By Bishop Joe Grech
Bishop Joe Grech wrote this article when he was the Melbourne Chaplain for Catholic Charismatic Renewal to give some tips for priests asked to celebrate a Mass for charismatic prayer groups. He is now Bishop of Sandhurst Diocese in Northern Victoria.
Songs: Music is an important part of the celebration, and songs of praise before the Mass prepare people to give thanks to God through the liturgy. Allow times for a number of songs to prepare people. The priest should be present during this time.
Penitential Rite: This is a tremendous time to lead people to forgive others. We nearly always need to forgive, even if the other has not done any wrong. Each person can be invited to ask the Lord of the name of a person to forgive, commending the person to Jesus: “Touch this person with your love” and then, “Lord, forgive me for the times I reacted badly because I was hurt by this person.”
Gloria: This beautiful hymn of praise can lead to an extended time of spontaneous praise and worship, with ‘Singing in the Spirit.’ Praise can be healing, and brings us out of ourselves to concentrate on him. It is helpful to allow this praise to go on for a good length of time, as long as people wish to sustain it. If the celebrant is not used to praising God in this way, there should be a music and worship leader who starts praise here and at other agreed times.
Liturgy of the Word: Time for short reflection after each reading builds an attitude that the word of God has a personal message for us through Scripture.
Homily: In charismatic groups, people speak from their experience of God’s Spirit acting in their lives, and listeners look for the word given through Spirit-led preaching to speak personally to them. The homily, therefore, should be personal and, of course, powerful.
Prayers of the Faithful: This can be a time of praying for people for healing or other needs. Invite people to come forward for prayer, or encourage people to pray for one another briefly. Alternatively, the priest can minister in prayer to the whole group simultaneously.
The Offertory: Here, we can pray to be healed and transformed. We can present to the Lord all of our wounds, fears and anxieties. “Take my life, Lord, broken as it is. Change my mind and my heart to be more like yours.”
The Preface: Here is another opportunity, at the end of this beautiful prayer of praise and thanksgiving, to move into spontaneous praise.
Consecration: As the body and blood is raised at the consecration, people can be encouraged to give spontaneous exclamations of worship, praise and thanksgiving. The Acclamation can be a joyful time of praise, and ‘Singing in the Spirit.’
Communion Rite: The ‘Our Father,’ ‘Lord, I am not worthy,’ and the priest’s own prayer ‘bring me health in mind and body’ can all be times of seeking healing. There should be an expectancy that we will be healed through these prayers. The ‘Our Father’ can also be a great time of abandoning ourselves to the will of the Father. People can be invited to make some sign of abandonment, such as open hands.
Communion: This is a time for listening and receiving, and part of this is to encourage words of prophecy to be spoken out. There may be a word of knowledge that the Lord is healing in a particular way in someone present, or simply a word that the Lord knows a particular person’s life situation and is acting in it. Ample time should be allowed for the Lord to speak and minister in this way.
Allow Time: The normal charismatic prayer meeting will last from ninety minutes to two hours. If there is a sense of the Lord’s presence, and an expectancy that he is active in word and ministry to the people, a Mass could certainly take a similar period of time. Allow time and do not rush the liturgy. It should be a relaxed time of praise, worship, celebration and of allowing Jesus to minister to his people.