Friday, July 16, 2010

"Vatican Sets New Rules for Abuse Cases"

"Church Weighs Additional Guidelines on Reporting Allegations; Victims' Groups Say New Standards Don't Go Far Enough."

Please see The Wall Street Journal Website link for the full text of the article.

Title and Subtitle quoted from the article.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is modern man capable of the liturgical act?

During the week of Father’s Day, I had the pleasure of attending a Sacred Music Retreat put on by the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein Seminary. The week culminated in an Institute-wide celebration of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist with an evening Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver, Colorado. Later that evening, he delivered the Hillenbrand Distinguished Lecture titled: “Glorifying God by your life: evangelization and the renewal of the liturgy”.

Chaput’s lecture touched the heart of many post-Vatican II problems. Msgr. Guido Marini, the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, (Papal Liturgist!) speaks of “the reform of the reform”, necessary because many misinterpreted the Second Vatican Council; much of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate has been focused on reorienting the Universal Church to a greater orthodoxy. The left attacks the Holy Father. The right attacks the Holy Father. This is, perhaps, the surest sign he is orthodox and right where he needs to be.

Chaput quoted a much neglected statement by Father Romano Guardini, author of Spirit of the Liturgy. (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, wrote a modern work by the same name and quoted Father Guardini throughout.) Chaput quotes: “Is not the liturgical act, and with it all that goes under the name ‘liturgy,’ so bound up with the historical background – antique or medieval or baroque – that it would be more honest to give it up altogether? Would it not be better to admit that man in this industrial and scientific age, with its new sociological structure, is no longer capable of the liturgical act?”

Chaput agrees that “modern man seem[s] incapable of real worship” and so do I. Chaput goes on to give four points that should help fix the problem. For fear of reworking his lecture, I will be brief:

1. “We need to recover the intrinsic and inseparable connection between liturgy and evangelization.” All moves toward or comes from the Eucharist. The liturgy is truly the best we have for our edification and sanctification. The Novus Ordo has opened up the Mass in new ways. Chaput welcomes the wider use of the Tridentine form utilizing all of the Church’s rich tradition but (perhaps to the chagrin of traditionalists) “find[s] the Novus Ordo, properly celebrated, a much richer expression of worship”.

2. “The liturgy is a participation in the liturgy of heaven, in which we worship in Spirit and truth with the worldwide Church and the communion of saints.” The liturgy goes beyond our own feelings and needs and moves into God’s plan, a reality which is key to how we choose to live our lives and mission of the Church.

3. “We need to strive to recover and live with the same vibrant liturgical and evangelical spirituality as the early Christians.” The early Mass was not merely “a meal shared among friends” as some might have you believe. Chaput reduces these liberal claims to dust in one sentence: “Nobody risks torture and death for a meal with their friends”.

4. “The liturgy is a school of sacrificial love.” The Eucharist, at the heart of the liturgy, is the perfect example of this sacrificial love, Christ’s total self-giving on the Cross. The Eucharist is the model for living the Christian life in service to Christ.

There is one final point which I was thrilled to hear clarified: the Second Vatican Council’s calls for “‘active participation’ of the laity in the liturgy”. This is one of the most misinterpreted phrases of the council. This is used as an excuse for “external activity, commotion and busy-ness” in the Mass when it actually “refers to the inner movement of our souls, our interior participation in Christ’s action of offering of his Body and Blood”. Sacred silence, pause for reflection, is crucial and is a very evident part of Papal Liturgies, even written in red in the Mass booklets. Active participation is not forcing the Congregation to sing against their will because some liturgist or musician has a narrow, selfish, and self-inflated view of their position in the parish. It is orienting our hearts to God in the Mystical and Sacramental Body of Christ.

So what is to be done so that the liturgical act may be possible for modern man? Chaput places the burden on us. We must live our lives liturgically. We must evangelize and pray, stand for truth and find our source and summit in that truth, Eucharistically in the Mass. “Each of us must make our own unique contribution to God’s loving plan”, Chaput writes, “that all creation become adoration and sacrifice in praise of him.”

Chaput ended his talk with a new dismissal from the new Roman Missal translation. As he spoke it, I felt contentment and hope for the reform of the reform, the orthodox direction of the Church: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”

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The entire text of Archbishop Chaput’s talk can be found at the Denver Archdiocesan website.