Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Luther at the Movies on Liturgy

While, of course, writing from a Reformed perspective, our irascible friend at Luther at the Movies posts a fascinating little excerpt from a letter by the late Arthur Carl Piepkorn (a Lutheran churchman who I am otherwise unfamiliar with) which makes the point that in questions regarding the intelligibility of the Liturgy, it should be remembered that it was never intended as a catechetical exercise--"the [Eucharistic] Liturgy is part of the Church’s private culture and was never designed or intended for evangelistic purposes." He cites Dom Gregory Dix's work, and this division between the proclamation of the Gospel in the Liturgy of the Word or Synaxis and the conversi ad Dominum of the Liturgy of the Eucharist is, of course, discussed at considerable length in Benedict XVI's The Spirit of the Liturgy as well. (I imagine, though, Piepkorn's unwieldy suggestions for more free-form catechetical services to take the place of trying to make the liturgy more "contemporary" would be more simply translated into adult catechesis classes in a Catholic environment--though it is interesting to note that a form of liturgical instruction or catechesis seems to have once been practiced in the Milanese rite during Lent). Definitely something to mull over when we are faced with questions from our peers about the "relevance" of timeless liturgy, and that the Mass is not necessarily supposed to be a recruiting video. Indeed, often when it isn't treated as one is often when it is the most spiritually effective in changing souls.

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