Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Three cheers for Benedict and the Church of Rome!

Read the whole thing here.
In his powerful pre-Christmas address to the curia, Benedict XVI dedicated a passage to the synod of bishops on the Eucharist, which was held in the Vatican last October.

The pope expressed his appreciation of the fact that “there is a reawakening in the Church of the joy of adoring the risen Lord present in the Eucharist flesh and blood, body and soul, divinity and humanity.”

[…] he contrasted with this a tendency that arose after the council, a tendency he sees as negative:

“In the period of liturgical reform, the Mass and adoration were often seen as conflicting with one another: according to a widespread objection at the time, the Eucharistic bread was given to be eaten, not contemplated.”

This tendency has left its mark on how the liturgy is celebrated in many places. And it still finds significant proponents.

[…] among the new movements that have arisen in the Catholic Church, the Neocatechumenal Way is the one that goes the farthest in introducing innovations to the celebration of the Mass. In the Neocatechumenal Way, communion is taken while seated around a large square table, with a large loaf of bread that is divided among the participants and wine that is passes from hand to hand and is taken in large swallows.

But communion is not the only area in which there is a departure from the traditional liturgy. There are significant innovations in other parts of the Mass.

For example, the
readings from the liturgy of the Word are commented upon by the catechists of the group, who make lengthy “admonitions” followed by “resonances” from many of those present. The priest’s homily is hardly distinguished, or not distinguished at all, from the rest of the comments.

The times and places for the Mass are also unusual. The Neocatechumenals do not celebrate their Masses on Sunday, but on Saturday evening, in small groups and
separate from the parish communities to which they belong.

[…] Benedict XVI has written the last word on all of this.

In mid-December, the founders and directors of the Neocatechumenal Way […] received a two-page letter from cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, with a list of “decisions of the Holy Father” which they must obey.

[…] Of the six points detailing the pope’s directives, only one permits the Neocatechumenals to continue what they are doing. This regards placing the exchange of peace before the offertory, a traditional practice in the Christian liturgy which is still in use today, for example, in the Ambrosian Rite celebrated in the archdiocese of Milan.

All the other points require the Neocatechumenal Way to eliminate a large portion of its liturgical innovations.

[…] And it’s coming to an end for the liturgical abuses practiced throughout the Church. In this regard, pope Joseph Ratzinger’s document in conclusion of the synod of the Eucharist will be of great interest.

Although this particular case seems to be a response to extreme abuses, one of the things that Catholic faithful seem to be expecting from Pope Benedict is the "reform of the reform" of the Catholic liturgy to fix the manifold problems and excesses produced by "the spirit of Vatcan II" (as opposed to the documents of Vatican II). It will be interesting to watch the restoration and recovery of Roman Catholic ritual over the next few years. The 1979 ECUSA Rite II seems to be very similar to the current English version of the Roman mass, which has come in for a lot of criticism. Perhaps the time of "dumbing down" is coming to an end.