Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Reflections on the response to Sacramentum Caritatis; The Motu Proprio's Role

I had posted this in the comments, but I think it merits being posted here:

Some are disappointed with Sacramentum Caritatis, which was to be expected. As some have noted, the document doesn't contain radical black and white statements like RS ("this must cease", etc.) but it does address some fundamental themes. Indeed, one major unaddressed theme was ad orientem, but I would urge you to consider some things.

For the past year now, I have considered that this particular document and the motu proprio are two sides of the same coin.

The Motu Proprio carries with it the potentiality to not only influence the breadth and freedom of the classical liturgy, but to also (by simple osmosis; bi-ritual parishes in effect) weigh in influence on the reform of the reform.

By sheer familiarity it could significantly help accomplish goals listed in the reform of the reform, including a greater familiarity and comfort with:

1) Chant
2) Latin in the liturgy
3) vertical emphasis in the liturgy
4) familiarity and comfort again with ad orientem as something not "foreign" to modern parish life and experience

But in neither missal's case can we expect any substantial revision in the here and now. What may happen 50 or 100 years down the way, we don't know. For now, this is our scenario. We remain with some paranoid of change to the 1962 missal on the one hand, not trusting change at this time, and others paranoid of rejection of a Council on the other side. Benedict has to balance these two opposing forces to try and address issues like organic development, rupture, and so on.

I would encourage people to realize this, and to consider this fact. Benedict is strategic, and the best strategy seeks to build a foundation and works to find realistic ways to help change the playing field so as to get the job done.

This document does today what we expected: it re-affirms traditional ethos, devotion, etc. It addresses problems or "shadows" that have crept into people's interpretations of things like liturgical participation, the place of the Eucharist in our sanctuaries etc.

But before today many people noted that this document would likely be relatively "quiet" about it, precisely because of the motu proprio which is a bit more of a bombshell. We fully expected that this document would help to assuage people concerned that somehow a rejection of the Council was going on. This document clearly spells out an affirmation of particular things in the Council and its liturgical decrees, while speaking about the excesses in implementation and the hermeneutic of rupture that followed in so many places.

I would encourage people that to understand this document properly, we must think of the what may come in the motu proprio. At very least I should say to withhold your judgement and negative reaction.

50 years down the road, this may be seen as a crucial and brilliant chess move that worked in a pastoral way to help get a very difficult task on the road to being accomplished.

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