St. Luke Church is a beautiful environment for prayer, reflection and celebration of the Eucharist. It is filled with rich symbolism … from the windows depicting the Creed … to the altar mosaic of the pelican that feeds its young by shedding its own blood … to the position of the altar that centers our thoughts on the great sacrifice of Jesus re-lived with every Mass.
Having such a magnificent environment as the setting for parish worship is daunting for the St. Luke Liturgical Environment Committee. How can the environment be any better than it already is in helping our parish community pray? This is the question the Committee asks itself before doing anything.
As a general rule, the Committee adds sensory elements to the environment during the high seasons and during special feasts — most of them religious but a few secular, such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. The secular celebrations the parish commemorates with a Mass are special because those who attend do so out of desire, not out of a sense of obligation.
In all cases, the Committee plans the environment with the goal of helping the parish reflect more profoundly on the occasion celebrated and the theme encouraged. For example: expectation and preparation during Advent, repentance during Lent, joy during the Christmas and Easter seasons, and strength and inspiration at Pentecost. The sights, smells, and sometimes, sounds appropriate to each season or feast enhance the liturgical environment.
The Committee's goal is never just to create an attractive space. Rather it tries to help the parish reflect on each occasion and inspire deeper prayer. At the Thanksgiving Day Mass, for example, the products of the harvest recall the daily bounty of gifts we receive from God. At Easter, the re-creation of the garden referenced in St. John's Gospel reminds us that, through His death, Jesus transforms the failed garden of Paradise into the "garden" of humankind's redemption. At Christmas we place the nativity crèche directly facing the crucifixion scene so we can reflect on the full circle of the life of Jesus. On Epiphany Sunday, the three large candles placed before the altar remind us of the Three Kings' journey in search of Jesus, paralleling our own journey toward Him. The flame-shaped Pentecost flowers recall the Holy Spirit descending in tongues of fire to enflame the hearts of the early Church members and, we hope, to enflame our hearts today. The list goes on and on, but all environmental choices stem from the Committee's commitment to help us pray and reflect.
It takes a great deal of work to prepare the environment throughout the liturgical year. Dedicated parishioners — both women and men — are called to work at this unusual ministry. The Committee always welcomes new members, and also ideas and views of parishioners. Just let the Parish Office know if you are interested in serving on the Committee. Equally important, we ask your prayers that the Holy Spirit guide the Committee's hands and hearts to inspire the parish and praise God through our work and through the parish's collective worship.
For more information, contact Sarina Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 708-771-9588.