About this blogger:
Richard J. Clark has served since 1989 as Music Director and Organist at Saint Cecilia Church in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also Chapel Organist (Saint Mary’s Chapel) at Boston College. For the Archdiocese of Boston, he directed the Office of Divine Worship Saint Cecilia Schola. His compositions have been performed on four continents.
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"The Sacrifice is celebrated with many solemn rites, none of which should be deemed useless or superfluous. On the contrary, all of them tend to display the majesty of this august sacrifice, and to excite the faithful, when beholding these saving mysteries, to contemplate the divine things which lie concealed in the Eucharistic Sacrifice."
— Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566)

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Three Things that Inform the Work of Every Parish: Hospitality, Catechesis, Evangelization
published 9 September 2016 by Richard J. Clark

OSPITAILITY and catechesis ultimately lead to evangelization. They are concepts that appear intangible. Often they are. However, they inform us of our very concrete work. They permeate most everything we do in service of God and the faithful.

The list of concrete elements that embody all three is endless. Two simple examples are the production of worship aids and the use of qualitative hymnals. A worship aid takes on much time and expense for a Parish on a limited budget. Producing worship aids can turn a part-time job into a full-time one, and they cost money to print. Hymnals are a large one-time expense. However, what is the long-term benefit? What is the spiritual gain?


HOSPITALITY
The people have in their hands everything they need to sing in one place or a reference to where to find music in hymnals. They can also include music from multiple sources, opening up a treasure of sacred music the Church has to offer. Reprint licenses are relatively inexpensive. Many resources are free. (E.g., Corpus Christi Watershed, Church Music Association of America (CMAA), Illuminare Publications). In short, this simple form of hospitality means offering our best to God while in service to the faithful.


CATECHESIS
A worship aid can contain texts and translations of antiphons, choral works, references to preludes and postludes (which are often connected to the liturgical calendar), and any music that fosters internal meditation. It can outline the liturgy so that young and old may learn the elements of the Mass. Importantly, the connections of the music we sing to the scriptures, the feast, or the season are more easily seen and ultimately taken to heart.


EVANGELIZATION
This is the outgrowth of hospitality and catechesis. Those who not only feel welcomed, but are nourished with dignified substance, will also be far more likely to return. But it is not just about putting people in the pews. It is about helping people to pray. And that is what a solid hymnal and worship aids accomplish.

The liturgy is also usually the first interaction most people have with a parish. We are ready not only to make positive first impressions, but also maintain a standard as best as possible to help parishioners, new and old, be nourished and rooted in prayer. Never forget: the Mass is the greatest form of evangelization.

HESE THREE CONCEPTS extend to many other concrete forms. Another important and often overlooked example is a well designed, easy to navigate, and informative website. This is not always easy to accomplish quickly. It may take time to develop and grow, but this is necessary for any parish today. In a parish website, the possibilities of hospitality, catechesis, and therefore evangelization, are endless.

The role of architecture in evangelization deserves volumes of commentary. From the worship space to parish space of various use, few elements are more influential in how a person feels and interacts with God and with others. Maintaining old buildings is the nightmare of every pastor—one of the most difficult aspects of being a pastor. But there are great rewards when any improvements can be made.

Outreach and social justice programs are fundamental part of hospitality and living out the Gospel. Understanding why we must do these things is an element of catechesis. The fruit is evangelization.

T IS IMPORTANT to remember that evangelization is not something we do for our personal gain or for a parish’s advancement or prestige. It is what we must do as God calls us. These three concepts are born from Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex Vivendi – the law of prayer is the law of belief, which points to the law of how Christians must live.

My words here are but a beginning of something much, much larger. I have barely scratched the surface. But you have much to offer. God is calling.