Ritual patterns of celebrating – A comprehensive model

Pontifical Liturgy Institute

Ritual patterns of celebrating –
A comprehensive model

Taught byDaniel McCarthy
I serve as a liturgical consultant for building and renovating churches.

Course offered in Italian: 94515 (3 ECTS)
This page has been prepared for the Autumn semester 2019.

Brief description

photo of Fr Daniel P McCarthy OSB

We shall consider how to develop a prolonged ritual narrative whose every part presents in synthesis the saving mysteries in rites, symbols and texts proper to each part. These intrinsic qualities are expressed outwardly in the ritual, interpreted in the artistic programme and supported by architectural design. The principles of the ritual model are drawn from 1) the three primary places of Prof. Crispino Valenziano and his five dimensions, 2) my own research into ritual patterns developed during Vatican II 3) and from the course in liturgical hermeneutics I teach at the Liturgy Institute London.


By the end of this seminar the student will be able to …

  1. describe the three pre-eminent monuments as developed by Prof. Valenziano: the font, ambo and altar-ciborium.
  2. describe the five dimensions developed by Prof. Valenziano, the incarnational and eschatological axis, the evangelical axis, the axis of self-transcendence, movement over time and the hierarchical dimension of ritual.
  3. describe several arrangements of church coming from the discussions at Vatican II, the strengths of each and limitations.
  4. describe how to overcome the tension between gathering around a central altar and the two-part structure of Liturgy.
  5. describe the four interpretative keys: anamnesis, epiclesis, eschatology, theosis.
  6. apply each of the above in a critical reflection on the ritual celebrated in a parish of one’s choice and provide suggestions for further development of the ritual in its artistic and architectural context. 

Structure of the Seminar

The ritual model consists of five major areas. First, the course begins with the three primary monuments of a church by developed Prof. Crispino Valenziano: the baptismal font, the ambo and the altar-ciborium. These correspond with the three major areas of a church, the font in the baptistery, the ambo in the hall and the altar-ciborium on the dais. Second, the course considers five dimensions from Prof. Valenziano. The incarnational and eschatological dimension extends from the rising of the sun to its setting. The evangelical dimension stretches from the side of the mid-day sun shining its rays across the church. The dimension of theosis is established by the height of the mid-day sun and extends to its nadir below along the axis mundi. The dimension of time and movement is established by the movement of the sun in a church throughout the course of a day, which suggests a pattern for processions. The hierarchical dimension is expressed by the presidential chair. Third, I present from my own research several ways of arranging a church, especially the two-part ritual of the mass moving from the liturgy of the word celebrated at the ambo and chairs to the eucharistic liturgy at the altar. Fourth, I present four interpretative keys, anamnesis, epiclesis, eschatology and theosis. These interpretative keys are intrinsic to the ritual actions, interpreted in the artistic narration and supported by the architecture design of a church. The goal is a prolonged ritual narrative whose every part presents the saving mysteries in synthesis using rites, symbols and texts proper to each part. Students have regular opportunity to discuss these principles, apply them in a critical examination of a church of their choice and then to develop recommendations for further developing the ritual narrative in its artistic and architectural context. 

Learning activities

Lectures by the instructor, followed by discussion among the students who then apply the principles to the ritual celebrated in a church of the student’s choice. 


Martedì, ottobre 8, 15, 22, 29, 2019
Martedì, novembre 5, 12, 2019

ore: 15:30-18:50

Primo periodo: 15:30-16:15
Pausa: 16:15-16:20
Secondo periodo: 16:20-17:05
Pausa: 17:05-17:15
Terza periodo: 17:15-18:00
Pausa: 18:00-18:05
Quarto periodo: 18:05-18:50

Office hours

Si prega di non telefonare l’istruttore. Mandalo un email, invece, a: danielmccarthyosb AT mac DOT com.

L’istruttore è disponibile fuori orario per appuntamento.


Institutio generalis Missalis Romani, inMissale Romanum ex decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concili Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Pauli PP.VI promulgatum Ioannis Pauli PP.II cura recognitum,Editio typica tertia emendata, Typis Vaticanis, Città del Vaticano 3em2008.

♦ McCARTHY, D.P., Verbum ac Spiritus: duplici de munere praesidendi coetui orationemque dirigendi. Word and Spiriton the double roleof presiding in the assemblyand directing the prayer, St Michael’s Abbey Press, Farnborough, England forthcoming.

McCARTHY, D.P. – J.G. Leachman, Come into the LightChurch interiors for the celebration of liturgy, (DREI, Liturgiam provehens architectura : Architecture Promoting Liturgy) Canterbury Press – The Tablet, Norwich – London 2016.

♦ BARBA, M., L’Institutio Generalisdel Missale Romanum.Analisi storico-redazionale dei riti d’ingresso,di offertorio e di communione(Monumenta Studia Instrumenta Liturgica 40), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 2005.

♦ BARBA, M., Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani.Textus – Synopsis – Variationes(Monumenta Studia Instrumenta Liturgica 45), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 2006.


Attending the sessions and participating in the discussion accounts for 50% of the final mark. The other 50% is for the final paper in which the student applies the principles learned to the ritual celebrated in a church of one’s choice and gives a critical appreciation and even suggestions on how to develop the ritual and its artistic and architectural context. 

Academic program

The program of studies, course descriptions and calendar for the academic year 2019-2020 is available for download here.


This course is offered in English at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy housed at:

Piazza Cavalieri di Malta, 5
00153 Roma, Italia

See map below.

Schedule in detail

Prepared for academic year 2019-2020

Encontro 1: 8 ottobre 2019


Encontro 2: 15 ottobre 2019

Encontro 3: 22 ottobre 2019

Encontro 4: 29 ottobre 2019

Encontro 5: 5 novembre 2019

Encontro 6: 12 novembre 2019

Materials continued

You may purchase our books from Sr. Sylvia or the English desk at:

Pauline multimedia
via del Mascherino, 94
00193 Roma
Tel. 06.6872354
Fax: 06.68308093
S.ga Sylvia: Inglese@paoline-multimedia.it
General enquiries: centro@paoline-multimedia.it


© 16 July 2019 by Daniel McCarthy