The 18th Liturgische-Tagung in Herzogenrath, Germany — now rather well-known in the news, due to Cardinal Sarah’s remarkably impassioned address that was read aloud to the participants — featured as its closing liturgy on Saturday, April 1, 2017 a solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample, Archbishop of Portland, held at the former 12th-century abbey church of Rolduc in the Netherlands (just a few minutes’ drive from Herzogenrath).
The liturgy was glorious. The majesty of the pontifical ceremonies conducted in the elevated sanctuary of a Romanesque church, accompanied by the chanted Propers for a Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Missa Misericorde by Jacobus Clemens non Papa (1510-1556), raised our minds and hearts to the threshold of the heavenly Jerusalem. The church architecture itself strongly suggested this kind of elevation, as the eye was drawn up from the nave to the choir to the high altar beyond, and finally upwards to the vaults and domes with their elaborate iconography. It was the kind of situation (alas, too rare) in which one felt that Roman Catholic worship could hold its own over against the acknowledged splendor of Byzantine worship.
Although the main point of this post is to make available a gallery of the day’s visual beauty, I did want to mention one thought that occurred to me as I reflected on the liturgy afterwards. One hears so much about “active participation,” but seldom do its postconciliar proponents dwell on the implications of the fact that participation means, if it means anything, “taking part in” some already existing reality, some action that is larger than us and embraces us. Think of Plato’s account of participation: the individual thing participates in its eternal Form, the image reflects its unchanging exemplar. To participate is to receive partial being from the full actuality. Therefore, liturgical participation presupposes the form, the exemplar, which is the Church’s celebration of the mysteries. This has to be already taking place so that we can enter into it and derive our momentary worship from it.
That is how I experience a pontifical Mass, as I follow the audible prayers or pray in silence, and hear the music gently pulsing through the spacious temple: it is a certain fullness of worship that already exists, so to speak, outside myself — it exists exemplarily in the heavenly Jerusalem; it exists formally and efficiently in the clergy who offer it on earth; it exists materially in the tradition and liturgical books of the Church — and I am granted the undeserved privilege of entering into it, taking part in it, participating in it.
In contrast, what is usually called participation — that is, producing liturgy out of our own actions, so that a person who is doing more or even inventing more is thought to be “participating” more — is actually the opposite: it should rather be called active fabrication, active projection, active expression, but never active participation, since it is not psychologically and metaphysically an entering into and taking possession of some fullness that is of another, from another, for another. It is the difference between being heated by a fire and making an artwork. The one who sits near a fire and gets warm is participating in that external warmth. The one who makes an artwork is not participating but producing. The liturgy is, at its root, the fire to which we draw near, so that we may undergo its action and assimilate a likeness of its being. It is not the artwork we produce out of our consciousness by the manipulation of raw material.
This fundamental contrast was brought home to me by the very “passivity” of the laity (as the progressive liturgists would have seen it) at Saturday’s liturgy. We did not do much of anything, at least outwardly. The Schola sang the Propers; the Choir sang the Mass Ordinary; the ministers in the sanctuary sang and whispered most of the prayers; the people sat quietly in the pews, opening their mouths occasionally for a thunderous “Et cum spiritu tuo” or “Amen.” And yet, I felt intensely involved, intensely connected with what was happening around me and before me — indeed, I could barely take it all in, so bright was the fire, so strong the warmth. I was taking part through and through in the whole that was set before me, taking as much a part of it as I could. It was like a fountain bubbling up so abundantly that I could fill my cup with ease and get as wet as I wished. It was refreshing to know that none of this was coming from me, dependent on me, produced by me, or validated by me — any more than water from the ground or rain from the air, light from the sun or song from the birds. It was the greatest privilege to receive, to watch and listen, pray and adore. Nothing more was needed to make this participation complete, as it already summoned and satisfied all of my powers.
Divini muneris largitate satiati, quaesumus, Domine Deus noster: ut hujus semper participatione vivamus. Per Dominum… Filled with the abundance of Thy divine gift, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may ever live by participation in it. Through our Lord… [Postcommunion, Saturday in Passion Week]
Looking for an “active participation” worthy of the name — active rather than activist, participation rather than production? Do your best to get to a solemn Pontifical Mass. This experience teaches more than any books can teach.
THE LITURGICAL MOVEMENT AS PROBLEM AND AS “CHANCE”
1. ROME WAS ATTENTIVE, and this was its greatness during very difficult decades, to the protection of the authentic Council, not of the Council-project of the theological intelligentsia.
Already in September of 1965, at the end of Vatican II, Paul VI felt the duty to manifest his “anxietas” on Eucharistic doctrine and devotion. In the encyclical “Mysterium Fidei” he lamented that “in speech and writing are disseminating opinions on Masses celebrated in private or on the dogma of transubstantiation that are disturbing the minds of the faithful and causing them no small measure of confusion about matters of faith, just as if it were all right for someone to take doctrine that has already been defined by the Church.”
Less than three years later, in May of 1968, on the occasion of the publication of the new Eucharistic prayers, it was the very “Consilium” put in charge of the liturgical reform that gave in to the widespread theological revisionism, in the circular signed by its president, Cardinal Benno Gut, and by secretary Annibale Bugnini, which in explaining the theology of the Eucharistic anaphora stated (paragraph 2, points 2-3):
“The anaphora is the narration of the actions and words pronounced in the institution of the Eucharist. But [since] the account renews that which Jesus did [. . .] a prayer of supplication is addressed to the Father: that he make this narration efficacious, sanctifying the bread and the wine, which means, practically, making them the body and blood of Christ.”
It must have been difficult to have reached, in an official document, such a low level of Eucharistic theology in favor of commonplaces about memorial, about the narrative modes in exegesis, as well as a veiled negation of the consecratory value of the formula of the Institution, in favor of the epiclesis that precedes it.
But the antiliturgical apex would be the instruction “Comme le prévoit” of January 1969 on the criteria for the translation of the missal; it even went so far as to state in the introduction (no. 5) that a liturgical text “is a medium of spoken communication. It is, first of all, a sign perceived by the senses and used by men to communicate with each other.”
In spite of the corrective expressions (“But for believers. . .”), the formula equivocates on what the ritual may be, and as a result the “general principles” of the instruction situate the theology of the liturgy under the rules of a pragmatic philosophy of language (who speaks, how one speaks, to whom one speaks).
Elevated to a system, through its distortion, is the entirely pastoral practice of the so-called “dialogue Mass”: this expression itself is misguided, because this is not a matter of a priest-people “dialogue,” but of an “actio liturgica” essentially addressed to God.
The very celebration “versus populum,” without any foundation in history or theology, belongs to this climate, with the “disorienting” effects that stem from it. In fact the devotional-mystagogical axis, according to which and upon which Christ celebrates facing the Father, and the priest and people with him, is nullified.
2. IT IS WORTH THE TROUBLE to take a closer look at the situation of the theological intellect at the end of the 1960’s and its influence on the liturgical reform.
At the basis was, evidently, an imbalance between the ritual-mystagogical and sacramental “per se,” promoted by the best minds of the liturgical movement, on the one hand, and the demand for the participation of the faithful on the other, an imbalance that already weakens the constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium.”
But in those years the Catholic intelligentsia implied, almost never making it explicit, much more.
It implied that theology had to be concretized by action, by analogy with the so-called philosophy of “praxis”, from Marx to Dewey. The liturgy was, for many in the liturgical movement, this action. The ritual is thought of as something that generates its own truth and efficacy from itself, in that it is a “human” ritual.
So to exacerbate and disorient the picture of the post-council there came along the fact that the “actuosa participatio” of the faithful in the ritual bore with it the ideological baggage of the 1960’s-70’s. An anthropocentric and secularistic dynamic (fostered by the prestige of Karl Rahner, but autonomously cultivated in French-speaking circles) prevailed over the ritual-mystagogical conception that sanctifies and transcends man and alone can make the liturgy “the source and summit” of the Christian life.
It was the collapse of the great liturgical theology of the 1930’s, of Odo Casel, of Dietrich von Hildebrand, of Romano Guardini himself.
With the fall of the ideological climate after the 1960’s, the ecclesial sensibility and theology, as a whole, from the fundamental to the pastoral, underwent a rotation from pragmatism to hermeneutics, from the realism of the materialistic conceptions of the Gospel to negative theology, from political militancy to “relational authenticity.”
Liturgical pastoral practice adapted easily. Liturgics worked both autonomously and together with with theology, but the inquiry, now philosophical-linguistic, now anthropological, now, but to a much lesser extent, neo-personalistic, could not avoid the slippery slope: the loss of reality of the sacramental moment and of the supernatural reality as such.
Pedagogical-pastoral “engagement” and the weakening of Christology, ecclesiology and canon law today allow everything to hinge on formative “spontaneity” and to a certain extent on the self-production of the Christian and of the community. Thus the experience of the Mass has become a socializing “participation” in an encounter that is “festive” rather than festival. The liturgy is likened to the community’s entertainments.
Also belonging to this picture is the frequent bleakness of the “new churches,” not thought of as the “house of God” but as spaces for various purposes, and therefore without a meaning of their own; expensive vacuities in which the “actio liturgica” is, to the letter, out of place and disoriented.
3. HOW THEN CAN THERE BE A RECOVERY, against the flow, of the human-divine, royal and cosmic understanding of the liturgy in a time in which Christology and Mariology are “humanized” according to paradigms that are emotional, relational, compassionate, impermeable to the glory and victory of the Cross? At a time of benevolent nihilism and the “falsification of the good”?
It can be done.
In fact, the liturgy and liturgical pedagogy can still transmit, if they wish, a complete body of divine revelation, that contained in the “lex orandi” correctly understood, and therefore rigorously translated not according to “Comme le prévoit” but according to “Liturgiam Authenticam” (2001), which realistically assessed more than thirty years of actions and errors.
The “lex orandi” is not only a formula. It is a complete body of doctrine, it is Tradition that today remains clear precisely in the liturgical texts, much more than in theology and even in the recent hierarchical magisterium. This is not a matter of setting up recreational or ecstatic assemblies, or of staging theatrical novelties, but of relying on the veritative resistance of the Revelation deposited in the missals, in the breviaries, and proclaimed and realized in the celebration responsible.
The tension between the “per se” of the ritual and its “participated” expression demands rigorous theological solutions, from which alone can come with certainty the practical-pastoral solutions. Not the other way around. Which leads to two advisories:
1. without sure faith in the “mysterion” as “substantia” and in the symbol as an epiphany that opens intellectually and sensibly – with the spiritual senses – to the Beyond as transcendence, every theological challenge such as “from the ethical to the symbolic” is already lost at the outset;
2. there should be no trust in any hope of new generation of the Christian truth from the ritual understood as creative immanence, without “logos.” The divine “logos” subsists of itself, before and after the “actio.” The liturgy would thus be another victim, after catechesis, of the “activist” tendency of practical theology.
The liturgical movement, therefore, as problem and as “chance.”
In memory of our Saviour’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when the multitude strewed palm branches before Him, for which reason the Church, on this day, blesses palms, and carries them in procession.
Why are palms blessed?
That those who carry them with devotion, or keep them in their houses, may receive protection of soul and body, as prayed for in the blessing; that those who carry the palms may, by means of the prayers of the Church, adorn their souls with good works and thus, in spirit, meet the Saviour; that, through Christ whose members we are, we may conquer the kingdom of death and darkness, and be made worthy to share in His glorious resurrection and triumphant entrance into heaven. St. Augustine writes of the palms: “They are the emblem of praise, and sign of victory, because the Lord by death conquered death, and with the sign of victory, the cross, overcame the devil, the prince of death.” Therefore, preceded by the cross, we go in procession around the church singing hymns of praise; when we come to the church door, we find it locked; the priest knocks at it with the cross. Heaven was closed to us by the sin of Adam, and it is opened to us by reconciliation through Jesus on the cross.
To move us to compassion for the suffering Redeemer, the Church, in the person of Christ, cries in lamenting tones at the Introit:
INTROIT O Lord, remove not Thy help to a distance from me, look towards my defence: save me from the lion’s mouth, and my lowness from the horns of the unicorns. O God, my God! look on me, why hast Thou forsaken me? Far from my salvation are the words of my sins. O Lord! Remove not, &c. (Ps. XXI.)
COLLECT Almighty and everlasting God! who didst vouchsafe to send Thy Son, our Saviour, to take upon Him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, to give mankind an example of humility; mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of His patience, and be made partakers of His Resurrection. Through the same &c.
EPISTLE (Philip. II. 5-11.) Brethren, let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery himself to be equal to God; but debased himself, taking the form of a servant, being made to the likeness of men, and in shape found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore, God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name, which is above every name: that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth; and that every tongue should confess, that the Lord, Jesus Christ, is in the glory of God, the Father.
INSTRUCTION In this epistle, the apostle urges us in a special manner to humility by which we are made like to Christ, our Lord, who putting off the majesty of His divinity, became man, and humbled Himself in obedience to the ignominious death of the cross. “Would that all might hear,” exclaims St. Gregory, “that God resists the proud, and gives His grace to the humble! Would that all might hear: Thou dust and ashes, why dost thou exalt thyself? Would that all might hear the words of the Lord: Learn of me, because I am humble of heart. The only-begotten Son of God assumed the form of our weakness, suffered mockery, insult and torments for the purpose that the humble God might teach man not to be proud.”
ASPIRATION Ah, that my sentiments were as Throe, O my Lord, Jesus! who so humbled Thyself and writ obedient to the most ignominious death of the cross. Grant me, I beseech Thee, O my Redeemer, the grace. diligently to follow Thee in humility.
Instead of the gospel of the Passion, that is, the history of the sufferings of our Lord according to St. Matthew, (Chaps. XXVI. XXVII.) is read in this day’s Mass, and neither incense, nor lights are used, nor is the Dominus vobiscum said, thus signifying that Jesus, the Light of the world, was taken away by death, and that the faith and devotion of the apostles was shaken, and became almost extinct. When reading the History of the Passion at the words: and bowing his head, he gave up the ghost, the priest with all the congregation kneel and meditate for a short time on the great mystery of the death of Jesus, by which our redemption was effected.
THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW, CHAP. XXVI., XXVII: I-XVI
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: You know that after two days shall be the Pasch, and the Son of Man shall be delivered up to be crucified. Then were gathered together the chief priests and the ancients of the people into the palace of the high-priest, who was called Caiphas. And they consulted together, that, by subtilty, they might apprehend Jesus and put him to death. But they said: Not on the festival day, lest there should be a tumult among the people. And when Jesus was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, there came to him a woman having an alabaster-box of precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he was at table. And the disciples seeing it, had indignation, saying: To what purpose is this waste? For this might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. And Jesus knowing it, said to them: Why do you trouble this woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always. For she, in pouring this ointment upon my body, hath done it for my burial. Amen, I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she bath done, shall be told for a memory of her.
Then went one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, to the chief priests, and said to them: What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you? But they appointed for him thirty pieces of silver. And from thenceforth he sought opportunity to betray him.
And on the first day of the Azymes, the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Pasch? But Jesus said: Go ye into the city to a certain man, and say to him: The master saith: my time is near at hand, I will keep the Pasch at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them, and they prepared the Pasch. Now when it was evening, he sat down with his twelve disciples. And whilst they were eating, he said: Amen, I say to you, that one of you is about to betray me. And they being very much troubled, began everyone to say: Is it I, Lord? But he answering, said: He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of Man indeed froeth as it is written of him; but woe to that man, by whom the Son of Man shall be betrayed: it were better for that man, if he had not been born. And Judas that betrayed him, answering, said: Is it I, Rabbi? He said to him: Thou hast said it. And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed and broke, and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye and eat: This is my body. And taking the chalice he gave thanks: and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins. And I say to you, I will not drink from henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until that day, when I shall drink it new with you in the kingdom of my Father. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to Mount Olivet.
Then Jesus saith to them: All you shall be scandalized in me this night. For it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed. But after I shall be risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. And Peter answering, said to him: Though all shall be scandalized in thee, I will never be scandalized. Jesus said to him: Amen, I say to thee, that in this night, before the cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice. Peter saith to him: Though I should die with thee, I will not deny thee. And in like manner said all the disciples. Then Jesus came with them to a country place which is called Gethsemani, and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder, and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad.
Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch with me. And going a little further he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: O my Father! if it is possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep; and he saith to Peter: What! could you not watch one hour with me? Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Again he went the second time, and prayed, saying: O my Father! if this chalice cannot pass away except I drink it, thy will be done. And he cometh again, and findeth them asleep; for their eyes were heavy. And leaving them, he went away again, and he prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then he cometh to his disciples, and with to them: Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go; behold, he is at hand that will betray me.
As he yet spoke, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the ancients of the people. And he that betrayed him, gave them a sign, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he: hold him fast. And forthwith coming to Jesus, he said: Hail, rabbi! And he kissed him. And Jesus said to him: Friend! whereto art thou come? Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus, and held him. And behold one of them that were with Jesus, stretching forth his hand, drew out his sword; and striking the servant of the high-priest, cut off his ear. Then Jesus saith to him: Put up again thy sword into its place for all that take the sword shall perish by the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot ask my Father, and he will give me presently more than twelve legions of Angels? How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that so it must be done? In that same hour Jesus said to the multitude: You are come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to apprehend me. I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and you laid not hands on me. Now all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then the disciples all leaving him, fled away.
But they holding Jesus, led him to Caiphas, the high-priest, where the scribes and the ancients were assembled. But Peter followed him afar off to the high-priest’s palace. And going in, he sat with the servants, to see the end. Now the chief priests and whole council sought false witness against Jesus, that they might put him to death: and they found not, though many false witnesses had come in. And last of all, there came two false witnesses. And they said: This man said: I am able to destroy the temple of God, and in three days to rebuild it. And the high-priest rising up, said to him: Answerest thou nothing to the things which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high-priest said to him: I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us if thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith to him: Thou hast said it. Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man, sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high-priest rent his garments, saying: He hath blasphemed, what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy. What think you? But they answering, said: He is guilty of death.
Then they spit in his face, and buffetted him, and others struck his face with the palms of their hands, saying: Prophesy unto us, O Christ! who is he that struck thee? But Peter sat without in the palace, and there came to him a servant maid, saying: Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilean. But he denied before them all, saying: I know not what thou sayest. And as he went out of the gate, another maid saw him, and she saith to them that were there: This man also was with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath: I do not know the man. And after a little while, they that stood by came and said to Peter: Surely thou also art one of them: for even thy speech doth discover thee. Then he began to curse and to swear that he knew not the man.
And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus which he had said: Before the cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice. And going forth, he wept bitterly.
And when the morning was come, all the chief priests and ancients of the people held a council against Jesus, to put him to death. And they brought him bound, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate, the governor.
Then Judas, who betrayed him, seeing that he was condemned, repenting himself, brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the ancients, saying: I have sinned, in betraying innocent blood. But they said: What is that to us? look thou to it.
And casting down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed: and went and hanged himself with a halter. But the chief priests having taken the pieces of silver, said: It is not lawful to put them into the corbona, because it is the price of blood. And having consulted together, they bought with them the potter’s field, to be a burying-place for strangers. Wherefore that field was called Haceldama, that is the field of blood, even to this day.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they prized of the children of Israel. And they gave them unto the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed to me.
And Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, saying: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus saith to him: Thou sayest it. And when he was accused by the chief priests and ancients, he answered nothing. Then Pilate saith to him: Dost thou not hear how great testimonies they allege against thee?
And he answered him not to any word: so that the governor wondered exceedingly.
Now upon the solemn day the governor was accustomed to release to the people one prisoner, whom they would. And he had then a notorious prisoner, that was called Barabbas. They, therefore, being gathered together, Pilate said: Whom will you that I release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus, who is called Christ? For he knew that through envy they had delivered him up. And as he was sitting on the judgment-seat, his wife sent to him, saying. Have thou nothing to do with that just man. For I have suffered many things this day in a dream on account of him. But the chief priests and ancients persuaded the people, that they should ask Barabbas, and make Jesus away. And the governor answering, said to them: Which will you have of the two to be released unto you? But they said: Barabbas. Pilate saith to them: What shall I do then with Jesus that is called Christ? They all say: Let him be crucified. The governor said to them: Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying: Let him be crucified. And Pilate seeing that he prevailed nothing, but that rather a tumult was made; having taken water, washed his hands before the people, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this just man: look you to it. And all the people answering, said: His blood be upon us, and upon our children. Then he released to them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to them to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor, taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together unto him the whole band. And stripping him, they put a scarlet cloak about him. And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand. And bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, saying: Hail, king of the Jews!
And spitting upon him, they took the reed, and struck his head. And after they had mocked him, they took off the cloak from him, and put on him his own garments, and led him away to crucify him.
And going out, they found a man of Cyrene, named Simon; him they forced to take up his cross. And they came to the place that is called Golgotha, which is, the place of Calvary. And they gave him wine to drink mingled with gall. And when he had tasted, he would not drink. And after they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots; that the word might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: They divided my garments among them; and upon my vesture they cast lots. And they sat down, and watched him. And they put over his head his cause written: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. Then were there crucified with him two. thieves; the one on the right hand, and the other on the left. And they that passed by blasphemed him, wagging their heads, and saying: Vah, thou who destroyest the temple of God, and in three days buildest it up again, save thy own self: if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. In like manner also, the chief priests with the scribes and ancients, mocking, said: He saved others; himself he cannot save: if he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God, let him deliver him now if he will save him: for he said: I am the Son of God.
And the self-same thing the thieves also, that were crucified with him, reproached him with. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the earth, until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? that is: My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood there and heard, said: This man calleth for Elias. And immediately one of them, running; took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar; and put it on a reed and gave him to drink. And the others said: Stay, let us see whether Elias will come to deliver him. And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top even to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent; and the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose: and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, came into the holy city, and appeared to many. Now the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, having seen the earthquake and the things that were done, were greatly afraid, saying: Indeed this was the Son of God. And there were there many women afar off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him; among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. And when it was evening, there came a certain rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded that the body should be delivered. And Joseph taking the body, wrapped it up in a clean linen cloth. And laid it in his own new monument, which he had hewed out in a rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the monument, and went his way. And there was Mary Magdalen, and the other Mary sitting over against the sepulchre.
And the next day, which followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees came together to Pilate, saying: Sir, we have remembered that seducer said, while-he was yet alive: After three days I will rise again. “Command, therefore, the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day; lest his disciples come and steal him away, and say to the people: He is risen from the dead. So the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said to them: You have a guard, go guard it as you know. And they departing, made the sepulchre sure, with guards, sealing the stone.
INSTRUCTION ON UPCOMING HOLY WEEK
Why is this week called Holy Week?
This week is called Holy Week because during it we celebrate the most holy mysteries of our religion, and in all her offices and ceremonies the Church refers in quiet mournfulness to the passion and death of our Redeemer.
What remarkable things did Christ do during the first four days of this week?
After He had entered the temple at Jerusalem on Palm Sunday amidst the greatest rejoicings of the people, and was saluted by the children with that cry of joy: “Hosanna to the Son of David,” He drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple, and when He had spent the entire day in preaching and healing the sick, He went in the evening to Bethania, where He remained over night in Lazarus’ house, because in Jerusalem no one wished to receive Him for fear of His enemies. The three following days He spent in Jerusalem, teaching in the temple, and passing the night in prayer on Mount Olivet. In His sermons during these days He strove especially to convince the Jewish priests, the Doctors of the Law and the Pharisees, that He was really the Messiah, and that they would commit a terrible sin by putting Him to death; that they would bring themselves and the whole Jewish nation to destruction. This ruin of the people He illustrated most plainly causing the fig-tree to wither under His curse, and by foretelling the destruction of the city and the temple of Jerusalem. He disputed with them, and confounded them, and brought them publicly to shame by parables, so that out of anger and hatred they with one mind determined to kill Him. The impious Judas aided the most in the execution of their design; through avarice he sold Him for thirty pieces of silver (about eighteen dollars in our money) to the chief priests, and the next day, Thursday, became His betrayer and delivered Him over into their hands.
No matter what anyone thinks or thought of Archbishop Lefebvre, we all owe him a debt of gratitude. As many have said, “No Archbishop Lefebvre, no Traditional Latin Mass today.” And, do not forget, the excommunication was lifted by Pope Benedict XVI for all the Society bishops. The priests and faithful have never been excommunicated. It was Cardinal Ratzinger himself who replied to a response from a layman, that “he could fulfill his Sunday Mass obligation by attending an SSPX chapel.” DISCLAIMER: This post in no way signifies that the LLA Philadelphia Chapter is endorsing or promoting the SSPX. This is for informational purposes only. William A. Torchia, Esq., Chairman.
Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.
March 25th was the 26th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Lefebvre (1991).
We publish here a testimony from Fr. Denis Puga who was a professor at the Seminary St. Pius X at Ecône in 1991.
A man of God
Two or three days before his operation, on Saturday, March 16, while the ordinations to the subdiaconate were being held at the Seminary, I took my car and went to the hospital of Martigny to keep Archbishop Lefebvre company. I can still see him, sitting in his sick chair. In our conversation, we mentioned that it was the first time since the consecration of the bishops in 1988 that the new bishops were conferring orders that he, the Archbishop, was physically incapable of giving. He made this remark that reminded me of the old man Simeon’s Nunc Dimitis: “Yes, now I can go in peace, I have left the Society armed, structured, with everything it needs to survive and develop.”
A few days before that, the Archbishop, feeling his condition greatly worsening, had asked Fr. Simoulin, then director of Econe, to administer Extreme Unction and to send a priest from the seminary to hear his confession. There was no anguish or worry in the Archbishop’s request, simply the disposition of a Christian who, feeling his death draw nigh, wished to prepare for his meeting with his Master. Up until his operation, he received Communion every evening. I remember that one day, by my fault, the priest was only able to come after the distribution of the meal that is rather early in hospitals. The Archbishop had not touched his meal, which greatly worried the nurses. He was waiting patiently… I also remember crossing in the hospital hall the radiologist who had just spent a long time X-raying the “iron bishop” to try to see the extent of the abdominal tumor that was causing so much suffering. He stopped me and spoke to me, and I will try to give his exact words:
Father, I just spent a long time with Archbishop Lefebvre whom I did not know; he deserves to be known, he radiates goodness, he is truly a man of God.”
I later learned that this doctor was not a Catholic.
It is impossible not to think that God gave us a sign by coming to take His servant at the beginning of Holy Week, after letting him live his last day on Palm Sunday, the day when the Church particularly proclaims the Royalty of Christ that is worked through His Passion. On the dawn of March 25, anniversary of the Incarnation, Archbishop Lefebvre left this world. All these providential elements recalled the fundamental themes of the founder of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X’s preaching. I remember that a few months later, Cardinal Oddi visited the seminary of Econe. He had been the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy during the crisis of Econe, and he was the one who, the day before the consecration of the bishops, had desperately tried to dissuade the Archbishop from accomplishing what he considered to be an irreparable act. During his visit, he asked to see Archbishop Lefebvre’s tomb. After praying in silence for a few moments, he ended out loud: “Thank you, Your Excellency.” Thus in the heart of the true Romans, the action of the Holy Ghost was little by little preparing the transformation of the excommunication into thanksgiving…
Sources: Le Chardonnet, #316, March 2016 — La Porte Latine, March 17,
The exclusive English translation of the message sent by the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to the Colloquium “The Source of the Future”
Colloquium “The Source of the Future” (“Quelle der Zukunft”) on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI
March 29 – April 1, 2017 Herzogenrath, near Aachen (Germany)
First of all I wish to thank from the bottom of my heart the organizers of the Colloquium entitled “The Source of the Future” on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI, in Herzogenrath, for allowing me to offer an introduction to your reflections on this subject, which is so important for the life of the Church and, more particularly, for the future of the Liturgy; I do so with great joy. I would like to greet very cordially all the participants in this Colloquium, particularly the members of the following associations whose names are mentioned on the invitation that you so kindly sent me, and I hope that I do not forget any: Una Voce Germany; The Catholic Circle of the Priests and Laity of the Archdioceses of Hamburg and Cologne; The Cardinal Newman Association; the Network of the priests of Saint Gertrude Parish in Herzogenrath. As I wrote to the Rev. Father Guido Rodheudt, pastor of Saint Gertrude Parish in Herzogenrath, I am very sorry that I had to forgo participating in your Colloquium because of obligations that came up unexpectedly and were added to a schedule that was already very busy. Nevertheless, be assured that I will be among you through prayer: it will accompany you every day, and of course you will all be present at the offertory of the daily Holy Mass that I will celebrate during the four days of your Colloquium, from March 29 to April 1. I will therefore start off your proceedings to the best of my ability with a brief reflection on the way that the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum should be applied in unity and peace.
As you know, what was called “the liturgical movement” in the early twentieth century was the intention of Pope Saint Pius X, expressed in another Motu proprio entitled Tra le sollicitudini (1903), to restore the liturgy so as to make its treasures more accessible, so that it might also become again the source of authentically Christian life. Hence the definition of the liturgy as “summit and source of the life and mission of the Church” found in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican Council II (see n. 10). And it can never be repeated often enough that the Liturgy, as summit and source of the Church, has its foundation in Christ Himself. In fact, Our Lord Jesus Christ is the sole and definitive High Priest of the New and Eternal Covenant, since He offered Himself in sacrifice, and “by a single offering He has perfected for all time those whom He sanctifies” (cf. Heb 10:14). Thus as the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares, “It is this mystery of Christ that the Church proclaims and celebrates in her liturgy so that the faithful may live from it and bear witness to it in the world” (n. 1068). This “liturgical movement”, one of the finest fruits of which was the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, is the context in which we ought to consider the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum dated July 7, 2007; we are happy to celebrate this year with great joy and thanksgiving the tenth anniversary of its promulgation. We can say therefore that the “liturgical movement” initiated by Pope Saint Pius X was never interrupted, and that it still continues in our days following the new impetus given to it by Pope Benedict XVI. On this subject we might mention the particular care and personal attention that he showed in celebrating the Sacred Liturgy as Pope, and then the frequent references in his speeches to its centrality in the life of the Church, and finally his two Magisterial documents Sacramentum Caritatis and Summorum Pontificum. In other words, what is called liturgical aggiornamento1 was in a way completed by the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI. What was it about? The Pope emeritus made the distinction between two forms of the same Roman rite: a so-called “ordinary” form, referring to the liturgical texts of the Roman Missal as revised following the guidelines of Vatican Council II, and a form designated “extraordinary” that corresponds to the liturgy that was in use before the liturgical aggiornamento. Thus, presently, in the Roman or Latin rite, two missals are in force: that of Blessed Pope Paul VI, the third edition of which is dated 2002, and that of Saint Pius V, the last edition of which, promulgated by Saint John XXIII, goes back to 1962.
In his Letter to the Bishops that accompanied the Motu proprio, Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained that the purpose for his decision to have the two missals coexist was not only to satisfy the wishes of certain groups of the faithful who are attached to the liturgical forms prior to the Second Vatican Council, but also to allow for the mutual enrichment of the two forms of the same Roman rite, in other words, not only their peaceful coexistence but also the possibility of perfecting them by emphasizing the best features that characterize them. He wrote in particular that “the two Forms of the usage of the Roman rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal…. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage.” These then are the terms in which the Pope emeritus expressed his desire to re-launch the “liturgical movement”. In parishes where it has been possible to implement the Motu proprio, pastors testify to the greater fervor both in the faithful and in the priests, as Father Rodheudt himself can bear witness. They have also noted a repercussion and a positive spiritual development in the way of experiencing Eucharistic liturgies according to the Ordinary Form, particularly the rediscovery of postures expressing adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: kneeling, genuflection, etc., and also greater recollection characterized by the sacred silence that should mark the important moments of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, so as to allow the priests and the faithful to interiorize the mystery of faith that is being celebrated. It is true also that liturgical and spiritual formation must be encouraged and promoted. Similarly, it will be necessary to promote a thoroughly revised pedagogy in order to get beyond an excessively formal “rubricism” in explaining the rites of the Tridentine Missal to those who are not yet familiar with it, or who are only partly acquainted with it…and sometimes not impartially. To do that, it is urgently necessary to finalize a bilingual Latin-vernacular missal to allow for full, conscious, intimate and more fruitful participation of the lay faithful in Eucharistic celebrations. It is also very important to emphasize the continuity between the two missals by appropriate liturgical catecheses…. Many priests testify that this is a stimulating task, because they are conscious of working for the liturgical renewal, of contributing their own efforts to the “liturgical movement” that we were just talking about, in other words, in reality, to this mystical and spiritual renewal that is therefore missionary in character, which was intended by the Second Vatican Council, to which Pope Francis is vigorously calling us. The liturgy must therefore always be reformed so as to be more faithful to its mystical essence. But most of the time, this “reform” that replaced the genuine “restoration” intended by the Second Vatican Council was carried out in a superficial spirit and on the basis of only one criterion: to suppress at all costs a heritage that must be perceived as totally negative and outmoded so as to excavate a gulf between the time before and the time after the Council. Now it is enough to pick up the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy again and to read it honestly, without betraying its meaning, to see that the true purpose of the Second Vatican Council was not to start a reform that could become the occasion for a break with Tradition, but quite the contrary, to rediscover and to confirm Tradition in its deepest meaning. In fact, what is called “the reform of the reform”, which perhaps ought to be called more precisely “the mutual enrichment of the rites”, to use an expression from the Magisterium of Benedict XVI, is a primarily spiritual necessity. And it quite obviously concerns the two forms of the Roman rite. The particular care that should be brought to the liturgy, the urgency of holding it in high esteem and working for its beauty, its sacral character and keeping the right balance between fidelity to Tradition and legitimate development, and therefore rejecting absolutely and radically any hermeneutic of discontinuity or rupture: these essential elements are the heart of all authentic Christian liturgy. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger tirelessly repeated that the crisis that has shaken the Church for fifty years, chiefly since Vatican Council II, is connected with the crisis of the liturgy, and therefore to the lack of respect, the desacralization and the leveling of the essential elements of divine worship. “I am convinced,” he writes, “that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.”2
Certainly, the Second Vatican Council wished to promote greater active participation by the people of God and to bring about progress day by day in the Christian life of the faithful (see Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 1). Certainly, some fine initiatives were taken along these lines. However we cannot close our eyes to the disaster, the devastation and the schism that the modern promoters of a living liturgy caused by remodeling the Church’s liturgy according to their ideas. They forgot that the liturgical act is not just a PRAYER, but also and above all a MYSTERY in which something is accomplished for us that we cannot fully understand but that we must accept and receive in faith, love, obedience and adoring silence. And this is the real meaning of active participation of the faithful. It is not about exclusively external activity, the distribution of roles or of functions in the liturgy, but rather about an intensely active receptivity: this reception is, in Christ and with Christ, the humble offering of oneself in silent prayer and a thoroughly contemplative attitude. The serious crisis of faith, not only at the level of the Christian faithful but also and especially among many priests and bishops, has made us incapable of understanding the Eucharistic liturgy as a sacrifice, as identical to the act performed once and for all by Jesus Christ, making present the Sacrifice of the Cross in a non-bloody manner, throughout the Church, through different ages, places, peoples and nations. There is often a sacrilegious tendency to reduce the Holy Mass to a simple convivial meal, the celebration of a profane feast, the community’s celebration of itself, or even worse, a terrible diversion from the anguish of a life that no longer has meaning or from the fear of meeting God face to face, because His glance unveils and obliges us to look truly and unflinchingly at the ugliness of our interior life. But the Holy Mass is not a diversion. It is the living sacrifice of Christ who died on the cross to free us from sin and death, for the purpose of revealing the love and the glory of God the Father. Many Catholics do not know that the final purpose of every liturgical celebration is the glory and adoration of God, the salvation and sanctification of human beings, since in the liturgy “God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 7). Most of the faithful—including priests and bishops—do not know this teaching of the Council. Just as they do not know that the true worshippers of God are not those who reform the liturgy according to their own ideas and creativity, to make it something pleasing to the world, but rather those who reform the world in depth with the Gospel so as to allow it access to a liturgy that is the reflection of the liturgy that is celebrated from all eternity in the heavenly Jerusalem. As Benedict XVI often emphasized, at the root of the liturgy is adoration, and therefore God. Hence it is necessary to recognize that the serious, profound crisis that has affected the liturgy and the Church itself since the Council is due to the fact that its CENTER is no longer God and the adoration of Him, but rather men and their alleged ability to “do” something to keep themselves busy during the Eucharistic celebrations. Even today, a significant number of Church leaders underestimate the serious crisis that the Church is going through: relativism in doctrinal, moral and disciplinary teaching, grave abuses, the desacralization and trivialization of the Sacred Liturgy, a merely social and horizontal view of the Church’s mission. Many believe and declare loud and long that Vatican Council II brought about a true springtime in the Church. Nevertheless, a growing number of Church leaders see this “springtime” as a rejection, a renunciation of her centuries-old heritage, or even as a radical questioning of her past and Tradition. Political Europe is rebuked for abandoning or denying its Christian roots. But the first to have abandoned her Christian roots and past is indisputably the post-conciliar Catholic Church. Some episcopal conferences even refuse to translate faithfully the original Latin text of the Roman Missal. Some claim that each local Church can translate the Roman Missal, not according to the sacred heritage of the Church, following the methods and principles indicated by Liturgiam authenticam, but according to the fantasies, ideologies and cultural expressions which, they say, can be understood and accepted by the people. But the people desire to be initiated into the sacred language of God. The Gospel and revelation themselves are “reinterpreted”, “contextualized” and adapted to decadent Western culture. In 1968, the Bishop of Metz, in France, wrote in his diocesan newsletter a horrible, outrageous thing that seemed like the desire for and expression of a complete break with the Church’s past. According to that bishop, today we must rethink the very concept of the salvation brought by Jesus Christ, because the apostolic Church and the Christian communities in the early centuries of Christianity had understood nothing of the Gospel. Only in our era has the plan of salvation brought by Jesus been understood. Here is the audacious, surprising statement by the Bishop of Metz:
The transformation of the world (change of civilization) teaches and demands a change in the very concept of the salvation brought by Jesus Christ; this transformation reveals to us that the Church’s thinking about God’s plan was, before the present change, insufficiently evangelical…. No era has been as capable as ours of understanding the evangelical ideal of fraternal life.3
With a vision like that, it is not surprising that devastation, destruction and wars have followed and persisted these days at the liturgical, doctrinal and moral level, because they claim that no era has been capable of understanding the “evangelical ideal” as well as ours. Many refuse to face up to the Church’s work of self-destruction through the deliberate demolition of her doctrinal, liturgical, moral and pastoral foundations. While more and more voices of high-ranking prelates stubbornly affirm obvious doctrinal, moral and liturgical errors that have been condemned a hundred times and work to demolish the little faith remaining in the people of God, while the bark of the Church furrows the stormy sea of this decadent world and the waves crash down on the ship, so that it is already filling with water, a growing number of Church leaders and faithful shout: “Tout va très bien, Madame la Marquise!” [“Everything is just fine, Milady,” the refrain of a popular comic song from the 1930’s, in which the employees of a noblewoman report to her a series of catastrophes]. But the reality is quite different: in fact, as Cardinal Ratzinger said:
What the Popes and the Council Fathers were expecting was a new Catholic unity, and instead one has encountered a dissension which—to use the words of Paul VI—seems to have passed over from self-criticism to self-destruction. There had been the expectation of a new enthusiasm, and instead too often it has ended in boredom and discouragement. There had been the expectation of a step forward, and instead one found oneself facing a progressive process of decadence that to a large measure has been unfolding under the sign of a summons to a presumed “spirit of the Council” and by so doing has actually and increasingly discredited it.4
“No one can seriously deny the critical manifestations” and liturgy wars that Vatican Council II led to.5 Today they have gone on to fragment and demolish the sacred Missale Romanum by abandoning it to experiments in cultural diversity and compilers of liturgical texts. Here I am happy to congratulate the tremendous, marvelous work accomplished, through Vox Clara, by the English-language Episcopal Conferences, by the Spanish- and Korean-language Episcopal Conferences, etc., which have faithfully translated the Missale Romanum in perfect conformity with the guidelines and principles of Liturgiam authenticam, and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has granted them the recognitio [approval].
Following the publication of my book God or Nothing, people have asked me about the “liturgy wars” which for decades have too often divided Catholics. I stated that that is an aberration, because the liturgy is the field par excellence in which Catholics ought to experience unity in the truth, in faith and in love, and consequently that it is inconceivable to celebrate the liturgy while having in one’s heart feelings of fratricidal struggle and rancor. Besides, did Jesus not speak very demanding words about the need to go and be reconciled with one’s brother before presenting his own sacrifice at the altar? (See Mt 5:23-24.)
The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with “the paschal sacraments,” to be “one in holiness”6; it prays that “they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith”; the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way. (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 10)
In this “face-to-face encounter” with God, which the liturgy is, our heart must be pure of all enmity, which presupposes that everyone must be respected with his own sensibility. This means concretely that, although it must be reaffirmed that Vatican Council II never asked to make tabula rasa of the past and therefore to abandon the Missal said to be of Saint Pius V, which produced so many saints, not to mention three such admirable priests as Saint John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, Saint Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) and Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, at the same time it is essential to promote the liturgical renewal intended by that same Council, and therefore the liturgical books were updated following the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, in particular the Missal said to be of Blessed Pope Paul VI. And I added that what is important above all, whether one is celebrating in the Ordinary or the Extraordinary Form, is to bring to the faithful something that they have a right to: the beauty of the liturgy, its sacrality, silence, recollection, the mystical dimension and adoration. The liturgy should put us face to face with God in a personal relationship of intense intimacy. It should plunge us into the inner life of the Most Holy Trinity. Speaking of the usus antiquior (the older form of the Mass) in his Letter that accompanies Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI said that
Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.
This is an unavoidable reality, a true sign of our times. When young people are absent from the holy Liturgy, we must ask ourselves: Why? We must make sure that the celebrations according to the usus recentior (the newer form of the Mass) facilitate this encounter too, that they lead people on the path of the via pulchritudinis (the way of beauty) that leads through her sacred rites to the living Christ and to the work within His Church today. Indeed, the Eucharist is not a sort of “dinner among friends”, a convivial meal of the community, but rather a sacred Mystery, the great Mystery of our faith, the celebration of the Redemption accomplished by Our Lord Jesus Christ, the commemoration of the death of Jesus on the cross to free us from our sins. It is therefore appropriate to celebrate Holy Mass with the beauty and fervor of the saintly Curé of Ars, of Padre Pio or Saint Josemaría, and this is the sine qua non condition for arriving at a liturgical reconciliation “by the high road”, if I may put it that way.7 I vehemently refuse therefore to waste our time pitting one liturgy against another, or the Missal of Saint Pius V against that of Blessed Paul VI. Rather, it is a question of entering into the great silence of the liturgy, by allowing ourselves to be enriched by all the liturgical forms, whether they are Latin or Eastern. Indeed, without this mystical dimension of silence and without a contemplative spirit, the liturgy will remain an occasion for hateful divisions, ideological confrontations and the public humiliation of the weak by those who claim to hold some authority, instead of being the place of our unity and communion in the Lord. Thus, instead of being an occasion for confronting and hating each other, the liturgy should bring us all together to unity in the faith and to the true knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… and, by living in the truth of love, we will grow into Christ so as to be raised up in all things to Him who is the Head (cf. Eph 4:13-15).8
As you know, the great German liturgist Msgr. Klaus Gamber (1919-1989) used the word Heimat to designate this common home or “little homeland” of Catholics gathered around the altar of the Holy Sacrifice. The sense of the sacred that imbues and irrigates the rites of the Church is the inseparable correlative of the liturgy. Now in recent decades, many, many of the faithful have been ill treated or profoundly troubled by celebrations marked with a superficial, devastating subjectivism, to the point where they did not recognize their Heimat, their common home, whereas the youngest among them had never known it! How many have tiptoed away, particularly the least significant and the poorest among them! They have become in a way “liturgically stateless persons”. The “liturgical movement”, with which the two forms (of the Latin rite) are associated, aims therefore to restore to them their Heimat and thus to bring them back into their common home, for we know very well that, in his works on sacramental theology, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, well before the publication of Summorum Pontificum, had pointed out that the crisis in the Church and therefore the crisis of the weakening of the faith comes in large measure from the way in which we treat the liturgy, according to the old adage: lex orandi, lex credendi (the law of faith is the law of prayer). In the preface that he wrote for the French edition of the magisterial volume by Msgr. Gamber, La réforme de la liturgie romaine [English edition: The Reform of the Roman Liturgy], the future Pope Benedict XVI said this, and I quote:
A young priest told me recently, “What we need today is a new liturgical movement.” This was an expression of a concern which nowadays only willfully superficial minds could ignore. What mattered to this priest was not winning new, daring liberties: what liberty has not been arrogantly taken already? He thought that we needed a new start coming from within the liturgy, just as the liturgical movement had intended when it was at the height of its true nature, when it was not a matter of fabricating texts or inventing actions and forms, but of rediscovering the living center, of penetrating into the tissue, strictly speaking, of the liturgy, so that the celebration thereof might proceed from its very substance. The liturgical reform, in its concrete implementation, has strayed ever farther from this origin. The result was not a revival but devastation. On the one hand, we have a liturgy that has degenerated into a show, in which one attempts to make religion interesting with the help of fashionable innovations and catchy moral platitudes, with short-lived successes within the guild of liturgical craftsmen, and an even more pronounced attitude of retreat from them on the part of those who seek in the liturgy not a spiritual “emcee”, but rather an encounter with the living God before Whom all “making” becomes meaningless, since that encounter alone is capable of giving us access to the true riches of being. On the other hand, there is the conservation of the ritual forms whose grandeur is always moving, but which, taken to the extreme, manifests a stubborn isolation and finally leaves nothing but sadness. Surely, between these two poles there are still all the priests and their parishioners who celebrate the new liturgy with respect and solemnity; but they are called into question by the contradiction between the two extremes, and the lack of internal unity in the Church finally makes their fidelity appear, wrongly in many cases, to be merely a personal brand of neo-conservatism. Because that is the situation, a new spiritual impulse is necessary if the liturgy is to be once more for us a communitarian activity of the Church and to be delivered from arbitrariness. One cannot “fabricate” a liturgical movement of that sort—any more than one can “fabricate” a living thing—but one can contribute to its development by striving to assimilate anew the spirit of the liturgy, and by defending publicly what one has received in this way.
I think that this long citation, which is so accurate and clear, should be of interest to you, at the beginning of this Colloquium, and also should help to start off your reflections on “the source of the future” (“die Quelle der Zukunft”) of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. Indeed, allow me to communicate to you a conviction that I have held deeply for a long time: the Roman liturgy, reconciled in its two forms, which is itself the “fruit of a development”, as the great German liturgist Joseph Jungmann (1889-1975) put it, can initiate the decisive process of the “liturgical movement” that so many priests and faithful have awaited for so long. Where to begin? I take the liberty of proposing to you the three following paths, which I sum up in the three letters SAF: silence-adoration-formation in English and French, and in German: SAA, Stille-Anbetung-Ausbildung. First of all, sacred silence, without which we cannot encounter God. In my book The Power of Silence, [La Force du silence] I write: “In silence, a human being gains his nobility and his grandeur only if he is on his knees in order to hear and adore God” (n. 66). Next, adoration; in this regard I cite my spiritual experience in the same book, The Power of Silence:
For my part, I know that all the great moments of my day are found in the incomparable hours that I spend on my knees in darkness before the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I am so to speak swallowed up in God and surrounded on all sides by His presence. I would like to belong now to God alone and to plunge into the purity of His Love. And yet, I can tell how poor I am, how far from loving the Lord as He loved me to the point of giving Himself up for me. (n. 54)
Finally, liturgical formation based on a proclamation of the faith or catechesis that refers to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which protects us from possible more-or-less learned ravings of some theologians who long for “novelties”. This is what I said in this connection in what is now commonly called, with some humor, the “London Discourse” of July 5, 2016, given during the Third International Conference of Sacra Liturgia:
The liturgical formation that is primary and essential is…one of immersion in the liturgy, in the deep mystery of God our loving Father. It is a question of living the liturgy in all its richness, so that having drunk deeply from its fount we always have a thirst for its delights, its order and beauty, its silence and contemplation, its exultation and adoration, its ability to connect us intimately with He who is at work in and through the Church’s sacred rites.9
In this global context, therefore, and in a spirit of faith and profound communion with Christ’s obedience on the cross, I humbly ask you to apply Summorum Pontificum very carefully; not as a negative, backward measure that looks toward the past, or as something that builds walls and creates a ghetto, but as an important and real contribution to the present and future liturgical life of the Church, and also to the liturgical movement of our era, from which more and more people, and particularly young people, are drawing so many things that are true, good and beautiful.
I would like to conclude this introduction with the luminous words of Benedict XVI at the end of the homily that he gave in 2008, on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul: “When the world in all its parts has become a liturgy of God, when, in its reality, it has become adoration, then it will have reached its goal and will be safe and sound.”
I thank you for your kind attention. And may God bless you and fill your lives with His silent Presence!
Robert Cardinal Sarah
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
(Translation from the French original by Michael J. Miller.)
1“Aggiornamento” is an Italian term that means literally: “updating”. We celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican Council II Sacrosanctum Concilium in 2013, since it was promulgated on December 4, 1963.
6 Cf. Postcommunion for the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.
7 Cf. Interview with the Catholic website Aleteia, March 4, 2015.
8 Cf. Interview with La Nef, October 2016, question 9.
9 Cardinal Robert Sarah: Third International Conference of the Sacra Liturgia Association, London. Speech given on July 5, 2016. See the Sacra Liturgia website: “Towards an Authentic Implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium”, July 11, 2016
This Sunday, called Judica from the first word of the Introit, is also called Passion Sunday, because from this day the Church occupies herself exclusively with the contemplation of the passion and death of Christ. The pictures of Christ crucified are covered today in memory of his having hidden Himself from the Jews until His entrance into Jerusalem, no longer showing Himself in public. (John XI. 54.) In the Mass the Glory be to the Father, etc. is omitted, because in the person of Christ the Holy Trinity was dishonored. The psalm Judica is not said today, because on this day the high priests held council about our Lord, for which reason the Church in the name of the suffering Saviour uses these words at the Introit:
INTROIT Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man, for Thou art my God and my strength. Send forth thy light and thy truth: they have conducted me, and brought me unto thy holy hill, and into thy tabernacles. (Ps. XLII. 1. 3.)
COLLECT We beseech Thee, Almighty God, graciously to look upon Thy family; that by Thy bounty it may be governed in body, and by Thy protection be guarded in mind. Through, &c.
EPISTLE (Heb. IX. 11-15.) Brethren, Christ being come, a high-priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, by the Holy Ghost, offered himself without spot to God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God? And therefore he is the Mediator of the new testament; that by means of his death, for the redemption of those trangressions which were under the former testament; they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
EXPLANATION St. Paul here teaches, that Christ as the true high-priest of the New Testament, through His precious blood on the altar of the cross, has indeed rendered perfect satisfaction for sins, but that the sinner must also do his own part, by cooperating with Christ to make himself less unworthy of participating in His passion and merits, and to appropriate to himself its fruits. This is done when he diligently and devoutly assists at the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass, by which the fruits of the death on the cross are attributed to us; when, according to the will of the Church, he purifies his conscience by true contrition and confession; and when he seeks by trust in Christ’s merits to render some satisfaction for his sins through voluntary penance and faithful following of Christ.
ASPIRATION Grant us, O meek Jesus, Thy grace, that through perfect sorrow for our sins and the exercise of good works we may become participators in the merits of Thy bitter passion.
GOSPEL (John VIII. 46-59.) At that time, Jesus said to the multitudes of the Jews: Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me? He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God. The Jews therefore answered, and said to him: Do not we say well, that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered: I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and you have dishonored me. But I seek not my own glory; there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen, I say to you, if any-man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever. The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest: If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever. Art thou greater than our Father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself? Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God. And you have not known him; but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad. The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. They took up stones therefore to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
Why did Christ ask the Jews, which of them should convince Him of sin?
To show us that he who would teach and punish others, should strive to be irreproachable himself; and to prove that He, being free from sin, was more than mere man, and therefore, the Messiah, the Son of God, as He repeatedly told the Jews, especially in this day’s gospel, and substantiated by His great and numerous miracles.
Why did He say: He that is of God, heareth the words of God?
To prove that the Jews on account of their stubbornness and unbelief were not the children of God, but of the devil. “Therefore,” St. Gregory says, “let every one when he hears the word of God, ask himself, of whom he is. Eternal truth demands that we be desirous of the heavenly fatherland, that we tame the desires of the flesh, be indifferent to the praises of the world, covet not our neighbor’s goods, and give alms according to our means. Therefore examine yourself, and if you find in your heart this voice of God, then you will know that you are of God.”
CONSOLATION UNDER CALUMNY
When Christ told the Jews the truth, He received insults and calumny; they called Him a Samaritan, that is, an unbeliever, a heretic, one possessed of a devil. This was a terrible slander, and it must have pained Him exceedingly, but at the same time it is a great consolation to those who are innocently calumniated, when they consider that Christ Himself received nothing better. St. Augustine consoles such by saying: “O friend, what is there that can happen to you that your Saviour did not suffer before you? Is it slander? He heard it, when He was called a glutton, a drunkard, a heretic, and a rebel, a companion of sinners, one possessed of a devil; He even heard, when casting out devils, that He did so by Beelzebub, prince of devils.” (Matt. IX. 34.) He therefore comforts His apostles, saying, If they have called the good man of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household? (Matt, X. 25.) Are the pains bitter? There is no pain so bitter that He has not endured it; for what is. more painful, and at the same time more ignominious, than the death of the cross? For think, says St. Paul, diligently upon him who endured such opposition from sinners against himself: that you be not wearied (by all contempt and calumny), fainting in your minds. (Heb. XII. 3.)
How and why did Christ defend Himself against those who slandered Hate?
Only by denying with the greatest modesty the things with which they reproached Him, saying that He had not a devil, that He was not a Samaritan, because He honored His Father not in their manner, but in His own. In repelling this calumny while He left the rest unanswered, Christ removed all doubt in regard to His divine mission, thus vindicating the honor of God, and securing the salvation of man. Christ thus teaches us by His own conduct to defend ourselves only against those detractions and insults which endanger the honor of God and the salvation of man, and then to defend ourselves with all modesty; by no means however to do it, if they injure only our own good name, for we should leave the restoration of that to God, as exemplified by Christ, who knows better than we how to preserve and restore it.
[Use the search engine at the top to See the Instruction on the Epistle of the Third Sunday After Epiphany. Type in Third Sunday After Epiphany.]
How had Abraham seen Christ’s day?
In spirit, that is, by. divine revelation he foresaw the coming of Christ and rejoiced; also, he heard, by revelation from God, with the other just in Limbo, that Christ’s coming had taken place, and derived the greatest comfort from it.
Why did Christ conceal Himself from the Jews, instead of taking vengeance?
Because the time of His death had not come; because He would show His meekness and patience and teach us that we should avoid our enemies rather than resist them or take vengeance on them; Christ wished to instruct us to avoid passionate and quarrelsome people, for it is an honor for a man, to separate from quarrels: but all fools are meddling with reproaches. (Prov. XX. 3.)
PETITION When Thine enemies calumniated Thee, most meek Jesus, Thou didst answer them with tender words, and when they were about to stone Thee, Thou didst depart from them, whilst we can scarcely bear a hard word, and far from yielding to our neighbor, defend and avenge ourselves most passionately. Ah! pardon us our impatience, and grant us the grace to bear patiently the wrongs done us, and when necessary, answer with gentleness for Thy glory and the salvation of our neighbor.
St. Hilary’s is 2.7 miles from St. Albert the Great; the drive time is between six and ten minutes, depending on traffic. Mass will be offered in the main sanctuary; confessions will be heard at the rear of the church, and there is ample parking behind the church. Entering through the school, make a right turn at the main hallway.
Please see below for a map and directions.
First Saturday, April 1st:
Priest: Rev. Harold B. Mc Kale (Parish Vicar, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church)
Location: St. Hilary of Poitiers Parish (address above, directions below)
Time: 9:00 a.m., preceded by Confessions at 8:30 a.m.
This Traditional Latin Mass will be the Mass of the Saturday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent,offered in Reparation to The Immaculate Heart of Mary. (Violet Vestments)
First Friday, April 7th:
Priest: Rev. Gerald P. Carey (Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church)
Location: St. Hilary of Poitiers Parish (address above, directions below)
Time: 7:00 p.m., preceded by Confessions at 6:30 p.m.
This Traditional Latin Mass will be the Mass of the Friday after Passion Sunday, offered in Reparation to The Sacred Heart of Jesus. (Violet Vestments)
Map from St. Albert the Great Parish to St. Hilary of Poitiers Parish
Directions from St. Albert the Great Parish to St. Hilary of Poitiers Parish:
•Turn left out of the parking lot at St. Albert the Great onto Welsh Road (0.7 miles)
•Turn left onto Huntingdon Pike, PA-Rt. 232 South (1.7 miles)
•Turn right onto Susquehanna Road
The church is .3 miles from the corner of Huntingdon Pike and Susquehanna Road, and will be on your left.
Over 100 Sacred Relics of the Lord and the Saints, from the collection of Fr. Jason Kulczynski, will be on display for prayer and reflection.
Included in the collection is the True Cross of our Lord, and relics from Mount Calvary and the Birthplace of our Lord. Also included are relics of the Cloak of St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist, St. Anthony of Padua, St. John Neumann, St. Katharine Drexel, St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta, St. John Paul II, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Damian of Molokai, St. Therese, Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, Servant of God Fr. Walter Ciszek, and many others.
Also significant at Holy Martyrs’ Church is our Altar and Pulpit, which were those designed for the Holy Mass offered by Pope Francis during his recent pastoral visit to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families.
Holy Martyrs’ Church is also the National Center of the Universal Archconfraternity of St. Philomena.
Coffee will be available in the Fr. Szal Conference Room as well as a video presentation about relics. All are welcome to visit throughout the day.