"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012
The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch
Cardinal Antonio Canizares-Llovera celebrating Mass (Photo: CNS)
The Holy Father has just been incredibly outspoken about liturgy. I’ve never heard him be quite so forthright on the subject.
Addressing a group of liturgists who were meeting for the Ninth International Congress on the Liturgy, organised by the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Rome’s St Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, the Pope said: “The liturgy of the Church goes beyond the ‘conciliar reform’, the objective of which in fact was not mainly to change the rites and texts but rather to renew the mentality and to put the celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery at the centre of Christian life and pastoral work.
“Unfortunately the liturgy has perhaps been seen – even by us, pastors and experts – more as an object to reform than a subject capable of renewing Christian life, seeing that ‘a very close and organic bond exists between the renewal of the liturgy and the renewal of the whole life of the Church’.”
“The liturgy … lives a proper and constant relationship between sound ‘traditio’ and legitimate ‘progressio’, clearly seen by the conciliar constitution Sancrosanctum Concilium at paragraph 23 … Not infrequently are tradition and progress in awkward opposition. Actually though, the two concepts are interwoven: tradition is a living reality that, in itself, includes the principle of development, of progress”.
The conference, entitled “The Pontifical Liturgical Institute: Between Memory and Prophecy” spanned over three days and focused on the legacy of the liturgy of the past 50 years, really since the Second Vatican Council. Speakers included liturgical luminaries like the electric guitar-playing Abbot Primas Notker Wolf of the Confederation of Benedictines, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewskiand veteran liturgist Fr Matias Augé CMF. It also featured a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the Emeritus Archbishop of Brussels-Mechelen – a diocese where most people remain seated during the consecration and the churches are pretty empty.
Fr Augé and the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had a heatedletter exchangeabout the Extraordinary Form in the mid-1990s, in which Fr Augé made a case against the “re-instatement” of the 1962 Missal. Fr Augé was essentially objecting then to what has become one of the key points of Benedict’s papacy where liturgy is concerned, namely the “reform of the reform” and the “hermeneutic of reform” which provides renewal and continuity.
In the spirit of the reform of the reform, Pope Benedict liberated the use of the 1962 Missal with his 2007 Motu Proprio Summorum pontificum in the hope of mutual enrichment of the newer liturgy as well as the older liturgy.
It is interesting to note that next week, the Angelicum will host a massive conference entitled “Summorum Pontificum: a Hope for the Church“. It could not be more different than the congress described above. Four years after the publication of the Motu Proprio, the older form of the Mass has quietly entered the mainstream. Speakers here include hard hitters of the reform of the reform including the Kazakh Bishop Athanasius Schneider whose book on the Eucharist has been much vaunted, the new head of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, who will speak about ecumenical points, and the head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares-Llovera.
Such a mainstream conference was unthinkable four years ago, but now it has come to pass without much fuss. The reform of the reform is happening. I think it is unlikely that the Extraordinary Form of the Mass will ever be very widely used, but it is good to have it, because its liberation has, slowly, slowly meant a more reverent celebration of the newer form of the Mass. Last Sunday’s Mass at St Peter’s for the beatification of Pope John Paul II was a wonderful example of the reform of the reform at work. It was a sort of tribute to the late pope’s simplicity of taste, being less elaborate than Benedict’s normal Masses but with the new Pope’s appreciation of reverence (Credo III and simple Latin hymns).
And, after the beatification ceremony was concluded and the Mass really began, the faithful were politely asked to refrain from clapping and waving flags during the consecration. The Mass proceeded reverently and prayerfully, despite the million plus people who had come out for the new Beatus.
I am a Benedictine monk from Belmont Abbey, Hereford. I studied theology at Fribourg University in Switzerland, and was chaplain for many years at Belmont Abbey School, now sadly closed. I spent some time in Whitehaven in the parish. For the last 27 years I have been in Peru,part of the Belmont foundation here, but for most of the time working in parishes. I am now Superior of a monastery which has been founded from Belmont on the outskirts of Lima. I have written two books of theology, the first "The Royal Road to Joy. The Beatitudes and the Mass", published by Gracewing in 2003. The second, "Heaven Revealed. The Holy Spirit and the Mass" will be published in July or August by the same publisher, and I am working on a third. My interests: theology, ecumenism,especially with the Eastern Churches, things pastoral.
From 1981 - 1990 I was in Tambogrande
1991 - 1997 in Negritos, Talara
1998 in Harrington, Cumbria
1998 2002 in Cajamarca
2002 till now in the monastery except for 2006 when I was with the Charismatic Renewal in Lima