Re-Reading Sacrosanctum Concilium: Article 10

As Rita Ferrone has powerfully reminded us, article 10 has great claim to be considered one of the doctrinal high points of the Liturgy Constitution: the liturgy is at once “summit and source” of life in Christ.

Vatican Website Translation:

10. Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper.

The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with “the paschal sacraments,” to be “one in holiness” [26]; it prays that “they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith” [27]; the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way.

Latin text:

10. Attamen Liturgia est culmen ad quod actio Ecclesiae tendit et simul fons unde omnis eius virtus emanat. Nam labores apostolici ad id ordinantur ut omnes, per fidem et Baptismum filii Dei facti, in unum conveniant, in medio Ecclesiae Deum laudent, Sacrificium participent et cenam dominicam manducent.

Vicissim, ipsa Liturgia impellit fideles ut “sacramentis paschalibus” satiati fiant “pietate concordes”(26); orat ut “vivendo teneant quod fide perceperunt”(27); renovatio vero foederis Domini cum hominibus in Eucharistia fideles in urgentem caritatem Christi trahit et accendit. Ex Liturgia ergo, praecipue ex Eucharistia, ut e fonte, gratia in nos derivatur et maxima cum efficacia obtinetur illa in Christo hominum sanctificatio et Dei glorificatio, ad quam, uti ad finem, omnia alia Ecclesiae opera contendunt.

Slavishly literal translation:

Nonetheless the Liturgy is the acme/summit to which the Church’s action strives and likewise the fountain/source from which its power arises. For apostolic works are ordered to it so that all, made God’s children through faith and Baptism, might gather together into one, might praise God in the midst of the Church, might participate in the Sacrifice and might eat the Lord’s supper.

In turn, the Liturgy itself drives the faithful so that filled “with the paschal sacraments” they might be made “unified in dutifulness” [Roman Missal in use at the time of the Council: Postcommunion prayer of the Paschal Vigil and of the Lord’s Resurrection]; it prays that “in living they may cling to what they have perceived by faith” [Roman Missal in use at the time of the Council: Opening Prayer of the Mass of Tuesday within the Octave of Easter]; in fact the renewal of the Lord’s covenant with human beings in the Eucharist draws the faithful into Christ’s urgent love and sets them aflame. Therefore from the Liturgy, especially from the Eucharist, as from a fountain, grace is distributed into us and with greatest effectiveness that in Christ the sanctification of human beings and the glorification of God is obtained, toward which, as toward an end, all other works of the Church strive.

Liturgy is “summit” insofar as other ecclesial actions are ordered to it, as was intimated in article 9. The purpose of preaching faith and conversion to non-believers is so that they may enter the community of the faithful through faith and Baptism; church membership, in turn, is oriented toward praising God ecclesially (which may be a reference to the Liturgy of the Hours, and the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals other than the Eucharist) and celebrating the Eucharist (using the categories of the 1958 Instruction, with external, internal and sacramental participation).

Liturgy is “source” insofar as it is genuinely sacramental, i.e., a sign system that effectively causes what it signifies. There are spiritual consequences to liturgical worship; as J. D. Crichton writes, “The message is clear: liturgical worship that is not translated into life and action is vain and incurs the strictures of Christ upon the Pharisees….” A modified formula from Pius X’s Tra le sollecitudini in which liturgy is described as (simultaneously) the glorification of God and the sanctification (and edification) of the faithful appears embedded in the final sentence of the article, reinforcing the notion that all of the Church’s activity derives from and is ordered to declaring/manifesting/celebrating God’s glory and receiving/modeling/witnessing to human transformation in holiness.

While commentators are free to go in any direction they wish, it might be fruitful to consider if and how, over the last fifty years, this teaching has been communicated, to what extent a genuinely liturgical spirituality animates our congregations, and what modifications of this teaching (if any) we might offer in the light of fifty years experience.

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28 comments

  1. Fr. Joncas: […] it might be fruitful to consider if and how, over the last fifty years, this teaching has been communicated, to what extent a genuinely liturgical spirituality animates our congregations […] [my ellipses]

    I have noticed over the years that the following ideas from SC 10 has sometimes proven divisive: Nam labores apostolici ad id ordinantur ut omnes […] Sacrificium participent et cenam dominicam manducent. [my ellipsis] Fr Joncas translates this as “[f]or apostolic works are ordered to it so that all […] might participate in the Sacrifice and might eat the Lord’s supper.” [my addition, ellipsis]

    I would only add to Fr. Joncas’s excellent translation that the id (“it”) in the above phrase likely refers to culmen, “summit”, in the previous sentence. This ostensibly minor point is in fact quite important: apostolic works are necessarily an integral part of the culmination of the public works of the Christian people in assembled worship.

    As Fr. Joncas observes from Pius X’s Tra le sollecitudini and from J.D. Crichton, “all of the Church’s activity derives from and is ordered to declaring/manifesting/celebrating God’s glory and receiving/modeling/witnessing to human transformation in holiness.” Some Catholics, and not infrequently Catholics attached to the EF and its spirituality, overemphasize the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist at the expense of the banquet. SC explicitly reminds us that both aspects stand on equal footing. I do wonder if the great stress some EF adherents place on the holy sacrifice is the result of a false identification of versus populum celebration with the notion of sacrificial banquet.

  2. While commentators are free to go in any direction they wish, it might be fruitful to consider if and how, over the last fifty years, this teaching has been communicated, to what extent a genuinely liturgical spirituality animates our congregations, and what modifications of this teaching (if any) we might offer in the light of fifty years experience.

    The answer to both of these is predominantly No, alas. This teaching has not been communicated and a genuinely liturgical spirituality mostly does not animate our congregations.

    It has not been communicated because it has not been understood by those who ought to be communicating it. The majority of those presiding, as well as those “attending”, still view the liturgy as a source for individual devotional graces. One has to fight really hard to inculcate a sense of the Body of Christ celebrating, rather than a spiritual gas station where you just plug in and your own personal needs get a top-up.

    For me, this is closely related to Romano Guardini wondering if modern human beings were actually capable of genuine liturgical celebration any longer — by which I think he meant that we have largely lost the connection between liturgy and life, and between, I would suggest, liturgy and community. We can probably blame Trent for a lot of that. Defending a fortress Church against the wiles of Protestantism led us away from seeing liturgy as nourishing and sustaining the Body (with a capital B).

  3. The question posed (rhetorically) by Guardini was about whether ‘modern’ man could inhabit a ritual culture which would act as a symbolic enactment of human dwelling in the universe.

    Four hundred years of empirical science, a philosophical tradition based on the exclusivity and supremacy of individual consciousness, the prevailing image of an impersonal universe with no special place for humanity, may have pulled the rug from under any ability we might have had to act ritually in any meaningful sense.

    It’s not just ‘liturgy and community’ that has lost its relationship. It’s much bigger than that. Ritual action is predicated on the notion that human activity impacts on the universe to influence it in humanity’s favour. Rituals in older societies were what kept the whole of being in being, as it were.

    Christians gathered for a sacred meal which they understood as somehow enacting/replicating/modelling/making possible their life both as a commonwealth and, equally important, as being lived out in the light of a dynamic divine framework whose structure had been determined by God from all eternity. It is still possible to see the traces of this idea in the prayers of the Missal.

    Whether all this can mean anything nowadays is what is open to question.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #1:

      I apologize for characterizing EF adherents in general as interested in separating the sacrifice of the Mass from the eucharistic banquet. This attitude is by no means exclusive to EF adherents. Nevertheless in my opinion, any consideration of SC 10 requires a consideration of the tendency of a number of Catholics to focus on the consecration as the “high point” of the Mass.

      @Alan Griffiths – comment #3:

      The comments for Nina Lasceski’s PTB article “Ministry of the Eyes” [23 October 2012] reveal a great interest in and desire for interpersonal contact in gesture and verbal statement during Mass. You write Alan about the collapse of ritual in the (post)modern age,

      Christians gathered for a sacred meal which they understood as somehow enacting/replicating/modelling/making possible their life both as a commonwealth and, equally important, as being lived out in the light of a dynamic divine framework whose structure had been determined by God from all eternity.

      I am curious to know, in your opinion, the way in which Romano Guardini understood this interpersonal emphasis within the context of Catholic liturgy in a post-Enlightment, existentially agnostic or even atheist worldview. I have not (yet) read Guardini, so perhaps this would be an interesting start to my study.

    2. @Alan Griffiths – comment #3:
      “Ritual action is predicated on the notion that human activity impacts on the universe to influence it in humanity’s favour. Rituals in older societies were what kept the whole of being in being, as it were.”

      I appreciate Alan Griffith’s thoughtful comments, and would like to respond to the one above.

      Whatever one might say about the difficulty of modern persons engaging in liturgy, this notion — at least as it is stated here — seems to me like magical thinking: religion as a means of manipulation and control. In contrast, Catholic theology has for centuries affirmed that it is God who holds the universe in being — a strong concept, embracing both continuity and change. Is this not more to the point of divine worship?

      I can’t believe that those who affirm that neither God nor the universe is dependent upon our performance of rituals are ipso facto unable to perform Christian liturgy in an authentic manner. For heaven’s sake, the Old Testament offers numerous instances when God spurns ritual offerings, sacrifices, etc. and the world has kept on turning.

      If modern science has helped us to see that neither we, nor anything we do ritually, can make the world go ’round, perhaps it is good for our humility.

      Christians nevertheless praise God for creation and pray for the coming of God’s kingdom, in faith, and are more deeply rooted in their relationship with God for having done so. Countless people are capable of doing that, and more, together in liturgy.

      One more thought, concerning the “divine framework… from all eternity” of which Alan Griffiths speaks:

      What has become problematic to modern people, I would submit, is not that there are eternal stakes involved in worship nor even divine election and providence, but that what is eternal is being confused with what is historical, and God’s providence is being confused with specific decisions arising from a hierarchical model that is itself outdated and in need of change.

      1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #19:

        I can’t believe that those who affirm that neither God nor the universe is dependent upon our performance of rituals are ipso facto unable to perform Christian liturgy in an authentic manner. For heaven’s sake, the Old Testament offers numerous instances when God spurns ritual offerings, sacrifices, etc. and the world has kept on turning.
        If modern science has helped us to see that neither we, nor anything we do ritually, can make the world go ’round, perhaps it is good for our humility.

        Rita, in all humility and ignorance of theological nuance, it seems to me the last portion of your quote essentially denies the efficacy of the processes of canonization of saints, which by all accounts (by those who believe the process and tradition as credible) is a rigorous and meticulous one. I’m not saying that the communion and/or intercessory factors of our theology of saints is tantamount to ritual “making the world go round,” but its implications of “crossing some sort of cosmological veil” need to be taken into consideration. Or we simply must stop proclaiming the Credo, no?

      2. @Charles Culbreth – comment #24:
        Hi Charles,

        Thanks for your comment. The difference between magic and the supernatural is that magic is something we control and use, for our purposes. Intercession and even supernatural intervention (miracles) on the other hand, which is what I think you are pointing to in speaking about the saints, is always toward God’s purposes and beyond our control or manipulation. Most of the novena prayers and intercessory prayers to the saints encourage us to accept whatever God gives us, even if it be different from what we asked for. So I don’t see such rituals as “manipulating” divine power, as magic seeks to do, but rather humbly praying for what we desire, with the understanding that God’s in charge.

        Does this help? I don’t deny the intercessory role of the saints, or the possibility of miracles (interventions in the natural order). All I am saying is that it’s God who holds the universe in being, not our rituals.

  4. And yet, and yet… To take a more optimistic viewpoint, there is something – only vestigial, maybe – in people’s continuing desire to celebrate the most important things in life. Events still dominate people’s calendars: Christmas, birthdays, weddings and, for the younger generation, ‘gigs’. None of them make much rational sense, and the ways in which people celebrate them even less sense.

    We talk about ‘celebrating’ Mass – and so we should, given the fundamental place of the Paschal mystery in Christian faith. Unfortunately, the manner of many celebrations belies the title. Reverence and celebration don’t sit easily together. This is nothing new: David scandalised the people by dancing before the Ark. Guardini entitles two successive chapters of his ‘The Spirit of the Liturgy’ as ‘The Playfulness of the Liturgy’ and ‘The Seriousness of the Liturgy’. And it takes a good deal of faith to see the liturgy in terms of celebration: it’s much easier to play the half-committed semi-passive semi-participant and simply go through the rubrical requirements half-heartedly.

    Total participation in the liturgy, immersion in the Paschal mystery, is a great deal more demanding than we might care to admit. At root is the problem of integrating a sense of wonder at the divine (transcendence) with the realisation that we are being drawn into it, that it is happening within us (immanence). Let go, let God.

    1. @John Ainslie – comment #4:
      It is true of course that people do ‘celebrate’ things. That’s not the point. It’s what is lacking in such celebrations that is of interest in this discussion.

      There is no cosmic or supra personal or (significant) wider societal element any more in our ‘celebrations’ – particularly the domestic ones.

      A good example of this is the way people want to ‘personalise’ funerals these days, usually to the detriment of the Church’s Liturgy. The personal, the interior, is prized over the public and the ritual.

      Its this interior preference that makes ritual, in the ancient sense, problematic. So what have we left? Precisely that aspect of personal devotion and spirituality with which ‘liturgists’ seem to be so uncomforable.

      Paul Inwood’s remark about Trent is good. Trent and Renaissance Catholicism reconstructed the narrative, making what had been a ritual community into an idelogical one. ‘Liturgy’ had to find a new role. Post Tridentine catholicism was very different in substance to what had gone before. One is tempted to wonder whether the religious ferment of the 16th century did not in fact produce two ‘christianities’ the Protestant and the Catholic.

      Alan Griffiths.

      1. @Alan Griffiths – comment #6:
        Whatever may or may not have happened in the 16th century, one of our avenues (maybe the best) to reconnecting the modern generation to the tradition of ritual celebration must be on the basis – even vestigial, as I have suggested – of societal celebrations today. Not all are based on an individual. If ‘celebrating the liturgy’ – a predominantly post-Vatican II term – cannot be reinvested with meaning, then we have a real problem.

  5. Cardinal Godfried Danneels recently gave a speech in praise of Vatican II and its liturgical reforms while still recognizing some of the problems that other commenters have mentioned above:

    “Often today there is resistance to repetitive and stereotyped repetition of the same words and gestures. Moreover, they are not always immediately understandable and they are not productive and efficient. The ritual, on the other hand, is not utilitarian, but it’s goal is itself. The Eucharist, for example, is a meal but a cultic and sacrificial meal not intended to satisfy our physical hunger. Trivialization or omitting certain ritual aspects, deprives the celebration of its reference to the underlying mystery. Besides, symbols are always meager: just think of “symbolic” punishment.

    A similar problem is that of balance between horizontality and verticality. There is sometimes a danger that the Eucharist gets reduced to just the meal dimension. But it is also a sacrificial meal. Of this there are no more examples in our current culture. The celebration facing the people suggests in the first place the local community and puts less focus on God. But the Eucharist is both: a convivial meal and an act of worship and sacrifice. Much depends on the attitude of the celebrant. Eye contact should be there for the celebrating community, but first to God.”

  6. The celebration facing the people suggests in the first place the local community and puts less focus on God.

    I don’t like to disagree with Cardinals, but this remark highlights the difficulty envisioned by SC. We just heard how God is present in the liturgy, and here the liturgy is portrayed as where we come to God and go from God, yet Daneels still separates “the local community” and God. Mr Griffiths echoes this divide with comments like “no cosmic or supra personal…element” as if the personal is not cosmic.

    I’d suggest that the whole point of liturgy is the opposite, that the cosmic is personal. God became human, and is present when the Church prays and sings. Searching for the cosmic as if it is far off runs counter to the nature of liturgy presented here, as where God comes to meet us.

    Obviously these things are close to each other, as God cannot come to us without first being seen as away in some sense. Still, if we define God primarily as away, we should not be surprised if we end up with a liturgy that does not find God near to us.

  7. Paul Inwood writes: For me, this is closely related to Romano Guardini wondering if modern human beings were actually capable of genuine liturgical celebration any longer — by which I think he meant that we have largely lost the connection between liturgy and life, and between, I would suggest, liturgy and community.

    The problem is NOT modern man, or at least contemporary Americans.

    Fact 1 Religious organizations strengthen community bonds: 88% agree

    Fact 2. Religious organizations play important role in helping the poor: 87% agree

    Fact 3 Existence of God: 80% have never doubted the existence of God

    Fact 4 Religious Affiliation: 79% report a religious affiliation

    Fact 5. Religious organizations protect and strengthen morality: 76% agree

    Fact 6 Meaning and purpose of life: 67% report thinking about this often.

    Fact 7 Religious organizations contribute to the solving of social problems:65% agree

    Fact 7. Daily Prayer: 58% of Americans report praying daily

    Fact 8. Importance of Religion: 58% of American say religion is very important

    Fact 9. Importance of community of shared values: 49% say very important

    Fact 10 Religion is too focused on rules: 51% agree

    Fact 11 Religion is too concerned about money and power: 51% agree

    Fact 12 Religion is too involved in politics: 46% agree

    Fact 13 Worship attendance: only 37 report attending at least weekly.

    Data from Pew (10-9-2012) conducted June 28-July 9, 2012, 2973 adults, confidence interval 2% .

    So Americans certainly see religion as being important and related to life in general and community in particular.

    Americans also believe in God, think about the meaning and purpose of life and pray daily.

    These self reports are not just giving socially acceptable answers, since about half of the respondents are critical of religion for being too focused on rules, money, power and politics.

    However worship comes in at the bottom of the list. So the problem is not the people. They see themselves as being related to God, and religion as being related to community and life. The problem is in our worship

    As my favorite Vibrant Parish Life Study says: people put liturgy first and community second in importance but they gave both mediocre marks for being well done.

    We need to stop blaming the people and the society, and start facing the real problems. We need to ask the people for their advice; they are not the problem. They are (or at least I am) exasperated that pastoral staff are not listening.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #9:

      The links (html and pdf) for the report

      http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx

      http://www.pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Religious_Affiliation/Unaffiliated/NonesOnTheRise-full.pdf

      The above data is all well established by many studies; I just have the current Pew data in front of me because I am preparing a post submission on the “new” part of the data which is its focus on the “None” or “Religiously Unaffiliated”

    2. @Jack Rakosky – comment #10:

      The problem is NOT modern man, or at least contemporary Americans.

      The problem IS modern Roman Catholics, including Americans, many of whom are still trying to celebrate in a preconciliar mode.

      Despite all the facts you adduce, Jack, which I have no dispute with, I think the liturgy is still the problem area.

      Many churches are full of collections of individual “I”s who have still not grasped (a) that liturgy is a communal activity, not an occasion for topping up on individual grace, and, following on from that, (b) that liturgy is a place where you go to give something at least as much as, if not rather more than, to get something. There is a disconnect between many people’s undoubted generosity and community action outside the liturgical context and their lack of generosity and reciprocity within the liturgical context.

      It’s not their fault. We were taught for years that the purpose of ‘church attendance’ was the salvation of my own soul, and “damn everyone else”. As long as I got to heaven, that was all that mattered. Many are still in that mentality. The concept of us holding each other’s hands along the road that we tread together, of being concerned about the salvation of other’s souls before our own, is one that has not yet been taken on board by many. That is what I meant by the liturgy and life thing. We need our lives to be woven into the fabric of the lives of others, and to be able to integrate all the joys and woes of each other’s lives into the celebration. Put another way, we need to care about each other more, within the liturgy not just outside it.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #13:
        Paul if what you say is true, basically it is about control and evidently God doesn’t control any of us or how we worship whether communal or privately, EF or OF, Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox. The Church proposes but does not impose, so to speak and that graciousness is taken from our Savior. So there is a lot of flexibility in our congregations which is comprised of the so-called drag collection of the parable and that’s the way it was, is and will be, world without end. Amen.

    3. @Jack Rakosky – comment #10:
      Just to say I at least am not ‘blaming’ anyone. One cannot blame tigers for being tigers or an octopus for being an octopus.

      My sense is that Guardini was onto something, which neither ‘meaningful’ nor’orthodox’ liturgies can ameliorate.

      That’s all from me on this!

      Alan Griffiths.

  8. Would agree with Paul Inwood. Per M. Joncas: “….Liturgy is “source” insofar as it is genuinely sacramental, i.e., a sign system that effectively causes what it signifies. There are spiritual consequences to liturgical worship; as J. D. Crichton writes, “The message is clear: liturgical worship that is not translated into life and action is vain and incurs the strictures of Christ upon the Pharisees”

    Would suggest that some comments reveal that the theology, sacramental economy, and ecclesiology of Vatican II continues to be *unrealized*. We know that historically it takes roughly 100 years for a council to be absorbed and integrated into the life of the church – during that time, we experience resistance, push back, abortive efforts to implement change, etc. The council fathers supported this SC paragraph buttressing it with a theological understanding that Jesus Christ is the *sacrament* of the Trinity, that *sacrament* lives on in the sacrament of the church; that grace builds on nature, that creation exists in a both/and; not an either/or which had existed for centuries and prolonged the Manichean divisions between grace and nature, vertical and horizontal, meal and sacrifice.

    From “Vatican II Fifty Years Later” by Paul Collins: “We also need to recall that Vatican II remains unfinished business. In his recently translated Council Journal Yves Congar says that he felt that historically Vatican II came twenty-five years ‘too early’, that only the youngest bishops had imbibed the renewed theological, historical and scriptural studies that underpinned the conciliar documents. The result: the Council was forced to compromise on several important issues and we are still working through the consequences of those compromises. From today’s perspective it is also significant that Congar thought the Council “had stopped half-way on many questions. It began a task that is not completed.” Karl Rahner has commented that while ecumenical councils sometimes resolve theological or faith issues from the past, they are almost always the beginning of new discussions within the Church.”

    Unfortunately, we are currently experiencing a *reaction* out of fear and defensiveness – a fear that still separates God and heaven from human and creation – as if God/heaven are physical geographic locations. It expresses itself by not understanding the theology of the council fathers – rather, it dismisses it as *disruption* and appeals again to an over-emphasis on the *vertical*, *sacrifice*, *individualistic grace mentality*. It skips over the newer historical and theological understandings that throughout human history, cultures and religions celebrated sacrifice through a meal (they are not opposed or either/or) or that there is some type of wall between the vertical and horizontal (as if the horizontal is less than the vertical when, in fact, the council fathers understood that sacrament means symbols/signs through human creation – the essence of *incarnation*. This reaction, in fact, takes us back to an earlier understanding that actually misses the very heart of the *incarnation* or, at least, seems to distrust it.

    If this is the most important and central paragraph of SC, would suggest along with Paul Inwood that the current hysteria over the *correct hermeneutic* misses the point. Again, from Paul Collins: “This re-interpretation first really surfaced in the early 1990s. It originated within an intra-mural Italian theological dispute and in an attempt to lessen the influence of the extraordinary Vatican II theologian, Giuseppe Dossetti. He had been a partisan against the Fascists and Nazis during World War II, a prominent Christian Democrat politician, then a priest, monk, and the man who “has most inspired Italy’s Catholic culture during the second half of the twentieth century” (Sandro Magister). He had a profound influence on Vatican II as peritus to Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro (Bologna) and inspired the magisterial History of Vatican II edited by Giuseppe Alberigo, founder of the Institute for Religious Studies in Bologna, the ‘Bologna School’. (The English editor of the History is Joseph Komonchak of the Catholic University in Washington, D.C.). Alberigo’s History has been accused of giving the Council a pronounced ‘progressive bias’ by elements in the Italian hierarchy opposed to the influence of Dossetti, such as Cardinal Camillo Ruini, John Paul’s Vicar for Rome diocese. The History is caricatured as representing a so-called “hermeneutic of rupture” interpretation of Vatican II. This has now become the ‘accepted dogma’ in Vatican and hierarchical circles. It is, in fact, complete nonsense.”

    If “liturgy is genuinely sacramental, then there are spiritual consequences to liturgy”……..the current liturgical reactions from new translation to re-emphasis on ordained appear to want to limit or carefully define that SC statement in ways that impact the *mystery* of the church and church as *Koinonia – community*. It seeks to re-establish *old* understandings that lived in an either/or world rather than a grace builds on nature world. There is no concept of *metanoia*.

    Interesting scriptural story from this Sunday’s gospel: http://www.ncronline.org/blogs/spiritual-reflections/blind-beggar-sees

    Central point that applies to article 10:

    “The historical Jesus of Nazareth was all about seeing. His ministry revolved around a conviction that God’s kingdom is close at hand, right before our eyes. God is working effectively in our everyday lives — something most people never seem to notice. They presume God is securely ensconced in heaven, not active here on earth. That’s why Jesus demands a repentance of those who receive this good news. They must go through a metanoia, a complete change of their value system.

    Notice what Jesus says to Bartimaeus. We’d logically expect him to command, “Receive your sight!” or something similar. But instead, he simply tells him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”

    In a sense, Jesus is saying, “I don’t have to give you your sight; your faith has already done that. Faith in me enables you to see what I see.”

    Mark provides us with a glimpse of the perfect disciple. Bartimaeus, Mark tells us, “followed him on the way.” That way leads to Jerusalem, to suffering, death and resurrection.

    Whoever thought a blind beggar would actually show us what to pray for? It’s all a matter of noticing what’s before our very eyes.

  9. Perhaps it is worthwhile to recall in this discussion the insight of Alexander Schmemann (and others) that there is a necessary ‘attitude of eschatological event’ both for the whole assembly and the ministers too each time the Divine Liturgy/Mass is celebrated. This is certainly true for all the sacraments — but especially for the celebration of the Eucharist. The ‘eschatological event’ understanding draws together the fountain/source in face of the summit — its fruitfulness flows from that ‘end times’ appreciation of the sacrificial banquet participated in. It also puts on a different plane the questions of ‘horizontal’ &/vs. ‘vertical’ which rile up in so many of the arguments and misunderstandings on this subject (from both the ‘tradi’ side and the rest of the Church). This attitude should be made ‘explicit’ regularly in the preaching as well as the actual ‘doing of the work’ of worship. It provides a real entry into the ‘mysteries re-called and celebrated’.

    1. @Philip Sandstrom – comment #15:
      I think that Philip’s comment is on target. While we are taking each article in turn, it’s good to reflect that this particular one comes after the article dealing with eschatology.

      The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is an eschatological theme in the New Testament that continues to be implicit in these texts (and many others) relating to the celebration of liturgy. The choice of the expression: “font from which all her power flows” seems to me to be related to the nexus of symbolism surrounding the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures. Both “set on fire” and “grace poured out like a fountain” are phrases redolent of New Testament eschatology. They are “high-sounding” as a result, activating anticipation. Part of the “language event” of the Council is that it inspired and called people to anticipation of the future — with the important role of the Spirit in continuing to lead the Church into God’s future.

  10. Count me as a believer in optimism, still.

    “A good example of this is the way people want to ‘personalise’ funerals these days, usually to the detriment of the Church’s Liturgy. The personal, the interior, is prized over the public and the ritual.”

    These “people” are quite often the clergy. I’ve noticed over the past twenty years that there is far less of this in weddings and funerals, the points of cultural intersection for the less-churched and the liturgy. Priests, on the other hand, and especially more with this younger generation (but not exclusively) seem more than willing to bring their own personal sensibilities into the liturgy. If last generation’s big error was the talk show host, this generation has something, if not as entertaining, something just as dominant.

    I agree it’s time to stop blaming people. They get the blame. And they will tune out the blamers–as they probably should. They get enough blame from bosses, coworkers, and others in our culture of complaint society. They want good examples, not more words, more formation, and all. And it will take a deeper dip into the arts to achieve this. Plus a dollop of compassion.

    Over the past thirty years, I get the sense that clergy and liturgists have largely been paying attention in class, but that their experiences with superior liturgy have been impoverished. Maybe the average parish leader pulled a C-plus in liturgy, and what we have in many places is C-plus students who, after a number of years, never quite got the grasp of the finer points. What we get sometimes instead is the red-n-black meme. When all else fails, go to the cookbook, I guess. What we really need is more inspiration, and less rationalist formula.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #16:
      I’ve never had the impression that the “red-n-black meme” was about rationalist formula at the expense of inspiration. Read the writings of those who push for “say the black, do the red” and it’s all about good music, beautiful buildings and art, meaningful ceremony, and good preaching all built on a solid foundation of the Roman Missal celebrated well.

      I tire of reading mischaracterizations of “say the black, do the red.” The PrayTell version seems to bear no resemblance to the real thing.

  11. In parishes where great effort is put into the formational process and rites of Christian initiation of adults, SC 10 is lived out–to varying degrees of success, of course, but those would still be degrees of “success.” The recovery of celebrating the Triduum as a three-in-one celebration at the very heart of parish life is an another example of successfully appropriating SC 10. These are two examples of the liturgy being the high-point (summit) of parish life as well of the source of the parish’s apostolic energy, especially in those parishes that understand the making of new Christians as meaning making new active and intentional disciples of Jesus who work to change the every day worlds they live and love in. It is also especially true in those parishes that connect their liturgical celebrations of Triduum with acts of justice and charity in the wider world–the collecting of food for the hungry and other gifts for the poor at Holy Thursday in response to the ritual mandatum, taking to the streets Good Friday afternoon to proclaim the gospel of the passion in outdoor ways of the cross or even peaceful protests at sites where Christ’s body in the world continues to be broken and nailed to trees of systemic injustice; then and only then regrouping in the parish church for the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. RCIA and Triduum truly order parish life where they are taken seriously, in parishes that dedicate substantial time, effort, personnel (paid or volunteer) and yes, money, to their implementation. Of course more can and needs to be done. But some great strides have been made in the last 50 years.

    1. @David Philippart – comment #21:
      David – excellent commentary and my experience and observations across multiple parishes (either strong RCIA or minimal RCIA) support your comments.

      IMO, the Triduum becomes the parish liturgical highpoint which continues to live in the parish; is consistently invoked almost every week-end; has RCIA members involved throughout the Easter Season and beyond; and can significantly impact how the parish and its communal liturgy sees itself.
      Examples are RCIA members are incorporated into the parish fall Community Week-end; they become active in parish organizations and report back to the parish, etc.

  12. In the original post, Michael Joncas said:

    “A modified formula from Pius X’s Tra le sollecitudini in which liturgy is described as (simultaneously) the glorification of God and the sanctification (and edification) of the faithful appears embedded in the final sentence of the article, reinforcing the notion that all of the Church’s activity derives from and is ordered to declaring / manifesting /celebrating God’s glory and receiving / modeling/ witnessing to human transformation in holiness.”

    It’s a noteworthy fact about the Constitution that it quotes scripture and the fathers (and even, here, the church’s prayer) far more often than it quotes papal statements. The implicit echoes of Pius X here (or Pius XII in art. 7) ought not to obscure the more interesting fact that the authors of CSL did not make them explicit (!), but rather drew attention to the content of the Church’s prayer itself as a means of legitimating and providing a foundation for the message.

    Taken as a whole, the Constitution can be read by an ecumenical audience much more easily because of such choices. Its affinities with texts that either arise out of the corpus of Scripture or from the first millenium, in other words, is a significant fact about it. Here, the liturgical prayer texts that are quoted very easily are traceable to New Testament theology. Scholastic categories and vocabulary are not cast aside, but clearly they are not the only means by which the truth about Liturgy can be spoken.

  13. This article also seems to me to establish an INTRINSIC reason for the Sunday obligation. If the liturgy is summit and source, its necessity is evident, and steady recourse to it respects its very nature in the life of the Church.

    Whatever one might say about the pros and cons of requiring people to come to Mass on pain of mortal sin, the juristic view of the Sunday celebration was clearly the reigning one. CSL here proposes an alternative vision of the necessity of the celebration — one that springs from its nature rather than from its context or from governance.

    A symptom of the failure to adequately internalize this teaching is visible in the widespread incomprehension of why Mass attendance is necessary.

  14. This article also seems to me to establish an INTRINSIC reason for the Sunday obligation. If the liturgy is summit and source, its necessity is evident, and steady recourse to it respects its very nature in the life of the Church.

    A symptom of the failure to adequately internalize this teaching is visible in the widespread incomprehension of why Mass attendance is necessary.

    Again, the problem is not the people or even their understanding. The Pew data for White Catholics is almost identical to that for Americans @Jack Rakosky – comment #10:

    When 55% of Catholics pray daily, they are doing their best (without knowing it) to have a Divine Office in their lives. Like the early monks they often use scripture, psalms, and what ever prayers they know. For many the focus of their prayer is on the needs of others. They are replicating “the prayers of the faithful” integral to the Divine Office as well as the Mass.

    We should be telling them they are good prayerful Catholic Christians . That when they pray using scripture, the psalms, and use whatever church hymns and prayers they know, they are praying the prayer of the Church. That when two or more of them pray together Christ is there. That when they pray alone, as Jesus did many times, their prayer is the prayer of Christ.

    Often we denigrate their prayer as private devotion and individualistic piety, even though most priests and religious say the Divine Office in private.

    When we remove liturgy from the daily prayer life of people, we divorce liturgy not only from their lives and their relationships with other people but also divorce liturgy from their prayerful relationship to God. No wonder many do not see much connection between their daily Christian lives and the weekend worship.

    Half of Catholics, like half of Americans, are critical of religion because it focuses too much on rules, money, power and politics. “Sunday obligation” reeks of rules, money, and power. LOL

  15. Well, admittedly Rita, we’re on some tenuous existential and semantical territory. If we accept your premise that we are merely relegated to observer status as regards accepting God’s role in a perceived miracle, I’m still somewhat ill at ease from two two perspectives. First, we may as well admit our intercessory prayers are in vain and useless, and either pack it up and go home or keep vigil out of love ( a miracle itself.) Or second, we actively petition within the tradtion, humbly accept the outcome, but acknowledge that outcome which is otherwise inexplicable to natural causality is an act of recognition, acknowledgment and thanks to God for such graces.
    I suppose that what I’m saying amounts to a presumption that God created homo sapiens (in this context, what a lovely term) in order to BE in relationship, before conception, in this life and in the next; which also in our best analysis is an amazing and total act of love. That relationship doesn’t solely exist via ritualization, yes. But acts of prayer aren’t just individual and do encompass the validity of ritual, particularly when they lead to that metanoia Todd, Bill and many of us speak about at the missio.
    This isn’t about magic or manipulation of the supernatural as I see it. It is about not reducing our liturgy to a sort of “God (as we thought of Him) is dead, but we now know we’re His hands, voice and collective heart.”
    Nope, can’t go there, for one.

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