Monday, May 26, 2014

“A Renaissance Will Come”: Dr. de Saventhem's Prophetic Words in 1970

Dr. Eric de Saventhem (1919-2005), first President of the International Federation Una Voce, spoke these prophetic words in a speech in New York City in 1970—words all the more remarkable in the face of the escalating victories of philistinism and modernism, the total devastation and hopelessness of the situation emerging at that time.
A renaissance will come: asceticism and adoration as the mainspring of direct total dedication to Christ will return. Confraternities of priests, vowed to celibacy and to an intense life of prayer and meditation will be formed. Religious will regroup themselves into houses of strict observance. A new form of Liturgical Movement will come into being, led by young priests and attracting mainly young people, in protest against the flat, prosaic, philistine or delirious liturgies which will soon overgrow and finally smother even the recently revised rites.
       It is vitally important that these new priests and religious, these new young people with ardent hearts, should find—if only in a corner of the rambling mansion of the Church—the treasure of a truly sacred liturgy still glowing softly in the night. And it is our task, since we have been given the grace to appreciate the value of this heritage, to preserve it from spoliation, from becoming buried out of sight, despised and therefore lost forever. It is our duty to keep it alive: by our own loving attachment, by our support for the priests who make it shine in our churches, by our apostolate at all levels of persuasion.
All this has been fulfilled before our eyes, and there is not the slightest sign that the "new form of Liturgical Movement" will back down just because of the new threats and intimidations and the premature swaggering of the anti-Ratzinger faction. Indeed, if history tells us any lesson, it is that unjust persecution makes the flame burn more intensely and then, as soon as opportunity arises, blaze out more vehemently.

And yet, so much more is waiting to be done; there is fire—the fire of the Catholic Faith in its totality and integrity, its tradition and beauty—to be kindled on the earth, in every place, every community, every church. In this connection we might do well to meditate on and draw courage from the noble words of the Book of Nehemiah:
Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer disgrace." And I told them of the hand of my God which had been upon me for good, and also of the words which the king had spoken to me. And they said, "Let us rise up and build." So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
       But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they derided us and despised us and said, "What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?"
       Then I replied to them, "The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build; but you have no portion or right or memorial in Jerusalem." (Neh 2:17-20)

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