Until we joined our current parish over the summer, I had never gone to a truly liturgical parish. I had definitely had priests who were liturgists before, absolutely, but I would not have considered the parishes they were assigned to as liturgical.
For an entire parish to be considered liturgical (from my lay-person’s standpoint) all the ministries must be united in their liturgical-ness. I know that’s not a word, forgive me.
In my previous parishes, while priests were often very liturgical, I found that the music ministries, faith formation, and other ministries severely lacking. So what is at my new parish that I’ve never had before:
1. The priest calling out ALL the saints’ feast days at mass
2. The entrance and communion antiphons sung at every mass.
3. A section of the bulletin dedicated to teaching the laity about the particular liturgical season we are in.
4. Liturgical training in the faith formation program frequently throughout the year
5. Encouragement in reading the Bible and studying it at every level (okay, so technically not liturgical, but it REALLY helps)
And that’s a small slice. Growing up, I was blessed my mother had a Catholic education where she learned something of liturgy and had the desire to learn more as an adult. Never once in faith formation or in the bulletin did I ever see anything about why the priests’ vestments were purple or rose during Advent. I never heard the term “Gaudete” or understood why we broke from the purple into the pink suddenly at the third week. And those are small things.
My children having liturgical training is amazing because it creates an environment where they aren’t afraid to ask questions or are expected to blindly just trust “this is what it is so be it.”
Our parish music minister is also designated as a liturgist and it makes so much difference. He doesn’t allow for dogmatically ambiguous hymns to be contained inside the sacrifice of the mass. He enjoys teaching those whose formation was less than ideal and for encouraging all others.
And this is at a parish that only offers Novus Ordo. It was amazing to make my Advent wreath this year with a kid who remembered what each candle “meant.” It was refreshing to hear my five-year-old tell someone who asked if we had decorated yet for Christmas, “Not yet, we celebrate the Christmas season, not the Christmas shopping season!” The fact that they know and understand so much more has made all the difference.
To be honest, before we switched parishes, I had no idea what we were missing. And I am so eternally grateful God led us to where we are now. It is beautiful to see and know the difference and see what that difference in blossoming into in our family.