Sunday, January 20, 2008

Liturgical Reflections

Well, I have been doing a lot of side reading on the Liturgy as of late and have been quite surprised by the level of deep-seeded conflict that is in existence in the Church over the Liturgy.

There are those who take a view that is contrary to the great tradition of the Church, seeing Vatican II as the supreme council above all councils in which all previous councils are to be ignored. This, of course, is an erroneous view.

Then there are those who also see things contrary to the great tradition, though they themselves call themselves traditionalists (not a term I am a fan of frankly). They see the Church as static, as if the life of the Church is put still and is to never move one inch. This, in my opinion, is contrary to the fact that the Church is a living body with all her members from the past, present, and future. The Church is living and longing for home, for the eternal Jerusalem. That is our hope, not being stuck in one mode.

In my opinion, both these views are contrary to the true Catholic position. I know, too, that these are vastly easy over-generalizations, but I don't want to go into too much depth with them for a blog post, they are merely a means for moving forward in this discussion.

This brings me to the Liturgy because it seems that the Liturgy has been the true battle ground for a proper interpretation of Vatican II. These two positions I have just described seem to be contrary to what the documents have said and what has been the lived experienced of almost 2000 years of Catholicism

But the Liturgy has become a battleground because it is in the Liturgy that heaven and earth meet, it is in the Liturgy that the sacredness and awesomeness of God is made present to us in the most Blessed Sacrament. It is the height of the Church's prayer. All this leads to a reasonable understanding as to why it is the Liturgy that is battleground, it is where the source and summit of our faith is made present.

A couple of posts ago, I discussed briefly the hermeneutics of continuity that Benedict XVI speaks of and its importance. I have been doing some more research as of late and last night especially got an opportunity to peer into the mind of Dietrich von Hildebrand and his position on this subject.

One thing I am impressed with is his intellectual might. He is truly one of the great thinkers of the Church. I think his argument for the loss of the sacred in our society is dead on and hits the head on the nail.

What I have been surprised to see, however, is the political side of the issue. I mean to say that there was a lot going on "behind closed doors" after the council. I have read of things that unorthodox theologians would do to get things read at the council! I have read about the controversy surrounding the Concilium that was instituted after the Council in regards to the Liturgy.

I understand, I think and hope, why many people reject the Novus Ordo. We must understand, I think, that is not rejected on the level of personal preference. Seeing the political undercurrents, I have a much better grasp of where the so-called traditionalists are coming from. It is not always a reactionary position, but a well thought out one.

I, of course, do not agree with their position, that the Novus Ordo is contrary to the Church's living experience and invalid. I think this is totally erroneous.

But I do wonder about the Concilium. I wish there was more written on the subject to be honest. I have found very little useful information on it because most of the people who have written on it have been of the so-called traditionalist view point and thus very biased in their view point. I cannot be certain that what they are saying has any validity at all.

Essentially, the argument is that they had no true juridical authority over the implementation of the Novus Ordo. Many people feel that the Concilium forced a "fabricated liturgy" upon the whole Church, one that is essentially contrary to the lived tradition of the Church.

I will be honest, I think there is some validity to this perspective. When you read the comments of those who headed the Concilium, you see that they were just attempting to force their own ideological position upon the whole Church, and, to a certain extent, they were able to do so through some vague instructions that came forth from them.

Now, Benedict XVI is also someone who has been critical of the implementations of the Concilium. For me, Ratzinger is THE authority on the Liturgy. I think out of everyone out there, he is the most balanced person to refer to in regards to this.

What Ratzinger says is that the Concilium and those of like mind have forced a fabricated liturgy upon the Church, one in which is contrary to the great depth and breadth of the Church's tradition. Ratzinger understands this and sees the value of the tradition which is foundational to the entire Church.

What does this all mean though? I know I have been a bit spotty with what I am attempting to get at here, partially because many of these thoughts are new. I think, as Ratzinger has discussed numerous times, we are going to see a reform of the reform in the Church's liturgy. When one reads Sacrosanctum Concilium, they see things in there that have yet to even be realized. When you read Ratzinger's masterpiece, The Spirit of the Liturgy, you see great things that are essential for the human person in the Liturgy that have utterly disappeared. The Mass we have now can be celebrated with great reverence and beauty, but I think there is still "work to do" in this manner of implementation and I thank God for Benedict XVI who has been working at implementing such things with his new MC, Msgr. Marini. I see the Novus Ordo as the true expression of the Liturgy of the Church. But, as with many other councils, we are only just getting out of the reactionary times in which people attempt to impose their own view of the council on the world. We are starting to see, in my opinion, thanks to the beautiful Papal Masses, a proper living of the great Tradition of the Church in which the proper expression of the Liturgy is seen as the core.

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