Preparing the Liturgy of Word and Eucharist
There are two principle parts of the eucharistic celebration: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Start preparing the liturgy by reading the scriptures. How many readings are given -- are they prescribed readings or do you make choices from a number of offerings? Remember that the psalm is also a proclamation of sacred scripture; will the psalm for the day be used or will one of the seasonal psalms be selected?
Choices can often be made from the prayers in the sacramentary as well. Are there special orations (prayers) for the particular day? Does one of the opening prayers given better express the spirit of the season or the scriptures than the other? Is there a specific preface for the day or the feast or do you choose one from the selections available for Sundays or weekdays? Does one more closely follow the scriptures than another? What eucharistic prayer would be most appropriate: Eucharistic Prayer I on All Saints, Reconciliation I or II during Lent, a eucharistic prayer for masses with children on the day the parish celebrates First Communion. The acclamations of the eucharistic prayer are a primary sung element in the liturgy; what setting of the acclamations will allow for the "full, conscious, and active participation" by all? The communion rite calls for the preparation of the Lord's Prayer--a prayer of the community and a sign of unity, never a solo musical performance; will it be spoken or sung by all? The Lamb of God is a litany to accompany the fraction rite; prepare one which will continue through the breaking of the bread and the pouring of the all the cups. Of course, the primary symbols needing preparation during the communion rite are the eating and drinking of the elements of bread and wine themselves; attention to the elements, their vessels, the communion procession and distribution all need to be of concern to the preparation team. A communion hymn should be prepared which can draw the community into the pilgrim journey to the Lord's Table where we feast on the Bread of Life and Cup of Eternal Salvation.