Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pope Addresses Italian Bishops on Sacred Liturgy as Perennial Source of Education in the Faith

Yesterday evening, Zenit provided a complete translation of the Pope's Message to Italian Bishops' Plenary Assembly. That message sees the sacred liturgy feature prominently.

In the address, the Holy Father, picking up on the location of the Plenary Assembly, Assisi, spoke of how the time of St. Francis was marked by profound cultural transformations and noted that it was during this time that "the Church undertook a profound liturgical reformation" which "counts among its fruits the 'Breviary'." Speaking on the breviary, or the Divine Office, the Holy Father commented that "this book of prayer includes in itself the richness of theological reflection and of the praying experience of the previous millennium."

Continuing on with the theme of the liturgy generally, the Holy Father likewise noted that "the genuine believer, in every age, experiences in the liturgy the presence, the primacy and the work of God. It is "veritatis splendor ("Sacramentum Caritatis," No. 35), nuptial event, foretaste of the new and definitive city and participation in it; it is link of creation and of redemption, open heaven above the earth of men, passage from the world to God; it is Easter, in the Cross and in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ; it is the soul of Christian life, called to follow, to reconciliation that moves to fraternal charity."

He continued, "the correspondence of the prayer of the Church (lex orandi) with the rule of the faith (lex credendi) molds the thought and the feelings of the Christian community, giving shape to the Church, Body of Christ and Temple of the Spirit. No human word can do without time, even when, as in the case of the liturgy, it constitutes a window that open beyond time. Hence, to give voice to a perennially valid reality calls for the wise balance of continuity and novelty, of tradition and actualization. The missal itself is placed within this process. Every true reformer, in fact, is obedient to faith: He does not move arbitrarily, nor does he arrogate to himself any discretion about the rite; he is not the owner but the guardian of the treasure instituted by the Lord and entrusted to us. The whole Church is present in every liturgy: To adhere to its form is the condition of the authenticity of what is celebrated."

Pope Benedict exhorted the bishops "to appreciate the liturgy as perennial source of education to the good life of the Gospel."

(All quotations above are taken from Zenit's English translation)

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