by a new group of young pilgrims.

The gifts of young people are always many and sometimes extraordinary. What every pilgrim brings – in my experience – is a hunger for the truth about the meaning of their lives, a hunger for God. That hunger is itself a gift of the Creator given to every human being. By God’s grace, these young people are seeking to satisfy that hunger.

We were asked to share special stories and touching moments from past WYD. I don’t know if there is only one story. There are many. And they all have to do with my hearing from young people of the transformation of their lives because they have come to know and love Christ and his Church more deeply.

To WYD, we invite young people who are looking for more than they are finding in their everyday lives. And almost always the Lord returns to us young people on fire for Christ and the Church. Not only are the lives of young people changed, my ministry is encouraged by those young people, some of whom are ready to give everything to Christ by accepting a call to the priesthood or consecrated life.