This morning the Pope met with the students and teachers of the Pontifical Liturgy Institute. So far the text of his discourse is only available in Italian.
Unsurprisingly the early coverage (for example here and here) is on the Holy Father’s comments on how liturgical renewal “scandalized closed-minded people,” where he compares the rejection in some quarters of the liturgical renewal of Vatican II with the liturgical renewal of Pius XII in his youth.
However, I do not think we need to reflect again on the controversies over the use of earlier forms of the Roman Rite. Here I propose that liturgists would be better served by reflecting on the first part of his discourse where he talks about active participation. While we are still waiting for an official translation, here is my poor translation:
[The first dimension that I want to underline that comes from the Council’s drive for the renewal of liturgical life is]formation to live and promote active participation in liturgical life. The in-depth and scientific study of the Liturgy must propel you to foster, as the Council wanted, this fundamental dimension of Christian life. The key here is to educate people to enter the spirit of the liturgy. And to know how to do it you need to be imbued with this spirit. I want to say that this should happen at Sant’Anselmo: every one should be imbued with the spirit of the liturgy, so that each can feel its mystery, with ever new amazement. The liturgy is not owned, no, it is not a profession: the liturgy is learned, the liturgy is celebrated. Let us reach this attitude of celebrating the liturgy. And you only actively participate to the extent that you enter this spirit of celebration. It is not a matter of rites, it is the mystery of Christ, who once and for all revealed and fulfilled the sacred, the sacrifice and the priesthood. Worship in spirit and truth. In your Institute all this, must be meditated on, assimilated, I would say “breathed”. To the school of Scripture, of the Fathers, of Tradition, of the Saints. Only in this way can participation translate into a greater sense of the Church, which makes us live evangelically in every time and in every circumstance. And this attitude of celebrating is also tempted.
The answer to most of our liturgical problems is to foster active participation. This is particularly the case today. The last 50 years have been spent renewing rites and reordering churches. There is still some work to be done there. But our real work is to renew the holy people of God by promoting “full and active participation by all the people” as this “is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit” (SC 14).
Cover Image: Pontificio Sant’Anselmo from Wikimedia Commons.