BRIDGEPORT—The norms, or rules, governing liturgical and sacramental practices in the Diocese of Bridgeport, will be revised over the next four years, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano announced.
“When we concluded the diocesan synod, one of the major initiatives which I confirmed was the need to revise the diocesan sacramental guidelines,” Bishop Caggiano said on October 1. “The sacramental guidelines are really the depository of all the norms and guidelines that allow us to pray effectively and reverently as a Church.”
The norms were last promulgated in 1983 under Bishop Walter Curtis.
Noting that things change over, time Bishop Caggiano commented that it is important that we undertake these revisions to ensure that all sacraments and liturgical celebrations remain fruitful, collaborative, participative, and reverent.
The bishop met with the priests of the diocese on September 13 and discussed the norms, which were distributed as a provisional document. Final comments from priests are due October 10.
“As the guidelines involve hundreds of pages and every aspect of our prayer as a community, I decided to break the revisions over several years and to invite others into this process” Bishop Caggiano said. “For the last year, two dozen members of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission have been meeting to work on this first set of revisions, which cover those who serve in the important ministries of reader (lector), musician, altar server, and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.
“Lay participation in the liturgy is an essential component,” the bishop added. “These norms are meant to enhance, and, in some cases, regularize how these ministries are undertaken.”
“There must be a delicate balance between a liturgy that reflects the particular needs of a community, especially our culturally diverse communities, and in keeping the liturgy consistent and authentically Catholic. The Commission has sought to accomplish this as the norms were revised,” the bishop said, acknowledging that “the norms will allow for diversity where diversity is allowed by Church law.”
“There will be changes,” the bishop said, “so it will be important to take our time and discuss the modifications that are coming. Once the norms are promulgated by sacred decree, we will live with the norms for one year and then review them to see if any further changes are necessary. This process will be repeated again and again until all norms are revised.”
Citing the angst that was caused by the sudden changes made to the celebration of liturgy in the United States in the years following Vatican II, the bishop has instead proposed a six-week catechetical journey in which all are invited and encouraged to participate.
Beginning October 15, 2018, The Leadership Institute of the diocese will issue several catechetical lessons for parishes to distribute. The first is a video in which Bishop Caggiano outlines his hope for the faithful and an overview of the revision process. Then, in the following weeks, articles will be circulated online and at parish Masses highlighting the importance of liturgy, the role of the laity, and each of the ministries discussed in the norms. These materials will be available in English and Spanish.
In addition to the written materials, Patrick Donovan, director of The Leadership Institute, announced plans for eight face-to-face meetings in October and November.
“The first four meetings are for those who serve as deacons, religious educators, coordinators of worship, choir directors, and others who share in the leadership in our parishes,” Donovan said. “There are four opportunities for parish leaders to come together in October to view the norms, make suggestions, ask questions, and discuss the revisions with those who share in the ministries governed by the norms.”
In November, there will be an additional four meetings, Donovan said. Those meetings, he said, are for anyone who serves as a reader, musician, or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Donovan added, “Any changes to the ministry of altar serving will be managed at the local level.”
The November meetings will include a chance to listen to proposed changes, learn about the formation process, and discover how those who are already serving will be grandfathered into ministry, using a truncated formation process.
Those who wish to view the resources or to sign up to attend any of the meetings in the coming weeks are invited to visit the Institute’s website, www.formationreimagined.org.
“This will be a guided process,” Bishop Caggiano said, “so that when the norms are promulgated on the first Sunday of Advent, all will understand what the norms are proposing and the principles behind them.”
“The Lord asks us to participated in his death and resurrection through grace—especially when we celebrate the Eucharist—and I am grateful to all who will accept this invitation to renewal,” the bishop said. “Through this catechesis and these revisions, may we become leaven for renewal in the rest of the world.”
For more information, contact Patrick Donovan, director of The Leadership Institute at 203.416.1657.
To learn more about the Revised Liturgical Norms or to sign up for one of the upcoming informational sessions, please visit https://formationreimagined.org/liturgical-norms/.