Four or five years ago, Aidan Kavanagh, O.S.B, died in Hamden, CT. A scholarly man, his liturgical excellence gave shape and substance to the liturgical forms of Vatican II. As continued to be a liturgical leader, he gave new breath to the sacraments of Initiation, and an ongoing understanding of Liturgy. In his Liturgical Theology, Kavanagh advocated the importance of Liturgy in capturing the way people worship. Kavanagh had a "theology of the congregation" in which he understood the importance of using strong and moving words, symbols, and gestures in worship. The Liturgy is the theology of the Church, according to Kavanagh.
And what does this all have to do with anything? Our Church (and many mainline churches) have been wringing their hands lately concerning diminishing numbers on Sundays, a decrease in marriages, and waiting to have children baptized. These are major faith issues which have a variety of causes, and are complex in their composition. Therefore solutions to these difficulties would be multi fold.
In these last few years our parish has been working at Stewardship. But in reflection this is only the beginning. Stewardship needs to be interchanged with evangelization. More and more I recognize that we have done a poor job at evangelizing, not only non-Christians/catholics, but catholics in the pew as well. A catechesis needs to be more than preparing children and adults to receive the sacraments.
In a world and time where there is much violence, division, dis-respect, and general anxiety, the Church has to stand as a sign of hope and peace. I think that for many of the young people today the Church is like a soggy bowl of corn flakes. We eat it because its supposed to be good for us, but we might skip it also, since it really does nothing for our spirit.
I go back to Father Kavanagh. While he emphasized the 'normal' nature of Liturgy, it should somehow draw men and women into the mystery of salvation. It seems that our ministry should be user friendly. Here at St. Mary's we are doing a health screening in a few weeks. I have been thinking about inviting an AA group to use our facilities again. If we are going to "Go forth to love and serve the Lord," we should probably being doing it in their living rooms and around peoples kitchen tables.
These are just some thoughts about the nature of Liturgy, evangelization, and life. Maybe go back to the source, stand at the cross, and eat the Eucharist again as if for the first time.