Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

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Tom_Neal
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Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by Tom_Neal » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:47 pm

The much-anticipated 'Sacra Liturgia USA' conference in New York began yesterday. Robert Cardinal Sarah, who was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by Pope Francis last November, wrote a message to the conference delegates which can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php? ... 8780424256

In particular, Cardinal Sarah spoke the importance of liturgical sanity to any renewal in the Church:

2. Because the Sacred Liturgy is truly the font from which all the Church's power flows, as the Second Vatican Council insists (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10), we must do everything we can to put the Sacred Liturgy back at the very heart of the relationship between God and man, recognising the primacy of Almighty God in this privileged and unique forum in which we, individually and ecclesially, encounter God at work in our world. One cannot encounter God, my brothers and sisters, without trembling, without awe, without profound respect and holy fear. This is why we must rank what Cardinal Ratzinger called "the right way of celebrating the Liturgy, inwardly and outwardly" first amongst our concerns (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, Ignatius Press, San Francisco 2000, p. 9).


Cardinal Sarah continues with an important revelation:

3. When the Holy Father, Pope Francis, asked me to accept the ministry of Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, I asked: "Your Holiness, how do you want me to exercise this ministry? What do you want me to do as Prefect of this Congregation?" The Holy Father's reply was clear. "I want you to continue to implement the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council," he said, "and I want you to continue the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI."

My friends, I want you to help me in this task. I ask you to continue to work towards achieving the liturgical aims of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, I) and to work to continue the liturgical renewal promoted by Pope Benedict XVI, especially through the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis of 22 February 2007 and the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of 7 July 2007. I ask you to be wise, like the householder in St Matthew's Gospel, who knows when to bring out of his treasure things both new and old (cf. Mtt: 13: 52), so that the Sacred Liturgy as it is celebrated and lived today may lose nothing of the estimable riches of the Church's liturgical tradition, whilst always being open to legitimate development (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 23).

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by mcb » Thu Jun 04, 2015 10:07 am

Amen to all that, Tom. You could take para. 3 and see it as an abnegation of the idea of a so-called 'reform of the reform'. Is that project now defunct, do you think?

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by Tom_Neal » Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:12 am

"I want you to continue to implement the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council," he said, "and I want you to continue the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI."


I think it's important to note these two points are made together. This confirms to us that both the Holy Father and Cardinal Sarah view the liturgical reforms (or 'reforms of the reforms,' if you will) of Pope Benedict XVI as being in the true 'spirit of the council.' In other words, reversing and tackling head-on the errors and abuses of the last forty years, which were not legitimate readings of the documents. The Holy Father knows he is not anywhere near as great an authority on liturgy as his predecessor, but even he acknowledges that the perceived 'spirit' of the council is in direct conflict with Catholic teaching. Thus "to implement the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council" is to "continue the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI."

Along with many others, I do indeed think the 'reform of the reform' is now defunct. I think many prominent commentators, such as those writing for the New Liturgical Movement blog, have come to realise that the crisis in the Church cannot be solved simply by improving the aesthetics of the modern liturgy. The crisis in the Church is doctrinal.

That said, one could say the 'reform of the reform' under Pope Benedict was at least partially successful, because we are starting to see a real renewal in the Church in some quarters, thanks (in part) to an improved sense of the liturgy. (Just look at the priests coming out of seminary now, compared to those ordained twenty years ago; the difference is astounding.) But my point is this. While liturgy is central to the Catholic faith (it is the "source and summit" of the Christian life), it can go only so far without a renewed understanding of, belief in, and zeal for the truths which underpin it. An improved liturgy at Mass is useless if it is not supported by genuine belief in the theology surrounding it: the Real Presence, the Mass as Sacrifice, the priest in persona Christi, etc. Until the modern Church truly returns to these truths, a 'reform of the [liturgical] reform' will be almost useless. (Indeed, countless examples have shown that good liturgical practice always follows naturally from proper catechesis; for if one truly has the Catholic faith, bad liturgical practices are impossible.)

Ultimately, this is the problem with drastic changes to the liturgy (and certainly true of the liturgical reforms of the 1970s): if you change the liturgy, you seriously risk either changing, or appearing to change, the faith. Indeed, in the course of liturgical reform, some are likely to lose their faith altogether (and, following the 1970s, many did). This is because the Catholic faith and the liturgy have always been bound together in absolute harmony: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi (how we worship reflects what we believe and determines how we live). As I say: if you dismantle one, the others soon come crashing down too.

In this sense, then, the 'reform of the reform' was never really going to be successful for as long as it didn't tackle head-on the major doctrinal crises in the Church.

[Moderated]

Praise God the Church of 2015 is very different to the Church of 1985; just imagine what it will look like by 2045! Who knows? By the centenary of the Second Vatican Council we might actually be somewhere close to the true 'spirit of Vatican II'.

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by Southern Comfort » Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:23 am

Tom_Neal wrote:
"I want you to continue to implement the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council," he said, "and I want you to continue the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI."


I think it's important to note these two points are made together. This confirms to us that both the Holy Father and Cardinal Sarah view the liturgical reforms (or 'reforms of the reforms,' if you will) of Pope Benedict XVI as being in the true 'spirit of the council.'


I don't think it does anything of the sort. If Francis had wanted to say that, he'd have said something like "I want you to continue to implement the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council by continuing the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI." But Francis is a reconciler. He is trying to keep everyone on board, because he wants people to work together, not in opposition. That little word "and" is very significant.

It has to be said, however, that Cardinal Sarah could have said that Francis told him almost anything and no one would know whether it were true or not. The Cardinal is quite capable of putting his own spin on things, just like anyone else.

Tom_Neal wrote:In other words, reversing and tackling head-on the errors and abuses of the last forty years, which were not legitimate readings of the documents.


Many of the errors and abuses occurred in the first years after Vatican II and then disappeared. They were not particularly widespread, and were due to people experimenting with a new-found freedom. If you want to see liturgical abuses on a grand scale, just go to Rome and walk into almost any church for Mass. There you'll see abuses that most of us have not even thought of.

Tom_Neal wrote:An improved liturgy at Mass is useless if it is not supported by genuine belief in the theology surrounding it: the Real Presence, the Mass as Sacrifice, the priest in persona Christi, etc. Until the modern Church truly returns to these truths, a 'reform of the [liturgical] reform' will be almost useless.


If you are seriously suggesting that most Catholics don't believe in those things, you're either living in cloud-cuckoo land or are being gratuitously insulting to myriads of faithful Catholics.

Tom_Neal wrote:if you change the liturgy, you seriously risk either changing, or appearing to change, the faith.


Curiously, the Council Fathers at Vatican II did not think that when they mandated liturgical change in SC, paras 21, 25, 31, 33, 35, 36 (2), 37-40, 50-55, 57-58, 62-82, 87-94, 107-111, 117, 124, 128.....

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by alan29 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:50 pm

[Moderated. The offending remark to which this was a response has been removed, so I've also removed the response.
- Casimir]

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by Southern Comfort » Mon Jun 08, 2015 9:59 am

[Moderated. Ditto for this one.
-C.]

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by alan29 » Mon Jun 08, 2015 2:55 pm

I think the cardinal was pointing to the fact that under Benedict there is a new a la carte element to our liturgy. It's the spelling out that church provides something for almost everyone, and the age of culture wars with the liturgy as the main weapon of choice should now be put behind us.

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by Tom_Neal » Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:17 pm

alan29 wrote:I think the cardinal was pointing to the fact that under Benedict there is a new a la carte element to our liturgy. It's the spelling out that church provides something for almost everyone, and the age of culture wars with the liturgy as the main weapon of choice should now be put behind us.


That's an interesting viewpoint, Alan. Can I ask how you arrived at that conclusion? To my mind, Pope Benedict was aiming at quite the opposite!

I, too, look forward to a time when the sacred liturgy is not used as a "weapon," as you put it, in "culture wars" between different factions of the Church. Indeed, I, like all of us, look forward to a time when there are no 'factions' within the Church to speak of. But we're certainly not there yet.

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by mcb » Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:24 pm

Tom_Neal wrote:
alan29 wrote:I think the cardinal was pointing to the fact that under Benedict there is a new a la carte element to our liturgy.


That's an interesting viewpoint, Alan. Can I ask how you arrived at that conclusion? To my mind, Pope Benedict was aiming at quite the opposite!


It seems to me that this is an inescapable consequence of Summorum Pontificum. It plainly wasn't Pope Benedict's intention that everyone should revert to the old rite - he didn't himself, after all - so it follows that he intended there to be a range of options where previously there wasn't. And that the factor governing choice here was one of taste?

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by alan29 » Tue Jun 09, 2015 4:08 pm

mcb wrote:
Tom_Neal wrote:
alan29 wrote:I think the cardinal was pointing to the fact that under Benedict there is a new a la carte element to our liturgy.


That's an interesting viewpoint, Alan. Can I ask how you arrived at that conclusion? To my mind, Pope Benedict was aiming at quite the opposite!


It seems to me that this is an inescapable consequence of Summorum Pontificum. It plainly wasn't Pope Benedict's intention that everyone should revert to the old rite - he didn't himself, after all - so it follows that he intended there to be a range of options where previously there wasn't. And that the factor governing choice here was one of taste?

Precisely so.

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by Southern Comfort » Tue Jun 09, 2015 4:44 pm

mcb wrote:
Tom_Neal wrote:
alan29 wrote:I think the cardinal was pointing to the fact that under Benedict there is a new a la carte element to our liturgy.


That's an interesting viewpoint, Alan. Can I ask how you arrived at that conclusion? To my mind, Pope Benedict was aiming at quite the opposite!


It seems to me that this is an inescapable consequence of Summorum Pontificum. It plainly wasn't Pope Benedict's intention that everyone should revert to the old rite - he didn't himself, after all - so it follows that he intended there to be a range of options where previously there wasn't. And that the factor governing choice here was one of taste?


Yes, I agree totally with mcb, especially as Benedict is on record as saying that SP was only intended to apply to a small number of people who did not wish to change to the new rite. In a brief interview on plane on his way to France, 12 September 2008, having been asked what he would say to those in France who fear that SP is a step backward with regard to the great insights of Vatican II, BXVI replied:

The fear is unfounded because this Motu Proprio is simply an act of tolerance, with a pastoral aim for people who were formed in this liturgy, love it, know it, and wish to live with this liturgy. It’s a small group [my emphasis] because this presupposes a formation in Latin, a formation in a certain culture.


The problem has been that, ever since, that small group has been telling the rest of us that they're right and we're all wrong. This is what was predicted to happen, and indeed it did, with unpleasant and unnecessary consequences in the life of the Church.

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by Tom_Neal » Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:08 pm

mcb wrote:
Tom_Neal wrote:
alan29 wrote:I think the cardinal was pointing to the fact that under Benedict there is a new a la carte element to our liturgy.


That's an interesting viewpoint, Alan. Can I ask how you arrived at that conclusion? To my mind, Pope Benedict was aiming at quite the opposite!


It seems to me that this is an inescapable consequence of Summorum Pontificum. It plainly wasn't Pope Benedict's intention that everyone should revert to the old rite - he didn't himself, after all - so it follows that he intended there to be a range of options where previously there wasn't. And that the factor governing choice here was one of taste?


Ah, we're talking at cross-purposes. You are speaking, I think, to the choice between the two forms of the Roman Rite. I was speaking to the manner in which the Ordinary Form ought to be celebrated. Glad we cleared that up!

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by Tom_Neal » Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:11 pm

mcb wrote: It plainly wasn't Pope Benedict's intention that everyone should revert to the old rite - he didn't himself, after all


It's a small point, but actually Pope Benedict has long been devoted to the traditional Latin Mass. There are many examples of him celebrating High Mass according to the 1962 Missal during his years as an archbishop and Cardinal (just do a quick Google images search). It is, however, true that the Holy Father didn't ever celebrate the Extraordinary Form in public during his pontificate.

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by Tom_Neal » Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:47 pm

Southern Comfort wrote:Benedict is on record as saying that SP was only intended to apply to a small number of people who did not wish to change to the new rite. In a brief interview on plane on his way to France, 12 September 2008, having been asked what he would say to those in France who fear that SP is a step backward with regard to the great insights of Vatican II, BXVI replied:

"The fear is unfounded because this Motu Proprio is simply an act of tolerance, with a pastoral aim for people who were formed in this liturgy, love it, know it, and wish to live with this liturgy. It’s a small group because this presupposes a formation in Latin, a formation in a certain culture."


Southern Comfort, I'd love to see the original transcript, audio, or video footage of this interview. So far as I can see, there is only one source for this quotation, from Paul Inwood commenting on a post on the blog Pray Tell. [moderated]

Southern Comfort wrote:The problem has been that, ever since, that small group has been telling the rest of us that they're right and we're all wrong. This is what was predicted to happen, and indeed it did, with unpleasant and unnecessary consequences in the life of the Church.


I think this is a gross exaggeration. In my experience, this "small group" (which, actually, really isn't that small) are loyal and obedient Catholics who love the Church, and who respect and obey the hierarchy. Who, exactly, predicted Summorum Pontificum would have "unpleasant and unnecessary consequences in the life of the Church"? And what exactly are these "consequences," anyway?

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Re: Robert Cardinal Sarah's message to 'Sacra Liturgia' 2015

Post by mcb » Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:37 pm

Tom_Neal wrote:It is, however, true that the Holy Father didn't ever celebrate the Extraordinary Form in public during his pontificate.

It's fascinating and puzzling that he didn't. (To me, anyway; I know I should get out more.) Why do you think this was, Tom?

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