Friday, February 15, 2013

The Task is Indeed Urgent

The transcription and English translation of the Holy Father’s reflection on the Second Vatican Council, shared now at the beginning of Lent in his traditional encounter with the clergy of Rome, is out and available. I hope his words on the liturgy and its sacred character are read and reflected upon, especially by priests and bishops around the world. 

The import or poignancy of his words may be derived from the context of presentation, that is, in his last address to the presbyterate and assembled auxiliary bishops of his diocese. They should have an impact not only on the Roman clergy but on that of the Church throughout the world. I think we are moving too slowly in our efforts to make reparation for all of the abuse and distortion of the ordinary form of the Roman Rite as it has been practiced over the years. The Pope’s words should disarm us and move us to reparative action and without further ado.

The Holy Father is speaking of the Council as portrayed by the media and by certain interests within the Church in the past which effectively high jacked the best efforts of the Council of the Fathers. The English seems to reflect what I heard of the Italian:

This was the case for the liturgy: there was no interest in the liturgy as an act of faith, but as a something to be made understandable, similar to a community activity, something profane. And we know that there was a trend, which was also historically based, that said: "Sacredness is a pagan thing, possibly even from the Old Testament. In the New Testament the only important thing is that Christ died outside: that is, outside the gates, that is, in the secular world". Sacredness ended up as profanity even in worship: worship is not worship but an act that brings people together, communal participation and thus participation as activity. And these translations, trivializing the idea of ​​the Council, were virulent in the practice of implementing the liturgical reform, born in a vision of the Council outside of its own key vision of faith. And it was so, also in the matter of Scripture: Scripture is a book, historical, to treat historically and nothing else, and so on.

And we know that this Council of the media was accessible to all. So, dominant, more efficient, this Council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed, liturgy trivialized ... and the true Council has struggled to materialize, to be realized: the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council. But the real strength of the Council was present and slowly it has emerged and is becoming the real power which is also true reform, true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that 50 years after the Council, we see how this Virtual Council is breaking down, getting lost and the true Council is emerging with all its spiritual strength. And it is our task, in this Year of Faith, starting from this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council with the power of the Holy Spirit is realized and Church is really renewed. We hope that the Lord will help us. I, retired in prayer, will always be with you, and together we will move ahead with the Lord in certainty. The Lord is victorious. Thank you.

Those who simply vilify the Popes of the last 50 years for not having resisted the iconoclasts of these times are not helping matters. Everyone needs to contribute constructively according to their station in life to the building up of God's House and especially by rendering the Lord of Life His due through the worthy celebration of the sacred mysteries. The “minority report” of an honest witness through a well-celebrated extraordinary form will contribute immensely, but in charity the “majority” must be encouraged to a change of heart and a recovery of the sacred after the mind of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.

There's a lot of catechesis which must be done in this Year of Faith and our efforts toward reform and renewal will be groundless unless we recover within our Catholic homes that sense of God's presence and that spirit of prayer. Even so, I think it would be a great gift if priests would share these words of the Holy Father with their parishioners and take steps together with them toward recovering that sense of the sacred in worship. In many places, terrible violence was done in the past: to our temples, to our worship, to the consciences of many folk. Now is the acceptable time.



  1. I might be alone (and wrong) in thinking this, but it seems to me that the Pope's address was, at the very least, one of the most significant commentaries on the Council that has come out in a very long time.


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