Liturgy Corner #5
"I will give to you the Keys of the Kingdom..."
This passage (St. Matthew 16:19) is an important one for Roman Catholics. Jesus gives to Peter and to his successors the central and primary authority in the Church--possession of the keys refers to the right and authority to govern. This refers to all of our Church life, especially the Liturgy: "Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See...." (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, #22). The phrase "Apostolic See" refers to the pope as the successor to the Apostles, and those congregations in Rome that assist him in the governance of the Church.
In this context, "congregation" refers to an office of the Church, headed by a cardinal, that has responsibility for a particular area of Church life, for example, the Congregation for Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. This congregation has the responsibility, under the Pope, for our Liturgical and sacramental life. For example, one of the recent changes in our Liturgies in Christ the King had to do with the changing of the acclamation at the end of the readings. The American bishops submitted their decision about this to Rome, to this particular congregation, which then approved the change.
The Apostolic See has primary care for our Liturgical and sacramental life. However, there are also other levels of liturgical decision-making in the Church. There is a set of decisions that are left to the national conferences of bishops, e.g., the option of deciding whether or not to allow communion in the hand, where in the Mass the people exchange the sign of peace, and the appropriate age for the reception of confirmation. In addition to decisions made by the national conferences of bishops, each local bishop has jurisdiction over some areas of the liturgical life in his own diocese.
The inclusion of the charismatic dimension in our Masses would be one of these areas under our local bishop's jurisdiction.
So what has all of this got to do with us? A number of questions have been raised about some of our liturgical changes. I thought it might be useful to point out that we are not simply 'doing our own Christ the King thing' but that as a Roman Catholic parish, we have a responsibility before God to celebrate our Liturgies in accordance with the mind of Jesus as He reveals it through His Church, whether through the Apostolic See, the American bishops, or our own local bishop. Each priest has vowed a solemn promise before God and His Church "to celebrate the mysteries of Christ faithfully and religiously as the Church has handed them down to us...."
(The Rite of Ordination to the Priesthood.) We take this joyful responsibility very seriously, as we try to faithfully serve the People of God entrusted to our care with Liturgies that are what Jesus intends them to be: living encounters with Him in the power of the Spirit as He leads us to our Father.