Monday, November 19, 2012

On the Occasion of the Upcoming Anniversary of the Implementation of the Roman Missal

Of three things in life we can be certain: death, taxes, and liturgical changes.

That might sound cynical, but if we were to take a step back in time and look upon each of the past six decades, we would notice many changes surrounding the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Say, for example, you were to attend Holy Mass in 1960 and then attend in 1970, you would notice quite a few changes-- the most changes of any decade. Likewise, if you were to then attend in 1980, you would notice a few more (but, honestly, not nearly as many as before). Some things would change if you were to attend in 1990 and also in 2000, but those things that changed would not be quite as noticeable. Skip ahead to 2012, and you would see more differences.

And, of course, the degree of changes and the speed to which things were changing would depend on where you lived and which bishop pastored your diocese.

In recent years, liturgical matters have been moving-- in comparison with how ecclesial things often move-- at lightning speed. Last year, at the beginning of Advent, you may recall that a few words of the Holy Mass changed. Time flies.

(And if you have a particularly cognizant pastor, more than just "And also with you" changed too.....)

During this Year of Faith, it is important to kind of "catch up" on what the Church has been saying about the liturgy during the past seven years. I pick seven because the year 2005 begins Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate-- a pontificate which has done much with regards to faith and worship.

Recently in St. Louis, Most Reverend Peter Elliott, auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, Australia, gave a lecture on current liturgical matters. He provides a fine summary of current thought, trends, and the new liturgical movement happening today. To those who have no care for the Holy Mass, these matters might seem trivial. But for those who truly believe that at the Mass we find the "source and summit" of the Christian faith, such matters might be something worth becoming acquainted. 

Bishop Elliott's quite readable and heavily footnoted lecture can be found here. If you do not have time to read it all, I would humbly submit the following line as the golden nugget of his lecture:

"The hermeneutic of continuity means that we should interpret the Second Vatican Council as part of the continuous growth of the living tradition of the Church, that is, only in continuity with all other Councils, not as a sharp break with the past. [Pope Benedict XVI] thus rejects the distinction between “pre-conciliar” and “post-conciliar” Catholicism."

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