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Monday, 1 December 2008

Proclamation of the Word?

Recently in relation to the Synod on Scripture held in Rome, Bishop Peter Ingham of Wollongong made the following coment.

"My experience for over 40 years is that the standard of proclaiming the Scripture by laity and even by some clergy is patchy and so often quite poor. Proclaiming the Word in the Assembly needs to be greatly improved otherwise the Word of God will not have the impact “of God speaking to us” (GIRM 29), which the Church envisages and which we all desire."

Interesting comments from the Bishop, I wonder though whether it is really an issue of as much as concern to him as it would appear? Why you well might ask, based on what I witnessed in St Francis Xaviers Cathedral a year or so ago, where on Palm Sunday the Bishop presiding recited the Passion, himself as the "Christ" with children on either side of the sanctuary as Narrator and Crowd. The children where ill equiped for the task and, obviously by their manner they did not understand what they were reading! Appart from the liturgical inapproriateness of having children read the Gospel at any time let alone Holy Week it is astonishing astonishing that this could have been permitted even by the Bishop himself.
I wonder whether the issue of singing the sacred scripture came up? I suspect not. It should be pointed out that singing is the traditional means of proclaiming the word of God, and this by those who have holy orders Priests, Deacons, Subdeacons and Lectors; not laypeople out of the pews (an option which should only be used in extraordinary circumstances).
The reality which unfortunately is the norm is the extraordinary circumstance; It is in fact an abuse. Yet when you read the Bishop's comments he seems to accept this abuse as the norm and starting point for improvement rather than establishing the Church's norm. How about we train our Seminarians how to sing the Gospel, train up people for the office of Lector (a three year course might do the job) including training in how to sing the scriptures. Keep dreaming....

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