Redemptionis Sacramentum 5

In a positive way, liturgical norms support not only good and fruitful worship, but also a solid understanding of the faith.

[5.] The observance of the norms published by the authority of the Church requires conformity of thought and of word, of external action and of the application of the heart. A merely external observation of norms would obviously be contrary to the nature of the Sacred Liturgy, in which Christ himself wishes to gather his Church, so that together with himself she will be “one body and one spirit”. For this reason, external action must be illuminated by faith and charity, which unite us with Christ and with one another and engender love for the poor and the abandoned. The liturgical words and rites, moreover, are a faithful expression, matured over the centuries, of the understanding of Christ, and they teach us to think as he himself does; by conforming our minds to these words, we raise our hearts to the Lord. All that is said in this Instruction is directed toward such a conformity of our own understanding with that of Christ, as expressed in the words and the rites of the Liturgy.

I think it is possible to withhold a “conformity of the mind” to the (lack of) wisdom of particular norms, yet be willing and able to support the liturgy.

Example: who gives the homily? I might think a particular priest is a poor preacher. Maybe some lay person could do a better job. But I’m still going to work with the priest in question, and by supporting his curiosity about homiletic material, encouraging him to work with a voice or acting coach, or such, I can uplift his ministry and support the given ideal of liturgy. Even if I think preaching might improve in some places if bishops were to limit the faculty of preaching to those who were able.

I think the CDWDS grossly overstates “conformity of mind.” That said, there are reformers in Catholicism who cannot separate their desire for change from an ability to support the liturgy as a whole for being a greater good. If I were asked about RS 5, that’s what I would tell the curia. Bishops with their clergy, pastors and spiritual directors with lay people: these are the proper levels for discernment on this issue.

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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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