I am particularly impressed with His Emminence's thoughts on mutual enrichment (rather than using the outdated term, "reform of the reform" where he encourages, as I have consistently done so, adding back elements of the older liturgy to the revised Mass. This means having what the Ordinariate's glorious new Missal has: Prayers at the Foot of the Altar (along with the older form or the Order of Mass), the clear option of the Gradual and Tract, along with explicit use of the Introit in the ancient form, along with the Offertory and Communion antiphonal, the older form of the Offertory Prayers, the older form of the conclusion of the Mass to include the Last Gospel and the older rubrics for the Eucharistic Prayers. In other words, the revised Mass in whatever vernacular with the older Mass's exquisite sensibilities which will never be considered out of date except by those who are literally out of date.
This tells me that the Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship in fact is preparing a new or reformed Roman Missal for general use in the general Latin Rite part of the Church which will be very similar to the Ordinariate's Missal with all its EF options to include elements of the older form of the Calendar, such as the season of Septuagesima, the Octave of Pentecost, ember days and the like.
But Cardinal Sarah also has my same sentiments concerning mutual enrichment when it comes to the EF Mass. Why can't there be some vernacular such as for the lectionary, for the changing parts of the Mass? Why can't there be more of a push to engage the congregation in actual participation of being mentally but quietly engaged in the Mass but also verbally, be it spoken or sung?
I love Cardinal Sarah's cogent analysis of the current situation of the Church and how the devil has used the liturgy and the catechesis crisis of the last 50 years to sow division and discontent amongst Catholics.
HERE IS CARDINAL SARAH'S EXQUISITE RECOMMENDATION FOR MUTUAL ENRICHMENT OF THE CURRENT ORDINARY FORM OF THE MASS--I THINK THIS IS STILL POSSIBLE EVEN UNDER POPE FRANCIS!
After your conference in London last July, you are returning to the topic of the orientation of the liturgy and wish to see it applied in our churches. Why is this so important to you, and how would you see this change implemented?
Cdl. Sarah: Silence poses the problem of the essence of the liturgy. Now the liturgy is mystical. As long as we approach the liturgy with a noisy heart, it will have a superficial, human appearance. Liturgical silence is a radical and essential disposition; it is a conversion of heart.
Now, to be converted, etymologically, is to turn back, to turn toward God. There is no true silence in the liturgy if we are not—with all our heart—turned toward the Lord. We must be converted, turn back to the Lord, in order to look at Him, contemplate His face, and fall at His feet to adore Him. We have an example: Mary Magdalene was able to recognize Jesus on Easter morning because she turned back toward Him: “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” “Haec cum dixisset, conversa est retrorsum et videt Jesus stantem. – Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there” (Jn 20:13-14).
How can we enter into this interior disposition except by turning physically, all together, priest and faithful, toward the Lord who comes, toward the East symbolized by the apse where the cross is enthroned?
The outward orientation leads us to the interior orientation that it symbolizes. Since apostolic times, Christians have been familiar with this way of praying. It is not a matter of celebrating with one’s back to the people or facing them, but toward the East, ad Dominum, toward the Lord.
This way of doing things promotes silence. Indeed, there is less of a temptation for the celebrant to monopolize the conversation. Facing the Lord, he is less tempted to become a professor who gives a lecture during the whole Mass, reducing the altar to a podium centered no longer on the cross but on the microphone! The priest must remember that he is only an instrument in Christ’s hands, that he must be quiet in order to make room for the Word, and that our human words are ridiculous compared to the one Eternal Word.
I am convinced that priests do not use the same tone of voice when they celebrate facing East.
We are so much less tempted to take ourselves for actors, as Pope Francis says!
Of course, this way of doing things, while legitimate and desirable, must not be imposed as a revolution. I know that in many places preparatory catechesis has enabled the faithful to accept and appreciate the orientation. I wish that this question would not become the occasion for an ideological clash of factions! We are talking about our relationship with God.
As I had the opportunity to say recently, during a private interview with the Holy Father, here I am just making the heartfelt suggestions of a pastor who is concerned about the good of the faithful. I do not intend to set one practice against another. If it is physically not possible to celebrate ad orientem, it is absolutely necessary to put a cross on the altar in plain view, as a point of reference for everyone. Christ on the cross is the Christian East.
You ardently defend the conciliar Constitution on the liturgy while deploring the fact that it has been implemented so badly. How do you explain in retrospect the last fifty years? Aren’t Church leaders the ones primarily responsible?
Cdl. Sarah: I think that we lack the spirit of faith when we read the conciliar document. Bewitched by what Benedict XVI calls the media Council, we give it an all-too-human reading, looking for ruptures and oppositions where a Catholic heart must strive to find renewal in continuity. More than ever the conciliar teaching contained in Sacrosanctum Concilium must guide us. It is about time to let ourselves be taught by the Council instead of utilizing it to justify our concerns about creativity or to defend our ideologies by utilizing the sacred weapons of the liturgy.
Just one example: Vatican II admirably described the baptismal priesthood of the laity as the ability to offer ourselves in sacrifice to the Father with Christ so as to become, in Jesus, “holy, pure, spotless Victims”. We have here the theological foundation for genuine participation in the liturgy.
This spiritual reality ought to be experienced particularly at the Offertory, the moment when the whole Christian people offer themselves, not alongside of Christ but in Him, through His sacrifice that will be accomplished at the consecration. Rereading the Council would enable us to avoid having our offertories disfigured by demonstrations that have more to do with folklore than with the liturgy. A sound hermeneutic of continuity could lead us to restore to a place of honor the ancient Offertory prayers, reread in light of Vatican II.
You mention “the reform of the reform” which you say you wish for (no. 257): what should this consist of chiefly? Would it involve both forms of the Roman rite or only the Ordinary Form?
Cdl. Sarah: The liturgy must always be reformed in order to be more faithful to its mystical essence. What is called “reform of the reform” and what we perhaps ought to call “mutual enrichment of the rites”, to adopt an expression from the magisterial teaching of Benedict XVI, is a spiritual necessity. Therefore it concerns both forms of the Roman rite.
I refuse to waste our time contrasting one liturgy with another, or the rite of Saint Pius V to that of Blessed Paul VI. It is a matter of entering into the great silence of the liturgy; it is necessary to know how to be enriched by all the liturgical forms, Latin or Eastern. Why shouldn’t the Extraordinary Form be open to the improvements produced by the liturgical reform resulting from Vatican II? Why couldn’t the Ordinary Form rediscover the ancient prayers of the Offertory, the prayers at the foot of the altar, or a little silence during some parts of the Canon?
Without a contemplative spirit, the liturgy will remain an occasion for hateful divisions and ideological clashes, for the public humiliation of the weak by those who claim to hold some authority, whereas it ought to be the place of our unity and our communion in the Lord. Why should we confront and detest each other? On the contrary, the liturgy should make us “all attain to unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.... Thus, by living in the truth of love, we will grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (cf. Eph 4:13-15).
In the current liturgical context of the Latin-rite world, how can we overcome the mistrust that remains between some devotees of the two liturgical forms of the same Roman rite who refuse to celebrate the other form and consider it sometimes with a certain disdain?
Cdl. Sarah: To damage the liturgy is to damage our relationship to God and the expression of our Christian faith. Cardinal Charles Journet declared: “Liturgy and catechesis are the two jaws of the pincers with which the devil wants to steal the faith away from the Christian people and seize the Church so as to crush, annihilate and destroy it definitively. Even today the great dragon is keeping watch on the woman, the Church, ready to devour her child.” Yes, the devil wants us to be opposed to each other at the very heart of the sacrament of unity and fraternal communion. It is time for this mistrust, contempt and suspicion to cease. It is time to rediscover a Catholic heart. It is time to rediscover together the beauty of the liturgy, as the Holy Father Francis recommends to us, for, he says, “the beauty of the liturgy reflects the presence of the glory of our God resplendent in His people who are alive and consoled” (Homily for the Chrism Mass, March 28, 2013).