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Worship for the Domestic Church

This covid-19 time has placed great stress on our ability as Catholics, and as Christians of all traditions, to gather in prayer, worship and thanksgiving.  Unable to be close, to touch, to participate fully and actively together, we have remained in our homes or, at best, worshipped together in distanced small groups.

As Catholics, forced as we are to enter a eucharistic fast, unable to take and eat, take and drink, we have had a surfeit of opportunities to watch Masses streamed from various locations.  In so doing, we have been able to take a consumerist approach to these streaming spectacles, choosing this preacher over that one, this ambiance ahead of another.

It is my firm belief that the approach the Church has taken in offering predominantly the possibility of streamed worship services is a grave error.  It has focused once again on the clerical dimension of the Church, in the process stripping away any sense that all members of the whole Christian body are the actors in worship and thanksgiving.  I believe further that this has completely missed an opportunity to nurture and develop the faith life of the people in their own right.  The result will, I believe, prove completely counterproductive.

We need to take up once again that ancient sense, revitalized at the Second Council of the Vatican, of the domestic church, the church in the home, making it the primary place of faith development, of ourselves and our children.  In this, we need to be encouraged and aided by the parish, where we gather as the Body of Christ, in communion with our bishop, to celebrate the Eucharist.  The best way to make the home the place of our faith development is not by encouraging study and catechesis (both good in themselves) but by encouraging the people who form the millions of domestic churches to delve into the way the Scriptures impact them, live a life of faithful worship, then carry that into their daily lives.  How might we do that?

I suggest we take a page from our Jewish forebears, with their focus on the Sabbath meal.  We disciples of the Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, might do well to emulate their pattern of worship, thereby catechizing our children (and ourselves) through liturgical action, as we gather with each other and the saints who have gone before (friends, relatives, saints we have never met), tell the family stories (the scriptures), converse with each other about what those stories mean (breaking the bread of the Word), expressing what the scriptures have shown about shortcomings in our lives and calling on God’s mercy, stating again our faith, then giving thanks together.  In this, one person could lead the whole liturgical work, or the leadership could be shared.  Finally, with the bread and wine representing our own humanity, we could take and eat, take and drink, remembering that wherever two or more are gathered in his name, Christ is present among us, even as we wait in joyful hope for the time when we can gather as community to receive Christ in forms we can touch and taste.

In this way, we can draw into a deeper experience of God, of Christ’s saving work, and of the Spirit leading, guiding, enabling and encouraging us in our walk of faith together as Christ’s Body on earth.

We can continue to do this for as long as it takes for this pandemic to settle down to the point where our domestic churches can once again gather together as one, as Church, to celebrate and give thanks together, priest and laity in communion with our bishop. 

Ray Temmerman

Ray Temmerman (Catholic), with his wife Fenella (Anglican) are involved with the Interchurch Families International Network (IFIN).  Ray operates the website http://interchurchfamlies.org

 

Order of Worship and Thanksgiving for the Domestic Church

Leader:

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All:                  Amen

Leader:

We gather this <morning, day, evening> as a domestic church, to worship and give thanks to God for all the wonders of creation, and for the wonders of our lives.

We ask that God may be present with us in the power of the Spirit, to inspire us and guide our prayer.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  

All:                  Amen.

Leader:

Let us invite the saints to join with us in our prayer.

(Here the leader lights a central candle.)

We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, Creator of fire. 

(The leader then invites each person to name one or two people, living or dead, who they would like to remember and welcome into the time of prayer.

At this point, it may be helpful to have each person, as that person names someone, light a candle of remembrance, taking the flame from the central candle.  It is up to the parents to determine at what age any children are able to safely light a candle on their own.)

Leader:

Now we will take some time to tell the stories of the history of our family in faith.

(One or more individuals are invited to proclaim the scripture passages for the day.  It would be particularly valuable if those who proclaim the scriptures would have prepared ahead of time, delved into the scriptures, so they could proclaim them as, in a sense, first-person witnesses.)

Leader:

Let’s share with each other what we heard in these stories of faith.  What word or phrase in there spoke to you?

(The Leader should facilitate this, to ensure everyone has a chance to speak, no one contributes too much, and no one begins to present arguments for or against any 'position'. This is a time when each person is able to talk briefly about the passages.  There is no judgment here, no debate about the correctness or otherwise of any statement, just a simple respectful listening to each other.)

Leader:

We have listened to the stories of God’s faithful people, and together reflected on those stories.  We know we are not alone, that God’s people walk with us, helping us to live our lives in faithfulness and love.

Yet each of us experiences pain in our lives, or has caused others to experience pain, as a result of things we have done or failed to do.  Let us take time to let God know of those pains, and to ask God for inspiration.  

(Here we spend some time in silence, giving each person a chance to tell God about those things done, or not done, in his/her life which resulted in pain for the person or for others, and to recognize those things as signs of disconnection from God.  We can then pray something akin to the following:)

Leader:

For those times we have sinned against you by the way we have failed to care for, even used and abused, your creation: its land, seas and myriad life forms,
Lord have mercy.

All:                  Lord have mercy.

Leader:

For those times when we have sinned against you by our actions or inactions toward our brothers and sisters in your body, the Church, 
Christ have mercy.

All:                  Christ have mercy.

Leader: 

For those times when we have sinned against you by not caring adequately for your children around the world, of all creeds and colours and nationalities, Lord have mercy.  

All:                  Lord have mercy.

Leader: Let us pray together:

God our Father, we bring before you the pain we have caused ourselves, others, and your creation, by our thoughts and our words, the things we have done and the things we have failed to do.  These pains are very real, God.  We recognize them as a sign of our sinfulness, of loss of connection with you and with each other.  We ask you to inspire us to determine a way to bring that pain-causing sinfulness in us to an end, and to encourage us to follow that way and thereby be connected with you and your creation once again.  We ask this through Christ our Lord, who is the true and living way.

All:      Amen:

Leader:

Let us take time to reiterate our faith in a God who knows us intimately, love us intensely, and seeks always the very best for us.

(Here we may use one of the following Creeds, or we may find another way to state our faith in God.  All make this statement of faith together, as one community.)

Option 1 (Nicene Creed)

We believe in one God,

the Father, the Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one Being with the Father;

through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven,

was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again

in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

 

Option 2 (Apostles’ Creed in question form)

Leader:          Do you believe in God?

All:                  We believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Leader:

Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

All:      

We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

Leader:

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?

All:      

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

Option 3 (from the United Church “New Creed”, 1968)[1]

All:

We are not alone; we live in God’s world.  We believe in God:  who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.  

We trust in God.  We are called to be the Church: to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope. 

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.

Leader:

Let us take time, now, to prepare the table for our thanksgiving meal.

(Here, bread and wine are brought out, placed before us.  Then one or more people may read sections of the prayer of thanksgiving.)

Leader:

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.

Through your goodness we have this bread to present to you,

which earth has given and human hands have made.

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.

Through your goodness we have this wine to present to you,

fruit of the vine and work of human hands.

This food and drink will remind us of who we are before you.

Leader:          The Lord be with you.   

All:                  And also with you.

Leader:          Lift up your hearts.   

All:                  We lift them up to the Lord.

Leader:          Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.   

All:                  It is right to give thanks and praise.

(At this point, the Leader may pray the prayers, or may invite individuals to take part, with different people praying different parts in rotation.)

Prayer segments (said by the Leader or by individuals in rotation):

  1. It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.
  2. All things are of your making, all times and seasons obey your law.  You fashioned the human family in your own image.   You set us over the world in all its wonder, that we might be stewards of your creation, praising you day by day for the marvels of your might and wisdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
  3. And so, with all the angels and saints, we sing the joyful hymn of your praise:

All: 

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

(The segments continue, by the Leader or in rotation.)

  1. Father most holy, we proclaim your greatness: all your works show forth your wisdom and love.  You formed man and woman in your own likeness and entrusted the whole world to their care, so that in serving you alone, their Creator, they might be stewards of all creation. 
  2. Even when they disobeyed you and turned away from your friendship, you did not abandon them to the power of death, but extended your hand in mercy, that all who search for you might find you.
  3. Again and again you offered the human race a covenant and through the prophets nurtured the hope of salvation. 
  4. Father, you so loved the world that in the fullness of time you sent your only Son to be our Saviour.
  5. Made flesh by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, he lived as one of us in all things but sin.
  6. To the poor he proclaimed the good news of salvation, to prisoners, freedom, and to those in sorrow, joy.
  7. In order to fulfil your purpose he gave himself up to death, and by rising from the dead he destroyed death and restored life.
  8. And that we might live no longer for ourselves but for him who died and rose for us, he sent the Holy Spirit from you, Father, as his first gift to those who believe, to complete his work on earth and renew the world in perfect holiness.
  9. Lord God, we come before you as human beings, created in your image and likeness, creatures in need of sustenance, both physical and spiritual, to be wholly who you created us to be.
  10. The bread and the wine we have here are for us symbols of our humanity, and of our need for sustenance.  We give you thanks for them.

(The Leader lifts the bread.)

All: 

Blessed are You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.

(Setting down the bread, the leader lifts the wine.)

All: 

Blessed are You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Leader:          Remembering Jesus’ redeeming actions, we proclaim the Mystery of Faith:

All:

A – Dying you destroyed our death.  Rising you restored our life.  Lord Jesus, come in glory. or 

B – Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free.  You are the Saviour of the world. 

Leader (or rotating leadership):

  1. And so, Lord God, we celebrate our redemption: we recall Christ’s death and his descent among the dead; we proclaim his resurrection and his ascension to your right hand; and, looking forward to his coming in glory, we remember his sacrifice which brings salvation to all the world.
  2. Lord, look upon us gathered here today; and by your Holy Spirit gather us, together with our brothers and sisters wherever they may be, into one body, a living sacrifice in Christ, to the praise and glory of your name.
  3. Lord, remember your servant Pope N., our Bishop N., and all bishops, the priests, deacons, and other ministers of your Church, all your people, and all who seek you with a sincere heart.
  4. Remember those who have died in the peace of Christ and all the dead whose faith is known only to you.  Merciful Father, grant that we, your children, may enjoy the inheritance of heaven with Mary, the virgin Mother of God, with the apostles and all your saints. There, together with all creation, set free from the corruption of sin and death, we shall sing your glory through Christ our Lord, through whom you bless the world with all that is good.
  5. Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, for ever and ever.

All:                  Amen.

Leader:          Let us now pray together the prayer Jesus taught us:

All:   

Our Father, in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.  Give us today our bread for this day.  Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.

Leader:

Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.

Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church,

and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom,

where you live for ever and ever.

All:                  Amen.

Leader:          The peace of the Lord be with you always.

All:                  And also with you.

Leader:          Let us offer each other a sign of peace.

(Take time to offer each other a sign of peace, whether by touch or some other gesture.)

Leader: 

This bread and this wine are for us signs of the humanity we all share.  

In that humanity, we recognize that wherever two or more are gathered in his name, Christ is present among us.  

We recognize also that we are called at this time to live a Eucharistic fast, along with so many others around the world, as we wait in joyful hope for the opportunity to gather once again, in communion with our bishop as a single worshipping body, to celebrate the Eucharist, that re-present-ation of Christ’s saving death and resurrection.

(At this point, each person present takes a piece of the bread and a sip of the wine.  All remain silent until everyone is finished.)

Leader:

Jesus, we thank you for your presence in spirit here today. We thank you for your promise that you are with us always, and that with you at the centre we are united not only to you, but also to each other and to the world in which we live. 

And now, Father God, thank you for inspiring us to gather here to worship you and give thanks, in the company of your angels and saints.  Thank you for being present with us, leading, guiding, nurturing and encouraging us as we wait in joyful hope for the time when we can once again gather as one body, the Church.

Bless us and guard us, Oh God.  May your light shine upon us.  May your presence be with us and give us peace.  Watch over us as we go out from here, to make real your kingdom, so that all creation comes to know your total, unconditional and irrevocable love for all.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.

All:      Amen

(The candles are extinguished.)

[1] https://united-church.ca/community-faith/welcome-united-church-canada/faith-statements/new-creed-1968

   
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