Anyone have tips for serving on a parish Liturgy Commission / Committee?

I have been appointed by our pastor to our parish’s Liturgy Commission, and will likely begin serving after Easter (after being received into full communion with the Church). So I’m wondering if anyone with experience serving on a liturgy commission/committee has any suggestions on how best to serve. I have never served on any sort of church committee before–my only committee experience was in law school.

We are an OF parish (EF has never been brought up, to my knowledge). But we are fortunate to have a pastor who doesn’t tend to abuse the liturgy, and I am grateful that he pretty much “says the black and does the red” to the best of his abilities. So luckily, I shouldn’t be finding myself in situation where I’m trying to stop “clown masses” and the like.

From what I understand, the Commission will be undergoing a revitalization, from its current role in doing not much more than decorating the parish, to its originally intended responsibilities of Liturgy, Decorating, Music, Art and Environment. The primary reason that I signed up is not because I wanted to serve as the “lay liturgical police,” (like I said, it’s probably not needed), but because I am interested in helping plan and implement our parish’s implementation of the new translation of the Missale Romanum.

That said, there is not a single person out there without some sort of agenda, and here are a few things I would like to see:

  1. I would LOVE it if our OF masses would be done the way they are often done at Daily Mass on EWTN, with the primary prayers done in Latin and with the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel at the end. I don’t think a small touch of Latin would be “weird” for the laity, because we have a large Hispanic community that is a major part of parish, so we are used to hearing bilingual things at Mass sometimes.

  2. I would like to have either an (a) Rosary led from the ambo before 11 a.m. Mass or (b) Angelus after the 11 a.m. Mass. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of Marian devotion in our parish outside of the Hispanic community, although we had a rosary every Sunday for a month prior to the National Pro-Life March recently.

  3. I would love to replace some of the hymns with Propers/Chants/Antiphons. Really unsure about how this would work, but… Right now, we sing a lot of songs like “Unless a grain of wheat shall fall…” and “Would you come and follow me if I but call your name…” I would also like to replace some of them with Marian hymns to further reinforce a desire for Marian devotion.

  4. I would like to suggest a Benedictine altar arrangement, with the six candles and crucifix on the freestanding altar. After the Council, the marble altar was severed from the Reredos and moved forward. The Reredos with tabernacle are still there, behind the now freestanding altar. I figure I have a snowball’s chance in hell at getting them to put the altar back up against the wall, so I figure the Benedictine arrangement is a good compromise.

  5. I would like to have regular Benediction services, maybe prior to the primary (11 a.m.) Sunday Mass. Maybe another time would be better, but it seems like it would be a good way to get people into the right “mood” so to speak? Figure since it would be in between Masses, an associate priest could do this while Father gets a break before 11 a.m. shrug

  6. I’d like to find some resources about ordering new missalettes and/or hymnals for the new Mass translations that have a traditional bent to them.

  7. I’d like to find a way to promote the Sacrament of Reconciliation in our regular services… I dunno if asking Father to preach about it would be the right way, but maybe working it into the announcements, getting it into bulletin inserts, along with other “teaching excerpts.” Nothing is more frustrating to a convert than abstaining from the Eucharist while in RCIA, knowing that your Catholic friends haven’t gone to confession since they were kids. So that is a personal thing.

I’m sure I could sit here and think of more little things I’d like to do, but this is probably enough to get this thread going. I’d appreciate it if anyone has any views about this, especially on (1) how to accomplish these goals, (2) which of these goals would be easier to do or more important to get done first, (3) any likely pitfalls I would encounter, including sources of resistance, and (4) how to attempt to do this without seeming like a control freak on a vendetta or offending people (worse, offending the pastor).

Thanks, --SonofMonica

Just remember that these Councils/Committees/Commissions are “Advisory ONLY”. You have no authority. (except what the priest abdicates to you)

Other than that you are there to suggest things to the priest and/or to help him with projects.

Congratulations on your appointment! I can’t imagine it’s at all common for someone to be asked to serve on the liturgy committee before being received into the Catholic Church, so that probably means your priest has a high opinion of your devotion and commitment. Have you talked to him about any of the things you’ve mentioned here? I’d figure that would be step one after he asked you to serve: to ask him about his vision for the liturgical development of your parish, how the committee fits into it, and whether, given how you feel about things, you’d be a good fit. You don’t want to spend the next few years ramming your head against a wall, and you can get an idea of that by talking to your pastor now – plus you can plant seeds for what you want to grow in the future.

Also, I’d figure a lot will depend on the other members of the committee. Have you talked to any of them?

I would begin by thoroughly reading the liturgy documents and then perhaps do a complete evaluation of the parishes liturgy, including a survey of the parishioners. The liturgy committee is more of a hands on thing. You can make suggestions, but as the previous poster said, it is an advisory committee, you can’t just come in and say what you want. Also you mention that you are just becoming a Catholic. I am wondering why someone just becoming Catholic is being asked to serve on the committee. That might make it difficult for some members to take you seriously since you are so new. If you come on too strong and with too many suggestions that might work against you. Also you say “I would like to see.” It is not about you but about what is good for the parish. That is why the evaluation and survey is important. You may think something is great but most of the parishioners might not like it. For example the rosary prayed before Mass (and it would NEVER be prayed from the Ambo), would bother me since I like quiet time before Mass to say my own private prayers.

Welcome Home! Your enthusiasm is great.

Just a word of caution, you’re the new kid on the block so be prepared to sit back and see how things work. If there is one thing I’ve learned from being on liturgy committees it’s that if you’re the newbie and you come in full of ideas for change, nobody likes it and it takes longer to actually accomplish anything than if you ease into it after a few meetings.

You have some good ideas but some of what you’d like to see changed (ie, music) is 1) your own taste & 2) may properly be the music director’s bailiwick. Make sure you don’t step on toes.

As someone said, you’re just there in an advisory position (unless the pastor gives you more leeway, some do, some don’t). If the pastor doesn’t want to implement things the liturgy committee come up with, he’s fully within his right to say no, no matter how great the committee thinks its ideas are.

Thanks for the responses so far. I do understand the advisory nature of the committee, and although I did include a personal wish list, I did begin with stating that I was looking for tips on the best way to serve. My liturgical preferences are secondary, and I realize it’s not all about what I want, but once I admitted that I did have some, I kept on typing… :smiley:

At any rate, I really would like to find some resources on how to serve on this type of committee and be effective at implementing things at a parish level. Not just the things that I want to do, but whatever the committee and the pastor decides to do.

We’ve already completed surveys at the direction of our bishop. I guess I’m sort of looking for resources on how best to prepare the laity for the new translation and any other changes that may be coming. (I recognize I’m a layperson, I’m just shorthanding).

My personal situation is complicated and I appreciate your concern, but it’s not like I was baptist yesterday. I’ve gone to Mass the better part of my life and have been at this parish a while. I am being confirmed at Easter. I will let my pastor know that it is making you wonder, though. He apparently takes me too seriously. :smiley:

Also, thanks for letting me know your opinion about the Rosary. We do pray it from the ambo at my parish, though.

If you have any anecdotes about actually serving on a liturgy committee, that might be helpful. Thanks.

Will all the people on this liturgy commission be new or are you going to be a new person joining an existing group?

I ask this because however proper and valuable your suggestions might be, you run the risk of alienating your fellow commission members if you attempt to “overhaul” the liturgical practices that this commission may have helped implement.

Don’t get me wrong. Your pastor chose you for good reason. But I suggest that you learn how your commission operates and pick one thing you’d like to see done in your parish. Then figure out what it takes to put your idea into practice.

Does the entire commission advise the pastor on all areas of liturgy or do the individual members specialize? Do you get to propose ideas or will you just be taking direction from the pastor? Do you propose any idea to the commission and the commission as a whole approaches the pastor? Do you speak to the pastor directly? Does your pastor take the leadership role in matters concerning liturgy? Or does he let the commission tell him what to do? Or (worse for you) does he hide behind commission members so he doesn’t seem like the “bad guy” if he wants to do something “unpopular”?

I wish you the best and pray that you will serve well on this commission.

Actually, I have been allowed to teach some classes already. I doubt that’s very common, but I guess I’m not in a common situation.

Great points about talking to the priest about his vision. As to other members of the liturgy committee, I’m not sure there are any–maybe one. They are trying to completely revitalize this committee, meaning basically it’s the first time we’ll have a real one. Before, it was sort of “Who is going to put the lilies on the altar?” type stuff. This will probably be the first time that someone is taking an active interest in promoting the liturgy and art and music. We don’t have a music director or anything like that.

I think all new, except for maybe one, who I’m not sure will remain on board.

Yeah there’s no way I’m coming in with a list of 7 things I wanna do, like the list I put in my OP. But I do wonder if anyone has had any experience in attempting to promote even one of those things, or something else.

That’s the thing, I’m not sure there will be a real existing commission to sit back and observe. I don’t think there’s been much interest before.

Good questions. What do you suggest, in a perfect world? Perhaps my OP should have been “How do you start a liturgy committee in a parish that doesn’t have one?” :o The only thing I know for sure is that the committee will be charged with things like planning penance services.

Thanks so much!

Wow, haha I love Google… liturgycommittee.com/

That’s an interesting book, and I’m sure it’s got a lot of worthwhile practical hints. You might want to read it with a critical eye toward its focus, though, considering passages like this one:

Simply put, liturgy is for us. This seems obvious, since we’re the ones attending, but sometimes people act as if liturgy is something that we do for God. This makes a difference. We don’t do liturgy because it somehow is divinely ordained to be particularly pleasing to God if we do it in a particular way. God appreciates our efforts, we’re sure, amusing as they must sometimes appear. But the primary reason we do liturgy is because it seems to have some useful purpose in our own lives.

Um, I guess I missed the part in the Gospel where Jesus said, “This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for [many] so that sins may be forgiven. Do this for your own sake.” Rather, as the ever-popular Eucharistic Prayer III makes clear, it is for “our Lord Jesus Christ, at whose command we celebrate this Eucharist.” So count me a little unimpressed with the underlying hermeneutic of this book.

Yeah, I caught that too. I appreciated the meeting/agenda/politics stuff (which is what I was after) but when it comes to actual liturgical choices, the authors are clearly a bunch of baby-boomer hippies (haha). You can probably tell by my list that I would not agree with the assertion that the liturgy is for us. Nor do I agree with the author’s suggestion that we rip altars off the wall and put all the pews in a semi-circle and get rid of the statues and use “minimalist design.” I am a Mac user, but a church is not an Apple Store. So after reading it, or most of it, I’m with you on the book’s hermeneutic, liturgy-wise. The tips on the the actual committee formation/meetings/etc. were by and large helpful, though.

I am a Mac user, but a church is not an Apple Store.

So well said!

Having served on parish and diocesan liturgy commissions I repeat that studying the documents is so important. We do it as a group. When this present parish began the liturgy committee we started each meeting with a discussion of part of a liturgy document that we had been assigned to read during the month. If there was a certain area where we wanted to see changes we researched the documents and other writings. For example, when we found out we needed to redo our sanctuary because of dry rot in the floor boards, we spend a year reading over the document Built of Living Stones and and looked at pertinent parts of Sacrosanctum Concilium before we even contacted a designer and architect.

As far as the new Missal goes, wait to see what your bishop is going to ask for with regard to catechesis. In my parish I am doing remote preparation by writing articles on the Mass itself, not focusing on the translations but pointing out where they will occur. My diocese is also going to have training sessions for those in parishes that will help with the implementation, this way everyone is on the same page so to speak.

On our parish liturgy committee we have the coordinators of each of the liturgical ministries (EMHC, lectors, Consolation ministry, RCIA, Family Mass, Ushers, Greeters, wedding coordinator), the music director, the pastor, myself as chair and overall parish liturgy coordinator, and two parishioners at large.

I actually started the liturgy committee in my parish at the request of the pastor 11 years ago.

At the beginning we spent much of our meetings discussing documents and seeing how they compared to what we were doing. It’s amazing how simple some things are if you just follow the rules that Rome has set in place.

If you & the new members are not familiar with the GIRM, Redemptionis Sacramentum and the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, I’d suggest starting with those and evaluating the Liturgy in your parish in light of those three documents. Documents like Paschale Solemnitatis will be of great help next Lent and Easter, providing a week by week plan of what needs to be done. If the Pastor is on board, great! If he isn’t, then you will have an uphill battle. I’ve only had one pastor in 11 years that cared what the documents said. The rest refer/referred to them as ‘suggestions that can be ignored’.

As far as the new translation is concerned, conferences are working on materials to help parishes prepare their members for this. At this point, beyond a comment in a newsletter about 6 weeks ago in reference to a meeting the bishop was going to, our diocese has been silent on the topic. There is a diocesan gathering for priests and pastoral workers at the end of this month and I’m hopeful that this translation is going to be on the agenda. I know that there are workshops on the music for the new translation coming up in May so it seems that preparation is going on in the background but I wouldn’t have found out if I hadn’t asked the question from someone involved with music at the national level.

You have an opportunity to implement some of the changes you’d like to see (missalettes, hymnals) just because of this new translation, so if there is no music director to alienate you may well be able to suggest going in another direction – but you really have to evaluate the effect on the parish in light of what is happening now. A drastic change in the type of hymns/music may neither be wanted not appreciated, particularly when they will already have to change much of what they are singing because of the translation. It may be easier to have them accept the new translation if they don’t have to change everything at once. They will probably need the familiar hymns for a couple of years until the new settings of the Mass have been taken in and have become ingrained – then gradually going in another direction with the hymns can be introduced.

Believe one thing. Starting a liturgy committee and immediately starting to change things in the parish is a sure fire way of ticking off a lot of parishioners. You have to get them to accept the idea of a liturgy committee before you can be successful – particularly if another group like Parish Council has been making decisions on liturgy over the years. The Pastor has a great responsibility to help this along.

All I can suggest is “one thing at a time” and make sure that you have done your homework, reading and studying the documents pertaining to the item.

Fantastic, thanks so much!

I’d advise being cautious and doing some research about this.

AFAIK, it is not liturgically correct to have Marian hymns during Mass, and certainly not after HC, for instance.

Where did you get such an idea? Certainly there is a time for everything in the liturgical year in terms of prudence, but it is not liturgically incorrect to have Marian hymns during Mass. For instance, did you know we have an entire votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin?

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