Liturgy doesn’t lie: In today’s gospel, John the Baptist testifies to the light “so that all might believe through him.” In other words, he was to tell the truth about the light.
At the midway point of Advent, today’s liturgical texts overflow with joy. “Rejoice” appears in the first and second readings and the responsorial psalm, and the gospel acclamation speaks of “glad tidings.” This Sunday is obviously meant to communicate the joy of our faith in Christ the Light.
Now take a look around you at Mass at the faces of those present, especially of the liturgical ministers and other parish leaders. Do their faces “testify” to the light, to that joy? Or do they look like the Christians Pope Francis described as those who “have expressions like they’re going to a funeral procession rather than going to praise God” (homily in Casa Santa Marta, May 31, 2013)?
As liturgical ministers, we must not give in to what Pope Francis calls the “disease of a lugubrious face” that “weakens our service to the Lord” and conveys an untruth in the liturgy (address to the Roman Curia, December 22, 2014). If we are homilists, lectors, or music ministers, when we say “rejoice,” let us mean it and, more importantly, look it! Our faces and demeanor need to be a silent proclamation to the truth of Christ—a proclamation that can be even more powerful than our words. If ushers, let us radiate joy with a sincere greeting not just to those we know by name but most of all to those we do not recognize. To those who arrive late, may our attitude convey to them that in Christ’s eyes, latecomers are as richly blessed as those who come early. If we are Communion ministers, let us use the most of our few seconds with each person to express joy through our eyes and faces, testifying to our love for the Body and Blood of Christ in our hands as well as in the person before us.
Of course we all know this, but sometimes we may not be aware of what our faces actually communicate. So it may be useful to ask someone to take video of you as you minister (and throughout the liturgy) so that you can assess how well you are silently conveying the joy of your faith.
At every Sunday liturgy, and most especially on this Gaudete “Rejoice” Sunday, let us testify to the truth of Christ the Light who radiates through our faces, words, and actions.
Excerpt from Living Liturgy: Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis for Sundays and Solemnities, Year B, 2018, by Brian Schmisek, Diana Macalintal, and Jay Cormier, published by Liturgical Press. Copyright © 2017, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. All rights reserved. Used with permission..
About Living Liturgy
If you enjoyed this short catechetical article of mine on liturgy, music, or the RCIA, I encourage you to check out the entire Living Liturgy 2018 resource because you will get so much more than just reading from my excerpts. Brian Schmisek and Jay Cormier did a fantastic job of providing a wealth of theological information, pastoral reflections, and practical resources for every Sunday and solemnity of the entire year. Not only do you get all the readings, opening prayers, and Gospel verses for every feast, but you also get scripture exegesis, homily points, psalm response reflections for your psalmists, liturgical preparation questions for all your liturgical ministers and catechists, a lector’s pronunciation guide, sample penitential act tropes, and intercessions, including the presider’s introduction and concluding prayer for those intercessions.
When the 2018 edition debuted at last summer’s NPM convention, it completely sold out from the Liturgical Press booth! I was at the booth for most of the week, and I heard so many great comments from participants of how beautiful and useful this resource looks. So many more also told me how they have relied so much on this resource that was begun by Joyce Ann Zimmerman, CPPS, and Kathleen Harmon, SNDdeN, in 1999!
I have been blessed to be part of this project that continues the good work begun by Sr. Joyce Ann and Sr. Kathleen and LitPress, and I pray that our team’s contribution through Living Liturgy will help you every week of the new liturgical year.