Rev. Dr. Jim Waters, PhD Chancellor   [email protected]


                    Dynamics of Liturgical Celebration

"The Dynamics of Ritual Celebration"

Joseph Martos, Ph.D.

Introduction by Sister E. Ryan:

Dr. Martos is professor Religious Studies and director of the Institute of Religion and Ministry at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. He has also taught at Russell Institute. He has written several books, Sacraments and Doors to the Sacred. He speaks through out the U.S.

His own background of himself:

This is his forth time in San Antonio. (ICW?). He was in the seminary during the 1960's and studies in Rome at Gregorian University. He left the seminary and studied at Boston Collage and finished at DePaul University. After his graduation he was a parish DRE. He got a job in Sioux City, Iowa to teach a course of the sacraments. He discovered there was no book available on the history of the sacraments and researched the history and finally wrote a book on the subject. He is considered a Sacramental Theologian. He never got a course of the sacraments while he was in the Seminary.

Write up in brochure about this workshop:

An examination of liturgical workshop from the perspective of ritual celebration, especially how recent research in ritual studies contributes to our understanding of liturgy.

Workshop notes taken--this is no a word for word account:

What do we do for worship when we get together, especially if there is no presider. The number of priest is declining, therefore forcing us to look how we worship. There is a danger and an opportunity. We have the opportunity to be more creative in our Sunday worship. We can be more creative than if we have to follow the prescribed procedures. We can be more creative that with a Eucharistic Service. We will be talking how we will understand Eucharist worship today and in the future.

Dynamics of Celebration:

Ritual is looked as human. (Referring to in the Social Sciences.) We will not get into the theology of ritual this morning. Dr. Martos has his own convictions and he says people should do their own theologizing. He wants to help you to learn your own Eucharistic theology.

We will talk about four areas of "Ritual". We will talk about (1) Individual Ritual, (2) Group ritual, (3) the meaning of Ritual and (4) Communal Ritual.


Ritual is doing same thing in approximately same way every time we do it. An example of a daily ritual would be awaking each morning, getting up, brushing our teeth, etc. All ritual is learned--we are not born with them and we have to practice rituals. Person rituals are called skills. When skills are socially disagreeable or harmful they are called habits. All rituals are made up of little rituals. Everything that is true of an "individual ritual" is true of "Group Rituals". There is Repetition meaning practice.


There are two dimensions In-Group Ritual:

1) Transition--going from one way of relating to another, "Rights of Passage" for example; graduation, wedding, ordination.

2) Celebration--the intensification of meaning and value.

In the Church there are Rights of Passage, the Sacraments. Six of the seven Sacraments move us from one state to another. (The Eucharist is the one that does not.)


Meaning does not come from ritual itself--if a being from Mars came to Earth--how would he know what shaking hands meant? Meaning comes from Referent--what the celebration refers to.


In any celebration, there are layers of meanings as there are layers of involvement. The meaning of the Birthday party for the individual is be celebrate becoming one year older, the meaning to others they know each other and are friends and relatives celebrating with you. Therefore meaning involves only those who know me. The birthday has a past, a present and a future. The person with the birthday has had prior birthdays, is having one now and will probably have others.

The levels of meaning are (1) Personal, (2) Group and (3) Social.

If a national holiday were substituted then there would be a greater Social meaning because others would be involved with that national holiday.

SUBSTITUTING NOW USING THE EUCHARIST: When a theologian or a priest talk of the Eucharist they are talking on the ecclesiastical level (Social).

When a child say the Mass is boring--they are using the personal level.

The personal level is felt rather that thought.

The Ecclesicical level has control and tells us the meaning.

Some ritual is not in Canon Law. Non-Eucharistic Service--there are no rules--no rubrics.

Communion Service is not ruled out. (??? not sure of his actual words here)


There is non-Eucharist worship --look at the Protestant Churches.

Many ways to show love--a person can receive wild flowers or roses--it all depends on the referent. What the ritual points to or expresses is not a meaning. The reference is always a reality, which has meaning. (???) Meaning itself is a thought.

Liturgy is meaning at communal level only to extent that it points to actual reality in the lives of people in the group. (?)

A Mass--people know other but no real relationship. The meanfulness revolves around the people they know. (???)

The meaning of the liturgy had been established by relationship in three ways:

1) Personal & Communal Sharing: experiences/faith journeys Protestant do this more than Catholics after they come to know the Lord, they do more personal sharing.

2) Communal Acting: people doing things together. This happened more in the past, i.e. raising a barn.

3) Interpersonal Caring: usually when tragedy strikes, people share grief.

In small Church Community, the Protestant Church does better. People care for one another. There are structures of caring to help one another.

In the New Testament the word "Love" is agape, an active word. Today we use it as "like", to like one another.


Ritual: learned by practice Liturgy: must be planned, then implemented, then revised (best to have a large group to do this) then steps start over again.

Complex Ritual: composed of lots of simple rituals.

Transition Rituals: Celebrate and bring about changes in peoples lives.

Meaning of Rituals: Comes from outside especially Communal Level is in direct proportion.

      A Contemporary Order of Mass, The full liturgy