About 200 attend conference on 'making every Sunday matter'
By Agnieszka Krawczynski
The B.C. Catholic
Caption: Keynote speaker Father Samuel Weber, OSB.
The Liturgy was invented by God, not human beings, said Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB.
The Liturgy is the "supreme opus Dei, the work of God," that helps people draw closer to Him. "The Liturgy is not ultimately of our own making, but of God. It is His action upon us and with us. Our Liturgy is always a response to an initiative from above."
About 200 people heard him speak Nov. 19 during Mass at the first Vancouver Archdiocesan Liturgy Conference in recent memory.
The day-long event, themed "Make Every Sunday Matter," was held at Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Port Coquitlam. Speakers covered topics such as the liturgy of the hours, music, hospitality, reading, and prayer.
"The way we enter into relationship with God is pretty much the same pattern whereby we enter into relationship with our family, our friends, one another," said keynote speaker Father Samuel Weber, OSB.
The Benedictine monk from the Archdiocese of San Francisco found parallels between types of prayer and types of human interaction.
"Formulas help us make a start." A formula, such as "Good morning," and "Nice to see you," starts human communication. In prayer, that could include memorized lines such as the Our Father.
Father Weber's grandmother taught him Psalm 23 while they knelt in front of an image of the Good Shepherd in her bedroom. These "sacred formulas" can begin a relationship with God, but to understand them "is the work of a lifetime."
The next levels of interaction, where you "begin to know each other," are conversation and discussion.
"We can close our eyes and just tell our Father what's happening in our own words, because He cares about us. He already knows, of course, but somehow in the telling, we come to know Him and His will at work in our lives."
Deeper communication with God and with others may not even include words at all.
St. Paul wrote to the Romans: "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."
At times, a glance or a smile says it all. Father Weber recalled a moment when he glanced in through a window while shovelling snow from the driveway of a couple married 60 years. She was knitting; he was reading the newspaper and smoking a pipe. Suddenly he put the paper down, she glanced over, and they exchanged a smile.
"After 60 years, they don't have much they need to say to each other. They have said it all. It doesn't mean they're not in touch. Heart speaks to heart." So, Father Weber said, human hearts can reach God's.
In a workshop after Father Weber's talk, Deacon Terry McLaughlin said while private and devotional prayer are important in Christian lives, the Liturgy is "the most important prayer of the Church."
"The Liturgy is given to us by God. That's why it's sacred. The Church guards it like a precious jewel." It "reaches beyond everyday life," and "gives us a share of heavenly existence."
In a classroom down the hall, Father Lawrence Holland spoke about the Eucharist. "We join ourselves in the offering as the priest lifts up the paten and the chalice," he said.
"'Through Him, with Him, in Him,' is a reference to Jesus, but it's also us in Jesus."
Organizer Father Tien Tran hopes the conference will become an annual event.