Friday, February 17, 2012

Balancing the Universal and the Local

The third article in the current issue of Liturgy uses a definition of the word “ecology” which is somewhat different from that of the other articles. In “Embracing Local Ecology in Liturgical Expression,” Clare V. Johnson explores the issue of locating the acceptable limits of local liturgical enculturation by congregations of the Roman Rite.

Naming Christ’s presence in the local time-place can be done (according to the present official form of the Catholic Eucharistic liturgy) in the prayers of intercession, the choice of song or hymn texts, and a contextually specific homily. However, in addition to these moments in the liturgy, minor adaptation of the official collects or the preface to the Eucharistic prayer could be done in order to name the fullness of the light of Christ apparent in our midst; or basking in the warmth of Christ’s presence, or feeling the movement of the Spirit like a refreshing/cooling breeze amid the heat. Such minor adaptations would enable the inclusion of images drawn from the church’s official prayer repertoire (utilized at different points of the liturgical year as it is celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere) that resonate with the actual local context and experience of God’s presence. Such minor textual adaptations to the official prayers of the liturgy in order to help the prayers to match more closely the lived reality of the Christian south at that time of year would not damage in any way ‘‘the substantial unity of the Roman rite.’‘

How do you balance the universal with the local when you are planning worship in your local congregation?

Clare V. Johnson (2012): Embracing Local Ecology in Liturgical Expression, Liturgy, 27:2, 37.

Clare V. Johnson is senior lecturer in sacramental theology and liturgical studies at Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, NSW, Australia. She is the author of Ars Liturgicae: Worship, Aesthetics and Praxis.

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