We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Good grief

Over at the NLM:

It is no exaggeration to say that there is a fundamentally false view out there, very popular nowadays, as captured in this paragraph from Whispers from the Loggia of November 24:

The office’s [i.e., Congregation for Divine Worship’s] new mission is likely to hew closer to Francis’ own liturgical approach—as one op summarized its principles: “Go by the book. Don’t make a fuss about it. And remember that liturgy’s always a means to an end—not an end in itself.

That’s the error in a nutshell: the liturgy is a means, not an end. I don't know who Rocco's "op" was, but I sure hope he isn't your bishop or pastor. The worst day that can dawn for any Catholic is a day on which the priest celebrating the Mass takes it into his head that what he's doing is just a means to some further end.


What is one to say? We are referred to the words of Paul VI. But what do those words say and what do they mean? (My emphases.)

Point One: It's complicated.

For the liturgy, "through which the work of our redemption is accomplished," most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek.

Point Two: Priests are tools.

To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross" [20], but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church ...

Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members.

From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.

Point Three: No 'action' or 'work' can possibly be an end-in-itself -- all are, by definition, means to some further end.

Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper ...

From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way.

But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain. Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

Point Four: The 'work' is necessarily communal, demanding participation, which requires understanding.

Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.

Hence the need for a "restoration" whereby "both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify." It may be the highest action but it is nonetheless action. If, indeed, this rite was an end-in-itself, this would not be necessary. But it is (and we have been saying it for almost half a millennium now). Welcome to the real world. Or not.

1 comment:

  1. Is this why the traditionalist periodical will invariably have a picture of the Elevation on the cover... rather than a symbol of the beatific state e.g. van Eyck's Lamb of God?