Desiderio Desideravi 31: The Distraction of Non-Acceptance

Referring to the Pope Paul VI quote in yesterday’s post

31. In this letter I cannot dwell with you on the richness of this passage’s various expressions, which I recommend to your own meditation. If the liturgy is “the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed, and at the same time the font from which all her power flows,” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 10), well then, we can understand what is at stake in the liturgical question.

The next part lays out the Holy Father’s awareness of the so-called “wars” of liturgy, noting the reality of differences on many levels: not just personal taste (though that comes into play), but also stretching into how believers accept and express the Church in aspects of culture, theology, etc..

It would be trivial to read the tensions, unfortunately present around the celebration, as a simple divergence between different tastes concerning a particular ritual form. The problematic is primarily ecclesiological. I do not see how it is possible to say that one recognizes the validity of the Council — though it amazes me that a Catholic might presume not to do so — and at the same time not accept the liturgical reform born out of Sacrosanctum Concilium, a document that expresses the reality of the Liturgy intimately joined to the vision of Church so admirably described in Lumen Gentium. 

A reiteration of last year, with no change:

For this reason, as I already expressed in my letter to all the bishops, I have felt it my duty to affirm that “The liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.” (Traditionis custodes, art 1)

Pope Francis outlines his problem with those who have a problem with the modern Roman Rite:

The non-acceptance of the liturgical reform, as also a superficial understanding of it, distracts us from the obligation of finding responses to the question that I come back to repeating: how can we grow in our capacity to live in full the liturgical action? How do we continue to let ourselves be amazed at what happens in the celebration under our very eyes? We are in need of a serious and dynamic liturgical formation.

The amazement of which he speaks is Jesus Christ himself. Earlier this week on another social media platform I was discussing the Roman Missal and its Lectionary with a few prominent names in the TLM/reform2 firmament. The words “ugly” and “disease” were applied to the liturgy. Broadly applied, not some fringe puppet or clown liturgy. I think the caricature applied to liturgy from anywhere in Catholicism might indicate the complainers don’t see and don’t look for the centrality of Christ. I think a lot of that happens in the traditionalist camp. Reformers don’t escape as pure. Whether people make an idol of either the notion of reform or tradition, they can easily miss the essential purpose of liturgy. And what is that? Our sanctification at the “summit” (Cf. SC 10) through our encounter with the Lord.

The full document, copyright © Dicastero per la Comunicazione – Libreria Editrice Vaticana is here on the Vatican site.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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