Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Abp Gullickson Speaks on Liturgical Restoration at Sacra Liturgia

The Monastère Saint Benoît in La Garde-Freinet, France, is currently hosting the annual Sacra Liturgia Summer School. Yesterday evening, Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, Apostolic Nuncio to Switzerland and Lichtenstein, celebrated Pontifical Vespers of the feast of the Transfiguration, after which, he gave an address to the participants entitled “Moving Forward – My Plea for Full Liturgical Restoration”. Here are just a few excerpts from His Excellency’s talk; the full text can be read at his blog Ad Montem Myrrhae

Photo courtesy of the Monastère Saint Benoît, via the Facebook page of Sacra Liturgia.
“On the topic of liturgical renewal and the advancement of the tradition, I wonder if the veterans of the cause, like Dom Alcuin here, would have accurately predicted all the great things that have come to pass in these five years since our last encounter! Although the various fronts in the battle remain hardened and occasionally there are brutal setbacks, in many places we hear tell of vibrant communities, with mostly young people and families. Even in places where celebrations are still infrequent, I have experienced the exuberance of people who will give of themselves generously, with or without the expertise of communities like the Seminaries in Wigratzbad in Germany or Denton, Nebraska, not far from my home in the US, to bring about liturgies of extraordinary beauty, which draw people from far and wide.

In these five years, even among supporters of the traditional Latin Mass the terms of discourse have changed somewhat. We encounter dyed in the wool traditionalists who now tend to glow and melt because of the hope inspired by annual occurrences such as the Chartres Pilgrimage. It is not that our witness is less militant or strident, but things are changing. Our Merciful Lord offers us the occasion not only to stand fast but also to be nurturing for once, in the real and ever growing hope of winning over men and women of good will for the cause of the Tradition.

‘Moving Forward’ then! Any right minded or right thinking Catholic should have an instinctive aversion for the notion of progress or moving forward, especially when it comes to the Divine Liturgy in and of itself. This aversion wells up not because of any prejudice rooted in some kind of antiquarian spirit or predilection, but because the obsession with progress is wrong-headed. It can be and most often is disjunctive, that is, not Catholic. It is often modernist, flawed in the most profound sense, and hence it is wrong to look for progress in things either Catholic or liturgical, as if progressing were a value. That being said, I still want to title my talk ‘Moving Forward’, because organic development in matters liturgical is a part of our history and rightly so. Liturgical life in the Church did not reach its apex with the death of the last Apostle. Catholic liturgy is not frozen in time once and for all. There is development in the way we worship and have worshiped over the centuries. Divine liturgy is something rational, but as such it is in continuity with the past and marked above all by a constancy which takes it out of the hands of innovators, of liturgists and even of popes and councils. Unfortunately, the postconciliar liturgical reforms were tainted by arbitrariness or caprice far more than attaining any particular improvement or progression they may wish to claim as fruits of the reform. …

Be advised that ‘turning back’ is not so much a nostalgic turning back of the clock. Rather, it is a systematic reset aimed at recovering our footing, if you will. Why bet on a loser? Why jump into the abyss if you do not have to? Right reason would decree that a best effort be made at recovery; we need to pick up the trail that was lost or abandoned. Liturgical restoration could become a rallying point for a general recovery of faith life, or perhaps given the half century and several (2+) generations which separate us from our patrimony, represents the hoped-for bulwark against an even greater loss of faith. The Vetus Ordo could become the beachhead for a new evangelization, a renewal of faith life within the Church and for the world. …

Some of you, no doubt, are even more aware than I am of the volumes of literature out there analyzing what went wrong in the Church and in the world back at the time of the Second Vatican Council. Far be it from me not to accentuate the positive, but it is time for us to face up to the hard reality. You might say that what I am arguing for is an honest effort on the part of Catholics to get beyond denial and to recognize the arbitrary nature of much of what was imposed upon us, yes, I will say it, with violence. If you do not like the word ‘violence’, then substitute the expression “imposed with arbitrary force of will”.

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