DPPL 56-57: Cautions on Piety

STA altar at night smallA lack of trust in the liturgy has potential consequences:

56. Theoretical or practical contempt for the Liturgy inevitably leads to a clouding of the Christian understanding of the mystery of God, Who has mercifully deigned to look down on fallen (humankind) and bring (us) to Himself through the incarnation of His Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Such fails to perceive the significance of salvation history and the relationship between Old and New Testaments. It underestimates the saving Word of God which sustains the Liturgy, and to which the Liturgy always refers. Such a disposition attenuates in the faithful any realization of the importance of the work of Christ our only Savior who is the Son of God and the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Eventually, it leads to a loss of the sensus Ecclesiae.

My sense is that most people attached to the devotional life to the exclusion of the liturgy have more personal and less theological reasons for being as they are. But these cautions in DPPL 56 are well-considered, especially the potential impoverishment of a grounding in the Bible or a proper focus on Christ as the center of Christian faith.

More cautions, including from the CDF:

57. Any exclusive promotion of popular piety, which should always be seen in terms of the Christian faith (Cf. DCCL 9), can encourage a process that eventually leads the faithful away from Christian revelation and encourages the undue or distorted use of elements drawn from cosmic or natural religions. It can also give rise to the introduction into Christian worship of elements taken from pre-Christian beliefs, or that are merely cultural, national or ethnic psychological expressions. Likewise, the illusion can be created that the transcendent can be reached through unpurified religious experiences (Cf. CDF, Lettera “Orationis forma” ai Vescovi della Chiesa cattolica su alcuni aspetti della meditazione cristiana (15.10.1989): AAS 82 (1990) 362-379), thereby promoting the notion that salvation can be achieved through (one’s) own personal efforts (the constant danger of pelagianism should never be forgotten), thereby compromising any authentic Christian understanding of salvation as a gratuitous gift of God. Indeed, the role of secondary mediators, such as the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels and Saints, or even national saints, can surpass that of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one Mediator, in the minds of the faithful.

That last note about perspective is worthwhile to recall: Christ is the supreme mediator. The liturgy, when celebrated well, communicates that we can indeed go to Christ, and there foster the personal relationship that enables grace to work at its fullest.

The full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, is online at the Vatican site.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to DPPL 56-57: Cautions on Piety

  1. crystal says:

    It’s so interesting the balancing act the church aims to pull off between personal spirituality and church stuff. Philip Endean SJ had an interesting past article that touched on this – “Ignatius and Church Authority” … http://www.theway.org.uk/back/s070Endean.pdf
    I think people interested in spirituality are actual more likely to read the bible than those who only go to church services. And it seems in some ways like the church is co-opting the personal piety angle with all the recent eucharistic adoration.

  2. crystal says:

    My first blogging experience was being part of a group scripture study blog with some Quakers – we read different gospels and other bits of the NT and made comments and links :) I get the feeling, and I could be wrong, that many Catholics don’t actually read the bible or read much about the historical Jesus, but just notice the readings for the day in church?

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