Monday, July 26, 2010

Archbishop Ranjith at Work in Colombo

The following was recently drawn to the NLM's attention, coming from Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, former Secretary for the Congregation of Divine Worship and present Archbishop of Colombo. It is a discourse which was given on March 15th, 2010, to the clergy of his diocese [we pick up his talk mid-stream]:


Speaking about this Pope John Paul II lamented that “ especially in the years following the Post Conciliar liturgical reform, as a result of a misguided sense of creativity and adaptation there have been a number of abuses which have been a source of suffering for many “ [ Eccl. de Eucharistia 52 ]. The revered Pope goes on to say “ I consider, it my duty therefore to appeal urgently that the liturgical norms for the celebration of the Eucharist be observed with great fidelity. These norms are a concrete expression of the authentically ecclesial nature of the Eucharist ; this is their deepest meaning. Liturgy is never anyone’s private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated……………..Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms and communities which conform to these norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church…….. No one is permitted to undervalue the mystery entrusted to our hands : it is too great for anyone to feel free to treat it lightly and with disregard for its sacredness and its universality “ [ibid]. The same is stated boldly and clearly in more recent documents of the Holy See, like “Redemptionis Sacramentum“ of 2002 and Pope Benedict XVI ‘s “Sacramentum Caritatis“ of 2007.


In fact the then Cardinal and present Pope Joseph Ratzinger in a soul searching analysis of what happened in some quarters in the interpretation of the II Vatican Council stated as follows : “ the true Council, already during its sessions and then increasingly in the subsequent period was, opposed by a self styled ‘spirit of the Council’ which in reality is a true ‘anti-spirit ‘ of the Council. According to this pernicious anti-spirit (Konzils – Ungeist in German), everything that is new is always and in every case better than what has been or what is. It is the anti-spirit according to which the history of the Church would first begin with Vatican II , viewed as a kind of point zero” [‘ The Ratzinger Report ’ Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1985, PP. 34-35 ]. Cardinal Ratzinger indeed was a peritus (expert) of the II Vatican Council who worked very closely with its theological commission on major Conciliar Constitutions like De Revelatione, Lumen Gentium and Gauduim et Spes. He himself saw some of the later “ loosening up “ of the norms and traditions of the Liturgy as pernicious. If you would recall, the Conciliar Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, never advocated such a sense of freedom with regard to liturgical norms for, it insisted that Regulation of the Sacred Liturgy depended solely on the Apostolic See (cfr SC 22 :1) and to a lesser extent on the Bishops (cfr SC 22:2 ) and that - “ absolutely no other person, not even a priest may add, remove or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority“ [SC 22 :3]. These are words of the Council and not my creation. If anyone then decides he can do as he likes, he neither knows his theology, nor liturgy and would only manifest his ignorance and arrogance.


The Eucharistic Year, then, Dear Fathers, has to usher in a spirit of greater nobility and dignity as well as reverence towards the Sacred in the liturgy especially in the Eucharist and the Sacraments. We should encourage Eucharistic devotions, ourselves celebrate them reverently, processions, holy hours, encourage Holy Communion on the tongue and on our knees ( altar railings should return to the sanctuary area perhaps with a cushion line as it has been done at our Cathedral ), beautify liturgically our sanctuaries, introduce forms of sacred art, ensure that Altar linen and Sacramental objects are clean and graceful, take greater care to prepare ourselves spiritually for the Eucharist, ensure that we wear the liturgically prescribed vestments and organize Eucharistic rallies and motivate the faithful to draw inspiration from the mystery of the Eucharist in being concerned about the poor, about evangelization and about the value of life witness. It can also be said that this shabby way with which at times we treat the Eucharist and the Sacraments drives away our people from the Church. So let us make a courageous paradigm shift in this matter during this special Year of Grace.

Source: Archdiocese of Colombo

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: