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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
December 18, 1987     The Message
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December 18, 1987

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F aith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, December 18,1987 e. l the spirit of Sunday rgy of ring its es of lay dng to official le form ,or le groups gather tyer, us- 'gy of deacon once ers or even- were tis the Lhat at tp- rayer. rig of =ning )f e like ed the n. This S folldeed by one or two psalms recited by the assembly in alter- nating verses. Each psalm was followed by a pause for silent pra,er and a col- lect, a short prayer. A reading from the Bible, or oc- cagionally from another spiritual writer, was followed either by sile[it reflection or a brief homily. Then we sang the Magnificat, Mary's hymn of praise. A series of petits for the needs of the community and of the world was followed by the Lord's Prayer. A blessing and final hymn concluded the service. This Vespers service proved very popular veith a significant i number of parishioners. It seemed to meet a need for common prayer, the same need some other devotions met in earlier times. Like those devotions, it was relatively unchanging in structure, it contained music that became very familiar, it included ritual ac- tion(lighting of the candle, use of incense, blessing) and it fostered a sense of community among those who gathered to pray together. This Vespers service was closely connected to the official liturgy of the church, especially the Sunday Eucharist. Its tone and mood changed with the liturgical seasons, and the readings and psalms we chose were often link- ed to the previous Sunday's Mass. In that way, the celebration of Vespers extended the Sunday celebration into the week and led us back to the Eucharist the following Sunday. That is exactly what the council said good popular devotions should do. The Second Vatican Council asked that popular devotions "be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some fashion derived from it and lead the people to it, since the liturgy by its very nature far sur- passes any of them" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 13). We may see more and more parishes celebrating morning or evening prayer in the years ahead. Some parishes have scheduled it in place of daily Mass on some days, especially when a priest is not available. These communal prayers may provide an ideal way to celebrate the spirit of the liturgy throughout the week and meet the needs of many people for prayer in common. (Father Mick is pastor of St. Patrick's Parish in Glynnwood, Ohio.) Jialogue Scripture opens Eand ,s so in- lary pap,r. tcheda I under- :quain- more nt page. xent is ;, "Scrip- :quently ormer is non- lr Father all Mary ,spels. ffers'V" I people tening to elous .arts of ring death in a grow- mdous SOUrCe e Word in the Mass, with its introduction of three readings every Sunday in a three-year cycle, also draws at- tention to the magnificent variety and inexhaustible riches of the sacred books. "ith curiosity and interest aroused by Sunday readings, more and moe people have formed Bi- ble study groups. They meet infor- mally to read and reflect together on Scripture, to share insights and to respond in a practical way to what God is saying to them. Imperceptibly study leads to prayer. Soon the discussion group has become a prayer group, characterized by sincere dialogue with God and with each other. hfg happy byproduct of this is a htened sense of belonging, of sharing. This can be hard for peo- ple to come by in a huge parish of a thousand or more families. Realistically aware of their own lack of background in biblical studies, these study groups often avail themselves of one of the many excellent aids now available. Experience has taught me that "Share the Word," published by Paulist National Catholic Evangelization Association, s a popular and reliable aid to Bible study. Of course, this is only one of many such aids which have ap- peared in recent times. Occasionally, after a lecture on the Bible in a parish, someone will approach me to confide that a passage I was discussing is one of his or her favorites. One thing leads to another and I soon learn that people like this regularly use Scripture as a source of personal devotion. Such people personalize what they read, realizing that the text is speaking to them. They answer from their hearts, entering into a dialogue with Jesus or Paul or Isaiah and ultimately with God. This is what prayer is about. In the process, people are get- ting to know Jesus. More and more he becomes a real person to them, a dialogue partner. It shows in their lives. 'They find for themselves, with the help of God's grace, the answer to Paul's impassioned cry: "I want to know Christ!" (Philip- plans 3:10). (bather Castelot is a professor of Scripture at St. John's Seminary, Plymouth, Mich.) FOOD FOR THOUGHT II Our writers suggest that devotions can be linked to the church's liturgy and its spirit. Through such devotions the Sunday liturgy is ex- tended into the week. *What are some of the great themes of the liturgy? Of the seasons of the church's year? eHow is God heard during the Mass? What image of God is communicated? *What view of oneself and of others does the Mass foster? oWhat, in your own words, is "the spirit of the liturgy"? eHow can the spirit of the liturgy be extended into all the prayer that occurs during the week? Second H@]pJng$. Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger's 16-step plan for prayer in a new book titled First Steps in Prayer includes suggestions for using the Bible and for "punctuating" the day with different kinds of prayer. Taking advantage of the church's liturgical year in praying "helps us to sur- mount the wear and tear of our daily life by referring us to the major event in human history" -- the redemption, says Cardinal Lustiger, archbishop of Paris. Addressing people whose lives are hectic, he urges them at day's end to review the day in prayer, "not to evoke nostalgia or a vague melan- choly  or a sterile regret -- but for the purpose of maintaining our capabili- ty to ac t responsibly, to have a future and to stay the course of fidelity" asking forgiveness and giving thanks. In ,this collection of talks first given on Notre Dame Radio in 1984, he says, ' When I examine my day under (God's) eyes, 1 discover it through his eyes and receive the grace of having my eye become the 'lamp' of my body by letting itself be suffused with God's light." (Doubleday and Co. Inc., 245 Park Ave., New York, N.Y. 10167. 1987. Hardback, $16.95.) Bring home a Catholic tradition with free EXTENSION Magazine For 80 years, EXTENSION Magazine has been a part of Catholic families. Over the years, the magazine's appear- ance has changed, but its message remains the same. EXTENSION tells the story of priests, nuns and lay people struggling to bring the Catholic Faith to mission areas of the United States. It describes what it means to be a missionary today. To learn how you can be part of the missionary church, send for a free trial subscription to EXTENSION Magazine today. ca I] Please send me a FREE trial subscription to EXTENSION Magazine. 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