28 September 2007

President of the Italian Episcopal Conference speaks on the Motu Proprio

From the main address of the President of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, to the permanent council of the Conference (September 17, 2007).

The initiative regarding which even the intra-Church attention has been focused in the past few months is the "Motu proprio" Summorum Pontificum, on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970 and officially in force from the past September 14. The goal of this pronouncement is clearly entirely spiritual and pastoral. In fact, on the one hand, "it behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer" - as the Pope writes in the accompanying letter to the "Motu proprio" -; on the other, it is necessary "to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew".

Within this horizon, he deigns to include as an "extraordinary" expression in the lex orandi of the Church the Roman Missal promulgated by Saint Pius V and aggiornato by Blessed John XXIII in 1962, though the "ordinary" way remains the Roman Missal published by Paul VI in 1970. And he insists in clarifying that there will not be two rites, but "two uses of the one Roman rite", who all [of us] wish always to be at the center of the ecclesial life, an occasion of full "reconciliation" and of a living unity in the Church herself.

What the Pope encourages us to adopt, beyond the cultural forces to which one is necessarily susceptible, is thus an inclusive, and not a confrontational, interpretative key. In the history of the liturgy, as in the life of the Church, there is "growth and progress, but never rupture", as he had already had the chance to affirm in the speech to the Roman Curia of December 22, 2005. In fact, in that occasion, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, he indicated as valid not "the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture", but rather that of "reform, of renewal in continuity with the one subject-Church". In other words, it is the solicitude for the unity of the Church "in space and time" the motivating force which moves Benedict XVI, a matter which fundamentally pertains to the Successor of Peter.

But this passion for unity must move every Christian and every pastor considering the prospects which are opened with the "Motu proprio". And not, therefore, the search for a personal aesthetic fancy, detached from the community and often in opposition to others, but a will to include oneself always more in the Mystery of the Church which prays and celebrates, not excluding anyone and without a forestalling opposition regarding other liturgical forms or regarding the Second Vatican Council. Only thus will it be avoided that a measure intended towards greater unity and fervor in the Christian community be used instead to hurt and divide it.

I wish to add, nonetheless, that I am reasonably optimistic on a better appraisal of the "Motu proprio" in the life of our parishes. And I trust that certain pessimistic concerns, voiced [at the time], soon showed themselves to be unfounded. The sense of balance which has always characterized our clergy and, therefore, our pastoral [work], will allow [us] to find, thanks to the moderating action of the Bishops, the just way to make the new bud blossom in the living plant of ecclesial liturgy, and even, as a final result, to relaunch and increase the latter in its entirety

Reduced to a Show

[Taken from Catholic Conservative]

by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Preface to the French edition of the Reform of the Roman Liturgy by Msgr Klaus Gamber.

A Young priest recently told me: "Today we need a new liturgical movement". He was expressing a desire, these days, only deliberately superficial souls would ignore.

What matters to that priest is not the conquest of new, bolder liberties. For, where is the liberty that we have yet to arrogate ourselves? That priest understood that we need a new beginning born from deep within the liturgy, as liturgical movement intended . . .

In its practical materialization, liturgical reform has moved further away from this origin. The result was not re-animation but devastation.

On the one hand, we have a liturgy which has degenerated so that it has become a show which, with momentary success for the group of liturgical fabricators, strives to render religion interesting in the wake of the frivolities of fashion and seductive moral maxims.

Consequently, the trend is the increasingly marked retreat of those who do not look to the liturgy for a spiritual show-master but for the encounter with the living God in whose presence all the "doing" becomes insignificant since only this encounter is able to guarantee us access to the true richness of being.

On the other hand, there is the conservation of ritual forms whose greatness is always moving but which, when pushed to extremes, manifests an obstinate isolationism and leaves, ultimately, a mark of sadness.

There is no doubt that between these two poles there are priests and parishioners who celebrate the new liturgy with respect and solemnity. But they, too, are made to feel doubtful by the contradiction of the two extremes and, in the final analysis, the lack of unity within the Church makes their faith seem - and wrongly so in most cases - just their own personal version of neo-conservatism.

Therefore, a new spiritual impulse is necessary so that the liturgy becomes a community activity of the Church for us once again and to remove it from the will of parish priests and their liturgical teams.

There can be no "fabricating" a liturgical movement of this kind, just as there can be no "fabricating" something which is alive. But a contribution can be made to its development by seeking to re- assimilate the sprit of the liturgy and by defending publicity that which was received.

The new beginning needs "fathers" who would serve as models, who would not content themselves with just showing the way . . . It is difficult to express in just a few words what is important in this diatribe of liturgists and what is not. But perhaps what I have to say will be of use. J.A. Jungman, one of the truly great liturgists of our century, offered his definition of the liturgy of his time, as it was intended in the West, and he represented it in terms of historical research. He described it as "liturgy which is the fruit of development".

This is probably in contrast with the Eastern notion which does not see liturgy as developing or growing in history but as the reflection of eternal liturgy whose light, through the sacred celebration, illumines our changing times with its unchanging beauty and greatness. Both conceptions are legitimate and by definition they are not irreconcilable.

What happened after the Council was totally different: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy.

We left the living process of growth and development to enter the realm of fabrication. There was no longer a desire to continue developing and maturing, as the centuries passed and so this was replaced - as if it were a technical production - with a construction, a banal on-the-spot product.

18 September 2007

Qui habitat

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The above is a polyphonic piece for 24 voices composed by Josquin Desprez. The lyrics are as follows

Psalm 90:1-8 (Latin Vulgate)
Qui hábitat in adiutório Altíssimi, in protectióne Dei cæli commorábitur.
Dicet Dómino : Suscéptor meus es tu, et refúgium meum: Deus meus sperábo in eum.
Quóniam ipse liberávit me de láqueo venántium, et a verbo áspero.
Scápulis suis obumbrábit tibi: et sub pennis eius sperábis.
Scuto circúmdabit te véritas eius: non timébis a timóre noctúrno.
A sagitta volánte in die, a negótio perambulánte in ténebris: ab incúrsu et dæmónio meridiáno.
Cadent a látere tuo mille, et decem míllia a dextris tuis: ad te autem non appropinquábit.
Verúmtamen óculis tuis considerábis: et retributiónem peccatórum vidébis.

English Translation (Douay Rheims)
He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of Jacob.
He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.
For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word.
He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust.
His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.
Of the arrow that flieth in the day, of the business that walketh about in the dark: of invasion, or of the noonday devil.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee.
But thou shalt consider with thy eyes: and shalt see the reward of the wicked.

And I should mention that the Desprez is a Lutheran. See, even Protestants use Latin haha.

16 September 2007

Archbishop Ranjith Interview

Courtesy of NLM, emphasis mine

[The following interview by Alessandro Gnocchi and Mario Palmaro with Archbishop Ranjith originally appeared in Italian in Il Foglio -- and was translated by the kindness of one of our readers. Archbishop Ranjith's comments are in italics.]

ROME. Today, September 14th, comes into force the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict which "liberalises" the Tridentine Mass, thus allowing the faithful who so desire to participate, in every parish, in celebrations in Latin according to the Missal of St. Pius V. In contrast until now to do so a special dispensation by the diocesan bishop was necessary.

Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith is the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Vatican vice-minister of liturgy.

In this interview he expresses the expectations and concerns of his dicastery in view of the reception which the Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum" has had in the Catholic Church. The document through which Benedict XVI has liberalised the Tridentine Mass has in fact aroused a great deal of interest. But it seems that many judge it only in ideological terms in light of the so-called spirit of the II Vatican Council.

For Msgr. Ranjith, however, "the Pope has profoundly esteemed the increasing requests of faithful in favour of the return of the Tridentine rite, and, also taking into account the current results of the post-conciliar liturgical reforms has made his decision.

"What is to be done now is not seeing spectres of divisions or retrograde theologies behind this decision, but to listen attentively and to obey with loyalty. It is not true that the reform of Paul VI is being devaluated. The Pope calls it the ordinary expression of the Mass. I believe that because of this decision some essential values of the liturgy will again be emphasised more, be it in the one or in the other way of celebrating.

"I am certain that above all the bishops, who at the moment of assuming their episcopal ministry have professed their complete loyalty and obedience to the Supreme Pontiff, will accept this decision with sentiments of generous collaboration and will safeguard the faithful implementation of the instructions of the Motu Proprio in the manner in which it is assigned to them, respecting the specific identities of the two manners of celebrating.

"I see that generally, the Motu Proprio has been well received. In any case, to speak of this as a move against the II Vatican Council would not only be a complete misapprehension, but also an attempt to create divisions in the Church. I don't see any reason for such alarmism."

The Pope seems to have made the liturgical question one of the fundamental themes of his pontificate.

"Already since the time of his episcopal ministry in Munich he had shown a great interest for the liturgical question. That on which he, now as Pope, continues to insist is the centrality of the eternal principle lex orandi, lex credendi, and the absolute necessity to know, celebrate and live profoundly the mystery of the liturgy as life-giving principle of the Church.

"The Pope wants that all the faithful enjoy that noble and transcendent as well as profoundly transforming sense of the liturgy. The liturgy is not so much what is being studied, as what is being celebrated, believed and lived."

There are many young priests, under 40, who are interested in the traditional liturgy.

"It's an interesting phenomenon, this demand by the young priests. To me it is a sign of the times and the II Vatican Council advised us to always be attentive to these signs. I see a strong thirst among them to be true to the demands of their vocation. The youth of today who decide to become priests make a choice which entails perhaps more sacrifices than those of yesterday. When we entered seminary, for instance, the atmosphere was more religious than today. I see that in some cases, this search leads them to choose a more traditional sense of the liturgy, to wear the cassock or some priestly or religious insignia, and to be ready to make other choices indicative of their vocation.

"This should not signify a condemnation of others who maybe have thought not to insist so much on these external apsects of their identity. But the times change. The youth want more coherence. The enthusiasm of the youth is always encouraged, not disregarded."

In these years many liturgical celebrations have shown a tendency to an abasement of the divine towards the human instead of the raising of the human towards the supernatural. Do you believe that the traditional liturgy will contribute to remedy this fact?

"Not only the traditional liturgy, but also the one of the Novus Ordo, if it is celebrated with faith, devotion, decorum, a sense of faithfulness to the norms and spirtual rigour, is capable of raising the human heart towards a true adoration of God. As the Pope says, 'the liturgy ... is veritatis splendor'. It (sc. the liturgy) is not something which we are doing, but rather something heavenly to which we are called to conform ourselves also in the external aspects. On the other hand it is the Church who celebrates the liturgy: adoration and praise of its Lord, as his people. Because of this ecclesial dimension, in the words of the Council in "Sacrosanctum Concilium", "no one else at all, be he even a priest, shall add, subtract or change anything on his own initiative in matters liturgical." The current problem is a spirit of disorder in the liturgical discipline, widely spread in different parts of the world. This situation is the result of a defective liturgical formation on different levels. Various priests do not know the true meaning of what is celebrated and propagate a "do it yourself" liturgy.

"Unfortunately, in some cases even the bishops themselves have become immobile and inconsistent, passively tolerating this situation or even, in some rare cases encouraging such attitudes. And then there are rather pedantic attitudes of some theorists, who have unfortunately forgotten that the liturgy is not so much an intellectual act as an act of adoration, and therefore of profound spirituality and faith."

We are witnessing a flight of the faithful towards two opposite extremes: the search for mysticism at all costs or the banalisation.

"What has happened in the name of the so-called 'spirit of the Council', which has not even been faithful to the instructions of its (the Council's) various documents, has caused grave damages to the Church, above all because of certain liturgical adventurism. This observation must not be interpreted as a criticism of the Council, but as a proposal to link again to what it had really stated. Some of the major changes in the liturgy have never been wished for by the Council. The banalisation of the eternal mysteries of the liturgy, achieved and justified by some liturgists, is now creating a growing demand to abandon altogether the earthly aspects and enter a phase of marked mysticism. A sane sense of equilibrium between the two aspects, i.e. the descendent and the ascendent, as well as a true appreciation of the eternal value of what truly happens in the liturgy, is important. The constant clarifications of Pope Benedict on the true nature of the liturgy are indications for the Church and above all for the bishops and the clergy about that necessary equilibrium. Without such an attitude one risks falling into superficiality and formalism on one side, and on the other side into a spiritualism that does not inspire to make Christian choices in life."

By means of the liturgical errors also doctrinal errors have come to pass. Will it be possible to remedy these also by means of the Tridentine liturgy?

"I believe yes, but the word 'also' is important. We mustn't abandon the attempts to make known to all the eternal value of every form of liturgical celebration, above all of the Novus Ordo. By way of the correction of some of these liturgical exaggerations, which probably the Tridentine Mass will facilitate in the coming years, there will be a further improvement of the Novus Ordo and thus also an overcoming of the theological crisis caused by the banalising tendencies of the liturgy."

Many priests and many faithful seem fearful to request the application of what the Pope has determined to be their right. Perhaps an encouragement is needed.

"I don't see what we need fear, for fear means a lack of faith. Besides, it would be grave in a world which abandons the sense of discipline and suffers because of this, if any shepherd of the Church gave a negative example in this sense, disobeying the Pope. That would implicate a counter-witness to Christ Who humbled Himself, and became obedient to the Father unto the death of the cross."

Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos Interview

Emphasis mine

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos says he hopes that the Eucharist is never a motive for discord, but only love.

The president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei said this on Vatican Radio today, the day before "Summorum Pontificum" -- Benedict XVI's letter issued "motu proprio" (on his own initiative) on liberalizing the use of the 1962 Roman Missal -- goes into effect.

The cardinal spoke about the true meaning of the pontifical document.

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos: I would say that John Paul II wanted to give to the faithful who loved the ancient rite -- some of whom left to join Archbishop Lefebvre's movement, but who later returned in order to maintain full unity with the Vicar of Christ -- the opportunity to celebrate the rite that was nearest to their sensibility.

The Holy Father Benedict XVI participated from the beginning in the Lefebvrite question and therefore knew well the problem created for those faithful by the liturgical reform.

The Pope has a special love for the liturgy -- a love that is translated into a capacity for study, of learning more about the liturgy itself. This is why Benedict XVI considers the liturgy from before the Council reform an inestimable treasure.

The Pope does not want to go backward. It is important to know and underline that the Council did not prohibit the liturgy of St. Pius V and we must also say that the Fathers of the Council celebrated the Mass of Pius V.

It is not -- as many sustain because they don't know the reality -- a step backward. On the contrary.

The Council wanted to give ample freedom to the faithful. One of these freedoms was that of taking this treasure -- as the Pope says -- which is the liturgy, to keep it alive.

Q: What has changed, really, with this "motu proprio"?

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos: With this "motu proprio," in reality, there has not been a big change. The important thing is that in this moment, priests can decide, without permission from the Holy See or the bishop, to celebrate the Mass in the ancient rite. And this holds true for all priests. It is the parish priests who must open the doors to those priests that, having the faculty, go to celebrate. It is not therefore necessary to ask any other permission.

Q: Your Eminence, this document was accompanied by fear and polemics. What is not true about what has been said or read?

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos: It is not true, for example, that power was taken away from bishops over the liturgy, because the Code of Canon Law says who must give permission to say Mass and it is not the bishop: The bishop gives the "celebret," the power to be able to celebrate, but when a priest has this power, it is the parish priest and the chaplain who must grant the altar to celebrate.

If anyone impedes him, it is up to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, in the name of the Holy Father, to take measures until this right -- which is a right that is clear to the faithful by now -- is respected.

Q: On the vigil of the "motu proprio" taking effect, what are your hopes?

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos: My hopes are these: The Eucharist is the greatest thing we have, it is the greatest manifestation of love, of God’s redemptive love who wants to stay with us with this Eucharistic presence. This must never be a motive for discord but only love.

I hope that this can be a reason for joy for all those who love tradition, a reason for joy for all those parishes that will no longer be divided, but will have -- on the contrary -- a multiplicity of holiness with a rite that was certainly a factor and instrument of sanctification for more than a thousand years.

We thank, therefore, the Holy Father who recovered this treasure for the Church. Nothing is imposed on anyone, the Pope does not impose the obligation; the Pope does impose offering this possibility where the faithful request it.

If there is a conflict, because humanly speaking two groups can enter into conflict, the authority of the bishop -- as written in the "motu proprio" -- must intervene to avoid it, but without canceling the right that the Pope gave to the entire Church.