Yesterday, Catholic World Report published an interview with Dom Alcuin Reid on this year’s Sacra Liturgia Conference, which will take place in Milan from June 6-9, and include a number of celebrations in both Forms of the Ambrosian Rite. Dom Reid outlines the conference’s liturgical program, and some of the topics which the invited speakers will address, among them Card. Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and Cardinal Raymond Burke, and comments on the reception of Card. Sarah’s call at last year’s conference for a broad return to ad orientem worship. Here are a few keys excerpts.
CWR: So Sacra Liturgia Milan will feature the Ambrosian rite liturgy?
Dom Alcuin Reid: Yes, as at all our conferences the celebration of the liturgy is at the heart of what we do and because we shall be in Milan those celebrations, naturally, will be in the Ambrosian rite. The opening Solemn Vespers will be celebrated in the historic Basilica of Saint Ambrose; His Eminence, Cardinal Tettamanzi, has kindly agreed to celebrate for us.
So too, one of the conference Masses will be celebrated there in the modern Ambrosian rite by its Bishop-Abbot, Bishop DeScalzi, who has been very welcoming to us. His Eminence, Cardinal Scola, has facilitated our use of the beautiful church of St Alessandro for our celebration of Holy Mass in the ancient Ambrosian rite, and the conference will conclude in the Metropolitan Cathedral with Solemn Vespers, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and a statio at the altar of Blessed Ildephonse Schuster, the famous liturgist and Archbishop of Milan from 1929-1954. The Archpriest of the Duomo, who has also been very welcoming, will celebrate Vespers for us. ...
CWR: Robert Cardinal Sarah is once again a presenter; what will he be speaking on? Will his talk touch on the some of the matters he discusses in his new book, The Power of Silence?
Dom Alcuin Reid: His Eminence is speaking on “The Sacred Liturgy—Our Encounter With God: A Christological and Ecclesiological Perspective.” I cannot imagine that he would speak of our encounter with Almighty God without reflecting on the necessity of a fruitful silence and receptivity on the part of the Church and of each of us as we contemplate God’s saving action in the liturgy. But we shall have to wait and see what he says. Certainly the question of liturgy and ecclesiology is an important one and has been discussed quite a bit in recent years.
CWR: Another well-known cardinal, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, will be presenting as well. What is the focus of his address?
Dom Alcuin Reid: Cardinal Burke is speaking, ten years after its promulgation, about Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum and is presenting an assessment of those ten years as well as a prospective view of the future of the usus antiquior, the more ancient form, of the Roman rite. It promises to be an important address both in its analysis and in its vision for the years to come. ...
CWR: In his address at Sacra Liturgia London last summer (link in original), Cardinal Sarah suggested that Catholics consider a return to worship ad orientem. Overall, in hindsight, what sort of response was there to those remarks? What did those responses indicate to you, as someone who has been studying liturgical reform for many years?
Dom Alcuin Reid: Well, as we know, the responses were many and varied. Some—including responses from people in authority—were incredible in their naivety and lack of understanding of what the Cardinal actually said and indeed of the relevant ecclesiastical regulations. Nevertheless his message was not drowned by the noise created by its ill-informed critics. It reached the ears of those whose ears were indeed prepared to listen.
I understand that Cardinal Sarah has received many, many messages of support from around the world and that these far outnumber any criticisms he has received. And one continues to hear of more priests and parishes adopting his proposal to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy ad orientem; I have even seen reports of priests commencing this at the beginning of Lent because they judged it necessary to take a longer period to provide the catechesis necessary in their parish. This seems very wise and prudent.
In spite of the “dictatorship of noise” that attempts to rule liturgical discourse at times, His Eminence’s calm and considered message has in fact reached many people who are quietly getting on with the business of enriching the liturgical life of the Church according to a hermeneutic of continuity and not of rupture. His “still small voice” (cf. 1 Kings 19:12) rings true in the hearts and souls of many, and in time it will bear more fruit.