Year of Renewal led to deepened love for the Mass

aymond    You recently celebrated a closing Mass for the Year of Renewal that dealt with explaining in greater detail the mystery and the gift of the Eucharist. How do you feel the year of catechesis went?
    The year gave us an opportunity not only to implement the new Roman Missal – which seems to have gone very well – but also an opportunity to grow in a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the Eucharist. As I look back on it, the highlights for me were the parish study groups that read and discussed “The Mass Explained,” a concise and very straightforward book by Msgr. James Moroney that explained the history of the Mass and some of the changes in the prayers that we use at the Mass. People have told me they appreciated reading the book and learning more about the meaning of the Mass. I was a little disappointed that some of the Mass workshops were not better attended, but those who went were very grateful for the opportunity. I want to publicly thank the Office of Worship, headed by Msgr. Ken Hedrick and his assistants Betty-Ann Hickey and Mary Netzhammer, for their diligent work in coordinating all of these catechetical events.
    At the recent meeting of the U.S. bishops, did you get to discuss a new survey on Catholic worship practices across the country?
    Yes. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) released a survey that gives a snapshot of the worship practices of Catholics and members of other Christian denominations. The statistics show that between 30 to 35 percent of Catholics attend Mass each Sunday – and that percentage holds true among other Christian denominations. Based on that, we still have a lot of work to do in getting our Catholic people to attend Mass more regularly. I hope that through the Year of Family and Faith, which we’re preparing to launch in 2013, we can get more of our Catholic faithful to do that.
    Were there any other survey results that concerned you?
     The survey also indicated that only about 50 percent of all Catholics really understand the meaning of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If that’s true, that also gives us something to focus on in our teaching.
    How are you approaching the Year of Family and Faith?
    One of my major goals would be to see us rededicate Sunday to worship and to family. I would like to encourage organizations, schools and athletics to move away from holding events on Sunday – especially on Sunday mornings – so that Sunday really becomes a time for the family to worship together and spend quality time with each other. So many families are so busy they don’t even worship together. I would really like to see us reconsecrate Sunday as a day of family and a day of worship for God and for family. Sunday is the Lord’s Day, and it is a special day consecrated to the service and worship of God. It is “the day the Lord has made.” We have all seen the effects of a 24/7 work life, and that begs the question, “Where is the time of rest?” Sadly, Sunday has become less a day of worship and family and more a day of shopping, sports and work. When we abandon Sunday Mass, we lose out on the regenerative powers that flow from the liturgical assembly.   
    You are the chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Liturgy. From that perspective, how do you feel the implementation of the new Roman Missal went this past year?
    I would say that on a national level, the Roman Missal went very well for the people. Some priests are still struggling with some of the new language and struggling with the fact that some of the new prayers are a bit long. Sometimes you have to really practice the prayers ahead of time and think through them. But I must say that in terms of the people of God, I am amazed that when I go around to the parishes, all the changes have been fully implemented. Even the people’s response, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,” has been perfect. The people are getting it right before I do. I think it’s gone very well, and I attribute that to what the USCCB has done, as well to what we have done locally through the Office of Worship. Many of our priests and deacons actually preached on the Mass by breaking it down over several Sundays into its different components and explaining it. That gave people a deeper understanding of what the Mass is.
    Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

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