THURSDAY     February 17, 2000    vol. 11, no. 34    SECTION ONE

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SECTION ONE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • Pat Ludwa's VIEW FROM THE PEW
  • THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS - Praise from Cardinal Ratzinger
  • APPRECIATION OF THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF FAITH: Installment 112: Creation part one
  • Events that happened this day in Church history

  • Since ICEL doesn't have a clue in keeping the Mass sacred and reverent, it's time to go back to basics: the Vatican II documents!

       In his column today, Pat Ludwa applies a very basic tenet that has always worked: If you lose something, don't go looking in the wrong place for it but go back to where you last had it. He is referring to where we lost the sense of the sacred and he can trace it back to the fact few have followed the true code of the documents such as Sacrosanctum Concilium and post-consiliar documents such as Pope John Paul II's Inaestimabile Donum. That is the answer to clearing up the confusion over the liturgy and the music used, and returning a true sense of the sacred to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. For his column today, Looking for the Liturgy in all the wrong places!, see VIEW FROM THE PEW

    Looking for the liturgy in all the wrong places!

          I suspect I touched a nerve in many of the die-hard dissidents as well as embracers of the Mass as it is today who subscribe to the "any-kind-of-return-to-reverence-represents-a-pre-Vatican-II-stance" philosophy. Last Monday's article on music in the liturgy garnered a lot of e-mail for me. And I think I need to clarify some things. Anytime anyone begins to speak about the Mass, the Liturgy, one is sure to hit a few buttons. For some, the article was a call to return to the Mass before Vatican II, banning all hymn's written after, say, 1963. That isn't the case at all.

          When one talks about the liturgy, almost everyone agrees that something's wrong. Mass attendance, over all, remains low. For most of the churches, nothing can be seen as outright wrong, but something isn't quite right.

          In his book "Recovery of the Sacred" historian James Hitchcock points out, "The thrust of liturgical reform was, prior to the Second Vatican Council, primarily toward a more powerful restatement of the importance of the sacred. The principle criticism which liturgists made of the Mass as actually celebrated was that, in too many parishes, it was said quickly, sloppily, irreverently, as a duty to be performed rather than a divine mystery to be entered into." (Recovery of the Sacred, pg. 34)

          But today do we see anything is different? Many Masses are said as though there's a time schedule to be met. In some parishes the priest's vestments are more for statement than devotion. Once, we saw people saying their rosaries instead of participating in the Mass, now, we see them chatting with the neighbor about something. We see them coming to Mass in t-shirts, jeans, clothes which seem to indicate that what's coming after the Mass is more important than the Mass itself.

          Now, as then, Masses are being said, sloppily, irreverently, and more out of duty than devotion. What has the reform then accomplished? Some liturgists (to give them the benefit of the doubt) try to reverse this trend by new innovations. One such idea in my parish was to have the prayer intentions brought forth during the Offertory. Needless to say, this would have just disrupted the Mass more than it already was. Their intentions, by and large, are good, but do they really help?

          Some of the terms one will hear are: Eucharistic celebration, Eucharistic liturgy, etc. Almost anything but the word, Mass. Now, there is nothing wrong, per se, with these terms. There are aspects of celebration in the Mass. Thanksgiving denotes a celebration, and one of the ends of the Mass, to thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed on us. However, "The term "celebration," though venerable in the liturgical lexicon, is often used now in a rather different sense from its traditional meaning. The connotation is that we are going to have something very like a party, and that the Mass is an action which we who "celebrate" perform (indeed, liturgists often talk of our "doing Eucharist"), rather than a sacrifice which Christ offers. It is not many steps from this notion to the idea of the "community" celebrating itself." (THE JARGON OF LITURGISTS: BRAIN-WASHING THE FAITHFUL by Calvert Shenk) We see the congregation asked to applaud the choir, a baptism, whatever. The Mass is slowly, almost imperceptibly, changed from a sacrifice to a social event.

          The people in Mass aren't referred to as the congregation any longer but an Assembly. "This is meant as a somewhat tendentious translation of gahal or ecclesia: the coming together of the faithful. As opposed to "congregation" (the more common term until recently), it is designed to include all who "assemble," including the priest. The intention is to eradicate the distinction between the celebrant, acting in persona Christi, and the faithful who participate in the sacrifice analogically." (Ibid)

          Again, we see that it isn't that far of a stretch to go from the priest acting on our behalf to that of the community being the actual celebrant (since the priest is just a part of the whole). The notion of the cult of the community enters again.

          We may hear of the church called a "worship space" instead of what it is, a church. "A "space" is just a space; a church (building) is a symbolic, visible expression of the Church (the Body of Christ)." (Ibid)

          We don't come together to give glory and praise to God - rather we 'Gather' and the Mass is a 'Gathering'. "This idea-really just the fact of people being present at the same time and place-has been elevated by modern liturgists to the level of sacred action. As a "gathering rite," the opening prayers and hymns of the Mass (introit, penitential rite, Gloria, collect) become entirely a matter of people "gathering." The emphasis shifts from prayer and praise to such concerns as "hospitality:" This is the trivialization of worship. We also, of course, gather for club meetings, sporting events, and virtually every other human enterprise involving more than one person in the same vicinity." (Ibid)

          The priest is no longer the celebrant of the Mass, but the 'Presider of the Eucharistic celebration. "This term, which connotes to Americans the chairman of a meeting, is another attempt, when used in place of "celebrant," to eradicate the distinction between the priest and the faithful. Anyone can preside, and indeed, one has heard of celebrations over which non-ordained persons have presided. The aim is to desupernaturalize holy orders. Some years ago the preferred term was "president," which seems, mercifully, to have disappeared-perhaps as a side-effect of many liturgists' strong reactions to a succession of Republican administrations." (Ibid)

          The one catch phrase which drives me crazy on many levels is "We Are Church" "Word. Eucharist. Church. Liturgy. These terms become jargon when used without the definite article, "the." A dependable rule of thumb is never to trust anyone who drops his articles, as in "to do Eucharist" or "to be Church." The idea seems to be to eliminate (along with capitalization) the notion of the Eucharist or the Church as a specific definable entity. Whatever the user of the term would like "Eucharist" or "Church" to mean becomes its meaning." (Ibid)

          We no longer offer ourselves with the bread and wine at the Offertory, rather we "prepare the gifts". "Banishing the word "offertory" in favor of "preparation of the gifts" implies quite a different relationship between ourselves and the oblata. "Preparing" the gifts is hardly the same as offering them. A whole devotional tradition of offering ourselves with the bread and wine on the corporal, to be transformed with them by the action of Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, is here obliterated by a simple substitution of words. The Missale Romanum and the Graduale Romanum still refer to the cantus ad offertorium. What is good enough for the editio normativa should, one would think, be good enough for us." (Ibid)

          On the surface, again, most of these don't seem wrong, but as we can see upon closer examination, they aren't right either. So we may see this at the beginning of Mass. "Before the Eucharistic celebration begins, the assembly gathers in the worship space. As the assembly sings the gathering song, the presider and other ministers enter."

          As I said, though it doesn't sound totally wrong, there isn't something right. This can't help but add confusion to the Church. Is it a sacrifice or a celebration? Is God the focus or is it the community? Is the priest the celebrant of the sacrifice of the Mass or the presider at the Eucharistic celebration?

          Again, many think this is what Vatican II called for in 'updating' or 'modernizing' the Church. None of these things can bring good results. The consequences are-and cannot fail to be-the impairing of the unity of Faith and worship in the Church, doctrinal uncertainty, scandal and bewilderment among the People of God, and the near inevitability of violent reactions.

          The faithful have a right to a true Liturgy, which means the Liturgy desired and laid down by the Church, which has in fact indicated where adaptations may be made as called for by pastoral requirements in different places or by different groups of people. Undue experimentation, changes and creativity bewilder the faithful. The use of unauthorized texts means a loss of the necessary connection between the lex orandi and the lex credendi. The Second Vatican Council's admonition in this regard must be remembered: "No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority." And Paul VI of venerable memory stated that: "Anyone who takes advantage of the reform to indulge in arbitrary experiments is wasting energy and offending the ecclesial sense." (Instruction Concerning Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery; Approved and Confirmed by Pope John Paul II; INAESTIMABILE DONUM; April 17, 1980)

          James Hitchcock points out that (radical) "Ecclesiastical reformers were concerned...that Catholics move beyond the 'ghetto' of the Church and into the larger world, usually without noticing that the Catholic Church is perhaps the largest 'ghetto' in the world, much larger and more diverse in membership than any 'worldly' group. However, here as elsewhere a notable irony developed: those who left the ghettos of the parishes to become part of the larger world often ended by joining even smaller and narrower ghettos than those from which they had liberated themselves - underground church groups, encounter groups, political sects, etc." (Recovery of the Sacred; pg. 106)

          And as polls show, this increase in the notion of community has, in fact, led to the breakdown and destruction of the community. " It is an error, consequently, and a mistake to think of the sacred liturgy as merely the outward or visible part of divine worship or as an ornamental ceremonial. No less erroneous is the notion that it consists solely in a list of laws and prescriptions according to which the ecclesiastical hierarchy orders the sacred rites to be performed. It should be clear to all, then, that God cannot be honored worthily unless the mind and heart turn to Him in quest of the perfect life, and that the worship rendered to God by the Church in union with her divine Head is the most efficacious means of achieving sanctity. In this connection, Venerable Brethren, We desire to direct your attention to certain recent theories touching a so-called "objective" piety. While these theories attempt, it is true, to throw light on the mystery of the Mystical Body, on the effective reality of sanctifying grace, on the action of God in the sacraments and in the Mass, it is nonetheless apparent that they tend to belittle, or pass over in silence, what they call 'subjective,' or 'personal' piety." (The Sacred Liturgy; Encyclical Letter by Pope Pius XII; MEDIATOR DEI; November 20, 1947; Nos. 25,26, 28)

          When I was younger and lost something important, my mother gave me very sound advice. Rather than running around trying new things, looking in all the wrong places for what I lost, go back to the last place you knew you had it and go from there.

          We really need to go back to Vatican II, to it's teachings in SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) to see how it sought to build on the traditions of the Church and renew the Liturgy, from it's music to it's devotion and prayers, to bring the faithful a greater devotion to God in the Mass, to hear the Mass more reverently. So that when we enter a church, we know that we are in the presence of God (even if the Tabernacle has been moved to an out of the way ante-chamber), and not just a community gathering. It is vital to rediscover the sense of the Sacred.

      Pax Christi, Pat

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    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger salutes and affirms, on behalf of the Magisterium, the accomplishments of Pope John Paul II in addressing the Vicar of Christ directly during closing ceremonies of Plenary Assembly

       Since there has been a delay in receiving the Wednesday Papal Audience address, we are bringing you something different. Rather than bringing you the Holy Father's words today, we're providing a special address to and about the Pope from one of the most loyal sons of the Church His eminence Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the closing ceremonies of the Plenary Assembly in late January this year of this curial congregation. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

    Words of homage from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to His Holiness John Paul II at close of Plenary Assembly for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

      Holy Father,

          At the end of our Plenary Assembly, which has gathered us here for four days of intense study, I want to express to you, in the name of all themembers of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the joy and profound gratitude we feel for this encounter, which permits us to share the results of our common research with Your Holiness.

          During these days, our attention has been especially concentrated on the activities of the past two years. We had the opportunity to examine the various doctrinal and moral questions that have affected the work of this dicastery. At the same time, this gave us a way to provide precision on other problems of a disciplinary nature, which are also responsibility of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

          Among the various arguments we touched on in our common reflection, the study of the theme of the salvific uniqueness and universality of Christ and the Church deserves special attention, in consideration of the diffusion of erroneous and confused ideas and opinions, not only in the arena of theological discussion, but also in certain ways of thinking and the language of church groups and associations. The consideration of this theme has a special relevance on the occasion of the Jubilee Year that we are living, fully centered on the contemplation and celebration of the event of the Incarnation of the Son of God, Only Mediator and Fullness of the Revelation of the Father, as Your Holiness reminded us in your Apostolic Letter "Tertio Millennio Adveniente."

          This is a serious doctrinal problem, to which the Church must give a response. Already the International Theological Commission considered with the theme of the oneness and absoluteness of the mystery of Christ in the context of the theology of the religions, concluding the study with the publication of the document, "Christianity and the Religions." Our reflection took up these arguments again, with the principal scope of identifying the current theories contrary to the Catholic faith or seriously ambiguous with the greatest precision possible, not only to answer them in the light of Catholic doctrine contained in dogmas and Magisterial teachings, but also with the positive intention to contribute to a renewed and deepened knowledge of the mystery of Christ and to make love for the Lord grow.

          The reflection of our Plenary Assembly was then directed to a review of the norms reguarding the so-called "delicta graviora" [more serious offenses], a study that is explicitly entrusted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Apostolic Constitution "Pastor Bonus" (cf. art. 52). In this part of the discussions, we examined the results of the Commision that had been created to identifiy those reserved sins and to prepare the proper procedure to follow. The concern of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith over the past two years has not been limited to identifying the acts necessary to rectify the comportment of Church persons and institutions, but rather was directed actively towards the diffusion of the Word of God and the promotion of the faith.

          Thus, particular mention is made of the Symposium on "The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church," which was held in September 1999, in the Vatican, with the participation of experts coming from around the world, among whom were some Protestants and an Orthodox. The Symposium was organized by the Congregation in the desire of having a better knowledge of the current state of Biblical studies, particularly concerning the question of the inspiration and truth of Sacred Scripture, the problem of the canon, the relation between the Old and New Testament, and in general, the criteria of Christian interpretation of the Bible.

          The acts of the Symposium are presently being printed so that they can become the object of future reflections, particularly by the Shepherds of the Church, to take on the more significative indications, following the directions of research mentioned by the participants, and to bring together the challenges of the Incarnation of the Word of God in our time.

          Finally, I would like to recall the collaboration that our dicastery offered in the preparation of the "Official Common Statement of the World Lutheran Federation and the Catholic Church" with its "Appendix," which was signed on October 31, 1999, along with the "Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the World Lutheran Federation on the Doctrine of Justification."

          Holy Father, with sentiments of filial recognition we now await your illuminated word, which represents a comfort and guide in our service, and at the same time, we invoke your fatherly apostolic blessing.

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    Appreciation of Creation

       Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith, concentrating today on the first part of the catechesis on Creation as outlined in My Catholic Faith. For the 112th installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

    installment 112: CREATION part one

          God is almighty He can make anything from nothing, by a mere act of His divine will. It was thus that He created the heavens and earth and everything that is in them. Man can make many wonderful things, but he must make them out of something. He must use the things God created. Before he can make a stone house, he must have stone, cement, brick, etc. But God needs nothing to make anything. Only God could create the very first thing or matter in the universe.

          When we say that God is the Creator of Heaven and earth, we mean that He made all things from nothing by His almighty power. "All things were made through Him, and without Him was made nothing" (John 1:3). "For in Him were created all things" (Col. 1:16).

          In the beginning God alone lived. Then out of nothing, by His almighty power, He created Heaven and earth, and all things in heaven and on earth. Only God can create; that is, He alone can make something out of nothing. Time began with this creation. Before it there was only eternity. "Before the mountains were made, or the earth and the world was formed, from eternity Thou art God"(Ps. 89:2).

          God created Heaven and earth, and everything in Heaven and earth. By this is meant everything which is not God. "Heaven" refers to the angels and their abode; and "earth" to all the material universe, including the earth, stars, planets, and all things and beings in them.

          God created everything by an act of his will. "He spoke and they were made; he commanded and they were created" (Psalms 32:9).

          In its first book, Genesis, Holy Scripture tells the story of Creation. In the beginning all was void and empty and dark; that is, there was nothing but chaos, which God Himself had created. Then out of this chaos God brought about order and law, creating Heaven and earth. "In the beginning God created Heaven and earth. And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters" (Genesis 1: 1-2).

          God created the world in six days, resting on the seventh day. These "days" of creation were not necessarily days of twenty-four hours like those we have today, since our sun had not yet appeared. Catholic theologians commonly interpret them as long periods of time. Thus the "seventh day" is still going on. For Holy Scritpure says that on that day God rested; that is, He ceased to create new kinds of things.

          The Hebrew word for "day" may stand for a day, a week, a month, a century, or any indefinite period of time. Fundamentalism is an enemy of Science; it takes the "days" of Creation as of 24-hour periods, like the periods we call "days" in our mind.

          Very probably the sacred writer divides creation into six days in order to consecrate each day of the week by connecting it with one or more of the Creator's works; and to impress on the Jews the divine command to sanctify the seventh day.

      Tomorrow: Creation part two

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    Events that happened this Weekend in Church History

       On this day 174 years ago in 1826 Pope Leo XII gave papal approval to the Missionary Order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate founded by Saint Eugene de Mazenod, who was beatified by Pope Paul VI on Mission Sunday in 1975 and canonized by Pope John Paul II on December and his feast day is May 21st in the Church Liturgy. Saint Eugene was much like Saint Francis of Assisi in that he was born wealthy but gave it all up to minister to the poor and downtrodden and bring the Gospel to all God's children. For other time capsule events that happened in Church history on this date, see MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES

    Historical Events in Church Annals for February 17:

    • 308 A.D.
    • Death of Saint Theodulus and Saint Julian, Caesarean Christians in Palestine who were crucified after being discovered visiting prisons where many Christians had been incarcerated.

    • 500 A.D.
    • Death of Saint Habet-Deus, Bishop of Luna in the Tuscany region of Italy who was met martyrdom at the hands of the Arian Vandals.

    • 661 A.D.
    • Death of Saint Finan, an Irish monk who was a missionary in Southern England and is known for converting numerous Saxon monarchs.

    • 1310 A.D.
    • Death of Saint Alessio Falconieri, one of the founders of the Seven Servites whose feast is normally observed on this date.

    • 1826 A.D.
    • The Missionary Order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, founded by the Bishop of Marseilles Saint Eugene de Mazenod receives Papal approval of the Order by Pope Leo XII. Within a short time it would become one of the fastest growing religious orders of priests with today numbering over 5,000 worldwide.

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    February 17, 2000     volume 11, no. 34
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