Friday, June 25, 2010


Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Colorado gave a very fine academic and pastoral speech on the liturgy just yesterday! You can read it HERE!

It is a long and scholarly discourse, but one thing that jumped out at me given the nature of the posts on my blog was the following:

"One of the few people who have wrestled with the issues Guardini raised is a Chicago priest who’s made his own important contributions to the liturgical and intellectual renewal of the Church, Father Robert Barron.

Barron puts the issue this way: “The project is not shaping the liturgy according to the suppositions of the age, but allowing the liturgy to question and shape the suppositions of any age. Is the modern man incapable of the liturgical act? Probably. But this is no ground for despair. Our goal is not to accommodate the liturgy to the world, but to let the liturgy be itself -- a transformative icon of the ordo of God.”

Barron suggests that in the post-conciliar era, the professional Catholic liturgical establishment opted for the former path, trying to adapt the liturgy to the demands of modern culture. I would agree. And I would add that time has shown this to be a dead end. Trying to engineer the liturgy to be more “relevant” and “intelligible” through a kind of relentless cult of novelty, has only resulted in confusion and a deepening of the divide between believers and the true spirit of the liturgy."

Then the Archbishop says:

"In this regard, the Novus Ordo, the new order of the Mass promulgated after the council, has been a great blessing to the Church. Our liturgy gives us the zeal for the evangelization and sanctification of our world. The vernacular has opened up the liturgy’s content in new ways. It has encouraged active, creative participation by all the faithful -- not only in the liturgy but in every aspect of the Church’s mission.

By the way, for the record, I’m also very grateful that the Holy Father has allowed wider use of the older Tridentine form -- not because I personally prefer it, in fact I find the Novus Ordo, properly celebrated, a much richer expression of worship; but because we need access to all of the Church’s heritage of prayer and faith."

And then he says:

"Here’s my second point: The liturgy is a participation in the liturgy of heaven, in which we worship in Spirit and truth with the worldwide Church and the communion of saints.v

This may be the most neglected dimension of the liturgy today. If our liturgies strike us as pedestrian, narrowly parochial, too focused on our own communities and needs; if they lack a powerful sense of the sacred and the transcendent, it’s because we have lost the sense of how our worship participates in the heavenly liturgy."

Then the good Archbishop says:

"Here’s my third point: We need to strive to recover and live with the same vibrant liturgical and evangelical spirituality as the early Christians.

Some of the worst liturgical ideas since the council have been based on a woolly romanticizing about what the early Christians believed and how they worshipped. It has been argued, for example, that the early Church had no sacramental priesthood and that the Eucharist was celebrated with limited ritual, essentially as a meal shared among friends.

I won’t take the time here to rebut these claims. The problem with all such nostalgic-primitivist reconstructions can be summed up in one thought: Nobody risks torture and death for a meal with their friends. And torture and death were the frequent penalty for being caught celebrating the Eucharist in the world of the early Church."

And finally, the Archbishop declares:

"This is a foundation stone to the Catholic belief in the priesthood of all the baptized. The early Christians believed they were heirs to the vocation given to Israel—to be a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” By the priesthood of our lives, all baptized believers are to offer, not the blood-sacrifice of animals, but the sacrifice of our hearts, the symbol of our lives, in imitation of Jesus Christ.

We make our sacrifice of praise first and foremost in the Eucharist. This is the meaning behind the council’s call for the “active participation” of the laity in the liturgy.xv This expression unfortunately has been taken as a license for all sorts of external activity, commotion and busy-ness in our worship. That’s not at all what Vatican II had in mind.

“Active participation” refers to the inner movement of our souls, our interior participation in Christ’s action of offering of his Body and Blood. This requires silent spaces and “pauses” in our worship, in which we can collect our emotions and thoughts, and make a conscious act of self-dedication. We are to “lift up our hearts,” and in contrition and humility place them on the altar along with the bread and wine.

But our work does not stop in the Mass.

Everything in our days -- our work, our sufferings, our prayer, our ministries -- everything we do and experience is meant to be offered to God as a spiritual sacrifice. All of our work for the unborn child, the poor and the disabled; all of our work for immigration justice and the dignity of marriage and the family: All of it should be offered for the praise and glory of God’s name and for the salvation of our brothers and sisters."

Does this sound familiar to you? Go back and reread my blog postings! I think we need to elect this man pope. Just my humble opinion!


Anonymous said...

Ok so the vernacular opened up the Liturgy..But it sounds like an either/or situation or opinion. Why not mention the importance of Latin in the Liturgy as well. It CAN be both. And people do seem to like it. The mix I mean. Referring to the Second Vatican Council from one angle, vernacular, etc. does nobody any good in implementing the documents of Vat II on the Liturgy. Latin has a place, what are Priests doing to show that and teach the laity the parts of Mass in Latin that pertain to them"..I think that comes from the said Council.

Templar said...

The Archbishop is an outstanding example of a Shepard. May we be blessed with many more in the States. He is oh so right when he says that nothing of which Catholics believe is reflected in society. We must have the Liturgy and it must be worthy of God, and mean more to us than life.

But anonymous does have a point on the language, it does not need to be an either/or situation. The OF Mass with the unchanging parts in Latin and the changing parts in in Vernacular would fit the OF perfectly.

Anonymous said...

Of course, the Vatican II allowance for some vernacular parts (though not the Canon) in the liturgy was for the EF Mass, since the OF Mass neither existed then nor was even envisioned by any of the Council Fathers.

And at the daily TLM which I attend, a recited low Mass, the Epistle and Gospel are read at the altar not in Latin but only in English.

Though the chanted Epistle and Gospel in Latin are such an important part of our patrimony that I'd not like to hear them in English at the Sunday sung high Mass, it works well in a daily low Mass where, with typically no sermon, only Latin from start to finish might be a bit off-putting to TLM newbies.

I myself would even be amenable to the variable propers in the vernacular, though I know of no one having suggested this, and hence never expect to see it myself.

Anonymous said...

If the Novus Ordo Mass can not shape up and be said they way it is supposed to, and apparently it can not, then it may well have to be suppressed. 90 % of Masses are filled with abuses. This is an inherent flaw of the NO. Maybe it had a chance in the beginning but it has become linked and tainted with the worst abuses in the Catholic Church. How do you overcome that on a worldwide scale? To pray differently we must act differently, that just seems to far out of reach anymore with the NO Mass.Maybe a return to the 1965 Missal to replace the NO interim until someone in Rome can figure out how to go forward. But it can not go on like this fixing a parish or two here and there only to have all the hard work undone by the next Priest who comes in. It is a catch 22. It is like the NO won't allow itself to be fixed.

pinanv525 said...

I'm wondering if there is just too much toothpaste out of the tube with the OF and that the two forms will have to peacefully coexist side by side. My other fear is that, at this point, if Pope Benedict does not mandate some things the EF may fade into a mere occasional oddity, performed once or twice a year for "historical" reasons. God forbid. I don't know anything about Vatican politics, but there are some, like Ignotus, who would just as soon have an Anglican Pope or some old hippie with a daisy in his Mitre (sorry I am being redundant).