Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Liturgical Ways to Respect Life

Here are some liturgical ways we can respect life:

  • Drive safely and slowly in your church parking lot.
  • Greet each other sincerely, making good eye contact. Work on remembering names.
  • Move to the center of your pew so that you do not force those who come after you to climb over you to find a place to sit.
  • Choir directors, cantors, MCs, priests--basically, anyone with a microphone: don't berate the assembly and put them down. Instead, give them words of encouragement and hope.
  • Avoid humor at the expense of others. Don't participate in parish gossip.
  • Priests, liturgists, choir directors, anyone in charge of others: don't snap at someone when they make a mistake, most especially at our youngest and most vulnerable liturgical ministers.
  • Encourage parents who bring their children to Mass. Don't glare at them if their children get fussy or noisy. Offer to help them instead.
  • Priests: please don't stop the homily or prayer until a parent has quieted his crying baby or left the room. When new life is in our midst, we should celebrate it, not treat it as a disturbance.
  • Instead of "cry rooms" that segregate "those who disturb us," consider providing on-site child care services in which qualified adults care for young children during Mass or a play room with adult aides in which parents can slip in as needed to attend to their children.
  • Better yet, make it a parish effort to help parents train their children in the discipline of Sunday worship by welcoming all children, no matter how young or fussy, into Sunday Mass. This requires that all of us--parishioners as well as parents--see children and infants as necessary members of the worshipping assembly. When they are not there, we should miss them and feel incomplete, not be glad they "aren't disturbing my prayer."
  • Attend to the needs of those with autism and other developmental disabilities, celiac disease, limited eyesight, hearing, or mobility. Find out what special needs your parishioners have, such as signing for the deaf, assisted hearing devices, or braille hymnals.
  • Welcome warmly those who may experience psychiatric disability.
  • Make sure worship aids and projected texts are in large fonts.
  • Provide space throughout the church, not just in the back rows or front pews, for those with wheelchairs, walkers, strollers, and oxygen tanks.
  • Don't overlook those with physical or mental disabilities as liturgical ministers if they are capable and qualified to take on the responsibilities.
  • Pray for those in your local prison. Pray for those on death row.
  • In your references to "family," don't forget about those who are single or separated from their family. "Community" might be a more inclusive word.
  • Train ushers and Communion ministers to be watchful and go to those who have difficulty walking in the Communion procession.
  • Don't forget to give Communion to those in the choir and the instrumentalists.
  • Send ministers of Communion to the sick and homebound directly from Mass. Send them with not only the consecrated body and blood of Christ but also the body and blood of Christ found in the stories and news of the parish. Bring them the bulletin, tell them what happened at Mass today and this week in the parish.
  • Arrange ride-shares, carpools, and transportation services for those unable to get to Sunday Mass.

Update! October 1, 2005
Susan in Kansas says:
You have a great website. I read with interest your "Liturgical Ways to Respect Life" and applauded! I'd like to suggest a couple of minor changes. You suggest attending to the needs of those with autism. I would also add the following: "and other developmental disabilities." I would also add another item: "Welcome warmly those who may experience psychiatric disability." Your points here are wonderful! For only when we do these things will we begin to fully realize the reality of the body of Christ as a vessel for healing and wholeness. Thanks for the wonderful services that you provide.