Monday, May 19, 2008

Resources for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe Liturgy Office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has put together an extensive set of resources for the celebration of the Year of the Eucharist, especially the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ that takes place in the United States on Sunday, May 25, 2008. (In England and Wales, the solemnity takes place on the Thursday after the Most Holy Trinity. The booklet referenced below includes several sections on how to make weekday holy days more significant in the life of the parish.)

You can find all their resources here (you will need Adobe Reader to access some of the materials). Below is an excerpt from their booklet on Celebrating the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord.

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The Liturgies of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord
Each of the three elements described below requires, and will repay, careful preparation. The greatest attention should be paid to the preparation of the liturgy of the Mass. A planning sheet is provided at the end of this booklet

I. Liturgy of the Hours
The Offices of the Solemnity are found in the Volume III of the Divine Office. The Offices may be prayed in their own right, but may also be prayed during a time of Exposition. In addition they provide a resource for prayers and readings for other times of prayer.

II. Mass
a) Proper texts
The Proper of the Mass is found on pp 348-9 of the Roman Missal. One of the two Prefaces of the Holy Eucharist should be used (P 46 and P 47, Roman Missal, pp 467-9).

b) Penitential Rite
Themes related to the Solemnity are to the fore in a number of examples of Form C of the Penitential Rite, examples c ii, c vi, c viii (Roman Missal, pp 361-4).

c) Solemn Blessing
Any of the Solemn Blessings I – V for Ordinary Time may be used or of the Prayers over the People 1-24 (Roman Missal, pp 574-5 and 579-83 respectively).

d) Music
Some general notes are offered here. More detailed guidance on music and the Liturgy of the Eucharist may be found in the document Music and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Particular care should be taken on this day with regard to the music used at Mass, and especially during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Priority should be given to singing the key sung elements of the Common of the Mass – the Gospel and Eucharistic Acclamations, and the Gloria. In the Communion Rite best practice should be followed with regard to the Communion Song and the Period of Silence or Song after Communion.

Care should be taken to choose a Communion Song which can begin immediately after the communal recital of ‘Lord, I am not worthy to receive you...’ and continue until all the assembly have received Communion. So as not to encumber the assembly with books or service sheets during the procession the song may be led by a cantor or choir and include a repeated response or refrain from the assembly.

Suitable settings include:
Settings of Psalm 115 (116) (The Blessing Cup)
Settings of Psalm 33 (34) (Taste and See)
Amen, Amen So Shall It Be — Foster
Take and Eat — Joncas
How Blest — Schiavone
Eat This Bread — Taizé
Come Christ’s Beloved — Walsh

Although the Communion Song can be followed by another Song after Communion it may be preferable to allow a time of silence to allow for members of the assembly to offer their prayer of thanksgiving in silence, and to contemplate of the mystery celebrated. (This would be particularly appropriate if a time of extended exposition was to follow after Mass, or if a final hymn was to be sung.) If hymns are being sung then it is better for them to be sung as Entrance or Final Hymns rather than at other times.

III. Procession
A Eucharistic Procession ‘is a prolongation of the celebration of the Eucharist: immediately after Mass, the Sacred Host, consecrated during the Mass, is borne out of the Church for the Christian faithful to make public profession of faith and worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament’ (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, 162)

Wherever it is possible in the judgement of the diocesan Bishop, a procession through the public streets should be held, especially on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ as a public witness of reverence for the Most Holy Sacrament, for the devout participation of the faithful in the eucharistic procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is a grace from the Lord which yearly fills with joy those who take part in it’. (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 143)

The Church’s guidance for such processions is given in the ritual book Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass (part of the Roman Ritual).

It will normally begin immediately after the celebration of a Mass. It should normally go from one church to another, but may return to the same church where it began.

a) Music
No particular songs are required to be used during the procession, but suitable ones would include those listed above for use during Communion. Again it is helpful if the songs are sung by a choir with a chant for all participants (as many will be familiar with from the practice in Lourdes). Traditional hymns might most easily be sung at the beginning or end of the procession, when the congregation is stationary.

b) Good order of the procession
As already noted the decision as to whether a public procession may proceed belongs to the Bishop. Matters that he is likely to take into consideration are the likelihood of the procession provoking reactions of disrespect of the Church or blasphemy towards Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament.

When a public procession cannot be held, the tradition of holding eucharistic processions should not be allowed to be lost. Instead, new ways should be sought of holding them in today’s conditions: for example, at shrines, or in public gardens if the civil authority agrees.(Redemptionis Sacramentum, 144)

Well in advance of any planned procession, the appropriate permissions must also be obtained from any necessary civil authorities – for example the local council or police force for processions taking place on public roads. The civil authorities will indicate the necessary health and safety measures that should be observed for the well-being of worshippers and the general public.

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