Well Said @ CA Catholic Daily

July 2, 2008

“A beautiful act of love”

The papal master of ceremonies explains how Pope Benedict XVI’s liturgical decisions are neither pre- nor postconciliar

“The pope does not put on Prada, but Christ,” said Fr. Guido Marini, the Holy Father’s master of ceremonies, in an interview that appeared in the June 26 L’Osservatore Romano. Marini was explaining Pope Benedict XVI’s decisions affecting the liturgy.

Marini said the pope’s restoration of the traditional Latin Mass and liturgy had a “precise, twofold intention.” The first, said Marini, was to make it “easier to reach ‘a reconciliation in the bosom of the Church’; and in this sense, as has been said, the motu proprio is a beautiful act of love for the unity of the Church.” The pope’s second aim “is that of fostering a mutual enrichment between the two forms of the Roman rite: in such a way, for example, that in the celebration according to the missal of Paul VI (the ordinary form of the Roman rite) ‘will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage.”

As for the pope’s celebration last January of Mass in the Sistine Chapel at the ancient altar, facing liturgical east, Marini explained that such a celebration “is not a matter of turning one’s back to the faithful, but rather of orienting oneself together with the faithful toward the Lord. From this point of view, ‘the door is not closed on the assembly,’ but ‘the door is opened to the assembly,’ and it is led to the Lord.”

According to Marini, kneeling for communion and receiving it on the tongue will become “a regular practice at papal celebrations.” The master of ceremonies noted that “the distribution of communion in the hand remains, from the juridical point of view, a dispensation from the universal law, conceded by the Holy See to the bishops’ conferences that have asked for it.” Benedict’s proposed practice at papal Masses “tends to emphasize the continued validity of the norm for the whole Church,” said Marini. Receiving on the tongue, he continued, “better highlights the truth of the real presence in the Eucharist, aids the devotion of the faithful, and makes it easier to enter into the sense of mystery. In our time, pastorally speaking, it is urgent to recover and emphasize these aspects.”

What of those who accuse Benedict of imposing “preconciliar models” on the Church? Terms like “preconciliar” and “postconciliar,” “it seems to me,” said Marini, “belong to an outdated language, and if they are used with the intention of indicating a discontinuity in the Church’s journey, I maintain that they are mistaken and typical of highly reductive ideological views. There are ‘old things and new things’ that belong to the treasury of the Church of all time, and must be considered as such.”

“Not all that is new is true, nor is all that is old,” said Marini. “The truth spans old and new, and it is for this that we must strive, without prejudice. The Church lives according to the law of continuity in virtue of which it recognizes development rooted in tradition.

“What is most important,” Marini continued, “is that everything work together so that the liturgical celebration truly is the celebration of the sacred mystery, of the crucified and risen Lord who becomes present in his Church, reenacting the mystery of salvation and calling us, in the logic of an authentic and active participation, to share to the full in his own life, which is a life given in love to the Father and to his brothers, a life of holiness.”

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