Saturday, July 7, 2007

Motu Proprio

Vatican Information Service
has posted the letter of explanation from Benedict XVI and the "Summorum pontificum" concerning the celebration of the 1962 (i.e., "Tridentine") rite. The Latin Mass, as it is popularly called, arguably goes back over a millenium in Christian worship--long before the divide between Protestant and Catholic. The pope's concern to elevate the rite, which became nearly extinct nearly overnight over 40 years ago, is, he writes, "a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church."

One (among many) interesting point theologically is this: the liturgy is divine, not human. Its various decorations are cultural, but its heart is Jesus Christ. It is an encounter with the Incarnation of God, the Word made flesh. Like a human being, the liturgy grows organically through continuity amid change. "In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us, too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful." Neither rite may be excluded; each enriches the other. Benedict has opened the doors to a new reverence and love for the liturgy--both in its older and newer rites.

And here's another thought on liturgy not from the pope (that was my disclaimer!): "What Chesterton understood was that it was precisely one of the great graces of the Catholic Church that she makes it possible for people, poor as well as rich, to transcend their cultural limitations, to rise above their cultural poverty and be citizens, or rather subjects, of an eternal city..." ~Tracey Rowland, Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II

So let it be written. So let it be done.

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