The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments is holding a plenary session in February 2019, as Pray Tell reported. Pray Tell has learned that the proposed topic for this plenary session is:
The Liturgical Formation of the People of God.
It’s a rich topic with many aspects, and the treatment of it might extend in several possible directions.
The wording of the topic suggests a commitment to the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, which emphasized that the church is the entire “People of God.” As the Vatican’s International Theological Commission affirmed in 1984,
‘One can say, indeed, that the expression “people of God” has come to stand for the ecclesiology of the Council.”
As for “liturgical formation,” it is, and no doubt always will be, an urgent imperative. It is a timely topic especially a half century after the Second Vatican Council
The CDW plenary session is taking place nearly exactly fifty years after the release in 1969 of the rite of Mass reformed according to the wishes of the Second Vatican Council. And while the reformed rites have been implemented everywhere, no one could honestly claim that the rites have been fully appropriated and internalized by the entire Church. We are not yet a ritual people who live for and live from the rites, who see the rites as our own action, as the expression and the cause of our deepest beliefs and convictions. The liturgy is not yet the communal school of prayer it is meant to be.
This isn’t to cast blame on anyone. It is simply to note that fully inculturating the rites, building up a church formed by the rites, is a monumental task – much more monumental, one senses, than the Council fathers realized.
On the one hand, there is our checkered history of 1000+ years of highly clericalized liturgy which was hardly an act of the entire people of God. A traditional distortion this deeply rooted is not turned around overnight. (And readmitting the celebration of the unreformed “Tridentine” liturgy which does not reflect the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council tends to impede us from the necessary work of figuring out how to celebrate the reformed rites more adequately.)
On the other hand, the work of appropriating the reformed rites is taking place within the highly challenging context of rapidly advancing secularism. Very strong social currents make it difficult for us to “perform the liturgical act,” as Romano Guardini famously put it. And for those given to the lazy habit of confusing correlation and causation, the liturgical reform is held responsible for those social trends which would have been at work quite apart from anything the church did or didn’t do the last half century.
Pope Francis has said that we have implemented half of the Second Vatican Council and now must implement the other half. I oftentimes think that this applies especially to the liturgical reform. We have the rites – now we have to learn what to do with them.
Liturgical formation of the people of God – it’s an extremely important topic. I’m delighted that it is the topic of the CDW’s plenary session.
What aspects of the topic would you like to see treated? Where do you hope the discussion goes?