Words from Bishop Serratelli

Posted by Jeffrey Pinyan at 7:15 PM

On Tuesday of this past week, I mailed a letter and a copy of Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People to the Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli, Bishop of Paterson, NJ, and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship.

Your Excellency:

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. My name is Jeffrey Pinyan, and I am a parishioner of Queenship of Mary in Plainsboro, in the diocese of Metuchen. I am writing to you in your capacity as the chairman of the US Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship. Since experiencing a reawakening of my faith three years ago, I have spent a great amount of time reading the documents of the Church concerning the sacred liturgy. I have been closely following the developments concerning the new English translation of the latest edition of the Roman Missal.

As soon as the "study text" of the Ordinary of the Mass was made available last year, I set myself to studying it and researching the theology and symbolism of the Mass. Between the months of February and July, I spent at least a whole day a week writing the book I have enclosed with this letter. Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People is my personal contribution to the continued call from the Church – from Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium, to the 1985 Extraordinary Synod's report, to Pope Benedict XVI's Sacramentum Caritatis – for a "mystagogical catechesis" on the liturgy. It was my goal to interpret the liturgical rites in the light of salvation history, explain their purpose and symbolism, and relate them to the Christian life. (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis 64) In doing so, I sought to provide numerous Scriptural annotations, references to the Catechism, and quotes from Church Fathers.

Each chapter begins with a quote from the Old Testament and the New Testament as a testimony to the unity of Scripture and the roots of Christian liturgical worship. Each chapter ends with questions centered on the three goals of mystagogy (interpretation, explanation, relation), suitable for private reflection or group discussion. The introduction to the book includes a generous sampling of Magisterial instruction regarding "participation" in the Mass, the purpose of liturgical catechesis, and the roles of Latin and the vernacular in the liturgy.

I have sent this book to you for two reasons. First, as a pledge that there are many in the Church – clergy, religious, and laity – who support the revised English translation, and who are prepared to render whatever assistance they are capable of. Second, as a "first fruits" (if I may be so bold) of the latest call by the bishops of our country for catechetical resources for the faithful which will help to acclimate them to the coming new translation. My book, while focused on the prayers of the congregation, is also suitable for clergy and could be useful for those charged with liturgical catechesis of their flocks. I have already begun work on a second volume which covers the prayers of the priest. I plan on sending a complimentary copy of the first volume to all the bishops of New Jersey and to several other bishops in the United States.

I am aware that you are a busy man, responsible not only for the care of souls in your diocese but also for the promotion of the liturgy throughout the United States. Still, if you can find time in your schedule, I would be most grateful if I could meet with you in person about this book and its potential, not only for our country, but for all English-speaking Catholics around the world. At the very least, your blessing and endorsement of this book would be most beneficial to this little apostolate of mine. Whatever you decide on the matter, I remain

Faithfully yours in Christ Jesus,
Jeffrey Pinyan
Today, I received a reply (dated October 1):
Dear Mr. Pinyan,

Many, many thanks for sending me the copy of your new book, Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People and also your wonderful letter.

In fact, on Monday I leave for the meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. I will take the book with me and read it.

When I get back, we could arrange an appointment. I would be happy to meet with you.

God bless.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli, S.T.D., S.S.L., D.D.
Bishop of Paterson
I am quite excited.  My timing was great, thanks be to God!  Stay tuned for developments!