Saturday 1 December 2012

Discover something radically new and fresh

"You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus."
Words from the First letter of st Paul to the Thessalonians from the Mass from the First Sunday of Advent (year C) about passing on the Faith.

I came across some words of Abbot Michael Zielinski, who leads a new office on liturgical arts at the Congregation for Divine Worship. They are from a talk he gave to CIEL in 2009 but can serve to inform about what calibre of man he is, who will have this responsibility for the arts.  Speaking of his previous role as Vice President of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, he says that his work "is not that of supervising or training museum curators. For we are profoundly concerned about the cultural heritage of the Church. The question of culture, specifically Christian culture, is at the heart of our activity."

It's well worth reading the whole talk here but a few tasters will indicate his attitude towards the liturgical arts and their importance in the cultural life of the Church -and by culture he means something "essential to our Christian life in order to join us sacramentally with him whom we worship and to nourish the life of grace in the soul... Our concern for the cultural heritage of the Church is, therefore, concern for the life of the Christian in this world who lives in hope of everlasting life in the next. Cultural “goods,” be they ritual or material, are signs of the redemption of this world by Christ; they are sacramentals, which occupy a privileged place in the economy of salvation."

On recent decades since the Second Vatican Council:

"Yet today, we are acutely conscious of the fact that all has not been well in recent decades in respect of the cultural life of the Latin rite of the Catholic Church. Western society has been suffering from a profound cultural crisis for some time and this has impacted on the Church. Indeed, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI himself, as Cardinal Ratzinger, expressed on a number of occasions his profound concern for the crisis in the cultus of the Church that we have experienced in the decades following the Second Vatican Council, from the “fabrication” of new rites, to the banalization of ecclesiastical music and the unprecedented re-ordering of the spatial arrangements of churches.  Most crucially, any impoverishment of the sacramentals themselves carries with it the danger of weakening the very encounter with the incarnate Lord which these rites and ritual things facilitate. We creatures of flesh and blood ordinarily require these cultural goods in order to enter into the life of grace and to persevere in it until the end. They serve to raise our minds and hearts to Almighty God, and to lead us into that encounter from which we receive grace. Devaluing or dismissing them may have – indeed has had – an adverse effect on the life of faith of many in recent times."

On rediscovering the tradition of the Church:

I too have found that my vocation as a monk and as a priest have been renewed through a greater appreciation of the riches of liturgical tradition... the rich culture and heritage of the Church that one experiences in her sacred liturgy as developed in Tradition. I too – someone who had been a busy and relatively successful priest for some twenty years – found that pearl of great price that so many young people have found in recent decades. Talking with many priests, I have been astonished at how many have had similar experiences: to come to know and to celebrate the classical rites informs one’s faith and identity as a priest, as one called to be alter Christus. After such an encounter, one can never be the same again.But I want to make an important point here. Such an awakening is not about “me,” nor is it about my finding “my” particular spirituality or favourite style of worship. No; is not so individualistic or subjective an experience. Coming into contact with and beginning to appreciate and savour the riches of the culture and heritage of the 
classical Roman Rite is a profoundly ecclesial experience. I am no longer doing my own thing in accordance with the many styles and possibilities on offer. Rather, I take my place in the continuity of the bi-millennial tradition of the Church’s worship, at one with the Fathers and the saints, and in turn faithfully seek to hand on what I have received. The modern liturgy should stand in that same tradition and should be celebrated accordingly. But we know only too well, that in recent decades the modern liturgy has often not been offered as something in continuity with tradition, but as something radically new, different from “what we did before Vatican II,” as the saying goes. And this explains why today young people who have never known the older rites, and priests who have never celebrated them, discover something radically new and fresh in the older form of the Roman Rite. Where they have persevered in tilling the arid ground of rupture, they come to rejoice in the fertile soil of continuity."

There is quite an interesting interview with him below from Spirituality TV.


Curious said...

Dear Father,

I am curious as to how he manages to be an abbot and head of this office at the same time. Is it an honorary title or is he really the spiritual head of a monastery?

Anonymous said...

Link to video doesn't work on my iPad.

Monachus said...

Curious:- he was Abbot of Pecos, NM. Then he was called to the service of the Holy See. Once an abbot always an abbot as they say.