• There is no priest available in the village church in Niuran, in the Yunnan province of China, so Catholics chant prayers passed down from French missionaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Worship is a term that applies to prayer in many forms and settings, of course, but this section of the Catholics & Cultures site exists in particular to focus attention on communal worship at the liturgy, particularly in ordinary parish settings.

Liturgy has always been embedded in a cultural context that shapes how humans experience it, even as the Church has tried in a number of ways to make the experience more uniform. The post-Vatican II Church has allowed for more inculturation than in the several centuries preceding that Council, and it is certainly fair to say that even more inculturation takes place worldwide than is formally sanctioned.

Given Catholics & Cultures' focus on lived Catholicism, our interest here is to some degree on cultural, stylistic variations on how the liturgy is celebrated at the altar and in the sanctuary, in front of the faithful. Our priority is on lay people's experience of the liturgy, and less on the perspective of the priest-celebrant. 

The pages here provide opportunities to describe such things as:

  • whether and how other devotions and activities are incorporated into the liturgy;
  • what roles lay people have at the altar;
  • how movement plays a role in liturgy - whether people perceive stillness or motion, or standing or kneeling, as appropriate signs of devotion;
  • how people greet one another at the kiss of peace and expect to relate to one another during the liturgy; and
  • how language affects the meaning of the liturgy, whether in a translated vernacular or in an ancient language still used in an Eastern rite. 

Most pages will endeavor to give at least a video sample of a liturgy in a certain place.

Given its growing importance in many parts of the world, charismatic forms of worship are given their own section on this site.

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Mark R. Francis, Local Worship, Global Church: Popular Religion and the Liturgy (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2014).

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