Workshops

John Gaffney is an experienced workshop/lecture creator and leader on Roman Catholic liturgical/musical topics for the parish, diocese, all the baptized (both lay and ordained alike). The three workshops described below have been the most popular (each on topics in liturgical theology which are essential for liturgical prayer to truly express the beliefs of the baptized, allowing that ancient axiom, “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi,” to continue to truly be part of the ethos of Roman liturgy)! John is also available to customize a workshop on any liturgical or musical topic for your parish, worshiping community or diocese. The workshops are guaranteed to lead those who participate in celebrating more authentic, noble and prayerful Roman liturgy!


Popular Workshops

The majority of the parishes in the USA are caught in what liturgists call, “the four hymn syndrome”, which basically means at Mass, the parish sings an “opening hymn”, “offertory hymn”, “Communion hymn” and “closing hymn” and perhaps sings some parts of the “Ordinary of Mass” (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei). This is not what the Church in her “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” (promulgated at Vatican Council II and with the other three Church constitutions, holds highest authority in the Church) describes as what should be sung at liturgy, nor is the musical schema described above part of the Roman liturgical tradition (from “the beginning”), nor what the current edition of the “Roman Missal” calls for and heavily promotes. This workshop walks the participants through the priority of what should be sung at Mass and the history and theology behind it: first and foremost, the “Order of Mass” (the dialogues between celebrant and congregation, such as the “Sign of the Cross”, “Apostolic Greeting”, etc.), secondly, the “Ordinary of Mass” (as described above), and thirdly the “Proper of Mass” (for Entrance, Offertory and Communion, a “Proper” [an antiphon and Psalm] is appointed to be sung for every liturgy on the Roman calendar. There is not now, nor has there ever been an official “closing hymn” in the Roman liturgy, nor is a “closing hymn” mentioned in any edition of the “Roman Missal” or in any official [“Holy See” promulgated] liturgy document). Metrical Hymnody is a Protestant invention and is somewhat “foreign” to the Roman Rite (that’s not to say metrical hymnody can never be utilized in Roman liturgy)…This workshop explains it all, including the history and theology of why and how the Church lost her sung liturgical tradition and now, in addition to the “Liturgy Constitution” of Vatican Council II, the current edition of the “Roman Missal” (Third Typical Edition), promotes sung liturgy as the “ideal” and what should be the “norm”, which unfortunately is not the case at most parishes or worshiping communities! This is perhaps the most needed workshop for dioceses, parishes, ordained ministers, lay ministers and all those baptized into the Roman Church as it greatly helps worshiping communities celebrate more authentic, prayerful and noble Roman liturgy (the workshop can be tailored for only ordained ministers, the entire parish, music ministers, etc.). Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, created the perfect analogy on sung liturgy, “For the early Church to speak a dialogue in the liturgy like, “The Lord be with you…and with your spirit”, instead of singing it, would be like us today going to a birthday party, gathering around the cake and speaking the words of the song, “Happy Birthday to You” instead of singing it or when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, those in “Times Square” speaking the words of “Auld Lang Zine” instead of singing it…all three of these examples just wouldn’t make sense.” That “ideal” of sung liturgy remains! This workshop will bring your parish, diocese or worshiping community to that musical/liturgical ideal and norm (no prior musical training required, and saying, “I can’t sing”, is not a pastoral reason for speaking most of the liturgy. If you can talk, you can sing, especially the very simple plainchant of the Order of Mass…again the first priority of what should be sung)!


“Eucharist: Meal, Sacrifice: Service” dives into sacramentality in general, the Sacrament of Eucharist, Eucharistic theology, basic liturgical theology and the liturgy in which Eucharist (Mass) is celebrated. The workshop focuses on how Eucharist is often misunderstood as simply an object that one receives and helps all who are participating better understand Eucharist as a multi-dimensional action, that indeed includes reception of the Body and Blood of Christ, but also so much more! The workshop first looks at sacramentality and helps those participaing to start to think in a “sacramental way.” It then presents the basic liturgical theology of the Church and what we are actually doing and participating in when we celebrate Eucharist. Finally, this workshop breaks open the theology of the two most significant dimensions of the full action of the Eucharistic liturgy: a “sacred meal” and a “holy sacrifice.” By understanding the theology of both of these dimensions of the action of Eucharist, those participating in this workshop will gain an excellent understanding on why and how Eucharist, both theologically and just plain logically, must lead to service and they will undoubtedly, the next time they participate in the Eucharistic liturgy, go forth and enter into service!


On the first Sunday of Advent, 2011, the Roman Church in the United States began using the new English Translation of the “Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition.” Much of the “Order of Mass” (the dialogues between celebrant and congregation, such as the “Apostolic Greeting” [“The Lord be with you…And with your spirit”], “Preface Dialogue” [“The Lord be with you…and with your spirit…Lift up your hearts…we lift them up to the Lord…Let us give thanks to the Lord our God…It is right and just], etc.), much of the “Ordinary of Mass” (especially the Gloria and Credo), all the orations for every liturgy [Collect, Prayer Over the Gifts, Prayer after Communion] and the Eucharistic Prayers [the preface dialogue, the prefaces, the “words of institution” and more]) were retranslated from the Latin of the “Misale Romanum, Editio Typica Tertia”, using a different translation method (formal translation) than what was used to translate the “Roman Missal, Second Typical Edition” from Latin to English, (dynamic translation), which Roman Catholics used to celebrate Eucharist for almost four decades. Even now, over ten years later, most Roman Catholics do not have a complete understanding of the theology behind the new translations of the words they use to celebrate the “source and summit” of the entire life of the Church. This workshop takes those participating through the whole translation process of the “Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition”, the difference between dynamic and formal translation, the theology behind each of the translation changes that occurred in the Eucharistic liturgy (Mass) and why the formal translation method creates a more theologically accurate translation of the words we use in the liturgy of the Church. This is extremely important for all the baptized to have a complete and accurate understanding of since the very ethos of Roman Liturgy is that ancient axiom ”Lex Orandi, Lex Credindi,” which relates the manner in which we pray (including the words we use) to accurately expressing what we believe. After all, how can one enter into “fully conscious and active participation” in the liturgy, which is the ”aim to be considered before all else,” if one does not understand the theology behind the words they are using in this most sacred and important action, their right and duty by reason of their baptism (c.f. “Sacrosanctum Concilium”)?

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