Friday, 15 September 2017

Cardinal Sarah does't want to be robbed



The New Liturgical Movement has the text of the address which His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments delivered to the Fifth Roman Colloquium on Summorum Pontificum, held at the Pontifical University of St Thomas (Angelicum). The talk is entitled “Silence and the Primacy of God in the Sacred Liturgy”.

It's quite a long talk but well worth reading, driving home, in point after point, the importance of recovering the sacred in the liturgy, so as to recover holiness - including missionary endeavour - for ourselves.

In his opening paragraphs he speaks of us accommodating the liturgy to ourselves, to the spirit of the age, to the idea of making it in our own image. (See the text below.) I was struck by the similarity with some of the writing of Ronald Knox where he criticises representing the Faith not in it's truth or fullness but by a desire to make it acceptable to the modern mind. In "Some Loose Stones" (1913, page 9, written while he was still an Anglican) he writes that modern theology:
shows, at times, such a cynical indifference to abstract truth. For we are not concerned, now, to to find how we can represent truth most adequately, but how we can represent it most palatably. We ask of a doctrine, not, "Is it sound?", but, "Couldn't we possibly manage to do without it?; not, "Is it true?", but, "Can I induce Jones to see it in that light?"
It appears that the same thing has happened to the liturgy with the consequent diluting of all that is holy until we would have nothing left but an empty shell - and not a very pretty shell, at that!

The Cardinal's logic also follows Knox's as he develops this line of thought (in my bold emphasis below in the Cardinal's text). 
Here is what Knox says about being short changed by this attitude:
"Words are like coins, symbols of the exchange of human thought. To be continually restating your theology is like continually crossing over a frontier, and having to get your money changed every time. This is not only confusing, but alarming, for the plain man wants to make sure he has got value for his money, and he is a little inclined to suspect that his theological symbols will have suffered some deprecation in the changing, just as his honest English sovereigns do at Calais."
And so we are robbed of the optimal ecclesial encounter with Christ. It seems the Cardinal doesn't want us to be robbed and has some answers on how we are to get spiritual value for money!

I'm indebted to Terry Tastard's biography on Know "Ronald Know and English Catholicism" for introducing me to the works of Knox just recently.

Below are the relevant quotes from Cardinal Sarah but do go and read the whole text.

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Writing less than a year before his election to the Chair of St Peter, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger took issue with “the suggestion by some Catholic liturgists that we should finally adapt the liturgical reform to the ‘anthropological turn’ of modern times and construct it in an anthropocentric style.” He argued:
If the Liturgy appears first of all as the workshop for our activity, then what is essential is being forgotten: God. For the Liturgy is not about us, but about God. Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age. As against this, the Liturgy should be setting up a sign of God’s presence. Yet what happens if the habit of forgetting about God makes itself at home in the Liturgy itself and if in the Liturgy we are thinking only of ourselves? In any and every liturgical reform, and every liturgical celebration, the primacy of God should be kept in view first and foremost.”
“Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age.” My brothers and sisters these words, utterly true when they were written in July 2004, have become more and more poignant with each passing year.

My brothers and sisters, we must never forget these eternal verities! Our world has most probably forgotten them. Indeed, particularly in the affluent West, our society seeks to hide these truths from us and to anaesthetise us with the apparent goods it offers to us in its unending cacophony of consumerism, lest we find the time and space to call into question its godless assumptions and practices. We must not succumb to this. We must be untiring in announcing the good news of the Gospel: that sin and death have been conquered by our Lord Jesus Christ whose sacrifice on the Cross has enabled us to gain the forgiveness that our sins demand and to live joyfully in this world and in the sure hope of life without end in the next.

The Church is called to announce this good news in every possible way, to every human person in every land and in every age. These essential missionary and apostolic endeavours, which are nothing less than an imperative given to the Church by the Lord himself (cf. Mt 28:19-20), are themselves predicated on a greater reality: our ecclesial encounter with Jesus Christ in the Sacred Liturgy. For as the Second Vatican Council so rightly taught: “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” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10).

We might ask: if the Church’s missionary vitality has diminished in our time, if the witness of Christians in an increasingly godless world has become weaker, if our world has forgotten about God, is this perhaps because we who are supposed to be “the light of the world” (Mt 5:14) are not approaching the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed as we should, or not drawing sufficiently deeply from the font from which all her power flows so as to bring all to enjoy that “spring of water welling up to eternal life”? (Jn 4:14)

For Pope John Paul II, these were not questions but tragic results of the crisis of faith and of our betrayal of the Second Vatican Council. He said, in fact:
In this “new springtime” of Christianity there is an undeniable negative tendency, and the present document is meant to help overcome it. Missionary activity specifically directed “to the nations” (ad gentes) appears to be waning, and this tendency is certainly not in line with the directives of the Council and of subsequent statements of the Magisterium. Difficulties both internal and external have weakened the Church's missionary thrust toward non-Christians, a fact which must arouse concern among all who believe in Christ. For in the Church’s history, missionary drive has always been a sign of vitality, just as its lessening is a sign of a crisis of faith.
If this is indeed so, if the Church of our day is less zealous and efficacious in bringing people to Christ, one cause may be our own failure to participate in the Sacred Liturgy truly and efficaciously, which is perhaps itself due to a lack of proper liturgical formation—something that is a concern of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who said:
A liturgy detached from spiritual worship would risk becoming empty, declining from its Christian originality to a generic sacred sense, almost magical, and a hollow aestheticism. As an action of Christ, liturgy has an inner impulse to be transformed in the sentiments of Christ, and in this dynamism all reality is transfigured. “our daily life in our body, in the small things, must be inspired, profuse, immersed in the divine reality, it must become action together with God. This does not mean that we must always be thinking of God, but that we must really be penetrated by the reality of God so that our whole life...may be a liturgy, may be adoration.” (Benedict XVI, Lectio divina, Seminary of the Diocese of Rome, 15 February 2012)
It is necessary to unite a renewed willingness to go forward along the path indicated by the Council Fathers, as there remains much to be done for a correct and complete assimilation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy on the part of the baptized and ecclesial communities. I refer, in particular, to the commitment to a solid and organic liturgical initiation and formation, both of lay faithful as well as clergy and consecrated persons.

It may also be because too often the liturgy as it is celebrated is not celebrated faithfully and fully as the Church intends, effectively ‘short-changing’ or robbing us of the optimal ecclesial encounter with Christ that is the right of every baptised person.

Many liturgies are really nothing but a theatre, a worldly entertainment, with so many speeches and strange cries during the mystery that is celebrated, so much noise, so many dances and bodily movements that resemble our popular folk events. Instead the liturgy should be a time of personal encounter and intimacy with God. Africa, above all, and probably also Asia and Latin America, should reflect, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and with prudence and with the will to bring the Christian faithful to holiness, about their human ambition to inculturate the liturgy, in order to avoid superficiality, folklore and the auto-celebration of their culture. Each liturgical celebration must have God as its centre, and God alone, and our sanctification.


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Fatima Pilgrimage


The FSSP are organising a Pilgrimage to Fatima with Fr Armand de Malleray, Rector of their lovely Shrine in Warrington. There are still a few places left, so if you would like some more information contact details are below.

I'd love to be going with them but previous commitments mean that I will be staying here in sunny England that week.

Fatima Pilgrimage
28 Sept - 3 Oct 2017. 
Price: £579. 

Includes return flight Heathrow-Lisbon. 
Daily EF Mass. 

Bookings: 07415520494 
or 
info@nationalpilgrimagecentre.com

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Holy Days of Obligation


Well, someone in the Bishops' Conference must have introduced a sensible thought for this to have happened. Finally, the holy days of obligation that are intimately connected, in the Scriptures and in Tradition, with liturgical time have been restored to their rightful place. Ascension Thursday and the Epiphany will once again be celebrated here in England and Wales on a day that common sense tells us they ought to be kept on.

Of course, the matter now is how seriously this will be taken. It is rather difficult to put the spilt milk back in the bottle. After all, how are the people in the pew - and indeed us priests - able to explain how it was sinful to miss Mass on those days, then for a few years it wasn't, and now it is again?

A reminder that we fiddle with our liturgical traditions at our peril. Wheels and the re-inventing thereof come to mind.

Here is the text of the Decree.

CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS Prot. No. 180/17 ENGLAND AND WALES

To His Eminence, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, having taken into consideration the letter received on 21st February 2017, by virtue of the faculty attributed to this Congregation by the Supreme Pontiff FRANCIS, we willingly grant that in future, in the calendar specific to the same Conference, the celebration of the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord will be celebrated on its particular day, namely, forty days after Easter; the celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord on its particular day, namely, 6th January. When the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord falls on a Saturday, it is to be assigned to the Sunday following; when on a Monday, to the Sunday preceding. All things to the contrary notwithstanding.

From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments,
4th August 2017, on the feast of St John Mary Vianney, presbyter.

Robert Card. Sarah Prefect

+Arthur Roche Archbishop Secretary