It can become quite easy for liturgists to fall prey to the sin of idolatry, making the things of the liturgy—rules and rubrics, symbols and actions, all the things of the senses—greater than the work of the Holy Spirit. Don’t get me wrong. These things of the liturgy are the essential tools of a liturgist’s craft. These things we work so hard to help the People of God do well week after week are utterly important if the liturgy is to speak and connect, enliven and challenge those who pray it. It is still true, as the United States Bishops had said, “Faith grows when it is well expressed in celebration. Good celebrations foster and nourish faith. Poor celebrations may weaken and destroy it” (Music in Catholic Worship, 6).
We, liturgists, have the profound responsibility of ensuring that we help to foster faith through liturgies that well express that faith. Yet we also must practice profound humility, trusting that the work is not ours alone to do, thank God! God will do even bigger things than we can imagine through our broken and flawed offering in response to God’s grace.
So here’s a prayer that was originally inspired by the post-Communion prayer for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time. It’s my prayer every time I’m given the beautiful and terrifying task of preparing liturgy. May it give you courage and hope for your work as well.
Help us, Lord, to see
beyond the tangible things we need
to recall your presence,
beyond the limited way we understand
the limitless joy you have prepared for us,
that we may always trust in your promise,
which, even now,
is fulfilled for those who believe.