Pastor’s Corner for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, by Fr. Bruce Botha SJ

For the gift of diversity in the Church

 Let us pray that the Spirit help us recognize the gift of different charisms

within the Christian community,

and to discover the richness of different ritual traditions in the heart of the Catholic Church.



In my almost 20 years of being a parish priest I have come to learn that people do not usually like diversity. We know what we like, and that’s all there is to it, especially when it comes to liturgy. It’s OK to have preferences, if we are also aware that simply because we prefer something done a particular way doesn’t make it the only way to do it. Put differently, just because we don’t like something done a particular way doesn’t make it wrong. When I was at St Martin de Porres, the tradition was to only have boys as acolytes. Here at Holy Trinity, we have a different tradition. In this matter there was no right or wrong, just different traditions that grew out of different contexts.


I think that’s why it is important that we pray with Pope Francis his January intention, that we may come to a greater appreciation of the diversity of charisms and ritual traditions within the Church. There are 7 different rites or liturgical traditions in the Church: Latin, Byzantine, Alexandrian, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite and Chaldean. We belong to the Latin, or Roman Rite. As the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis is the head of the Latin Rite. This is by far the largest rite in the Church. It was founded by St. Peter in Rome around 42 A.D. Our current Eucharistic liturgy was handed down from at least the 4th century. This was the liturgy used in Rome. There were other liturgies used in the West up to the Council of Trent (1526-1570). After the Council of Trent only the Roman liturgy could be used. After the Second Vatican Council, vernacular languages replaced Latin, and the Latin Rite became more dialogical, with an emphasis on the participation of all people in the liturgy through their singing and responses.


Pope Paul VI said, “Liturgy is like a strong tree whose beauty is derived from the continuous renewal of its leaves, but whose strength comes from the old trunk, with solid roots in the ground.” This idea is what guides the liturgy here at Holy Trinity.


We have three quite different liturgical expressions of the Roman Rite for our three Sunday liturgies. The 07h30 is quiet, a reflective and meditative space to start the day. The 09h30 is the main parish sung mass, which draws on the rich tradition of the Church going back more than 1000 years. The 16h00 mass is more youth focused and has music in 6 to 8 languages from all over the continent.


I would like to encourage you to occasionally try something different, something out of your comfort zone. Come in with the mindset that it’s not wrong just because its different, or not what you are used to. Try to appreciate each of the liturgies for what they are, and not criticise them for what they are not.


Fr Bruce Botha SJ