Felix Just, S.J.
Dept. of Theology & Religious Studies
University of San Francisco
Project/Paper Guidelines - Spring 2006
Purpose: To learn about the similarities
and differences in how various groups of Christians worship, and to see how liturgy
(how people worship) is connected to theology (what people believe). You will
attend liturgical services at three different Christian denominations, compare and
contrast what you experienced, process all this with your discussion group, and then
write a short paper to synthesize what you observed and learned.
An old Latin saying, lex orandi, lex credendi (lit. "the law of praying
is the law of believing"), implies that theology influences prayer and prayer
influences theology. In other words, by seeing how various communities worship, you
can also understand the similarities and differences in what they believe (and vice-versa!).
Project & Procedures:
Choose three different Christian denominations, and prepare
for your visits in advance:
For variety, choose only one church from each main branch of Christianity:
Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, mainline Protestant (Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian,
Methodist, etc.), or newer Protestant denominations (evangelical, fundamentalist,
independent, restorationist, etc.). I suggest you visit them in this historical
Use a phone book and/or the internet to find out what each church's worship
schedule is and when their main weekend worship service is. Make sure it is in
a language you can understand, and that they are open to visitors.
Check out each church's website, if available, and do some research about
the denominations (encyclopedias, Wikipedia.com, etc.), so you will know what
to expect even before you attend.
REVISED DATE: By MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, submit a one-page proposal
listing which churches you plan to attend, where, and when.
[You will have opportunity to research and arrange this during your discussion
group meeting from Feb. 22-26.]
Attend the main weekend liturgical services at three different
Attend services on or before April 2, so they will all be during Ordinary
Time or Lent, but before Easter.
You may go alone, but I strongly suggest you go together with other students
from your discussion group.
Arrive early, so that you can look around a bit before the service begins,
and observe everything that happens.
Obtain a "bulletin" or "worship aide" or other dated printed
material from each of the churches you attend.
If possible, talk to a minister or some parishioners after the service, so
they can answer your questions.
Analyze each worship service, and compare and contrast the
three, paying attention to the following aspects:
terminology: what does each church call their service? Mass, Eucharist,
Communion, Sunday Worship, etc.?
ministry roles: who lead the worship? who else did what? how did the
use of Scripture: did they use a Lectionary? how many readings were
there? from which biblical books?
frequency of Communion: did the service include communion? how often
does this church share communion?
elements of Communion: what kind of bread and wine did they use? how
was it shared among the people?
role of music: how did music fit into the service? what kind of music
was used? choir? instruments?
use of books: did the people use any hymnals, missalettes, Bibles,
worship aids, other literature? which ones?
influence of art: is there any art in the church? what kind? where?
does it affect the service? how?
influence of architecture: what type of building is it? who sits where?
where does the "action" occur? etc.
Discuss your observations and insights with the members of your
regular discussion group.
in your group meeting from April 5-10, share with each other what you
observed and learned on your visits;
did you have similar experiences or different impressions? was your experience
typical of each denomination?
be sure to include what you learned about each Christian denomination's beliefs,
based on how they worshiped; that is, how was their worship distinctively "Catholic"
or "Orthodox" or "Protestant"?
Paper: Write a short report (5-6 pages) summarizing
what you observed and learned:
Content: Write in standard "Essay" format (thesis statement,
structured body, conclusion). Keep your intro and conclusion brief; and do not
just repeat your intro at the end, but "conclude" something interesting!
Format: Your paper must be the required length (5 to 6 full pages), double-spaced,
typed, with 1-inch margins (not MS Windows 1¼-inch default), a compact single-spaced
heading (not a separate title page), and written in standard academic English (no
contractions or slang; correct grammar and spelling are crucial!)
Appendix: Attach the three bulletins or worship aides you collected (do not
count them for the 5-6 pages).
Academic Integrity: You may discuss your work with others, but the writing
must be your own. If your first language is not English and/or your writings skills
are poor, you may ask someone else for help (to correct your spelling or grammar),
but obviously not to write or rewrite the paper for you!
REVISED DUE DATE: At the beginning of class on MONDAY, APRIL
10, 2006. See me if you have a really important reason why you can not finish
until the original due date of April 12. Absolutely no papers will be accepted after
NEW INSTRUCTION: Give the following info in your HEADING (single-spaced):
Line 1 Right - Your name, Section #, Group #
Line 2 Right - "Christian Village Term Paper"; Date
Line 4 Left - Date of Visit, Time of Service, Full Name of Church, City, Website (if available)
Lines 5&6 Left - same info for other two churches you visited, in chronological order
Line 8 Middle - Your Paper Title (brief, but descriptive and/or creative!)
Proofread: Check your paper for the following common mistakes:
Spelling: altar (vs. alter!); their/there/they're; its/it's; do not rely soley on your computer's spell-checker, which cannot catch errors like "from" vs. "form"!
Capitalization: Capitalize all proper nouns and titles (Mass, Bible, Lectionary, Church [denomination or local name], Catholic, etc.), but not regular nouns (priest, pastor, church [the building], weekly liturgy, etc.)
Punctuation: Do not overuse commas; but use them properly where needed, esp. in proper format for dates: "On April 4, 2006, we went..."
Avoid Contractions and Slang: Write out "we are" (not "we're"), "is not" (not "isn't");
Sentences: Are all your sentences complete (subject, verb, object)? Do you have any sentence fragments? Any run-on sentences?
Distinctive Vocabulary: "Mass" or "Divine Liturgy" or "Sunday Worship"; "Eucharist" or "Communion Service"; "priest" vs. "pastor" vs. "minister"; etc.
Christianity: Be careful not to state or imply that Catholics, Protestants, and "Christians" are separate religions! In some cases, you may need to speak of a certain church or denomination as "non-denominational Christian."
Some Terminology for Church Art, Architecture, and Furnishings:
Key Focus: “Four-fold Presence of Christ in the Liturgy”: Assembly, Presider, Word, Eucharist Liturgical Goal: “Worship of God, with full, conscious, and active participation in the Liturgy”
Behind the Scenes:
Sacristy (where priests vest & ministers prepare); other work rooms & storage rooms
In the SANCTUARY (considered the “front” of the church; not called a “stage”):
Apse (semi-circular area at the very front, under a half-dome)
Altar (a table of sacrifice; not spelled “alter”!):
High Altar, with candles, flowers & the Tabernacle (where the Eucharist is kept),
under a Baldachino (canopy), and a large Crucifix (cross with body Jesus’ body)
Celebration Altar, with Altar Cloths & Floor Candles
Side Altars (St. Mary in NW corner; St. Joseph in NE corner)
Pulpit / Ambo / Lectern (only for scripture readings, intercessions & homily)
Other Lecterns (for musicians & announcements)
Easter Candle (here during Easter Season; normally in the Baptistery)
Presider’s Chair / Chairs for other ministers
Organ / Piano / Musicians’ Area
Altar Rail, or Communion Rail (separating the Sanctuary from the Nave)
In the NAVE (the “body” of the church, where the congregation is; not called the “audience”):
Pews, with Kneelers
Aisles (not “isles”!), for Processions
Worship Aides: Music Books, Missalettes, Bulletins, etc.
Side Aisles, on the other side of the free-standing Pillars (Corinthian columns)
Side Chapels (dedicated to various saints; side altars now mostly removed)
Reconciliation Room, for the Sacrament of Penance; replaces the former Confessionals
Stained Glass Windows (depict various saints on 2nd triforium & 3rd clerestory levels)
Stations of the Cross (large painted rectangles)
other Statues and Works of Art (scattered throughout the church)
Holy Water Fonts (at each entrance to the church)
Choir Loft (upper levels, in back, with the organ pipes)
In the BACK (near the main entrance) & OUTSIDE (the exterior of the building):
Vestibule / Narthex (entry way)
Baptistery (in the SW corner, where baptisms are done), including the Holy Oils
Façade & Portal (main entrance from Fulton Street)
Statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola (outside, in the middle of the façade, look up!)
Towers/Spires & Campanile (bell tower)
The floor plan or layout of St. Ignatius Church is a typical “Western Basilica” (basic rectangle), in contrast to Eastern Orthodox, Medieval Gothic, or a variety of Contemporary layouts.
The architectural style of St. Ignatius Church is basically “neo-classical” (lots of columns, mostly white walls with some gold trim), with elements of a few other styles mixed in.