domenica 31 gennaio 2010



"Why doesn't the Pope legislate on matters of liturgy to push forward the liturgical renewal he so desired as Cardinal?" "If the Pope was so in favor of liturgical reform and renewal in his days as Cardinal-theologian, why doesn’t he just legislate what he wants and take care of the problems?" This is a question many on the “Reform of the Reform” train hear, and often. First, the prevailing abuses have been roundly condemned in John Paul II’s Dominicae Cenae and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament’s Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum. Second, and this is very important, the Pope does not see the Sacred Liturgy as a thing to be arbitrarily manipulated, even by the Pope. I hope the following quotes which treat of ad orientem are helpful in this regard.

"The great contribution of the Pope, in my opinion, is that he is bringing us closer to the truth of the liturgy, with a wise pedagogy, introducing us to the genuine 'spirit' of the liturgy (the title of one of his works before becoming Pope). He, before all else, is following a simple educative process which seeks to move toward this 'spirit' or genuine sense of the liturgy, to overcome a reductive vision which is still very entrenched in the liturgy. As Pope, he is the first to put into practice his teachings, so rich and abundant in this area. As his evocative gestures which accompany the celebrations at which he presides, move in this direction. To receive these gestures and these teachings is a duty which we have if we are disposed to live the liturgy in a way corresponding to its very nature and if we do not want to lose the treasures and liturgical inheritance of the tradition.
Cardinal Cañizares’ Interview with Il Foglio 

“The result is entirely clear: the idea that the priest and people should look at each other in prayer emerged only in modern Christianity, and is completely foreign to ancient Christianity. Priest and people certainly do not pray to each other, but to the same Lord. So in prayer, they look in the same direction: either toward the East as the cosmic symbol of the Lord who is to come, or, where this is not possible, toward an image of Christ in the apse, toward a cross, or simply toward the sky, as the Lord did in his priestly prayer the evening before his Passion (John 17:1). Fortunately, the proposal that I made at the end of the chapter in question in my book is making headway: not to proceed with new transformations, but simply to place the cross at the center of the altar, so that both priest and faithful can look at it, in order to allow themselves to be drawn toward the Lord to whom all are praying together.
Preface to the initial volume of my writings; Joseph Ratzinger; Rome, feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 2008

“From my own personal point of view I should like to give further particular emphasis to some of the criteria for liturgical renewal thus briefly indicated. I will begin with those last two main criteria. It seems to me most important that the Catechism, in mentioning the limitation of the powers of the supreme authority in the Church with regard to reform, recalls to mind what is the essence of the primacy as outlined by the First and Second Vatican Councils: The pope is not an absolute monarch whose will is law; rather, he is the guardian of the authentic Tradition and, thereby, the premier guarantor of obedience. He cannot do as he likes, and he is thereby able to oppose those people who, for their part, want to do whatever comes into their head. His rule is not that of arbitrary power, but that of obedience in faith. That is why, with respect to the Liturgy, he has the task of a gardener, not that of a technician who builds new machines and throws the old ones on the junk-pile. The "rite", that form of celebration and prayer which has ripened in the faith and the life of the Church, is a condensed form of living Tradition in which the sphere using that rite expresses the whole of its faith and its prayer, and thus at the same time the fellowship of generations one with another becomes something we can experience, fellowship with the people who pray before us and after us. Thus the rite is something of benefit that is given to the Church, a living form of paradosis, the handing-on of Tradition.”
Preface to The Organic Development of the Liturgy by Alcuin Reid, O.S.B. by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

“A more important objection is of the practical order. Are we really going to re-order everything all over again? Nothing is more harmful to the Liturgy than constant changes, even if it seems to be for the sake of genuine renewal.I see a solution to this in a suggestion I noted at the beginning in connection with the insights of Erik Peterson. Facing toward the East, as we heard, was linked with the "sign of the Son of Man", with the Cross, which announces Our Lord's Second Coming. That is why, very early on, the East was linked with the sign of the cross. Where a direct common turning toward the East is not possible, the cross can serve as the interior "East" of faith. It should stand in the middle of the altar and be the common point of focus for both priest and praying community.In this way we obey the ancient call to prayer: Conversi ad Dominum, "Turn to the Lord!" In this way we look together at the One whose Death tore the veil of the Temple -- the One who stands before the Father for us and encloses us in His arms in order to make us the new and living Temple.Moving the altar cross to the side to give an uninterrupted view of the priest is something I regard as one of the truly absurd phenomena of recent decades. Is the cross disruptive during Mass? Is the priest more important than Our Lord? This mistake should be corrected as quickly as possible; it can be done without further rebuilding. The Lord is the point of reference. He is the rising sun of history. That is why there can be a cross of the Passion, which represents the Suffering Lord who for us let His side be pierced, from which flowed blood and water (Eucharist and Baptism), as well as a cross of triumph, which expresses the idea of Our Lord's Second Coming and guides our eyes towards it. For it is always the One Lord: Christ yesterday, today, and for ever (Heb 13:8).”The Spirit of the Liturgy, Chapter 3; Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

“The third problem is the celebration versus populum. As I have written in my books, I think that celebration turned towards the east, toward the Christ who is coming, is an apostolic tradition. I am not however in favour of forever changing churches around completely; so many churches have now been restructured that starting all over again right now does not seem to me at all a good idea.”
Looking Again at the Question of the Liturgy with Cardinal Ratzinger, Fontgombault Conference 2001

With respect to ad orientem I see his celebrations of The feast of the Baptism of the Lord with Italian families and the Mass recently celebrated ad orientem in the newly restored Pauline Chapel - which is built to accommodate both versus populum and ad orientem - as part of this “wise pedagogy.” I do not think it is either versus populum or ad orientem but rather a pedagogy by which Catholics understand the necessity of an inner orientation to the Father, through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit, and not self referential orientation between priest and people. I believe these quotes reveal the present Holy Father’s antipathy for continual juridical and liturgical change through legislation and his desire to teach and instill a liturgical renewal through his writings and example.