So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Four restorative actions for bishops, priests and lay people to consider.

Solemn Pontifical Christmas Midnight Mass celebrated by Cardinal Burke at Ss. Trinitá dei Pellegrini | Rorate Cæli 2015

Rather than tackling heresy, dissent and ugliness head on using attack posts, even though direct confrontation of liturgical abuse and immorality is needed from time to time, let's set aside the polemic for a moment in preference of fostering a sweeter approach to a discussion of liturgical life, that of rejoicing in the following aspects of Catholic life and practice. Let us laud the practices of:
  1. the central placement of the tabernacle in the sanctuary.
  2. ad orientem worship.
  3. Holy Communion on the tongue.
  4. proper chants (Introit, Offertory and Communion).
  5. celebration of the rubrics prescribed for the Ordinary Form (e.g., kneeling or bowing during the Creed, etc.)
Where these aspects of Catholic life and practice have been enacted, a much deeper sense of discipleship has arisen rightly energizing the spiritual development of parishioners for mission.

With regards to the above points:
  1. Tabernacle placement restores the sense that the Holy Eucharist is the source, centre and summit of the Christian life. That is, Jesus Christ is the head and heart of every parish family. If the Head of the Church family is restored to His appropriate position, all authority in a parish family and in each home will be rightly ordered and healthy. "The tabernacle is to be located in an elevated position in the sanctuary of the church, along the central axis behind the main altar" (Norms for the Placement of the Tabernacle in the Parish Churches of the Archdiocese of Vancouver- January 12, 2010).
  2. Ad orientem worship gives right focus and true direction to the individual's life and the Church's mission.
  3. Communion on the tongue celebrates with compelling witness Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour Who we receive with humility and with a dignity that has been restored by Christ. Communion on the tongue images the personal loving communion with Christ and His Church to which all people are called. That act of receptivity best helps instil an appropriate intention, the attitude of deference, as well as docility that permits openess to the action of the Holy Spirit. With our sense of dignity restored and wed to our humility before the living God Who sustains our very being, our celebration of or participation in the sacraments will necessarily be deepened. The Sacrament of Penance will become a well used gateway through which people discover their dignity in Jesus Christ. That dignity recovered will strengthen families and provide people the peace they need—and which only Christ can give—to live lives of virtue that necessarily influence society in ways beneficial to the common good.
  4. Proper chants. So called because they are the chants designated for specific liturgies, i.e., they are proper to a given liturgical celebration, proper chants restore a sense of the unchanging nature of the Mass and unite us with a continuous legacy of faith that necessarily includes a deep immersion in the true, the good and the beautiful.
  5. There are prescribed gestures for the Ordinary Form that are routinely overlooked, ignored, forgotten, what-have-you. These include the striking of the breast three times during the Confiteor (I Confess; at the mea culpa... my fault...) and the bow or genuflection during the Creed (at the mention of the Incarnation). Is it too much to ask that priests teach their flocks to be observant Catholics by pointing out and directing congregants to practice the liturgical gestures? A note in the parish bulletin, a reminder by the commentator or cantor spoken before Mass begins, a blurb on a parish website—these are simple catechetical moments that can shape attitudes and encourage embodied prayer that should be typical for Catholics.
The above aspects of Catholic life and practice, given application, can help restore attention and prominence to: theological detail; respect for rubrics/liturgical law; the creation of beautiful spaces (filled with authentic Catholic art and music "of" the Mass to fuel the imagination and ennoble the heart); fostering orthodox spiritual intimacy—i.e., an intimate loving communion with Christ and His Church. Furthermore, a return to the study and embodiment of the transcendentals will also help dispose homilists to feature more prominently the universal call to holiness and conversion to Christ. In the words of Sr. Gabriela Li featured at the head of this blogsite:
"Oftentimes, (God) draws us to Himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.
Archbishop Sample reminds us that the "authentic and faithful renewal of the sacred Liturgy" is essential to the New Evangelization.
[H/T OnePeter5 blog] Archbishop Alexander Sample of the Diocese of Portland, Oregon, clearly understands the foundational role that the liturgy plays in rebuilding our Catholic faith:
“I am solidly convinced that an authentic and faithful renewal and reform of the sacred liturgy is not only part of the New Evangelization—it is essential to its fruitfulness. The liturgy has the power to form and transform the Catholic faithful. We must live by the axiom lex orandi, lex credendi (the law of praying is the law of believing). What we celebrate in the Mass expresses the essential content of the faith, and it also reinforces our faith when celebrated well and with fidelity. The liturgy both teaches us and expresses what we believe. If we do not get the sacred Liturgy right, I fear that we will just be spinning our wheels rather than getting the New Evangelization going in the right direction. If we are transformed by the sacred liturgy, then we, as believers, can help transform the culture.”
It is the contention of this brief essay, in part, that a full rediscovery of and zealous application of knowledge of the transcendentals will best guide the renewal of the Liturgy.

Identity & Mission

Given an authentic Catholic environment, believers will likely adopt a more confident understanding of Catholic identity and then more likely translate their faith into action and become more transparent vessels through whom the Holy Spirit will guide the New Evangelization.

If the above points are implemented, the faith of Catholics would naturally issue forth in a fervent public witness to Jesus Christ and enhance communion among believers redeemed in Christ. An obvious manifestation of that celebration of communion and joy of the Gospel would be religious processions such as an annual Corpus Christi procession which brings the joy of the Gospel to the heart of culture, thus engaging and transforming culture in a way that invites the imaginations of those who witness our hope and joy in Christ and love for His Church and all people.

The above proposals move the Faith from mere head knowledge to saving knowledge that moves believers to trust more readily in grace, the grace from God that is needed to purify wills, illuminate intellects and to help souls grow in holiness.

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