Friday, March 09, 2007

Msgr. Schimitz's talk on the Motu Proprio and the Centrality of the Liturgy

Over at the Institute of Christ the King's website, the full text of Msgr. Schmitz's talk, The Classical Roman Rite and the Renewal of the Liturgy given on February 19th has been posted.

I should like to clarify that this is not the article that came out in Envoy, but is the actual text of Msgr. Michael Schmitz.

The talk is too long to quote in full, but there are some poignant excerpts I would like to share with you:

On the Motu Proprio:

"I can only tell you at least that the document [the Motu Proprio - NLM] is ready and that the person who is responsible for all of it [the Holy Father - NLM] does not want to discuss it any longer. We have now only to pray that the appropriate time to publish it will be found soon. This will bring about a great strengthening not only of Traditional Latin Mass groups -- it will bring about a renewal of the liturgy, it will bring about a renewal of the clergy, it will bring about a renewal of the beauty of the Church... that will be Holy Mother Church with the Traditional Latin Rite liberalized for everyone."

On Ad Orientem:

"The Holy Father, as perhaps you know, has written a Preface to a book by a very learned member of the London Oratory, Father Michael Lang, who is a very holy priest, about the direction of the altar. And the Holy Father fosters the results of that book. Father Lang has discovered that never was there anything else in the history of the Church other than an eastward-bound altar. And everyone would look toward the same direction together with the priest, toward the east, toward the resurrecting Son—toward Christ—toward the center of the liturgy. Father Lang makes it very clear that any other direction of the altar is not traditional. It is simply a recent introduction. And even if you go through the Novus Ordo Missae you will find a few rubrics that indicate that this Mass was meant to be celebrated at an altar facing the tabernacle. So even the new liturgy was not meant to be celebrated exclusively facing the people."

On Organic Development:

"In a preface to a book that Dom Alcuin Reid has published about the organic growth of the liturgy, the Holy Father compares the Church to a gardener and says that every change in the liturgy has to be organic growth. So you cannot cut away pieces, you cannot simply destroy a plant that you want to grow, but you must be very careful to find for this plant a good time in the year to plant it, the right nourishment, the best place for it to be and grow, and then you must take care of it with great prudence daily and without interruption. It is very important that our Holy Father has made this remark because this is implicitly a critique of so many things that have happened in the last forty years. People have believed that the wonderful plant of the liturgy that God has planted in the midst of the Church can be treated like a plastic plant, that you can expose it as you want to your whims, that this plant is more beautiful than a real rose."

On the Centrality of the Liturgy:

"We have to understand that the liturgy is not a decoration on a cake, like a little bit of whipped cream that you place on a wonderful birthday cake to make it more beautiful. The Church, even today in the crisis that we are undergoing, is still a very impressive worldwide operation. If you only think that the Church most certainly has the greatest number of charitable organizations in the whole world, that the church has hundreds and thousands of hospitals, of kindergartens, of orphanages, of schools, of universities, of all kinds of operations that take care of the needs of people in our times... But all that is not Her center. All this is only a consequence. The wonderful social doctrine of the Church -- everything we can do in this state and in politics to bring the realm of Christ to real brilliance and to power -- all this is a consequence. A consequence that is very important and cannot be belittled if we do not want to destroy society, but it is still a consequence because the call of the Church is not there. The call is a liturgy. The call is the foremost and grandest liturgical act ever. The call is the sacrifice of the cross that is perpetuated on our altars. If we belittle the fact that the drama of the redemption takes place on the most forlorn altar in Gabon in the middle of the jungle every day, if we belittle in our parish churches that what our parish priest does is the most important action that can ever happen in the world, if we do not understand that the great and magnificent apparatus of the Church is all about protecting and promulgating the flame of love that has been sacrificed for us in the Heart of Jesus on the Cross, we have totally misunderstood the Roman Catholic Church. And therefore, we have to go back to a deeper understanding of the Liturgy."

On the Importance of Beauty:

"If the Church has been subjected to so many heresies in the last forty years, if ever the Church has been subjected to heretical thinking, it is because people have wrongly understood [ie. wrongly believed - NLM] that God acts only on our brain [ie. our intellect - NLM]. But God is a God incarnate, and He acts, therefore, as he has shown, in the heart, through the heart, and on our heart. And He does that also in the Church, and the Church has as Her heart the liturgical mystery from which all Her blood, all the pulsations of Her heart, all Her energy comes. If the Devil wanted to destroy the beauty of the handmaid of the Lord, the beauty of Holy Mother Church, he had to attack the liturgy. He had to weaken the heart. He had to undermine the understanding of Catholics that it is more important to be on your knees than to be activists alone. First, you have to be on your knees and then you can be active because God gives you grace for that. If you understand that, then, with our Holy Father, you put emphasis on the celebration of the liturgy."

I would encourage all to read the entire article.

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