Report on 6th International Liturgy Conference (Part 2)

"50 Years of Sacrosanctum Concilium"

Dublin, (Zenit.org) | 1400 hits

Here is the second part of a two-part special report by William A. Thomas on the Saint Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy 6th International Liturgy Conference (Fota VI): 50 years of Sacrosanctum Concilium 1963-2013.

* * *

Cardinal Burke presented his talk by reflecting again on the primacy of God in the liturgy and that the importance of prayer should not be diminished in the understanding of the liturgy. The “Sacred liturgy should be rendered purer and the spiritual treasure offered within, be offered to the people of God-therefore let no one disturb it-let no one violate it. We are commanded to obey the Church’s laws and precepts and obliged to love the Church with Christ at its head said the Cardinal passionately. “Canon Law is the juridical structure of the Church, if we no longer respect it then we are in trouble, Cardinal Burke edified the delegates as he told them about the documents of the Council “no where it is articulated that the Code of Canon Law be usurped but that in fact all the documents refer to the upkeep of the Code. Further he stated that the Council never expected that Canon Law would be overlooked, he said, quoting from Sacra Disciplina Regis of Pope John Paul II (1983) who wrote “that the renewal of Christian living was the goal of the new Code of Canon Law-that is holiness of life. He went on to say that “the nature of Canon Law is derived from the Old Testament and to keep it allows us the freedom to love God and our neighbour.” Therefore he said that Canon Law should be observed because it is extremely necessary for the Church, it’s the “sacred power” in a way, of the Church-the visible manifestation of the norms of the Church in the administration of the sacraments. The Cardinal continued saying that “the lack of the proper place of Canon Law in the documents of Vatican II, in the general euphoria at that time gave the sense that we no longer needed Canon Law and we could do what we wanted as we now believed that we no longer suffered from Original sin-this was a very sad day for the Church,” he said.

Cardinal Burke then went on to speak about antinomianism or sense of lawlessness we find in the Church that creates a sense of uncertainty, especially when the euphoria manifested itself in the liturgy where many changes were abusive and violent. “What happened to sacred music? What happened to other parts of the mass,” he asked passionately-“there emerged a hermeneutic of discontinuity, a hermeneutic of rupture, a betrayal of the liturgy” he said. “The rupture was caused by the abandonment of any canonical discipline, the abandonment of catechesis, religious life, Catholic institutions and with it the sacred liturgy” he told the delegates. Explaining the student riots of the late 1960’s the Cardinal said that there was a “new age of freedom and love which had dawned on the Church, a sense of a free for all, which seems to have been the general consciousness at that time, and thus there was rebellion against all forms of authority in the world.”

His Eminence continued to stress the Jus Divinum in establishing the “right relationship” with God and knowing the “rights of God” especially in relation to the proper celebration of the liturgy. He said that there were three periods which were the subject of power in liturgical matters, there were firstly in the early Church, where there were different Rites, and these differed one to another according to what diocese you were in. The second period he said was from the Council of Trent to Vatican II when the power to intervene on liturgical matters rested with the Pontiff, and the third period was from Vatican II onwards when power in liturgical matters was returned to local bishops resulting in the loss of universality in the liturgy. “The whole notion of power is the key question that needs to be addressed” he said, and that that power must go back to the Pontiff. In concluding his talk Cardinal Burke reminded the priests that “the priest should lose himself in the holy sacrifice of the mass, he is not the protagonist, Christ is.

Professor Fr. Manfred Hauke of the Theological Faculty of Lugano presented his paper entitled “The Dogmatic Discussion on Concelebration from Sacrosanctum Concilium to the Present” He begins by stating thatThe Constitution on Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council enlarged the possibility of Eucharistic concelebration that was restricted to the newly ordained priests at their ordination and to the consecration of bishops, he said. Going deeper into the subject Hauke continued saying that “the starting point of this enlargement was the difficult experience with numerous Masses celebrated individually at international congresses and in great monasteries, but also the unity of Eucharist celebrations in the Ancient Church. Before the Council, Pope Pius XII clarified (in 1954 and 1956) that a priest celebrating or concelebrating the Holy Mass is operating in the person of Christ, which does not occur when he only assists at the Eucharist. For a valid sacramental consecration, the priest must pronounce the words of our Lord (so also the Holy Office, 1957). This practice (of sacramental and not merely ceremonial) concelebration, however, is extant only from the 8th century at Rome and from the 10th century at Constantinople in very rare cases. Systematical reflection on concelebration begins only in the Middle Ages and is focused on the possibility of such an act, affirmed by the authority of Pope Benedict XIV. During the Council and its preparation, practical aspects dominated the discussion. Before the beginning of Vatican II, the Congregation of Rites observed: “a new and careful historical and dogmatic investigation on the origin, the nature and the extension of the strictly sacramental concelebration would be necessary”. This problem is very serious because the enlarged practice would be “a notable change in the liturgical discipline of the Latin Church”. The Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Larraona, asked two declarations from the Holy Office: 1) about the value of the concelebrated Mass: if one Mass concelebrated by ten priests really has the same value as ten Masses celebrated by ten priests; 2) about the legitimacy of the idea that every concelebrant can receive an offering. These declarations never arrived.The Professor continuedThe final text of the Council on concelebration in SC 57f states that concelebration “remained in use to this day in the Church both in the east and in the west,” an historical affirmation which must be differentiated. The enlargement of concelebration is intended for very special occasions (such as Holy Thursday and conferences) and must be regulated by the ordinary who can permit it for other cases in monasteries and in the parishes. Each priest retains his right to celebrate Mass individually (though not at the same time in the same church as a concelebrated Mass nor on Holy Thursday). The preference for communal celebration expressed in SC 27 must be taken together with the note of the Conciliar Commission, that every Mass has in and of itself a public and social nature. This is true also if there cannot be present a number of the faithful (PO 13). PO 7 recommends concelebration “at times” together with the bishop. Vatican II did not resolve the debated question of stipends for concelebrated Masses nor did it go into depth on the topic of sacramental fruits of concelebration compared with Eucharistic Sacrifices offered up individually.

The “Ritus servandus” of 1965 provided that the number of concelebrants normally should not be over 50. The decree Ecclesiae semper of the Congregation of Rites in the same year mentions that in concelebration the priests operate together “one sacrifice in one sacramental action”, referring to the explanation of St. Thomas Aquinas, abandoning the precedent observation (during the preparation of Vatican II) that the concelebrating priests operate various sacrificial acts in the person of Christ. Concelebration manifests the unity of the priesthood, the sacrifice and the whole people of God. Benedict XVI poses critical questions on the validity of large-scale concelebrations (Sacramentum caritatis, 61; talk of February 7, 2008).

After the Council, various dogmatic problems were discussed: the possibility for a sacramental concelebration without pronouncing the words of Christ at the Last Supper, the significance of the extension of the hands in concelebration (indicative or epiclesis) and the validity of large-scale concelebrations, when the distance from the altar is very great. He went on to describe various positions taken by Karl Rahner and Gisbert Greshake on the one hand and the Thomists Joseph de Sainte-Marie OCD and Rudolf  Michael Schmitz, and a third position taken by Paul Tirot OSB and Philippe Gouyaud. (The full texts of all these talks will be published in book format)

American Robert L. Fastiggi who is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit gave the following paper entitled “The Mass as the Sacrifice of Christ and the Church according to Sacrosanctum Concilium” In his paper the Professor examines how Sacrosanctum Concilium reaffirms the traditional Catholic Dogma of the mass as an unbloody re-presentation of Christ’s bloody sacrifice at Calvary. The final paper of the Conference was given by Father Sven Leo Conrad from the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter; the paper was entitled “Liturgical Act or Liturgical Celebration? Some Considerations in the Light of Sacrosanctum Concilium and Presbyterorum Ordinis. In beginning his introduction Fr. Sven begins with “In a one-sided negative report on a Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form at the German Katholikentag 2012 one could hear the following characterisation: “The priest stands with his back to the people. The chants and the texts are in Latin. This is not a common celebration of the faithful. It is the Sacrifice of the Mass at which the faithful assist.” Prejudices and misunderstandings towards the Gregorian Mass are today often founded on the following position: this liturgy is not concerned with common celebration. The faithful are excluded from the essential action. In order to adequately respond to this we must first clarify the concept of liturgical celebration. Then we will contrast this with another, namely the concept of liturgical act. After a look at the conciliar decree Presbyterorum Ordinis we will conclude with an application of these concepts to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, he said. Having explained how the rite developed over the 19th to the 20th centuries when Fr. Sven said that almost everything was focused on correctness the liturgy was almost controlled by rubricanism. To combat this he said that “What the Liturgical movement strived to do by reaching back to the celebratory character of the Sacred Liturgy was to surmount both rubricanism and legalism. We could say that de facto what was sought was a return to the “pristina norma Patrum”, even in an entirely on principle understanding of the liturgy. Here must not be overlooked that the concept of liturgical celebration stands at the roots of the Roman Rite. The more recent Magisterium in the 20th century has systematically appropriated this concept. Already Pius X in Tra le sollecitudini speaks of the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries. The term then often surfaces in the encyclical of Pius XII Mediator Dei, as also in the liturgical Constitution of the Second Vatican Council Sacrosanctum Concilium. Although the Magisterium with Pius XII had overcome a one-sided external view of the liturgy, there were still pushes in this direction, he said, Continuing he said that “ these initiatives were lastly aimed at preventing a theological qualification of the Sacred Liturgy as such, as it was seen only as an external aid to the workings of Grace and in no way as a salutary activity in itself. Josef Pieper has made an important contribution to the fundamental understanding of the relationship between worship and celebration. What is decisive for him is the realization that every true feast is finally based on an “affirmation of the world” which must result in the recognition and praise of the Creator. Precisely the Sacrifice of Christ, and thus the centre of Christian worship, takes place “in the middle of Creation, which finds in this Sacrifice of the God-Man its' highest affirmation and fulfilment” he said.

The Conference concluded and his Eminence imparted his blessings on all.

* * *

William A. Thomas is a Roman Catholic Theologian, Journalist and Writer. He has lectured in the United States, Ireland, Rwanda and Peru and is a frequent writer on Catholic matters and broadcaster, based in Galway, Ireland.