Volume 20 Spring 1989

Liturgical Formation Today

Dr Donald Withey

The volume of liturgical revision today has the advantage of being resourced by developments and expertise in many fields, but also the disadvantage since new forms cannot simply be launched but need to be received and turned into worship by both congregation and clergy. Considerable preparation is necessary on both parts. The Society for Liturgical Study, founded in 1978 by Geoffrey Cuming and Donald Gray, seeks to address this.

Liturgy and Spirituality

Rev Dr Gordon Wakefield

Spirituality is seen as a convenient category into fit diverse phenomena. Aidan Kavanagh: liturgy is not prayer, it is rite which embraces much more than prayer – credal assertions, proclamations, acclamations, gestures, sights, non-verbal sounds, smells. There is much in liturgy that is subliminal, which makes revision difficult and dangerous. Schemann would prefer 'the Christian life' for spirituality. Spirituality is what makes us tick. Much also is subliminal: my practice may be Catholic, or my creed liberal, but I may be controlled by a submerged evangelical, books etc or what mother taught me long ago.

Liturgy helps shape spirituality; no such thing as prayer outside the church. Our private devotion should be related to weekly worship. The daily office is one way, valuable when no words come to our lips and the surface of our hearts numb (Micklem). Kavanagh says liturgy takes precedence: private prayer may sometimes do more harm than good whereas in liturgy  all laid before Cross; liturgy restrains spirituality which can become self-indulgent. Yet people not finding in liturgy proper expression of their spirituality, therefore spontaneity, dance.

What is proper place of penitence in liturgy; should it be extraliturgical as in Catholic and Orthodox traditions? Something pathological about Cranmer's liturgies? Yet consulting rooms full of the guilty. Guilt not simply pathological. Also penitence not just grubbing about in sin but result of adoration (Gerontius, 'take me away!) Yet after Seraphim Isaiah cries 'Woe is me, I am undone'. So Cranmer. Also, there is 'felix culpa' when sin kindles divine wrath but unveils love in new light. Baptised, we know that salvation not depend on us but on finished work of Christ.

Liturgical Formation

Rev Edward Matthews, Liturgy Committee, Catholic Bishops' Conference

'Formation' or 'education'. Formation is more to do with attitudes, a state of mind. Liturgy not the only Christian influence but it is the central one. Not about worshipping or presiding correctly but a renewal of spirit, an understanding of prayer. Liturgy changes because the church/society/members changes. After Vatican II, which called for clergy training, liturgical commissions and institutes. At first historical qq, then theological. Now also lay ministers of Communion. Music is make-or-break but lit renewal plaque by second rate music. But also clergy! First course in liturgy given in a RC seminary in England given in 1964. Still, there is a need to instil centrality of liturgy, and tackle lack of communication skills, preaching, movement, gesture, silence, using signs and symbols. Often forgotten by priests that they are members of worshipping community. How the church is tackling this challenge; need to go beyond middle classes. But best formation is good liturgy.

Liturgical Formation in the Local Church

Rev Michael Perham, Secretary, Alcuin Club

95% of liturgical formation is hidden within the liturgy itself and within life of Christian community. Liturgical formation about getting the liturgy inside people, so that they live and breathe it. For example, liturgy of Holy Week allows us to identify our own story with that Our Lord in his Passion, as also in ordinary time. The importance of the building which can be a denial of what we believe the Church to be. Stancliffe, 'texts take their colour from the way they are done', but what the liturgy is saying is often flatly contradicted by our surroundings. Formative also is the worshipping community. However, current emphasis on this brings attendant dangers and create fresh exaggerations. The exchange of the Peace is discussed in this context. One of the most powerful instruments of liturgical formation is the liturgical book. We should have a book but it should encourage us to be adventurous. Alternative Service Book discussed. Now books don't last more than a generation, a disadvantage in terms of the liturgy 'getting inside you'. Our private devotions can derive from our liturgical books. As well as leaders preparing, the people also need to prepare for worship. The shortness of biblical passages read and sermons preached is discussed. Signs, symbols and ceremonies discussed, and how far they should be explained. The monthly pattern of services is discussed, as is the area of children and their liturgical formation. The place of worship groups, possibly in the context of the church council, and the planning of worship together., although important of avoid a liturgical elite. Greatest obstacle is lack of expertise or confidence among the clergy.

Teaching of Liturgy

Rev Alan Amos

Describes an approach to learning about liturgy set against the background of the typical parish church under five headings: 1. Sharing in worship, and understanding worship; 2. Knowledge of liturgical history; 3. Understanding denominational traditions of worship; 4. Worship and sociology; 5. Worship and collaborative ministry. It also describes how this is delivered within a federation of colleges and the issues this raises.

Standing for the Gospel

Rev Dr Peter Wright

This article responds to one by Professor Reid who is thought to be attacking the practice of standing for the Gospel in the context of Reformed worship. Reid had not only cited Reformed practice but added the findings of modern scholarship. Wright argues that the practice strikes a blow against passivity in worship and that the faith of the church should take priority over biblical criticism.

Quo Tendimus

J M Ross

Referring to an earlier article by Rev Charles Stobie lamenting the absence of Amens at the end of hymns, Ross argues that this was a nineteenth century practice, extrapolated from the Amen at the end of the doxology in medieval hymns. This was a mistaken practice and it is noted that since the English Hymnal of 1906, other hymnals have gradually emended their practice.