By Michael Hallman |Correspondent [[In-content Ad]]
From liturgical reforms to experiencing the psalms, a workshop held June 8 in St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, Freehold, focused on the topic of “Crossing the Threshold of Faith: Transforming Adults into Disciples.”
The day of learning and prayer, sponsored by the diocesan Ministry of Catechesis and Evangelization, drew some 100 guests and included presentations by Dr. Christopher Bellitto, a member of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish and chair and associate professor of history in Kean University, Union, and Dr. Gregory Glazov, senior fellow of The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and assistant professor in biblical studies in Seton Hall University, South Orange.
Following morning prayer, Dr. Bellitto spoke on the “Liturgical Path Back to the Future,” examining the reforms of the liturgy in the decades leading up to Second Vatican Council, and then the major transformation that took place after.
According to Dr. Bellitto, what really took place was not so much reform as restoration, restoring elements of the liturgy that had been lost over the centuries. He noted the important restorations initiated by Pope Pius XII, particularly bringing back the Easter Triduum and the beautiful Holy Week hymns and prayers.
Dr. Bellitto, an energetic storyteller who captivated the audience with his depth of knowledge, also noted the importance of Pius XII’s changed attitude towards the Eucharist, encouraging the people to receive regularly. Essential to this was a greater catechesis on what the Eucharist means.
“He wanted people to receive the Eucharist,” Dr. Bellitto said of the pope. “It wasn’t something over there. It was something in here,” in the heart. “If the people are to be the Body of Christ, they must receive the Body of Christ,” Dr. Belitto said.
The changes to the Mass taking place in the 1920s and 1930s under Pope Pius XII’s direction ultimately led to the great reforms of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, and the changes that proceeded the council.
Dr. Glazov, a Russian-born Jew whose family eventually converted to Catholicism, shared a great appreciation for the theme of forgiveness in the liturgy, particularly the exchange of the sign of peace just before praying the Lord’s Prayer.
Speaking about “The ‘Now’ of the psalms,” Dr. Glazov noted that the word for psalm in Hebrew, “tehillim,” is connected to the word for “alleluia,” and that at their heart they are prayers of praise.
Dr. Glazov highlighted that the psalms, largely attributed to King David, are directly related to an individual’s spiritual experience. By understanding the psalms in this way, they can be prayed as part of a personal spiritual experience, and thus they become movements of lamentation, supplication, and thanksgiving - what he meant by the “now” of the psalms.
Candace Brandmayr — who traveled from St. Margaret Parish, Spring Lake — said she was initially grabbed by the program name, “Transforming Adults into Disciples,” thinking about her own family members and how she could “be a good example to my nieces and nephews.”