Wednesday, July 13, 2022

A Superb Column on Desiderio Desideravi

In our recent round-up of articles about the recent apostolic letter on the liturgy, I said that I thought there would not be any need to do a second one, and this has proved to be the case. However, I very strongly urge our readers to go to the National Catholic Register and read this absolutely superb assessment of it by Dr Larry Chapp: Desiderio Desideravi: Connecting Some Papal Dots. His essential point, which he explicates very well, is that Desiderio Desideravi isn’t prepared to actually do anything about the Church’s on-going liturgical crisis, and indeed, actually undermines its own stated purpose. (In this regard, it is sadly very similar to far too much of the Papal liturgical legislation of the last 50 years, with the obvious exceptions of Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae.)

“At first glance, (it) comes across as a truly beautiful text containing many wonderful theological meditations ... In many ways my initial reaction to the document was fairly positive.

But on second glance, the document seems to me to be, ultimately, a big nothing burger. As beautiful as the text is in many places, there is also a sense one gets that the text is talking “around” the central issues without really resolving anything. Desiderio is proposed as a purely admonitory meditation on some broad theological themes and never seems to land anywhere concrete in a way that actually matters. ...

In many ways the text fails to connect the dots between the theological principles the Pope articulates and the concrete problematic it is seeking to address. And the text also then connects some dots that should not be, which leads me to think that the reasons for both of these situations is that what we have here is a set of ecclesiological conclusions in search of an argument. ...

... the glaring omission in the Pope’s analysis here is the fact that the fault for this situation does not merely fall upon cultural agents outside of the Church, but that it also falls in great measure on those prelates and priests inside the Church who openly and warmly embraced the metaphysical flattening of modernity and its emphasis on horizontalist worldliness at the expense of all things transcendent. They warmly embraced it — stripping the liturgy of the bells and smells, all the age-old, universal symbols of sacred worship — as a liberation from the Church and the liturgy that came before and set about the project of replacing it with a Church of worldly philanthropy, forced pseudo-fellowship (“Hi, my name is Larry. I love you”) and moral relativism in a deeply secular register.”

And particularly note this closing paragraph.

“Dear Holy Father, please do not leave your flock as liturgical orphans. If you want us to pray the Mass of Paul VI, then give us prelates who will promote its proper celebration rather than prelates who turn a blind eye to its desecration. Give us prelates who will promote the very things you write about in this new and frequently wonderful document. We, like you, want liturgical silence, and respected rubrics, and excellent music and homilies, and repristinated symbols, and an evangelical encounter with the Paschal Christ who beckons us via invitation to his Kingdom banquet. Yes! But if you want us to accept that you are serious about all of this, then please respect us as part of your flock, too. We are not rigid pharisees. Please send us episcopal shepherds who will not dismiss us as such. Holy Father, at the end of this document you ask us to get beyond polemics in these matters and to follow the Holy Spirit. An excellent suggestion. You go first please.”

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