Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Gift: Something for Everyone

The Source and Summit of the Live and Mission of the Church edited by Alcuin Reid, 
Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2014.

I just finished another summer book purchase: the proceedings of the international conference on the sacred liturgy "Sacra Liturgia 2013", held in Rome 25-28 June 2013. I would treat this volume as classed a treasure trove, one which so far I have mined for my own particular interests. I would invite others to buy the book, especially priests, and keep it at hand as a reference for insight and enrichment on any number of topics related to the Sacred Liturgy. It is not a manual for anything, but a rich source of background material accessible even to non-experts.

Overall, I would have to say that what various contributors to the conference had to say about the role of the liturgy in the new evangelization demands more than a second look from all those committed evangelizers out there who are still not looking hard enough or long enough at the cultural component to evangelizing in the post-modern. Sadly, our world, yes, our Catholic world has effectively been stripped not only of Shakespeare but even of Winnie the Pooh: culturally destitute.

Let me highlight two of the articles which touched me in and of themselves! I picked up some book titles from a couple of others which I hope to read at some point. As I say, I find the acts of the conference all in all a worthwhile read. Two articles, then:

Permit me another salvo in the direction of bishops and priests still languishing in their resistance to doing the only right thing and restoring the continuity of worship ad Orientem to the Roman Rite. The article beginning on page 87, by Stefan Heid, entitled "The Early Christian Altar - Lessons for Today", is a must read. He is especially good at banishing once and for all the Last Supper/dinner table stuff, which infected my own liturgical studies in the seminary. The article is much more: Take and read! While people would cry "foul!" if I were to class Mass facing the people across the altar an abuse, I hope they understand that the restoration of oriented worship, our greatest physical link with the past and with the Byzantine tradition is urgently called for.

Being a person of the New World, I have a hard time holding on to grudges and rancor over the centuries is something incomprehensible for me. For that reason, the name Tracy Rowland, pages 115ff. "The Usus Antiquior and the New Evangelization", didn't set off any alarms. It was only when I got to the latter part of the article that it dawned on me who the dear lady was and what rage she had provoked with a part of this article. Please, ignore her potshots at trads and suggestions for a dress-code for women at worship and look again at the first part of her article and what she has to say about expressivist and instrumental theories of language. Tracy fits with John Senior and some of my other favorites in terms of seeing the Mass of the Ages as a solidly set anchor for Catholic Faith and evangelizing amidst the storms of relativism and secularization.

There is nothing strident about the published acts of Sacra Liturgia 2013. I dare anyone to read them and not come away beholding to the work of restoring our liturgical heritage as a best contribution to renewing all in Christ, the Redeemer of mankind. 

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