Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Summary of the XIV Fota International Liturgy Conference

Our thanks to Prof. William A. Thomas for sending us this write-up of the recent Fota XIV Liturgical conference.

The Saint Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy held the XIV Fota International Liturgy Conference at Ballyhea, Charleville, County Cork in Ireland on the weekend of July 1-2, on the subject of “The Sacrifice of the Mass”, exploring several aspects of Joseph Ratzinger / Benedict XVI’s reflections on the centrality of sacrifice in understanding the Eucharistic liturgy. The conference was presided over by his Eminence Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, and heard speakers from Australia, Italy, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.

The conference was opened by D. Vincent Twomey of the Divine Word Missionaries, Professor emeritus of Moral Theology of the Pontifical University of Maynooth. The topic of his paper was the contribution that post-structuralist cultural anthropology of ritual offers theologians and liturgists as a key to what Joseph Ratzinger called the “rules of play” of the liturgy, its “form” – or, in the words of Romano Guardini, the “liturgical action” (Kult-Akt). These “rules of play” constitute the “ritual process” common to all religions, albeit now transformed in Christ. Those “rules of play” bear within them the hallmark of God’s creation. I call them the “dynamics” of a truly sacral liturgy, one that involves not only sacred words but also sacred time and space, ritual movement and bodily gestures. The rationalist/functionalist mindset of modernity is inimical to the profound significance of natural symbols and rubrics. That mindset (shared in various degrees) by some European theologians and liturgists, it is argued, undermines the most profound theologies of liturgy and liturgical practice itself. With its exclusive emphasis on the Word (or, rather, words), that mindset promotes a new iconoclasm. The abstract, cerebral, and so ritually impoverished, liturgy has been (and continues to be) a major factor in the collapse of Christianity in Europe and America. Romano Guardini raised the alarm in 1964 but, tragically, was ignored.

The second speaker, Father Serafino M. Lanzetta, who earned his doctorate from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome read a paper entitled, “The Death of Christ as a Sacrifice of Atonement.’’ In presenting his paper, Father Lanzetta said that, “Sacrifice is necessary, since without it there is no life, and no encounter with God is realized. The initiative is of God, the precedence is of divine love. What is clear from a synoptic study of the Old and New Testament on the concept of atoning sacrifice and the reading of Jesus’ death precisely as such, is that if we do not start from the Old Testament ritual of atonement, keeping it firmly in mind as a background, we will not be able to understand Christ’s death on the Cross. This latter is in fact true atonement, foreshadowed in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the supreme offertorial moment of our Lord’s life on Golgotha. There are two strands that come together in Christ: a) the purification of the concept of sacrifice through the prophets, and particularly with Isaiah, without renouncing the hatta’t sacrifice that the Servant of YWHW shall make, and b) the sacrifice of yôm kippur, true atonement only by virtue of the blood of Christ poured out with an eternal Spirit that truly purifies and sanctifies us. Christ is the instrument of atonement and also the day of atonement, a day without sunset by virtue of His eternal sacrifice, entered with His glorified body in the presence of the Father in heaven. Man is transformed into Christ. In Our Lord’s sacrifice of expiation, he receives a new heart, and so David’s penitential Psalm 51 [50], true figure of worship in spirit and truth, now shines forth in all its sapiential power.”

The third paper of the morning was given by Father Dieter Böhler S.J., professor of Exegesis and the Old Testament at Sankt Georgen Higher Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt in Germany, who spoke on part of the Roman Canon while elucidating on the words “the Sacrifice of the Patriarch Abraham” (Sacrificium Patriarchae nostri Abrahae) and the Aqedah in the Bible and the Canon of the Mass. Referring to the Old Testament Father Böhler stated that “The Roman Canon of the Mass refers to three Old Testament offerings that are interpreted as models of the sacrifice of the Mass: Abel’s, Abraham’s and Melchizedek’s offering. What exactly was Abraham’s sacrifice is not immediately clear: certainly not the substitute ram, but probably neither the unsacrificed son Isaac. What, then, was Abraham’s sacrifice and why is the entire Jerusalem temple liturgy later based on it?”

Father Sven Conrad FSSP then gave the first conference of the afternoon as he presented a paper on the ‘Double Consecration’ in the Mass in which he said that Christ continues His immolation of His earthly body through His mystical body, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Holy Sacrifice is one of atonement, of reparation and of thanksgiving, he said. The covenant which God enters into with man is in the Incarnation, and the Eucharist is a continuation of the Incarnation, the sacrifice of supreme love. Father Conrad spoke about Matthias Joseph Scheeben in his book The Mystery of Christianity wherein Scheeben describes sacrifice as the deification of the person and that the “altar fire” that Scheeben alludes to is actually the work of the Holy Spirit who elevates man towards God through grace. Quoting from the works of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he said that Ratzinger sees that there is a vertical and horizontal Incarnation so to speak, in the Mass, but that these were his own thoughts which were influenced by the writings of Augustine.

Father Conrad was followed by Dr. Peter John McGregor, lecturer in Dogmatic Theology at the Catholic Institute in Sydney, and at the University of Notre Dame in Australia, who spoke on the Spiritual Christology of Joseph Ratzinger in his paper “The Heart, Sacrifice, and Koinonia in the Eucharistic Theology of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI.” In his paper McGregor brought together three key concepts of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI: the heart, sacrifice, and koinonia. Bringing these three together will involve introducing what Ratzinger calls a ‘Spiritual Christology’. In this, he said that “we will see that he (Ratzinger) presents us with what could be called, not a Christology from above nor a Christology from below, but a Christology from within, that is, a Christology of participation, of koinonia. Within this Christology, we will find a theology of prayer, a theology of the heart, and a Eucharistic theology.” Then his paper outlined Ratzinger’s theology of the heart, followed by his understanding of sacrifice in relation to the Eucharist. He then concluded by trying to show how his understanding of the heart and sacrifice is brought together in his understanding of koinonia.

The conference’s second day began with Matthew Hazell M.A. (Biblical Studies-Sheffield), the compiler of the Index Lectionum, a comparative table of readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite; he is currently working on a companion volume, the Index Psalmorum. His presentation was titled, “The Reform of the orationes super oblata in the Proper of Time of the 1970/2008 Missale Romanum”, and examined the reform of the super oblata (Prayers over the Offerings) in the Proper of Time of the post-Vatican II Roman Missal. First, the suggestions made about the super oblata during the antepreparatory, preparatory and conciliar phases of Vatican II were examined. Following this, there was an analysis of the relevant schemata of the Consilium ad exsequendam to see what was said about these prayers, as well as the principles and process behind their reform. Finally, he surveyed the texts of the super oblata in the Proper of Time of the post-Vatican II Missal, to observe what changes and edits had been made to the source texts of these prayers, the effects of these changes on the theology of sacrifice and offering, present in the source texts, and how well the principles of the liturgical reform were applied in practice.

Professor Dr. Manfred Hauke is professor of Dogmatic theology at the University of Lugano in Switzerland later presented his paper entitled, “The importance of the offertorium as an integral part of Eucharistic sacrifice, and the offertory as a challenge to liturgical reforms in history.” In his conference he posed the following questions:
  1. Does the offertory contain an offering? Or is it only a matter of preparing?
  2. A Sketch of the historical development up to the Middle Ages
  3. The Offertory in the Missal of Pius V (1570)
  4. Systematic clarification of the concept of sacrifice
He then stated that, “The concept of sacrifice contains a multi-layered reality that culminates in the sacramental sacrifice of Christ, but is not limited to it. The inward human offering and the ritual sacrifice of the Church find their completion in the offering of Christ, but also retain their relative intrinsic value. The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Church are therefore to be linked together when thinking about the sacrifice of the Mass. The priest performs in virtue of the specific power of sacred ordination, a true sacrificial act that brings creation back to God. Although all those who participate in the Eucharist do not confect the sacrifice as He does, they offer with Him, by virtue of the common priesthood, their own spiritual sacrifices represented by the bread and wine from the moment of their presentation at the altar. For this liturgical action, which takes a solemn form in almost all liturgies, it has a ‘spiritual value and meaning.’ The bread and wine become in a sense a symbol of all that the Eucharistic assembly brings, on its own part, as an offering to God and offers spiritually.” (John Paul II, Dominicae coenae, 1980)

His paper continued with:
      5. The reinterpretation and destruction of the offertory in the Reformation
      6. The moralising abridgement of the offertory as fruit of the “Enlightenment” in the work of Vitus Anton Winter
      7. The discussion among the Old Catholics
      8. The Catholic discussion on the reorganisation of the offertory from the beginning of the Liturgical Movement to the Second Vatican Council
      9. The Liturgical Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium and its Official Commentary
      10. ‘Preparation of the Gifts’ in the Novus Ordo Missae of Paul VI.
The translations of the Latin texts, and “the liturgical commentaries as well as the general practice indicate that what has a sacrificial character in the rite of the preparation of gifts has rather declined or is withdrawn. The reasons could lie in a biblical-ecumenical favouring of the Eucharist as a meal and memorial celebration as well as in an aversion to the whole semantic field of sacrifice due to the spirit of the times.” (Alex Stock, 2011).

He went on to describe the study by the French Benedictine Paul Tirot OSB on the history of the offertory prayers in the Roman liturgy from the 7th to the 17th century (published in 1985), which deserves special attention. The author emphasizes that an anticipatory way of speaking about the offerings was common in the Catholic liturgy in both East and West; and this still applies to Pope Saint Paul VI’s Missal. At the end, Tirot makes proposals for an optional enrichment of the offertory prayers in Pope Saint Paul VI’s missal, whereby the prayers of the medieval tradition, silently spoken by the priest, are once again used. In any case, the formulation according to which the newer form of the Roman rite simply replaces the “sacrifice” with the “preparation of the gifts” seems to be exaggerated. Nor is the praeparatio donorum merely a practical preparation that could be thought of without any reference to the sacrifice of the Mass. The Catechism of the Catholic Church uses the Latin expression donorum praesentatio, “offering of the gifts”, as synonymous with offertorium (cf. CCC 1350-1351).

The prayer request ‘that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty’ belongs to the same dynamic that is completed in the Eucharistic Prayer. The offertory reveals with particular clarity the spiritual sacrifice, which is more than a psychological and spiritual preparation. Participation in the Eucharistic sacrifice begins before the Eucharistic Prayer, even if it reaches its climax at the words of the Lord. It is thus ‘not only a matter of a preparation of the gifts, but of an oblatio, an offering.’ (Helmut Hoping, 2011).

Father Joseph Briody STL, SSL, STD. is a priest of the Catholic diocese of Raphoe in County Donegal, and professor of Sacred Scripture and Formation at Boston College and Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts. He spoke about the Lamb of God and made reference to the Lamb that was offered morning and evening in the Temple along with the wine offering and how these symbols become a typology not only of Christ, the spotless, innocent, and unblemished sacrificial offering, but also a foretaste of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass itself. The Lamb was slaughtered by a layman, not the priest, in the Temple. The priest however sprinkled the blood of the lamb in the sanctuary area, the Holy of Holies in order to purify the Temple and to make it a place of holiness. The Lamb therefore is one important link between the Old and New Testaments. Father Briody went on to speak about the meaning in scripture of the ‘unleavened’ bread, stating that ‘leavened’ was akin to sin, weighed down, whereas the unleavened was like the Passover Lamb, spotless, innocent, and pure. (1Cor 5) The legs of the Passover Lamb were not to be broken; hence the legs of Jesus were not broken. Quoting from the Book of Revelation, Father Briody concluded that the Old Testament was brought to its fullness in Jesus as the Lamb of God and extends now to Heaven itself.

Father Tom Lane STD is a priest of the diocese of Cloyne in County Cork, Ireland who has taught Sacred Scripture at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg in Maryland, USA presented his paper on ‘The Sacrifice of the Mass in the New Testament’. He said that: ‘during the Last Supper, Jesus anticipated His death on Calvary and reinterpreted the traditional Jewish blessing of bread and wine during the Last Supper. He said the bread was His body and the wine His blood and said they were given “for you” that is, in sacrifice for our salvation. He asked the apostles to “do this in remembrance of me” which in the Jewish understanding means not just recalling but being personally present again and benefitting from the original. In other words, each time the Eucharist is celebrated, Jesus comes to us. Just as Passover lambs were sacrificed and their blood placed on the doorframes of their homes, saved the Hebrews in Egypt from destruction. Jesus could be seen as the New Covenant Passover lamb whose blood was shed for our salvation. Some scholars believe the timing is different in John’s Gospel and Jesus is dying on the Cross at the same time as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered further highlighting Jesus as the New Covenant Passover lamb. Jesus’ self-sacrifice on Calvary for us could also be seen as the fulfillment of some of the Day of Atonement rituals performed by the high priest once yearly behind the curtain inside the Holy of Holies to atone for sins. Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all time to atone for our sins and we are therefore invited to enter into God’s sanctuary by our participation in the Holy Eucharist.’

The conference concluded with a Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Cardinal Burke.

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