Introducing The Shumaker’s Bench
Happy (Liturgical) New Year!
This weekend we celebrate the beginning of a new liturgical year with the 1st Sunday of Advent. Advent has a twofold purpose, 1) to prepare us for the celebrations of the Christmas season when we remember the first coming of Jesus. 2) By remembering this we are also inspired to look forward to the second coming of Jesus at the end of time. Because of this, Advent then is a time of devout and expectant delight. (from the Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar).
In this first edition of the Schumaker’s Bench here at SPSA, I also want to explain a few changes that have been made recently in the church.
Firstly, we have started again the practice of using a lectern for the introduction to Mass, any announcements or testimonies, and for any other ceremonies that may occasionally take place in the church. The reason for this is to make sure that we are in harmony with the rubrics for celebrating Mass. In Chapter V, No. 309 of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM), it states “From the ambo only the readings, the Responsorial Psalm, and the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) are to be proclaimed; likewise it may be used for giving the Homily and for announcing the intentions of the Universal Prayer.
The dignity of the ambo requires that only a minister of the word should stand at it.”
Secondly, I have removed the crucifix from the altar. The reason again being to follow more closely the rubrics of the Mass. Again, in Chapter V, No. 308 of the GIRM, it states, “…either on the altar or near it, there is to be a cross, with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, a cross clearly visible to the assembled people. It is desirable that such a cross should remain near the altar even outside of liturgical celebrations, so as to call to mind for the faithful the saving Passion of the Lord.” The way that I read this is that there should be only one crucifix in the sanctuary, either on or near the altar. Since we have the large crucifix above the tabernacle, I believe that alone fulfills this rubric. There is also a principle found in the USCCB Document Built of Living Stones #91 that states when the candles and crucifix are placed on the altar, they should not obstruct the view of the assembly of the action taking place at the altar.
Lastly, I have decided to move the “cry room” from its current location, outside of the physical church building, to the narthex. When we gather together as the church, the mystical body of Christ, we should be gathered together into one space. By moving these chairs into the narthex, it will allow those who need to use this space the opportunity to remain with the entire assembly. I also want to point out that this is not intended to be a place where people sit on a regular basis. It is intended to be a space for parents to use, as needed, to attend to the needs of their children. Normally, all should be making an effort to sit with the entire assembly in the pews, or the red chairs in the front of the church. I recognize that it is challenging at times for parents to bring young children to Mass, and so I commend you for staying committed to that challenge. It brings joy to our parish family when people of all ages are able to come together to praise and worship God our Father.
During this Advent season, let us all continue to journey towards the Lord together, supporting each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
~ Fr. Dan