Liturgiam Authenticam 5

After a few days of interruptions, I think I can return to regular daily posts on LA for the foreseeable future.

Be advised, Rome has no ordinary rite:

5. Indeed, it may be affirmed that the Roman Rite is itself a precious example and an instrument of true inculturation. For the Roman Rite is marked by a signal capacity for assimilating into itself spoken and sung texts, gestures and rites derived from the customs and the genius of diverse nations and particular Churches – both Eastern and Western – into a harmonious unity that transcends the boundaries of any single region.[Varietates Legitimae 17, GIRM 397] This characteristic is particularly evident in its orations, which exhibit a capacity to transcend the limits of their original situation so as to become the prayers of Christians in any time or place. In preparing all translations of the liturgical books, the greatest care is to be taken to maintain the identity and unitary expression of the Roman Rite,[SC 38, GIRM 397] not as a sort of historical monument, but rather as a manifestation of the theological realities of ecclesial communion and unity.[Pope Paul VI, Address to the Consilium “for the implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy”, 14 October 1968: AAS 60 (1968) 736.] The work of inculturation, of which the translation into vernacular languages is a part, is not therefore to be considered an avenue for the creation of new varieties or families of rites; on the contrary, it should be recognized that any adaptations introduced out of cultural or pastoral necessity thereby become part of the Roman Rite, and are to be inserted into it in a harmonious way.[VL 36, also GIRM 398]

I really like these expressions of high ideals. There is a healthy pride in knowing that one’s rite has incorporated the Ambrosian, Gallican, Sarum, and other contributions. There might be more pride if the Roman Rite were always open to the stellar contributions of spiritual and liturgical guides from outside central Italy. Without such contributions, Rome tends to a certain spiritual imperialism–not at all in keeping with the legacy of its premier saint/apostle/founders and certainly not congruent to the Gospel.

That said, I can appreciate a high standard for inclusion as Roman Catholic liturgy struggles to catch up with four centuries of stasis and a world that’s moving a good deal faster than most people can catch their breath.

LA restates the principle laid down in VL, that the purpose of liturgical translation/inculturation/reform is not new rites and a splintering of Catholicism, but a more universal and catholic expression of Roman liturgy that reflects its global reach. Again, high ideals to be excited about. But are we on the road to achieving them?

About catholicsensibility

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