Mediator Dei 22

Pope Pius XII and Saint Augustine seem to endorse liturgical renewal, with the understanding that such worship moves Christians to a certain attention to grace, and a sound inspiration to move further towards the Kingdom:

22. As circumstances and the needs of Christians warrant, public worship is organized, developed and enriched by new rites, ceremonies and regulations, always with the single end in view, “that we may use these external signs to keep us alert, learn from them what distance we have come along the road, and by them be heartened to go on further with more eager step; for the effect will be more precious the warmer the affection which precedes it.”[Saint Augustine, Epist. 130, ad Probam, 18] Here then is a better and more suitable way to raise the heart to God. Thenceforth the priesthood of Jesus Christ is a living and continuous reality through all the ages to the end of time, since the liturgy is nothing more nor less than the exercise of this priestly function. Like her divine Head, the Church is forever present in the midst of her children. She aids and exhorts them to holiness, so that they may one day return to the Father in heaven clothed in that beauteous raiment of the supernatural. To all who are born to life on earth she gives a second, supernatural kind of birth. She arms them with the Holy Spirit for the struggle against the implacable enemy. She gathers all Christians about her altars, inviting and urging them repeatedly to take part in the celebration of the Mass, feeding them with the Bread of angels to make them ever stronger. She purifies and consoles the hearts that sin has wounded and soiled. Solemnly she consecrates those whom God has called to the priestly ministry. She fortifies with new gifts of grace the chaste nupitals of those who are destined to found and bring up a Christian family. When as last she has soothed and refreshed the closing hours of this earthly life by holy Viaticum and extreme unction, with the utmost affection she accompanies the mortal remains of her children to the grave, lays them reverently to rest, and confides them to the protection of the cross, against the day when they will triumph over death and rise again. She has a further solemn blessing and invocation for those of her children who dedicate themselves to the service of God in the life of religious perfection. Finally, she extends to the souls in purgatory, who implore her intercession and her prayers, the helping hand which may lead them happily at last to eternal blessedness in heaven.

Perhaps others better versed in a preconciliar view can comment more positively, but the separation of “the Church” from “her” people seems a bit strange to my mind. The passage is poetic in presenting a great motherly love of the institution for people who seem to be quite separate from the Church. Little wonder that a “we are the Church” corrective has been so strong after the Council.

On the other hand, note the order of the sacraments as presented in this text. Baptism, then Confirmation, then Eucharist. “Extreme unction,” as it was known in the mid-20th century, is placed not with Penance, but with Viaticum at the end of life.

Mediator Dei on the Vatican web site.

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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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2 Responses to Mediator Dei 22

  1. FrMichael says:

    Good note on the separation of the Church and her people.

    Not surprised by the Baptism-Confirmation-Eucharist order: Pius X’s lowering of the age of First Communion and upsetting the order of the sacraments of initiation happened within the lifetime of Pius XII.

    Of course, Anointing and Viaticum are linked, as they are the Final Sacraments, then and now. Even though in practice with modern medicine c. 2013 Viaticum is more honored in theory than in practice.

  2. Ben Dunlap says:

    Seems more biblical than specifically preconciliar to me. Galatians 4:26: “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.”

    Worth noting that the clergy are also numbered among the children of the Church here. Whatever this metaphor means it applies to all Christians.

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