“‘Indigenous liturgical adaptations” submitted to the Vatican for approval

Last March I posted about the proposal to “incorporate in the Catholic Eucharistic celebration indigenous Mayan rites” in Southern Mexico, centered around the Dioceses of San Cristóbal de Las Casas.  Now more details have been made public. The Mexican bishops’ conference have finished work on series of Indigenous liturgical adaptations for the celebration of the Eucharist for the “original peoples” of Mexico. During their 114th plenary assembly last April , the Mexican considered these adaptations and held a vote on them, where 103 of the 105 bishops voted to approve the adaptations.

ACI Prensa, the Spanish-language news partner of Catholic News Association (a service of EWTN News) Interviewed Cardinal Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel. Arizmendi is the emeritus bishop of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and coordinated the effort to prepare the proposed adaptations. CNA has published an English version of the story. Arizmendi has explained that “advancing the progress of inculturation of the Church in the native peoples and of taking responsibility for the celebration of Holy Mass with some elements of these cultures.”

 While earlier reports on the endeavor compared it to the Zaire Missal, the Cardinal explained that it’s not a question of creating a new Indigenous rite but of incorporating into the liturgy various ways of relating to God of these peoples and which express the same thing as the Roman rite, but in its cultural form.”

The adaptations were delivered to the Dicastery for Divine Worship in Rome where they are awaiting final approval. Arizmendi gave some details of the proposed adaptations that “can be incorporated into the Holy Mass without harming the eucharistic liturgy.” Three examples were mentioned.

The first of these is allowing a layman or laywoman to incense “the altar, the crucifix, the images, the offerings,” after the priest has blessed the incense.

The second is the appointment of a “senior layperson” would also be incorporated into the liturgical life of the community. This minister “is a man or woman who in the communities is entrusted with praying for the community; it’s a traditional position and is ordinarily called that by tradition and is chosen by the community, because they trust him or her.”

Finally, ritual dance would serve as a “Thanksgiving after Communion, [whereby] on some occasions, thanksgiving is performed with a ritual dance (light movements of the body), accompanied by instrumental music typical of the place.”


Cover art: Detail of the façade of la Iglesia de Santo Domingo in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas Mexico, from Wikimedia Commons

8 thoughts on ““‘Indigenous liturgical adaptations” submitted to the Vatican for approval

  1. Is there a missing word here:

    he first of these is allowing a layman or laywoman to {do what to} “the altar, the crucifix, the images, the offerings,” after the priest has blessed the incense.

  2. First, for me it is difficult to see why we are departing from the singular expression of the Roman Rite in an area which ostensibly has been Catholic for centuries.

    Second, as to the senior lay people entrusted to pray on behalf of the community, to the extent these are men, shouldn’t we be encouraging them to the diaconate?

    1. Regarding the first point, I don’t think that has been much more than an aspiration, There definitely are vastly different style of celebrating throughout the world, as it is, without the use of modifications. This is not to mention the Roman Missal for use in Zaire of the Ordinate Divine Worship – the Missal.

      Regarding the second point, it is both laymen and laywomen. Although I don’t see why they wouldn’t be instituted as lectors, acolytes or catechists. Indeed there have been some suggestions to create a sort of new subdeacon type of minister who receives all 3 of the lay ministries (this is in particular as the lines between them are somewhat blurred).

      1. and as we ask these questions and consider the range of responses we might also recognizes echoes of how what some imagine was necessarily Original Simplicity(TM) in liturgy … evolved.

  3. Since the sacrifice of incense is an important part of the Biblical worldview, I hope that these adaptions will encourage the greater use of offering incense where they are permitted.

    1. Yes, I hope so. I can’t remember the last time that I saw incense being used in an Irish parish outside of funerals (when it is only used once at the end of the liturgy for the farewell). Indeed a few years ago I brought incense from Jerusalem to a parish I was helping in on Christmas morning, only to be told that they didn’t even have a thurible or charcoal and borrowed them from another church when they had funerals!

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