Sydney, Australia 2009Check the tabs below to find information about the 2009 Congress in Sydney, Australia
The Liturgical Year: the Gospel encountering our time
Christ and time
The Christian liturgy is a proclamation of and an encounter with the Risen One, himself the first and the last, who holds all times in his hands (Rev. 1:16-18). In the scriptures, preaching and song of the liturgy and in its sacraments, the assembly hears of Jesus Christ, who stands amidst all the painful, death-filled histories of the peoples of the world. And yet this very Crucified One is also the Risen One who pulls humanity and all things out of death and beyond the rule of the powers of time and of fate, of calendars and clocks, of “special days, and months, and seasons, and years” (Gal. 4:10). In Jesus Christ the Day of Salvation is both promised and already given, celebrated especially on Sunday. Christians believe that thus, in their assemblies and by God’s mercy, the Holy Spirit is now poured out, gathering us all into Christ and so before the Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:13) who made and embraces and transcends all time. The Holy Trinity, known in this liturgy, made time, redeems time, transcends time.
And the Holy Trinity is encountered in time. While the Sunday meeting of the assembly may be called — because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ — the “Eighth Day,” this meeting is nonetheless held on the first day of our seven-day weeks, within the flow of our months and years. Indeed, the gospel of Jesus Christ empowers the church to live in our own days, to serve and witness and act in love within real history, and to discover that time itself is transformed by God’s mercy.
The liturgical year
The churches have come to discover that their festal celebrations of the timeless gospel have been observed in meaningful relationship to the calendars of the cultures among which they have lived and the cosmologies implied by those calendars. So Pascha has been kept classically in reference to the ancient passover-time, itself kept at the time of the full moon near the spring equinox of the Northern Hemisphere. Christmas and Epiphany, however their dates were originally determined, have been kept just after the time of the winter solstice of the Northern Hemisphere and near the current Western marking of the new year.
Pastoral explications of these feasts and the rich liturgical poetry and liturgical actions developed for them have made use of these relationships: Jesus Christ is our Paschal Lamb. He is the Springtime of Souls. He is the New Sun, the Sun of Righteousness. The development of cycles related to these feasts and the development of yet other local festivals and observances have all continued this theme: the God we know in Jesus Christ, the God who transcends and redeems time, is proclaimed and celebrated and known within our times, illumining our days and seasons. Several models of a Liturgical Year have grown up in our churches, side-by-side with all the other ways human beings mark the movement of time and the flow of a year. The experience of the year itself has been harnessed to bear witness to the gospel.
Time and place
The XXII Congress of Societas Liturgica, that will take place in Sydney, Australia, from August 10 to 15, 2009, will seek to engage the serious historical, theological and pastoral questions that are raised by the observance of this Liturgical Year. Nearly thirty years before, Societas Liturgica met in Paris (1981) to begin to assess the gap between liturgical rhythms and the contemporary experience of time.
This Congress will continue those reflections, in order to attend to the great movement of globalization, a movement that has transformed the experience of time in all parts of the world and has even modified the current human sense of the cosmos, and in order to consider how the gospel encounters the modern and local realities of life.
The very fact of our meeting in the Southern Hemisphere — in the late winter, thus, and not in the high summer — invites us to consider yet more urgently a particular set of questions. The sun blazes brightly at Christmas in Australia. The hot summer is just over when the refreshing coolness of Easter arrives. What shall Christians of the Southern Hemisphere do with the traditional liturgical imagery of the feasts? Can the whole church throughout the world be enriched by the new poetry and the new explications that are being developed in the South? This Congress will take place in the southern Pacific region, close to the Aboriginal cultures of Australia and near to the great cultures and nations of Oceania and of South and Southeast Asia. This very location will remind us that time is, at least partly, a cultural category. There are many ways that time is parsed, many time-systems.
To a great extent, these time-keeping, time-valuing ways are also dependent on place — on the ways the sun and the stars are seen from a particular place on the face of the earth, on the ways the seasons are experienced there, on the ways memory and hope are kept alive in the cultures of that place, and on the ways that local place may be the manifestation of what some Australians call the “Dreaming.” How does Christian liturgy relate to these diverse ways of time-keeping? How may the local observance of the liturgical year form an example of the construction of local theology?
There are yet further questions. We must see that people throughout the world today deal with time in a new way. For many, “time is money” and we must “live quickly.” For others — the unemployed and the displaced — time is a burden. For many people, the young but also many others, life exists especially at night, not in the day. How shall the churches respond in their ways of prayer and time-keeping? Furthermore, recent scholarship has produced significant new proposals regarding the history of the Liturgical Year. New and earlier relationships in Christian practice have been seen between history and eschatology, kairos and chronos, time as event and time as measured reality.
Some scholars think the feasts of the liturgical year were the fruit of biblical reflection and a unique Christian culture: they are proclamations of that uniqueness to the surrounding world. Others are convinced that the feasts are remarkable examples of the ongoing contextualization of the Christian community. How shall we evaluate this diverse research and what effect will it have on pastoral practice? Of course, the theme of the Congress will carry with it an invitation to look newly at classic questions: the meaning of Sunday; the Christian understanding of both memory and hope, anamnesis and eschaton; the faithful marking of the day, the week, and the year; the parish renewal of these observances; the relationship of lectionary and calendar; and the date of Easter as an ecumenical question.
In summary, there are three major questions that draw us to the Congress at Sydney: What is the pertinence of Christian liturgical traditions of time-keeping to current conceptions and interpretations of time in actual human life? How shall we evaluate the current economy of desire for immediate satisfaction and the inability to wait in relationship to liturgical spirituality? And how does the proclamation of the gospel encounter a world of global consumerism and, at the same time, renewed localism?
We are convinced that asking these questions together may assist us in our scholarship, encourage our various efforts at renewal, and refresh us in our celebration. Gathered as scholars of Christian liturgy from all over the globe, we will consider anew the Liturgical Year.
• Adam, Júlio Cézar: Das Kirchenjahr in der südlichen Hemisphäre: eine Fallstudie aus Brasilien
• Geldhof, Joris: The Philosophical Presuppositions and Implications of Celebrating the Liturgical Year
• Griffiths, Keith: Easter in Autumn, Christmas in Summer. A Consideration of Liturgical Images from the other Half
• Johnson, Clare V.: Bridging the Cartesian Chasm: A Radical Empiricist Perspective on Liturgical Inculturation.
• Jones, Simon: In Season and out of Season: an Analysis of the Relationship between Calendar and Lectionary in the Church of England
• Kochappilly, Paulachan: Mystery of Christ in the Celebration of the Liturgical Year of the Syro-Malabar Church
• Krech, Hans: The Triduum Sacrum – a Revised Lutheran Liturgy in Germany
• Lange, Dirk G.: Daily Prayer as Gospel Rhythm: Reconfiguring Time and Space
• Letšosa, Rantoa: The Concept of Time for Liturgical Calendar in the South African Context
• Mildenberger, Irene: Every Sunday Needs its Theme. Attempts to Structure the Liturgical Year in the German Evangelical Churches
• Moolan, John: Yearly Gospel Encounter in the East Syrian Calendar
• Morrill, Bruce T.: Occasional versus Seasonal Practices: Media, Commodification, and Ritual Agency
• Pretot, Patríck: Le Christ de l’année liturgique : réflexions sur une méthodologie d’approche
• Regan, Patrick: Paschal Vigil: Perfection of Salvation and Goal of Creation
• Roll, Susan: Easter Celebrated by Women. The Liturgies of the Three Days of Easter shaped by “Women Word Spirit.”
• Sabak, James G.: The significance of vigil celebrations in the liturgical calendar of the early roman church
• Taylor, Paul: The Singing of Chant during the Liturgical Year: A Study of Practices and Perceptions in the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne
• Thekeparampil, Jacob: Morning and evening (ramsho and sapro) as ‘school-masters and deacons’ in the West Syriac liturgical tradition
• Toury, Arnaud: Une Catéchèse Articuleé à l’Année Liturgique?
• Truscott, Jeffrey A.: Culture clash: Chinese New Year and Lent
• Turner, Paul: Collects of the Christmas Season in the Revised Roman Missal
• Upton, Julia: Triumph of the Spirit: When Time Stood Still
• Weigl, Norbert: Der Gründonnerstag im Spiegel der Verkündigung