Saturday, July 09, 2016

Sacra Liturgia UK: Day 4

The final day of Sacra Liturgia UK began with Prof. Helmut Hoping's paper on one of the most fundamental aspects of our liturgy, Liturgy and the Triune God: Rethinking Trinitarian Theology. Prof. Hoping started with the observation that the liturgy is prima theologia, the primary locus of theology, in which we first speak to God rather than about God. The subject of theology is the mystery of God in his revelation to us as Trinity, and this is a fundamental part of liturgical prayer.
Prof. Hoping then explored what the New Testament has to say about the Trinity, touching on how Jesus prayed, the importance of the shema (Mk. 12:29-31; cf. Dt. 6:4-9), Christ as High Priest and heavenly liturgist in the book of Hebrews, and the sacrificial Lamb in the book of Revelation. He noted that the Roman Rite shows a patrocentric character, in which prayer is prayed in a trinitarian manner - ad Patrem per Christum in unitate Spiritus sancti. As the Holy Spirit reveals to us the intimacy of the personal relationship between the Father and the Son, so too the liturgy allows the individual Christian to enter into the I-Thou relationship through trinitarian prayer and sacramental Communion. In short, the trinitarian foundation of the liturgy and Christian life is absolutely indispensable to our entire being, as well as our relationship to God and to one another as Catholics.
Fr Michael Cullinan then gave us a slightly different perspective as a moral theologian in his paper The Ethical Character of the Mysteries: Observations from a Moral Theologian. His central thesis was that what people see and hear in our churches through the liturgy has grave moral importance for their lives. However, instead of applying moral principles to the liturgy, as often done in times gone by, he asked how can we derive moral principles from the liturgy?
As well as the moral-theological perspective, Fr Cullinan gave an ecumenical perspective by mediating his reflections through theologians from the Eastern Churches and Protestant sources, such as Christos Yannaras, Vigen Guroian, John Zizioulas, Paul Ramsey, and Oliver O’Donovan. Among other insights, he pointed out that:
Historically, certainly since the late Middle Ages we in the West minimised sacraments to their essential requirements for validity, we simplified and individualised liturgy to allow individual low Masses, and then all too often we regarded the whole world of art, music and architecture as mere icing on the cake: delicious and sweet but not particularly nourishing or essential. So we have to convince ourselves that what people see and hear at Mass is important to their moral lives.
A particularly astute, moral observation was also made by Fr Cullinan regarding the minimalist celebrations of the liturgy common in many rich, Western nations, which have simplicity without nobility (cf. SC 34):
For the first time in religious history people do not seem to want to offer to God the best they have and they do not see anything wrong in this. Often it is the people who have most, perhaps far more than their parents and grandparents, who want the barest worship spaces. Whereas it is often the poorest who want to subscribe to statues and richly ornamented vestments. The moral theologian should suspect that something may be going on here, to do with both psychology and sociology.
Fr Cullinan concluded with the question that, if what happens in our parish liturgies does not present the challenge and glory of the Christian life to people, if it fails to communicate the fullness of the Gospel, how then shall they be saved? He provided much food for thought regarding the moral implications of contemporary liturgical practice, which also has ramifications for the effectiveness of the post-Vatican II liturgical reforms.
The next paper was given by Prof. David Fagerberg on Doing the World Liturgically: Stewardship of Creation and Care for the Poor. I would not be the first person to observe that, in the contemporary Church, the very mention of the phrase "social justice" causes many eyes to roll and cynicism to rear its head. However, Prof. Fagerberg's contention that liturgy ought to be concerned with social justice, specifically stewardship for the environment and care for the poor was very challenging.

The narthex, he said, can be seen as a permeable membrane between the sacred and secular, and liturgy should overflow from the sanctuary:
Liturgy is our perfection, for there we are being filled with the love of God by joining the choreography of his divine love, and performing the work of a cosmic priesthood.
Prof. Fagerberg pointed out that one way of defining liturgy is to understand it as a restored participation in the original created order. A failure to understand this quickly ends in a negation of the shema; either the signs of creation no longer point to the Creator, with nature quickly becoming opaque, then a substitute, and finally an idol; or our neighbour is no longer seen as a fellow image of God, with the consequence that he quickly becomes a competitor, then an opponent, and finally an enemy.
The problem, Prof. Fagerberg said, is not with the world per se, but with our reception and interpretation of it. Money, sex and beer are not problematic, but avarice, lust and greed are. Due to the fall, our passions get in the way of a right relationship with the world, and thus also with God. The liturgy and the sacraments fortify us and equip us for a participatio actuosa in the world, to enable us to do the world as it was meant to be done - liturgically.
The fourth talk was given by Mgr Andrew Burnham, on Divine Worship: The Missal and "the liturgical books proper to the Anglican Tradition" (Anglicanorum Coetibus, III). Mgr Burnham took us through the history of Anglican-Catholic ecumenical dialogue, including the USCCB's "pastoral provision" of 1980 and the 2003 Book of Divine Worship, culminating in the recent liturgical books of the Ordinariate.

He talked about the work of the Anglicanae Traditiones commission and the CDWDS, and the sources used by them, including the influence of the Episcopalian (USA) 1928 BCP on the Ordinariate Missal. Mgr Burnham mentioned that this American influence has meant that many UK Ordinariate groups have experienced somewhat of a rupture in their worship due to the different Anglican liturgical contexts in the UK and USA. Certain features of Divine Worship: The Missal as compared to the usus recentior were discussed, such as the offertory prayers of the usus antiquior being the default for the Ordinariate (with the Pauline Missal's offertory available as an option). Mgr Burnham expressed the hope, shared by many at the conference, that the Ordinariate's liturgy will influence the next typical edition of the Missale Romanum, and that the barriers as to who can use which book will begin to fall (i.e. that non-Ordinariate priests will be able to use Divine Worship).

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone then offered some concluding reflections, summing up the talks and liturgies of the conference. He urged patience with regard to the upcoming work of the CDWDS regarding the question of the reform of the reform, but said that the celebration of the Mass ad orientem in the usus recentior would go a long way towards preparing the way for it, and reiterated Cardinal Sarah's appeal to priests to begin celebrating Mass eastwards from the 1st Sunday of Advent this year. He encouraged all present to pay attention to the details of the liturgy in the celebration of it, holding up the London Oratory as an model and exemplar. Rubricism is a danger, as we are fallen human beings, but so is laxity and negligence. The Archbishop was keen to stress that there is a proper place for attention to detail in the liturgy, for people pay close attention to the things and people that they love dearly, and worship of Almighty God is central to who we are both collectively as the Body of Christ and individually as members of it.

Finally, Bishop Dominique Rey announced that the next Sacra Liturgia conference will be held in Milan at the University of the Sacred Heart from June 6th-9th, 2017. The conference will be in English and Italian, with all the presentations being translated. More details will be announced after the summer.
The conference ended with Solemn Mass according to Divine Worship: The Missal, celebrated by the ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Mgr Keith Newton.
A huge thank you goes to Bishop Dominique Rey, Dom Alcuin Reid, Fr Uwe Michael Lang and everyone else who had a hand in organising Sacra Liturgia UK. It was lovely to meet so many people who are passionate about the worship of the Church at a very informative and illuminating conference, with wonderful, devout and prayerful celebrations of the sacred liturgy. Deo gratias!
(More photos and extracts from all the talks over the four days can be found at the Sacra Liturgia Facebook page. Apologies for the slight delay in this final account of the conference!)

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