In 1979, an anonymous and probably group-authored essay outlining the history of the Liturgical Conference and inviting persons to join in its work appeared. Among the many aspects of the work of the Liturgical Conference which it outlined was the mission to keep foremost the vital connection of the celebration of the church’s liturgy with the action of the church’s social mission.
[The Liturgical Conference] seeks your cooperation and that of everyone who feels the need of ritual experiences that feed our wondrous consciousness of God, that nourish a sense of our own value and the value of all others, that enable a joining of hands in faith community, that sanction (beyond dreams of immediate success) our kingdom hope and quest for human liberation, human solidarity...
Since The Liturgical Conference began as a fully ecclesial enterprise, rather than as a specialized or academic one, its members were concerned directly and primarily from the first with the relationship of worship to the total lives of people and community. Liturgy was and is the focus of this association—but never in isolation.
Social issues, justice, peace, standing up against the status quo, letting go of everything that enslaves and of every barrier that divides—these are moral imperatives of discipleship, just as surely as worship is. And they belong together. Without this sense of social mission, no wonder we have trouble celebrating! Consequently, The Liturgical Conference’s many voices have neither hid nor skirted the social justice demands of faith and worship.
Oddly, though the vital connection between the celebration of the liturgy with the church’s social mission remains obvious to those who are already in love with both there has been no issue of the journal Liturgy devoted to explorations of this connection since volume 24, issue 1 in 2008. Is it perhaps time for the authors of The Liturgical Conference to turn their attention once again toward the highlighting of this vital connection?
“The Liturgical Conference: A Forward Vision” is reprinted in the current issue of Liturgy, vol. 26, issue 4, pp. 4-14. Though the original 1979 essay was offered anonymously, it is nearly certain that two of its authors were Sr. Mary Collins, OSB, and Robert Hovda.
Sr. Mary Collins teaches at The Catholic University of America and is the author of Eucharist: Toward the Third Millennium. Rev. Robert W. Hovda was the author of Strong, Loving and Wise: Presiding in Liturgy. He died in February of 1992.