By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Pope's New Book: Liturgical "Surprise"

It will be a surprise to many who think that inflexible adherence to liturgical details is a "one-off" panacea for all ills under the sun:

I am not opposed in principle to communion in the hand; I have both administered and received communion in this way myself.

Source: Benedict XVI, Light of the World, Ch. 15, Kindle location 2030-35.

I can imagine some reactions (tongue in cheek!): "He is, after all, a modernist still mesmerized by the modernist Second Vatican Council! This confirms it! These are his true colors!" May the New Year bring liturgical serenity for all of us.


More on liturgy from the Pope's newly published book:
Concretely, the renewed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council is the valid form in which the Church celebrates liturgy today. My main reason for making the previous form more available was to preserve the internal continuity of Church history. We cannot say: Before everything was wrong, but now everything is right; for in a community in which prayer and the Eucharist are the most important thing, what was earlier supremely sacred cannot be entirely wrong. The issue was internal reconciliation with our own past, the intrinsic continuity of faith and prayer in the Church.

Benedict XVI, Ch. 10, Kindle location 1437 (emphasis added).

Some points that I find noteworthy:

1. The Pope refers to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite as "the renewed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council." If something is "renewed," then it is obviously improved; or words mean nothing. Hence, it is clear to me that the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is an improvement over the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. For me, this point has always been obvious from the plain text of the Vatican II document on the liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) where the Council fathers speak of the reform and restoration of the liturgy:

III. The Reform of the Sacred Liturgy
21. In order that the Christian people may more certainly derive an abundance of graces from the sacred liturgy, holy Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself. For the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These not only may but ought to be changed with the passage of time if they have suffered from the intrusion of anything out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy or have become unsuited to it.
In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community.

Source link (emphasis added).

2. Of course, the Ordinary Form is valid, contrary to the nonsense that you will find on the internet and elsewhere.

3. The Pope gives as his "main reason" for wider authorization of the Extraordinary Form the need to emphasize the continuity of the Church's liturgical tradition. The "main reason" was not to replace the Ordinary Form, contrary to the obsessions of some with that particular prospect in mind.

4. The Pope makes the point that not everything was wrong in the past (implying, as I take it, that some things connected with the Extraordinary Form did need renewal and improvement) and that not everything is right with the present (again, implying that some things in the present also need renewal and improvement).

This understanding that the Extraordinary Form did need change is demonstrated concretely by the change that this very same Pope himself instituted to the Good Friday petition concerning the Jews in the Extraordinary Form and which is also discussed in the new book: "[I]n the old liturgy this point seemed to me to require modification. The old formulation really was offensive to Jews and failed to express positively the overall intrinsic unity between the Old and New Testament" (emphasis added).

Thus, not everything was satisfactory in the old liturgy. You will come across Catholics who would take strong exception to these papal sentiments. I choose to go with the Pope.