Varietates Legitimae 20: A Necessary Discernment

Summing up Chapter I:

20. The challenge which faced the first Christians, whether they came from the chosen people or from a pagan background, was to reconcile the renunciations demanded by faith in Christ with fidelity to the culture and traditions of the people to which they belonged.

And so it will be for Christians of all times, as the words of St. Paul affirm: “We proclaim Christ crucified, scandal for the Jews, foolishness for the pagans” (1 Cor. 1:23).

The discernment exercised during the course of the church’s history remains necessary, so that through the liturgy the work of salvation accomplished by Christ may continue faithfully in the church by the power of the Spirit in different countries and times and in different human cultures.

How would you sum up the first twenty sections of Varietates Legitimae? My sense is that the liturgy must utilize a familiar cultural language in such a way that does not compromise the Gospel. At the same time, the liturgy must be a means of engaging and challenging the non-believer, the neophyte, and the Christian to continue in openness to metanoia, to change and conversion.

Over the next several sections, we’ll see how the Church approaches inculturation in liturgy and what sort of ground will make for a fruitful harvest in this area.

About catholicsensibility

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