I saw this link introduced at PrayTell, on an address on liturgy by the Holy Father at a conference on liturgy.
Pope Francis said, “there is still work to do in this direction, in particular rediscovering the reasons for the decisions made with the liturgical reform, overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions, and practices that disfigure it.” He said that this is not a question “of rethinking the reform by reviewing its choices, but of knowing better the underlying reasons [for it]… [and] of internalizing its inspirational principles and of observing the discipline that governs it.”
I would like to see a full translation of the address. I often find small nuggets the press might miss. I think some of my colleagues would be dismayed at the implied criticism of “partial receptions.” I think liturgical reform in many places, even self-styled progressive places, might be more “partial” than some think.
The second of three main points dealt with this notion:
By its nature, the liturgy is “popular” rather than clerical; it is an action for the people, but also by the people.
A number of my colleagues across the spectrum would openly or internally dissent from this. We place a value on skill, competence, propriety … doing things right, in other words. However we determine what’s right.
There’s also a strong streak of professionalism in the modern liturgy. This expectation also comes from the people, not just clergy and musicians. People expect good preaching and music, and most know they have to hire well in the latter and get a good nod from the bishop in the former. Or good luck in either.
But popular liturgy? Isn’t a priest necessary? I remember some back-and-forth with a prominent priest-blogger about this notion nearly twenty years ago. My sense today is that the Holy Spirit is not confined by the human correctness or incorrectness of ritual in this world. The mission of the Church is to make disciples. Liturgy might help that. It could hinder. My take on Pope Francis’ address is that we need to take more time to explore how liturgy can and should make disciples, how it furthers the mission of Christ.
A lot of focus on the red-n-black might make for good liturgy. But it doesn’t guarantee discipleship. I think we need to go a bit deeper than that.