The Sacra Liturgia Conference in Rome organized by Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon, France came to an end yesterday. One of the speakers was Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon.
In an interview with ZENIT ahead of the conference, Archbishop Sample, (I've posted about him previously) who delivered an address on the roll of the diocesan bishop as governor, promoter, and guardian of liturgical life, spoke on the bishop's responsibility to renew and reform the Sacred Liturgy at the diocesan level:
This role, he said, "involves his threefold office as teacher, sanctifier and governor of the local Church entrusted to his pastoral care."
Archbishop Sample noted how this 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council provides the opportunity to revisit the council texts and re-examine its message with regard to the Sacred Liturgy. "We must be able to read again these beautiful teachings, but within a hermeneutic of reform in continuity, as Pope Benedict XVI called us to do. Much good has been accomplished, but there are shadows as well that have resulted from what I believe was a misinterpretation of the Council itself on the part of not a few. We need to be open and honest in our assessment of the fruitfulness of liturgical reform."
"By studying again the direction the Council Fathers gave," he said, "remembering the whole period that preceded the Council, we can, I hope, regain our bearings and steer the course of liturgical reform and renewal according to the true mind of the Council."
In the years following the council, the archbishop said, the poor catechesis and faith formation created serious challenges in directing the faithful toward a proper understanding of what the liturgy is about. "We are beginning to regain some ground in this regard," Archbishop Sample continued, "but we have a long way to go. My generation and those younger are simply not well catechized and formed in the teachings of the Church. Not only does this impact our fundamental understanding of the mystery of our redemption in Christ, but even more so how that mystery is celebrated and made present in the holy Mass."
"If we do not fully understand what is happening in the holy sacrifice of the Mass," he said, "we cannot properly understand how to celebrate the sacred liturgy."
When speaking of the true "full, active, and conscious" participation in the liturgy, called for by the Second Vatican Council, Archbishop Sample said that this participation "must first be directed to this fundamental need for the faithful to understand the essential and intrinsic meaning of the Mass, helping them participate first on the level of the mind and heart."