Saturday, 20 July 2013

What is liturgy?

There is a useful interview with Dom Alcuin Reid on the Sacra Liturgia Conference up on Catholic World News.

In it he attempts to put Professor Rowland's controversial comments into perspective, but also provides some useful general points on the nature of liturgy.

Reid on Rowland

On Dr Rowland he suggested that the video of her comments on EF attendees was rather taken out of context, but the essential point she made about the ghetto mentality was valid:

"Professor Rowland made a powerful argument for the role of the usus antiquior—the older liturgical rites—in the New Evangelization, pointing out their value as an antidote to the sterile rationalism of the culture of modernity and as at least a partial answer to the hunger of the post-modern generations for an immersion in a liturgical tradition which is oriented to God and eternity. “The usus antiquior should be a standard element of the cultural capital of all Latin Rite Catholics since it so effectively resists secularism and satisfies the post-modern hunger for coherent order, beauty, and an experience of self-transcendence,” she asserted.

Professor Rowland, who has known and appreciated these rites since her youth, challenged some of the “practices and attitudes” that can deter others from coming to do so. A media interview recently took parts of her nuanced argument about this out of context and caused some controversy. But her point is valid: the riches of the older liturgical rites will remain largely untapped if we who know and treasure them behave like members of a sect or perpetuate a cultural, social, or ideological ghetto. The usus antiquior is too potent a connection with Jesus Christ, too important a basis for Christian life and mission, indeed for the New Evangelization, to be occluded by the limitations and even wounds of some which, given the appalling treatment encountered by many attached to these rites, are understandable, certainly, but not always helpful. Ironically some of the reactions to Professor Rowland’s assertion of this problem proved her point. We need to move beyond this sort of thing."

The nature of liturgy

Dom Alcuin makes a number of helpful general points on the liturgy.

He notes the problem of archeologism and dependence on the moving consensus of scholars - as opposed to the force of tradition - in the idea that liturgy can be constructed, that resulted in particular features of the Novus Ordo Mass that have no actual basis in the practice of the early Church such as Mass facing the people and Eucharistic Prayer II.

And he also makes the point that

"...the sacred liturgy is the continuing salvific action of Christ in his Church in which we participate by means of our baptism and give Almighty God the worship that is his due. The liturgy is not about us, as Cardinal Ratzinger once said, but about God."

His comments reflect of course, the conservative take that takes a rather overly positive view, from a traditionalist perspective, of the intentions of Vatican II and of the work of some twentieth century liturgical scholars (such as Louis Bouyer).  Nonetheless, it is an interview worth reading.

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