Devotions
Part 1 Introduction

Chapter v12 Introduction
12:629 Catholic Devotions - Spring 2014

12:629 Catholic Devotions

Rational for this Course

Reading Assignments

Class Method

Rational for this Course

This course studies the interaction and relationship between the "official" Liturgical Prayer of the Roman Catholic Church and popular devotions, piety, and religious culture.

In our times, studies of generational differences between Catholics shed important light on this relationship  liturgy-devotion.

Furthermore, one's culture and faith journey play an important role in shaping how we pray.

"For generations, American Catholics . . . lived out their faith through countless unremarkable routines.  Deep questions of theology usually meant little to them, but parishioners clung to deeply ingrained habits of devotion, both public and private. Particular devotions changed over time, waxing or waning in popularity, but the habits endured: going to Mass on Sunday, saying prayers privately and teaching their children to do the same, filling their homes with crucifixes and other religious images, participating in special services, blending the church's calendar of feast and fast days with the secular cycles of work and citizenship, negotiating their conformity (or not) to the church's demands regarding sexual behavior and even diet. ...  It was religious practice, carried out in daily and weekly observance, that embodied their faith, more than any abstract set of dogmas."  (James O'Toole, Habits of Devotion)

Most of our days in a school of theology are spent examining church teaching, dogma, theology....  In this seminar we step aside for a moment and look at the "non-intellectual" side of religion and consider the affective dimensions of Catholicism. 
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Reading Assignments

Text One: The Directory   The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline for the Sacraments (December, 2001) addressed the issue of the relation between "liturgy" and "devotions"  in The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines.  The text of this document is  available in English on the Vatican web site  It is also available in book form from Pauline Books & Media (2003).  Paperback.   ISBN: 081981881X   This directory is a rather long and rambling document and we will study it through the commentary on the Directory edited by Peter Phan:  Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy:  Principles and Guidelines are Commentary.  (ISBN 0-8146-2893-1)   For the past several years I have participated with other scholars at the North American Academy of Liturgy in studying the relation between "prayer" and "culture".   This Commentary has been written by various participants in this seminar and by other scholars who have particular expertise in these areas.    The Commentary is especially helpful in evaluating The Directory and in applying it to our American cultural and pastoral context. 

Text Two:  Overview    The Monks of St. Meinrad. The Tradition of Catholic Prayer; Liturgical Press. ISBN 0-8146-3183-4.  A collection of very fine essays on the various topics related to this course.

Text Three:  History  The third text we will study is of a different nature from the first two texts.  James O'Toole (editor) in Habits of Devotion: Catholic Religious Practice in Twentieth-Century America (Cushwa Center, ISBN 0801442567) has given us a history of devotions in in the United States.  The introduction of the book states:

In Habits of Devotion, four senior scholars take the measure of the central religious practices and devotions that by the middle of the twentieth century defined the "ordinary, week-to-week religion" of the majority of American Catholics. Their essays investigate 1) prayer, 2) devotion to Mary, 3) confession, and 4) the Eucharist as practiced by Catholics in the United States before and shortly after the Second Vatican Council.

James M. O'Toole is Professor of History at Boston College. He is the author of Passing for White: Race, Religion, and the Healy Family, 1820--1920 and Militant and Triumphant: William Henry O'Connell and the Catholic Church in Boston, 1859--1944. He is also coeditor of Boston's Histories: Essays in Honor of Thomas H. O'Connor.

Text Three:  Norms and Criteria    We will also read Marialis Cultus, by Pope Paul VI, his Apostolic Exhortation for the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, (February 2, 1974).  The text available in English on the Vatican web site. This is the best official statement on devotion to Mary that we have currently in the Church.  In addition, the norms given for proper Marian devotion also apply to devotion to the saints.

Suggested Reading: 

United States Catholic Conference. Solemn Exposition of the Holy Eucharist.   Liturgy Documentary Series #11 (USCCB, 1996.  Publication No. 5-106).  ISBN 1-57445-106-X.  This text seems to be currently out of print.

Charles H.  Lippy.  Being Religious, American Style: A History of Popular Religiosity in the United States. Westport ,CT: Greenwood. (Praeger Publishers) 1994 ISBN 0-275-94901-X. Paper. $22.95.  296 pages.

Orlando O. Espín.  The Faith of the People:  Theological Reflections on Popular Catholicism.  Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis Books, 1997.  ISBN 1-57075-0308.  $25.00.

Other works are suggested in Chapter v17 Bibliography

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Class Method

The course method is rather simple and straight forward.  We will read the texts according to the schedule indicated in the syllabus.  Before each class period, each participant in the seminar is to post an essay of 400-600 words  -- about one page -- on a topic related to the readings (as described above in the course syllabus) in the appropriate discussion box on MOODLE.   Participants are to post the assignment by midnight of the day before the class meeting.  The grade for the assignment will be lowered one letter grade if it is not posted before the deadline.  (I read the postings before the class meets in order to plan the class time to best meet your needs; I need the postings to prepare for the class meeting.)  I consider the postings very important because I want you to think about these matters -- and usually we are not sure what we are thinking till we express the ideas in writing or speaking.  During the semester, therefore, take every opportunity to write and speak!  

Before the class period I will read these essays.  I will then prepare appropriate lecture materials and during the class period I will present material which, I hope, complements the readings and your essays.  Each class period the participants will be asked to present their essay to the class.  We will then discuss the essay.  The class meetings are as interesting as the postings and presentations -- and in the past this has been very satisfactory for all concerned.

Catechesis is central to the ministry of the priest and lay professional.  Practice makes perfect.  I look upon these class presentations of your essays not as a way to "take up time" on a long afternoon but as important preparation and practice for this ministry which will be central to your vocational fulfillment and satisfaction. 

After each class period, I will adjust the "during class time" entry on the syllabus to reflect what we actually discussed; this will make it easier for you to review the material before the next class period.  For this reason I suggest that you work from the syllabus "on line" rather than from a "hard copy." 

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Outline of Topics

Part ONE: Prayer, Devotion, Liturgy

(Phan) Introduction. Popular Piety in the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines p. -18
(TCP) Prayer in the Old Testament, p. 3-20
(TCP) New Testament Boldness, p. 21-36
(TCP) Private Prayer in the Early Centuries, p. 37-50
(TCP) Prayer as Battle, p. 51-68
(TCP) Prayer as Journey, p. 69-88

(Phan) Chapter 1: Liturgy in Popular Piety in a Historical Perspective, p. 1-44
(Phan) Chapter 2: Liturgy and Popular Piety in the Church's Magisterium, p.45-58
(Phan) Chapter 3: Theological Principles for an Evaluation and Renewal of Popular Piety, p. 59
(TCP) The Counter-reformation, p. 89-106
TCP) Ordinary Life and Contemplation, p. 107-130
(O'Toole) The Catholic Community at Prayer, 1926-1976

PART TWO: Devotions and the Liturgical Year

(Phan) Chapter 4: the Liturgical Year and Popular Piety, p. 77-100
(TCP) The Liturgical Year, p. 131-146
(TCP) The Liturgy of the Hours, p. 147-166

PART THREE: Devotions to Our Lord

(O'Toole) In the Court of Conscience: American Catholics and Confession, 1900-1975
(TCP) The Eucharist, p. 167-186
(O'Toole) Let Us Go to the Altar: American Catholics in the Eucharist, 1926-1976

PART FOUR: Devotions to Mary

Marialis Cultus, Apostolic Exhortation for the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
(O'Toole) Marian Devotion since 1940: Continue with Continuity or Casualty?
(Phan) Chapter 5: Veneration of the Holy Mother of God, p. 101-112
(TCP) Praying with Mary and the Saints, p. 223-246

PART FIVE: Devotions to the Saints, Honoring the Dead, Shrines and Pilgrimages

(Phan) Chapter 6: Veneration of the Saints, p. 113-134
(Phan) Chapter 7: Suffrages for the Dead, p. 135-150
(Phan) Chapter 8: Shrines and Pilgrimages, p. 151-end  

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter. All Rights Reserved. This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.   Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own. Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it. This site was updated on 03/20/15. Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org