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SIBU (Herald Malaysia)): The 17th Episcopal Regional Liturgical Commission (ERLC) meeting was held in Sibu Apr 20-23. Headed by Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang Diocese, all the Arch/Dioceses from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei were represented except for the Dioceses of Miri and Keningau.
The delegates were welcomed with a dinner hosted by Bishop Joseph Hii of Sibu on Monday night.
The meeting proper began on Tuesday. Bishop Sebastian, in his opening speech spoke on how all those present have a task to focus on the liturgy. He said, “We the laity and priests present at this meeting, have a special task/vocation/calling/ role of connecting people to God through liturgy. It is our primary responsibility, priests in particular, to mediate, not only between God and people, but also between ourselves, the people of God, i.e. the vertical and horizontal dimension through the liturgical celebration.”
Fr Vincent Chin from Kuching Archdiocese, the Executive secretary, reported that the Marriage Rite and Confirmation Rite have yet to receive recognitio. One of the reasons could be due to the change in the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Cardinal Robert Sarah is now the Prefect in charge. He took over from Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera.
The delegates were asked to give their liturgical input on some queries which had cropped up. Among them were Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation, the Sign of Peace, non-celebrant priest reading the Gospel and on Fast and Abstinence.
There was also a long discussion on the length of homilies which brought varying input from the laity as well as priests and bishops present.
With regards to the translations of the Roman Missal into the vernacular languages, Fr John Yeow from Melaka-Johor Diocese has been tasked to liaise with Taiwan for the changes in Mandarin.
Fr Jude Miranda from Penang Diocese will liaise with India. It was reported that the Missal in Tamil has been sent to Rome for recognitio.
As there was no representation from Keningau, it was a bit difficult to move ahead on the BM translation.
An ad-hoc committee has been formed, under Msgr Leonard Lexson from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, to look into the revision of the Sing Your Praise To God (SYPG). The members are from the various arch/dioceses in the region.
Neil Mah from Kota Kinabalu gave an update of the progress made. The principle task of the committee is to select hymns appropriate for Mass on Sundays of the Ordinary Time and for the Liturgical Season. Therefore, the selection of sacred hymns or, for that matter, sacred music, is carefully studied by the Committee, for the hymns have to aid, support, elevate and better express the actions of the sacred liturgy as propounded in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CC1157).
In the evaluation of hymns, the Committee is consistently conscious of the liturgical principles articulated in Sancrosanctum Concilium (CC112); Musicam Sacram (CC 31, 5), the New Roman Missal and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM).
Neil explained that the Committee examined each hymn and judged it on its doctrinal, literary and musical merits.
The Committee agreed on classifying hymns according to the terms used for the rites in the Liturgical celebration found in the New Roman Missal and the GIRM. There will be no review of the hymns in BM as there is no committee conversant in BM to undertake that at present.
Neil also gave examples of hymns which were not suitable. Hymns should not reflect personal relationships, nor should they be sentimental as the Mass is communal prayer among the faithful.
The Committee is, at the moment, searching for Christmas hymns appropriate for Mass, as the present repertoire is mostly suitable for carolling.
Aside from a few minor disagreements, the delegates were appreciative of the work done. Msgr Leonard and three others will present their report to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in July.
The Arch/Dioceses then presented their reports of what they had done in 2014, and the plans for 2015. Bishop Sebastian then suggested that a list of resource people in the different areas of liturgy be compiled and shared among the dioceses. At the same time, any queries or help needed should be sent to the recording secretary who can then forward the query to the relevant parties.
The next ERLC meeting will be hosted by the Archdiocese of Singapore.
On Thursday, April 23, the delegates were taken on a tour of some of the parishes, as well as a grotto in Sarikei.
The tour ended with Vespers and Mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral.