“We never lack liturgical challenges, and new ones keep appearing, but we have well-prepared liturgists in Poland who watch over the correctness of liturgy,” Bishop Adam Bałabuch stressed, summing up his ministry as the president of the Commission for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. He served two consecutive five-year terms.
According to the Auxiliary Bishop of Świdnica, Adam Bałabuch, in recent years the main task of the episcopate’s Commission for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has been the translation of the third typical edition of the Missale Romanum(Roman Missal), published in 2002/2008, which had already begun during the term of his predecessor, Bishop Stefan Cichy. The Commission was also involved in the preparation of the new Lectionary and in instructions and guidelines on liturgical matters. “It was a very busy time for our Commission. The meeting time was extended to two or even three days four times a year. And yet the Commission did not have enough time to complete all its tasks,ˮ said Bishop Bałabuch.
Bishop Bałabuch stressed that the constant challenge for the Commission for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will be to prepare up-to-dated editions of liturgical books and translate liturgical texts, especially the forms of Mass. “For, the point is to faithfully render the theological thought contained in the Latin text, while expressing it in a correctly and in understandable terms in Polish,ˮ he said. “Topics for the work of the Commission come, among other sources, from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the form of new documents that need to be translated and adapted to Polish conditions (for example, new guidelines for the ministry of lector and acolyte). There are also topics submitted by different groups to the Commission, or simply life brings along new challenges, such as those in the time of the pandemic,” he said.
The long-time president of the Commission for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments noted that, in Poland, there are many “good and competent liturgists who wisely and responsibly shape the liturgical attitudes of the Polish clergy.ˮ “The temptation to introduce into the liturgy personal ideas that are incompatible with the current liturgical norms—for example, introducing oneʹs own introductions or commentaries where the liturgical text should be faithfully used—always remains a threat,” he said.
He also stressed that many of the faithful are interested in liturgical questions, especially the current norms related to the celebration of the Mass and other sacraments or services. “This is shown by the number of questions that arrive at our Commission’s email address,” he added. He pointed out the importance for both priests and the faithful to treat sacred things as sacred. “The aim is to become a witness of the celebrated mystery, so that living faith and deep piety may be revealed,” he stressed. “I cannot enter more deeply into the celebration of liturgical rites if I am not in communion with Jesus, whose mystery I celebrate. Therefore, the concern about spirituality, for my daily communion with Christ, is also a concern for the correct, deep, living faith in the liturgy. Always celebrating or participating in the sacraments flows from my spirituality, from my inner friendship with Christ, from being rooted in Christ as our Lord and Savior. Here, our spiritual life is shown to be decisive—then, I will always treat what I do in the liturgy in a holy way, I will always be aware of who I represent. It is very important not to get used to this liturgy as the years go by, but to constantly experience it anew and more deeply. This is the key to deep celebration and participation in the liturgy,” he said.
Bishop Balabuch considered the greatest challenge for the Commission for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the near future will be the completion of the translation of the new edition of the Roman Missal and preparing it to be printed. “There is also much other work begun that needs to be continued, for example, the Instruction of the Bishops’ Conference on the ministry of lector and acolyte. Work on the new edition of the Liturgy of the Hours will also be a challenge,” he added. He wished his successor God’s blessing and the light of the Holy Spirit, a competent group of members and consultants of the Commission, as well as perseverance and health. “I thank the Lord God that I was able to work with such a competent team. I express my great gratitude to all the members and consultors of the Commission for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments with whom I had the opportunity to collaborate. They have very heartily devoted much time to the Church in Poland,” he stressed.
In connection with the end of Bishop Adam Bałabuch’s second term as president of the Commission for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the 389th Plenary Assembly of the Polish Episcopal Conference elected his successor during its session on 11 and 12 June 2021 in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. Bishop Piotr Greger, auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec, the Commission’s new president is a former member.
The task of the Commission for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is to assist the Polish Bishops’ Conference in its responsibility for liturgy and liturgical pastoral ministry, in accordance with the directives issued by the Holy See. The Commission, among other things, prepares translations of Latin liturgical texts into Polish, revises the linguistic correctness of liturgical books that have already been published, as well as the layout of their contents, the choice of biblical readings, and the preparation of the drafts of decrees and instructions concerning celebration of the Mass and sacraments. It also maintains contact with the diocesan Liturgical Commissions, the centers for the Liturgical Apostolate, and the liturgical directors of Polish provinces of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, and it provides explanations regarding the liturgy and forms of popular piety. The Commission has two sub-commissions, one for church music and the other for Liturgical Service, and a Team for Eucharistic Matter. The Commission publishes the quarterly bulletin Anamnezis. It presents all current issues and documents concerning liturgy issued by the Holy See and the Polish Bishops’ Conference.
Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference
Translation: P. Nau / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference.