This is a guest post provided by Joseph Mangone, a pastoral liturgist from Irving, Texas.
I recently had time to read Pope Francis’ “Joy of the Gospel.” It is deeply profound, yet Pope Francis’ style of writing is not papal but that of a disciple, teacher, and shepherd who want his flock to discover the richness and beauty of Christ and his gospel.
As a liturgist, the following jumped off the page for me that I would like to reflect on:
Evangelization with joy becomes beauty in the liturgy, as part of our daily concern to spread goodness. The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy, which is both a celebration of the task of evangelization and the source of her renewed self-giving. (#24)
The vast majority of Catholics may not read or study the Scriptures daily or expand their knowledge of their faith via classes or online research. Therefore, how the parish celebrates the liturgy affects the faith life of the person in the pew.
As RCIA ministers, how we “do the rites” is shaped by the worship style of the clergy, the musicians, liturgical ministers, and all involved in the liturgy. How we understand the liturgy and the RCIA rites plays an important part in bringing the gospel to others.
It is critical that the liturgical and RCIA teams are in sync with each other as we prepare and celebrate the various rites for RCIA.
How are our experiences at Mass? How do we feel during and after our worship experience? Did the homily touch our hearts or make sense to us? If we have doubts about this, how can we expect our candidates and catechumens to “catch the fire” of Christ and His saving grace and power? How does the liturgy evangelize us?
Of course there is no perfect liturgy, but we should expect that our parish clergy and liturgy team do everything possible to ensure that the liturgy is celebrated with reverence, joy, and outreach to everyone.
As Pope Francis reminds us, the liturgy is a tool for evangelization. By its words and actions, the liturgy celebrates the presence of Christ in the midst of the assembly, here and now. The design of the church, the vessels, books, vesture, etc all express what we believe about this Jesus. This “beauty” Pope Francis speaks about is found in the words of Scripture, the music we sing, the things we use. We should do everything possible to express this beauty in everything we do as RCIA ministers.
For me, this beauty is found in the way we treat those around us by our words and actions. Scripture reminds us that this beauty is expressed when Christ reached out to all people especially those “lepers” whom society shunned.
All Christians are called to be evangelizers, proclaimers of the “Good News” of Christ. As RCIA ministers, let us be proclaimers of this Good News by our thoughts words and actions in our interactions with all that we encounter.