Friday, July 09, 2010

Observance of Liturgical Norms and "Ars Celebrandi"

This evening I wish to draw your attention to the final article by Fr. Mauro Gagliardi -- a consultor of the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff and professor of theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum of Rome -- for the "Spirit of the Liturgy" column in Zenit, wherein he discusses the matter of the Observance of Liturgical Norms and "Ars Celebrandi".

Here are a few brief excerpts:

1. The Post-Conciliar Situation

Vatican Council II ordered a general reform of the sacred liturgy. The latter was effected after the closing of the Council, by a commission commonly called, for reasons of brevity, the Consilium. It is known that, from the beginning, the liturgical reform was the object of criticisms, at times radical, as well as exaltations, in certain cases, excessive. It is not our intention to pause on this problem. We can say instead that it is generally agreed that an increase of abuses can be observed in the celebratory field after the Council.

[...] is important that the solution of the same begin with the priests, who must commit themselves first of all to know in a profound way the liturgical books and also to put faithfully into practice their prescriptions. Only knowledge of the liturgical laws and the desire to hold oneself strictly to them will avoid further abuses and arbitrary "innovations" that, if at the time might perhaps move those present, in reality soon end by tiring and disappointing. Saving the best intentions of those who commit them, after forty years of "liturgical disobedience" it does not in fact build better Christian communities, but on the contrary it puts in danger the solidity of their faith and of their belonging to the unity of the Catholic Church.

The more "open" character of the new liturgical norms cannot be used as pretext to pervert the nature of the public worship of the Church: "The new norms have much simplified the formulas, gestures, liturgical acts [...]. But neither must one go in this field beyond what is established: in fact, by doing so, the liturgy would be stripped of the sacred signs and of its beauty, which are necessary so that the mystery of salvation is truly realized in the Christian community and that it also understood under the veil of visible realities, through an appropriate catechesis. In fact the liturgical reform is not synonymous with de-sacralization, nor is it the motive for that phenomenon called the secularization of the world. Hence, it is necessary to preserve in the rites dignity, seriousness, sacredness."

Therefore, among the graces we hope to be able to obtain from the celebration of the Year for Priests is also that of a true liturgical renewal in the heart of the Church, so that the sacred liturgy is understood and lived for what it is in reality: the public and integral worship of the Mystical Body of Christ, Head and members, worship of adoration that glorifies God and sanctifies men.

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