062 Better Ingredients, Better Liturgy

We begin our Elements of Rite series! A multi-part discussion of the book by Aidan Kavanagh.

Download this episode (mp3).

In this episode: Elementary Rules of Liturgical Usage, Numbers 1 through 4.

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  1. On the second, about division of roles: I think this is going in a couple directions. Yes, there is an element of preserving the orders of ministry. But I think this also connects to the spiritual and community life of the ministers within the community more broadly. Someone who reads the prayers of the people should be someone who prays in their ordinary life. A lector should be studied in the word, perhaps a leader in the study of scripture within the community. Lay eucharistic ministers shouldn't serve at a celebration if there are available ordained ("ordinary") eucharistic ministers. It could even be construed as saying that the rector should ordinarily preside if present (assuming the bishop isn't present), as presiding over that community is that individual's role, rather than rotating through priests just for the sake of it. This goes in both directions too, of course: a deacon should serve in the community and a priest should pray for and spiritually direct the community; they aren't mere liturgical roles.

  2. On the second, about ministers serving the assembly: First I would like to point out that the word "minister" literally means "servant". I think you are very much on the right track when it comes to introspection being necessary, so that it isn't just the imposition of one's personal taste without questioning that at all. That being said, I don't think that this is primarily a rule about preferences. Serving the assembly does not imply that liturgical ministers must either cater to or challenge their preferences.

    For me, one of the things it means is that the ministers must not think of their ministry as something done for fun or for personal satisfaction. Musical ministers wanting the choir to sing something challenging is exactly this; the same goes for music or liturgy that is interesting or different, just for the sake of it. I think this is a common trap for clergy and music ministers alike: because the liturgy is their profession, it becomes mundane for them, even like a "regular job", and there is a temptation for novelty or interest or personal satisfaction to take precedence over prioritizing the spiritual needs of the assembly – whether that means doing exactly what they want and have done for a decade, or doing something spiritually beneficial that pushes the boundaries of local tradition.

    I think prioritizing Sunday Eucharist (even at the expense of the Anglican Morning Prayer tradition) is in general very much serving the assembly, individual preference notwithstanding!


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