Our thanks to the organizers of the Ars Celebrandi workshops for sending us these photographs and the accompanying press release. I would call our readers’ attention particularly to the report in the second paragraph of Bishop Schneider’s words about the false opposition between the observance of liturgical norms and interior participation in the liturgy, and the “deep wound” in the heart of the Church caused by lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. Most of the photographs below were taken at the Pontifical Mass, but the last one is of the blessing of new chalices, and the three before that are of Pontifical Vespers.
In a lecture entitled “The Renewal of the Liturgy and the Perennial Sense of the Church”, His Excellency pointed out that the essential feature of the sacred liturgy is the adoration of God. The Eucharistic liturgy is the most sublime realization of the first commandment of which Jesus reminded us: “You shall adore the Lord your God and worship Him alone” (Matt 4, 10). Bishop Athanasius referred to the liturgical norms of the Church and the importance which should be attached to them in accordance with the whole of Scripture and Catholic doctrine.
To establish an opposition between exterior norms and the attention of the heart would be against the Divine truth. Such a contrast was often established by heretical movements, by neglecting or refusing exterior norms, e.g. Christian Gnostics, Cathars and Albigensians, Calvinists, and some Catholic Pentecostals and progressives of various degrees in our days. He also pointed to some alarming data about an increasing number of profanations related to giving Holy Communion on the hand. Then Bishop Schneider went on to present a sublime model to be imitated in liturgical celebrations: the liturgy of the Heavenly Jerusalem described in the Book of the Apocalypse. It is characterized by seven elements: kneeling, deep inclinations, and prostrations; incense; sacred songs, not performing wordly or sensual music (“a new song”); freedom from concentration on oneself; praying and singing together with the Angels; a prolonged time for silence; putting Eucharistic Christ in the visible centre of the liturgical assembly (and not the seat of the human celebrant).
During the Pontifical Mass celebrated in the Basilica of Licheń, Bishop Schneider gave a sermon in Polish in which he said, “The true renewal of the Church begins in an area which is the most important and which is the heart of the Church: in the Eucharistic Lord. However, a deep wound appeared in the heart of today’s Church because of a horrible lack of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament, and numerous cases of unworthy reception of Holy Communion, without full belief and true contrition.” He also added, “Sinful man wants to put himself in the centre, even in church interiors, even during the Eucharistic feast; he wants to be seen and noticed. For this reason Eucharistic Jesus, who was made man, present in the tabernacle under Eucharistic species, is put to the side in many churches.”
After the Holy Mass, Bishop Schneider shared his feeling that it was one of the most beautiful ones in his life, praising the masters of ceremony and altar servers, as well as the musicians.
Before leaving Licheń, the bishop said a few words to the participants and organizers of the “Ars Celebrandi” Workshops on Traditional Liturgy.
I was deeply impressed by this Ars Celebrandi conference, especially as I met so many young people and young priests who seek to show real love for the holy liturgy and greater honor for Jesus in the holy liturgy. It was for me an experience of little piece of springtime of the Church, because this holy liturgy, the traditional liturgy, is a treasure for the whole Church, as Pope Benedict said, and this is a treasure which our forefathers handed over to us; so we have to love it and to pass it on to the next generation. This liturgy guides us closer to experience the presence of God, of Jesus, and the mystery of His sacrifice of the Cross, and the beauty, the majesty of God, and draws us closer to Him. Of course it is necessary that such beautiful celebrations influence our private lives, our Christianity, our moral lives. This should be a new force to give us new strength and new joy to live a real Christian life; and give an example of good Catholics. So I was favourably impressed and I hope that this Ars Celebrandi meeting will continue in the future and attract ever more young people, seminarians, young priests, to help them to live closer to Jesus, to live deeper this infinite, ineffable mystery of the holy Mass.