Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Report of the FOTA VI Conference in Cork, Ireland (Continued)

Mr. William A. Thomas' report on the FOTA VI Conference continues with summaries of the talks given by Professors Ralf van Bühren and Helmut Hoping, and His Eminence Raymund Leo Cardinal Burke.
On Sunday afternoon, after a Pontifical High Mass celebrated at Ss Peter and Paul in Cork, Dr. Ralf van Bühren, Professor of Christian Art History at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce in Rome, presented his paper “Sacrosanctum Concilium and Sacred Architecture: Sources and Post Conciliar Reception of the Liturgical Constitution.” Sacred architecture might effectively influence the active participation of the faithful and also their comprehension of the paschal mystery, which rate among the principles of the liturgical restoration initiated by Sacrosanctum Concilium. In view of chapter VII (“Sacred Art and Sacred Furnishings”, SC 122–130), his lecture examined the art historical and theological background of the constitution in its antecedents and its later reception.

“By the 1920’s, sacred architecture in France and Germany had changed profoundly,” he said. “The impetus for a new aesthetics and a specific liturgical disposition of the sacred space came from the functionality of technical construction, and from the Liturgical Movement’s focus on the altar. Sacrosanctum Concilium took these evolutions into consideration. Until the 1980s, these new principles prevailed due to the Liturgical Reform after the Council, together with a preference for raw concrete as a means to renew sacred architecture with contemporary materials and forms, and a radical restriction of images for the purpose of highlighting the importance of the liturgical action.” On the other hand, since the 1990s, new aesthetic ideas have emerged, and there have been innovations concerning the pastoral and artistic promotion of the liturgy as regards liturgical spaces.

Professor van Bühren lamented the fact that during the 1960’s and 70’s, sacred images often were removed from churches; but such images are mystagogically and catechetically valuable and also fully conform to instructions given in Sacrosanctum Concilium 122 and 127 and Lumen Gentium 67, and they should not have been removed. “In post-conciliar church architecture there was a strong tendency of reducing the number of images as a result of the idea of the Liturgy as centre of the church interior. Nevertheless the Second Vatican Council, apart from the liturgical suitability of sacred art, had demanded «noble beauty» (SC 124) for the church interior.” This restriction on the number of images and the centrality of liturgy already existed in France and Germany in 1920–1960, van Bühren reminded. Newly built churches had only few images, mainly in abstract style, which made difficult or impossible the communication of the divine message of salvation. Since the 1920s, one of the most influential architectural styles was the cubical, rational, and box-like space, derived from Bauhaus and De Stijl, whose soberness was hardly conducive to prayer. Extraliturgical forms of devotion were shifted into secondary rooms or were cancelled completely.

Some 8,000 churches were restored or newly built after World War II in Germany alone, adopting the aforementioned principles. In France, Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp initiated the Neo-Expressionist architecture of the 1950s, van Bühren stated. Sculpted forms rather than rectangular shapes dominate, while the interior of Ronchamp did not seem to meet the liturgical needs, claimed by the contemporaneous Liturgical Movement. An extreme case of the period of the «désacralisation» during the 1960’s was Virilio’s Sainte-Bernadette du Banlay at Nevers in France, evidently without explicit references to transcendence, stated van Bühren, different to some new trends and mystagogical approaches after the 1990s in recent sacred architecture, which he illustrated.

Professor Dr Helmut Hoping gave an excellent paper entitled “What Reform? - The Hermeneutics of Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Liturgical Renewal”, a brief history of the Council, explained the history of the constitution, coupled with its hermeneutic. The document itself was the basis for liturgical reform, but the actual word ‘reform’ was never mentioned in the 1964 motu proprio Sacram Liturgiam, the first act of its implementation. Rather, the word “aggiornamento – bringing up to date” was used, which became one of the key words of the Council. “This ‘aggiornamento’ is precisely what the Council attempted to do, as the Fathers highlighted the liturgy and the primacy of God,” he said. Annibale Bugnini became a peritus of the Council, a radical reformer who prevented the liturgical reforms from going to the Congregation of Rites for approval, going instead directly to the Pope and having them approved by him; thus, there was no scrutiny of Sacrosanctum Concilium by the competent body.

Quoting Cardinal Ratzinger, Hoping said that “liturgy was not the aim of the Council, although Sacrosanctum Concilium became the first text to be discussed by the Fathers, and in that the primacy of God in the liturgy. Secondly the discussion focused on the use of the vernacular, and the modern and pastoral character of the schema.” Its goal was to renew the liturgy by focusing on the Paschal mystery, charity, simplicity, transparency, comprehensibility and the use of the vernacular. In conclusion, Professor Hoping stated that the Council Fathers did not envision a continuous liturgical reform; what is needed today is a new liturgical movement which brings to life the real heritage of Vatican II, something that requires profound liturgical education.

Cardinal Burke presented his talk by reflecting again on the primacy of God in the liturgy and that the importance of prayer should not be diminished in the understanding of the liturgy. The “Sacred liturgy should be rendered purer and the spiritual treasure offered within, be offered to the people of God; therefore let no one disturb it, let no one violate it. We are commanded to obey the Church’s laws and precepts and obliged to love the Church with Christ at its head.” Canon Law is the juridical structure of the Church, if we no longer respect it then we are in trouble; he quoted Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges (1983): “the renewal of Christian living was the goal of the new Code of Canon Law, that is holiness of life.” He went on to say that “the nature of Canon Law is derived from the Old Testament, and to keep it allows us the freedom to love God and our neighbor.” Therefore, Canon Law should be observed because it is extremely necessary for the Church, it is the “sacred power” of the Church, the visible manifestation of the norms of the Church in the administration of the sacraments. “(T)he lack of the proper place of Canon Law in the documents of Vatican II, in the general euphoria at that time, gave the sense that we no longer needed Canon Law and we could do what we wanted as we now believed that we no longer suffered from Original sin; this was a very sad day for the Church.”

Cardinal Burke then went on to speak about antinomianism or sense of lawlessness we find in the Church that creates a sense of uncertainty, especially when the euphoria manifested itself in the liturgy, where many changes were abusive and violent. “What happened to sacred music? What happened to other parts of the mass? There emerged a hermeneutic of discontinuity, a hermeneutic of rupture, a betrayal of the liturgy. The rupture was caused by the abandonment of any canonical discipline, the abandonment of catechesis, religious life, Catholic institutions and with it the sacred liturgy.” Explaining the student riots of the late 1960s, the Cardinal said that there was a “new age of freedom and love which had dawned on the Church, a sense of a free-for-all, which seems to have been the general consciousness at that time, and thus there was rebellion against all forms of authority in the world.”

His Eminence continued to stress the Jus Divinum in establishing the “right relationship” with God and knowing the “rights of God”, especially in relation to the proper celebration of the liturgy. The exercise of power in liturgical matters can be distinguished in three periods, the first being the early Church, when there were different rites (and uses) which differed from each other from diocese to diocese you were in. The second period was from the Council of Trent to Vatican II, when the power to intervene on liturgical matters rested with the Supreme Pontiff, and the third period was from Vatican II onwards when power in liturgical matters was returned to local bishops, resulting in the loss of universality in the liturgy. “The whole notion of power is the key question that needs to be addressed” he said, and that that power must go back to the Supreme Pontiff. In concluding his talk, Cardinal Burke reminded the priests that “the priest should lose himself in the holy sacrifice of the mass, he is not the protagonist, Christ is.

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