Ecclesia de Eucharistia 51

Let’s explore inculturation:

51. The development of sacred art and liturgical discipline which took place in lands of ancient Christian heritage is also taking place on continents where Christianity is younger. This was precisely the approach supported by the Second Vatican Council on the need for sound and proper “inculturation”. In my numerous Pastoral Visits I have seen, throughout the world, the great vitality which the celebration of the Eucharist can have when marked by the forms, styles and sensibilities of different cultures. By adaptation to the changing conditions of time and place, the Eucharist offers sustenance not only to individuals but to entire peoples, and it shapes cultures inspired by Christianity.

Probably no other Catholic in history has been exposed to the very best of the varied cultures of the world than Pope John Paul II.

It is necessary, however, that this important work of adaptation be carried out with a constant awareness of the ineffable mystery against which every generation is called to measure itself. The “treasure” is too important and precious to risk impoverishment or compromise through forms of experimentation or practices introduced without a careful review on the part of the competent ecclesiastical authorities. Furthermore, the centrality of the Eucharistic mystery demands that any such review must be undertaken in close association with the Holy See. As I wrote in my Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, “such cooperation is essential because the Sacred Liturgy expresses and celebrates the one faith professed by all and, being the heritage of the whole Church, cannot be determined by local Churches in isolation from the universal Church”. (No. 22)

The most fruitful “cooperation” occurs when bishops bring an appreciation for the arts, and when artists come to the Church with a willingness to submit their creation to the theological sensibility of Christianity. Canon lawyers meeting secular artists? There is not enough common ground in that unfortunate collaboration. The opportunity of evangelization and conversion is too important to risk that collaborations be sidelined by stubbornness, inflexibility, and the lack of a common language.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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