Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hawaiian Liturgy in an Ancient Church

In his October 13th entry, Rocco Palmo on his blog, “Whispers in the Loggia,” reported on a special Mass that was celebrated at the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome. It was a thanksgiving Mass being celebrated by the pilgrims from Hawaii, who had been in Rome for the canonization of Damien de Veuster of Molokai. In one of the most ancient churches in the Eternal City, the sound of Hawaiian singing filled the air; dancers, dressed in green, performed a solemn hula as part of the Eucharistic Liturgy.

I really believe that one of the gifts that the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council gave us was the liturgical renewal. In a worldwide Church, the Eucharist unites us all in the Body of Christ. We come together to hear God’s Word; witness the consecration of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ; and we receive Christ in Holy Communion. In the whole world, we share the same ritual, we proclaim the same Creed. But the liturgy is flexible enough so that each people can incorporate their own traditions, songs, and in some instances, dances, so as to make the celebration more meaningful for them.

There is always going to be tensions between traditionalists who feel the liturgy must be in the same form in all countries, and those who feel the need to inculturate the liturgy. What we need to remember is that the goal of all liturgy is to give us the opportunity to encounter God, to praise, worship and be renewed.

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