Homeschool High School Independent Study: Liturgy

Why do we homeschool?

How do we homeschool?

How long are we going to homeschool?

What about prom?

Will you teach calculus?

What about socialization?

I could write volumes in response to each question above but I'm going to sweep those questions aside for now and just tell you this: We have a hit a sweet spot in our high school adventure.

FYI... sweet spot
1. the point or area on a bat, club or racket at which it makes most effective contact with the ball

The sweet spot for home educators is when the parent provides the tools and circumstances for learning and the child hits it out of the park. We've had many little sweet spots over the years but the high school experience (challenging as it is) is proving to be the home run. And by "home run" I mean that the student is motivated and excited about studying, and consequently, learning at a very rapid rate.

We've made some modifications to the high school plans for this 2014 Spring semester and Professor (16) will be broadening his independent study of Liturgy. He serves Mass regularly around our diocese and is also the parochial Master of Ceremonies. His interest has been growing along with his knowledge and the Chief just increased our already healthy theological reference library. Professor is a normal teenage kid with an unusually high interest in Liturgy. Run with it, kid... run with it.

This independent study is not mom-directed at all but I do like to listen and discuss and read the passages he gives me. The Chief offers a great deal of theological direction and conversation and is a superb recommender/finder of books. But the bulk of the study is student directed and my 16-year old is eating it up. One huge perk of being a parent of teens is that, in spite of the fact that they often wrongly think they know more than I do in everything, they DO in fact know more than I do in some things... and I'm learning a lot.

Topics covered include Sacred Scripture, Sacred music, liturgical theology, pastoral liturgy, rubrics, and pretty much anything else that has to do with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Books pictured from left to right:

Code of Canon Law

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Roman Ritual I : Sacraments and Processions (EF)

Roman Ritual II : Christian Burial, Etc. (EF)

Roman Ritual III : The Blessings (EF)

The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy (EF)

Documents of Vatican II Vol. 1

Documents of Vatican II Vol. 2

Holy Bible (RSV-CE)

Kyriale (EF)

Liber Usualis (EF)

Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite

Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal

How to Serve - In Simple, Solemn, and Pontifical Functions (EF)

Ceremonial of Bishops

The Rites I

The Rites II

Missale Romanum

Not pictured but useful:

Liber Cantualis

NOTE: All volumes pertain to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite unless otherwise noted.

We primarily attend the Ordinary Form as a family. The books here are not intended to focus overall on one form or another, but only on what is true and beautiful about the Roman liturgy. Need more information on the importance of liturgical study and how to pursue it? I've asked the Professor to share some quick thoughts and he has kindly agreed...

A word from the Professor on the importance of liturgical study:

"As servants of the Church, each of us should regard the sacred liturgy as greater than ourselves. It may be a human work, the result of centuries of human invention and labor, but that work has been inspired by the Holy Spirit. It may be the fruit of many cultures, and it is certainly a major way in which they have been transmitted, but those cultures were transformed into the rich tapestry of Christian civilization by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the gospel of the Incarnate Word is the basic "cause" of the human forms of Christian worship. In liturgy, we find the supreme point where the Incarnation transform culture... "

 -Peter J. Elliott, Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite 2nd Edition, Par. 26

"We are carried forward and freed from the mundane through the mystery and splendor of Catholic worship. The secular year may be rather bland. Any variety it may have is derived from a few civil or national holidays or commercialized versions of religious celebrations, such as Christmas, or frankly commercial ventures, such as Mothers' Day. But the Christian year has its own inner vitality. It does not need to be propped up by civil celebrations. Where these are customarily observed with Christian rites, they cannot be allowed to intrude into the order of the liturgy of the Church; otherwise we can lose sight of the priority of sacred time.
The genius of the liturgical year is the way it reminds us that time was transformed when the Divine Word became flesh. In that mystery of the Incarnation we may perceive that, in a sense, the Word became time. To put it another way, in Christ time takes on a sacramental dimension. The liturgical year bears this sacramental quality of memorial, actuation and prophecy. Time becomes a re-enactment of Christ's saving events, his being born in our flesh, his dying and rising for us in that human flesh. Time thus becomes a pressing sign of salvation, the "day of the Lord", his ever-present "hour of salvation", the kairos. Time on earth then becomes our pilgrimage though and beyond death towards the future Kingdom. The liturgical year is best understood both in its origins and current form in the way we experience time: in the light of the past, present, and future."

-Peter J. Elliott, Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year, Par. 6-7

These quotes are a brilliant foretaste of what is to come if you, dear reader, choose to delve into the mysteries of our faith and the liturgy. These selections from Msgr. Elliott's books are awesome and exciting, and I highly recommend reading them in context. So let me proceed to the purpose of this brief note, which contains my recommendations for the study of liturgy. Hopefully you already own a copy of the Sacred Scriptures, as well as the Catechism, Daily Roman Missal, and the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal); these are the essentials that one should own as a Catholic anyway. No matter what your age or state in life may be, my next recommendation would be to purchase the Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite 2nd Editon, and the Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year. Any Catholic will benefit from the perusal of these volumes (the introductions alone are worth the price of the books), and for the aspiring student of liturgy there is no better springboard.

Now, for the majority of Catholics a decent portion of the other books listed might be superfluous: but for all that, this sort of superfluity is a good sort, for it aids in the search for Truth, which is the highest goal of a Christian's life. So, I would recommend considering the entire list of volumes for long term purchase. Of course, by no means is this an exhaustive list: if you find areas of particular interest to you then branch off in that direction; there is no obligation to study one thing more than another. I still have many gaps in my library which I am planning to fill when I have the funds!

If your area of interest is serving at the altar, or if you are a sacristan, Master of Ceremonies, deacon, or even a priest, top of the list would be again, Msgr. Elliott's wonderful books, followed by the Ceremonial of Bishops, the GIRM, the Missale Romanum, and any books of ritual of your choice. The books of ritual that I use are my personal preference, and I would recommend them for study and practice. (See list above for books of rite and ritual.) Also worthy of particular mention is the book How to Serve (found in the above list as well), specifically for altar boys. The book is written for servers of the Extraordinary Form, but I have found it extremely useful in studying and training servers for the Ordinary Form as well; many of the instructions for deportment and even liturgical actions are the same or similar.

A last word: This field of study is important for us. It doesn't matter if you think you're not qualified to read these books; I'm not "qualified" either, but we all go to Mass at least once a week, and a lot of us participate in liturgy every day. However, we can't  just participate in liturgy without knowing anything (much) about what we're doing. How can we fully appreciate our majestic ceremonies and rituals without careful study? The great Fr. Z of blogging notoriety steps in here with this post about the importance of liturgy. Please take a moment to follow the link, and don't give up on this study; it's Important!

Save the Liturgy, Save the World!


Posted on January 2, 2014 and filed under Family Life, homeschooling, high school.