Varietates Legitimae 17: A Bit of East and West

Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople, as well as Milan, Gaul, Britain, the Iberian Peninsula …

17. The creation and the development of the forms of Christian celebration developed gradually according to local conditions in the great cultural areas where the good news was proclaimed. Thus were born distinct liturgical families of the churches of the West and of the East. Their rich patrimony preserves faithfully the Christian tradition in its fullness. (Catechism 1200-1203) The church of the West has sometimes drawn elements of its liturgy from the patrimony of the liturgical families of the East. (Cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 14-15) The church of Rome adopted in its liturgy the living language of the people, first Greek and then Latin, and, like other Latin churches, accepted into its worship important events of social life and gave them a Christian significance. During the course of the centuries, the Roman rite has known how to integrate texts, chants, gestures and rites from various sources (32) and to adapt itself in local cultures in mission territories, (33) even if at certain periods a desire for liturgical uniformity obscured this fact.

32. Texts: cf. the sources of the prayers, the prefaces and the eucharistic prayers of the Roman Missal; chants: for example the antiphons for Jan. 1, baptism of the Lord; Sept. 8, the Improperia of Good Friday, the hymns of the Liturgy of the Hours; gestures: for example the sprinkling of holy water, use of incense, genuflection, hands joined; rites: for example Palm Sunday procession, the adoration of the cross on Good Friday, the rogations.

33. Cf. in the past St. Gregory the Great, Letter to Mellitus: Reg. XI, 59: CCL 140A, 961-962; John VIII, bull Industriae Tuae, June 26, 880: Patrologia Latina, 126, 904; Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Instruction to the Apostolic Vicars of China and Indochina (1654): Collectanea S.C. de Propaganda Fide, I 1 Rome, 1907, No. 135; instruction Plane Compertum, Dec. 8, 1939: AAS 32 (1940), 2426.

The Roman Rite has enriched itself, to the benefit of Roman Catholics all over the world, because of this openness to absorb artistic aspects from local cultures. It is lamentable that such openness is no longer welcome.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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