Friday, February 26, 2010

Why do we eat the Body and Blood of our Lord?

This is an answer of mine from the Catholic Answers Forum.

What is the initial reason why we would want to consume the blood and body of our beloved Christ?

Hmm... what is the initial reason? I would say because the Lord Himself commanded it. (cf. John 6:29-58; Matt 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor 11:23-25)

Why did He command it? Or, more deeply, why was it under the signs of bread and wine that Jesus commanded us to receive His Body and Blood? Why would He have us consume His Body and Blood? Well, God knows... but He had been preparing Israel for it for centuries.

Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the Most High God (long before Israel existed and had priests), offered God a thanksgiving offering of bread and wine, and he blessed Abram. (cf. Gen 14:18-20) And the letter to the Hebrews tells us that Melchizedek was a foreshadowing of Christ. (cf. Heb 7) Melchizedek's name means "king of righteousness", and Salem (shalom) means "peace".

God later tested Abraham, asking him to offer his only beloved son as a holocaust on a mountain. As they went up the mountain -- Isaac carrying the wood for his own sacrificial death on his back -- he asked his father where the lamb for the sacrifice was, and Abraham replied that God would provide Himself the lamb. God did provide an animal for sacrifice in place of Isaac... but it was a ram, with its head caught in a thicket of thorns. (cf. Gen 22)

When God delivered Israel from captivity in Egypt, He instituted a ritual sacrificial meal for them, by which each family was to acquire a spotless, unblemished lamb, to kill it without breaking its bones and to spread its blood upon the doorposts of their homes; the angel of God's wrath, seeing the blood, would pass over them. The family was also to eat the flesh of the lamb. But this was not God's lamb... (cf. Exo 12-13)

In time, another ritual was instituted for Israel, the Yom Kippur ("day of atonement") ritual. Two lambs or goats were chosen, one to be slaughtered in sacrifice, and the other to have the sins of all of Israel placed upon its head and to be sent out into the wilderness to die. This was the "scapegoat", the one who receives the blame and punishment for the sins of others. (cf. Lev 16)

On the shores of the Jordan, John the Baptist called out to all who would hear him, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) He was speaking of Jesus, the only beloved Son of God. (cf. Matt 3:17) Pilate found Jesus to be without fault or blemish. (cf. John 18:38) At His crucifixion, our Lord was crowned with thorns and carried the wood for his own sacrificial death on his back. (cf. John 19:2, 17) His bones were not broken. (cf. John 19:31-36)

St. Paul says that "Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed." (1 Cor 5:7)  ["Paschal" means "Passover"]

St. Paul asks, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" (1 Cor 10:16)

St. Peter says that we "were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." (1 Pet 1:18-19)

St. John saw in Heaven "a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain." (Rev 5:6)

The angels in Heaven say "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." (Rev 19:9)

(And why do we drink His blood? Israel was forbidden to consume blood, since the life is in the blood. (cf. Gen 9:4; Lev 17:10-14) That was to prepare them for the only blood they should consume, the Blood of Him Who has eternal life.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

That's my King... do you know him?

The Bible says
  my King is.the King of the Jews,
            He's.the King of Israel,
            He's.the King of righteousness,
            He's.the King of the ages,
            He's.the King of heaven,
            He's.the King of glory,
            He's.the King of Kings,
      and He's.the Lord of Lords.
That's my King. I wonder, do you know him?

My King is a sovereign King.
No means of measure can define his limitless love.
  He's enduringly.strong.
      He's entirely.sincere.
     He's eternally.steadfast.
He's immortally.graceful.
  He's imperially.powerful.
He's impartially.merciful.
Do you know him?

   He's.the greatest phenomenon
          .that has ever crossed the horizon of this world.
   He's.God Son.
   He's.a sinner's savior.
   He's.the centerpiece of civilization.
He is.the loftiest idea in literature.
He is.the highest personality in philosophy.
He is.the fundamental doctrine of true theology.
   He's.the only one qualified to be an all-sufficient savior.
I wonder if you know him today?

  He supplies the weak.
           He's the tempted and the tried.
         He sympathizes.and He saves.
           He strengthens.and sustains.
                  He guards.and He guides.
                    He heals.the sick.
              He cleansed.the lepers.
               He forgives.sinners.
           He discharges.debtors.
               He delivers.the captive.
                He defends.the feeble.
                He blesses.the young.
                  He serves.the unfortunate.
                He regards.the aged.
               He rewards.the diligent.
     And He beautifies.the meek.
I wonder if you know him?

            He's the knowledge.
He's the wellspring.of wisdom.
    He's the doorway.of deliverance.
    He's the pathway.of peace.
    He's the roadway.of righteousness.
    He's the highway.of holiness.
     He's the gateway.of glory.
Do you know him?

     Well, His matchless.
     His limitless.
          His everlasting.
             His love.never changes.
           His enough.
           His sufficient.
            His righteous.
     And His easy.
And His light.

I wish I could describe him to you.
                             Well, you can't.get him out of your mind.
                                      You can't.get him off of your hand.
                                      You can't.outlive him,
                               And you can' without him.
                 The Pharisees couldn't.stand him,
    But they found out they couldn't.stop him.
                              Pilate couldn't.find any fault in him.
                             Herod couldn't.kill him.
                              Death couldn't.handle him
                 And the grave couldn't.hold him.
That's my King, do you know him?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Powerful Lenten Reading

If you've read C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, I strongly recommend that you buy a copy of Fr. Dwight Longenecker's The Gargoyle Code and read it this Lent.  The book is written in the style and genre of Screwtape, in the form of letters from a senior tempter to a junior.  There is a letter for every day of Lent, so it makes for simply daily "devotional" reading.

You will not be disappointed... in the book.  It may make you disappointed in yourself, as you see the book slowly revealing how Satan might be influencing you — rather than just the fictional (?) persons whom Slubgrip and Dogwart seek to ruin — in parts of your life.  (I made it to the bottom of page 7 before I was convicted.)  But don't let that disappointment get you down; instead, turn to the Lord and seek His grace, without which there is no overcoming these temptations which the Devil so craftily prepares for us.  Now is a most acceptable time, now is the day of salvation!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Prayers of the People sells 500 copies!

As of 9:55 AM on February 11, 2010, Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People has sold 500 copies around the world:  the United States, Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand.  The person who bought copy #500 is a priest from Rochester, NY, and he received a complimentary second copy as well.

Sacred, Beautiful, Universal - Music in the Catholic Church

SACRED, BEAUTIFUL, & UNIVERSAL: Colloquium XIX from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Vatican II's Inter Mirifica and Social Media today

As I mentioned a few days ago, Pope Benedict's address for World Communication Day is a good occasion for us to revisit what I believe is perhaps the most overlooked document of Vatican II, the decree on social communications media, Inter Mirifica.  This document was released on the same day as the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, on December 4, 1963.  While the Internet's origins reach back to the 1960's, it didn't "go public" until 1988; that same year, Pope John Paul II wrote Vicesimus Quintus Annus, an Apostolic Letter on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.  (No such letter was written for poor Inter Mirifica.)  The word "blog" didn't show up for another decade or so.

So what can this nearly 40-year-old document tell us today in this digital world of blogs and Twitter?  More than you might think.  In this three-part series, I want to guide you through this document to show you its timeless and timely words of wisdom and instruction.  My goal is not only to understand what the Church has taught us through this document, but also how it applies to the modern digital medium of the Internet, and how we can put this teaching into practice in our blogging and tweeting.  (Please share this with priests you know who are blogging or tweeting, or who are considering doing so!)

In this first part, we will look at articles 1 and 2, the Introduction to the decree.
1. AMONG THE WONDERFUL [Inter mirifica] technological discoveries which men of talent, especially in the present era, have made with God's help, the Church welcomes and promotes with special interest those which have a most direct relation to men's minds and which have uncovered new avenues of communicating most readily news, views and teachings of every sort.
From the very beginning, this document emphasizes the cooperation between man and God:  man makes these technological discoveries with God's help.  This is an important theme which will resurface throughout the document:  because these discoveries are made with the assistance of God, they figure into His plan, and so He has a dominion over them.  This means it is not for man to decide, apart from God, what the proper or improper use of a technology is.
The most important of these inventions are those media which, such as the press, movies, radio, television and the like [e.g. the Internet], can, of their very nature, reach and influence, not only individuals, but the very masses and the whole of human society, and thus can rightly be called the media of social communication.
The media of social communication are the most important inventions because of their enormous potential for impact.  Consider the drastic increase of blogs and blogging platforms over the past five years; consider the Twitter explosion (which appears, finally, to be plateauing).  People can reach other people nearly anywhere else in the world instantly, and in a variety of ways.
2. The Church recognizes that these media, if properly utilized, can be of great service to mankind, since they greatly contribute to men's entertainment and instruction as well as to the spread and support of the Kingdom of God.
There is a right and wrong way to use social communications media.  Their proper use leads to both temporal advancement of mankind (both secular and religious) and eternal beatitude.  The Church is (subtly) saying here that the proper use of these inventions has a spiritual end by God's design, not by accident or as a mere side effect, or as one possibility among many.  This is made clear by looking at the negative possibility:
The Church recognizes, too, that men can employ these media contrary to the plan of the Creator and to their own loss. Indeed, the Church experiences maternal grief at the harm all too often done to society by their evil use.
There we have it:  God has a plan for television, radio, the Internet, etc., and He has given us the gift of the Church, with her sacred Magisterium, to help us understand and employ these media properly.  If we use these inventions incorrectly, we can suffer temporally and eternally; the temporal effects, while lesser than the eternal ones, are the more easily perceived.  Think of the lasting effects of the Internet pornography industry.
Hence, this sacred Synod, attentive to the watchful concern manifested by the Supreme Pontiffs and Bishops in a matter of such great importance, judges it to be its duty to treat of the principal questions linked with the media of social communication. It trusts, moreover, that the teaching and regulations it thus sets forth will serve to promote, not only the eternal welfare of Christians, but also the progress of all mankind.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Church discerned that it was her duty to deal with these matters and to put forth authoritative and binding teachings and regulations on the proper use of these media for the edification of man and the Church.  Even though the Church did not invent these things, since they belong ultimately to God and are subject to His plan, He has bestowed the Church with this authority to teach and govern in these matters.

The Church is not afraid of all this new-fangled technology, but she knows she must be cautious.  It should come as no surprise, then, when the Church instructs us on how to use the Internet as a tool for evangelization; it should not shock you that priests are encouraged to blog or tweet about the faith.  The Internet is not from Satan, but Satan is trying his hardest to abuse it for our destruction, while the Church desires to use it for the greater glory of God.

Part two of this series will look at chapter one of the decree, "On the Teaching of the Church," which describes what the Church teaches about social communications media.  Part three looks at chapter two, "On the Pastoral Activity of the Church," which is about what the Church intends to accomplish with these media.

Post-script:  If you're looking for a brief list of documents from the Church on social communications media, I recommend the following:
  • Vigilanta Cura (On the motion picture), Pope Pius XI, 1936
  • Inter Mirifica (On social communications media), Vatican II, 1963
  • Communio et Progressio (On the means of social communication), Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 1971
  • Aetatis Novae (On social communications on the 20th anniversary of Communio et Progressio), Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 1992
  • The Church and Internet, Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2002 (important quote: "Education and training regarding the Internet ought to be part of comprehensive programs of media education available to members of the Church.  As much as possible, pastoral planning for social communications should make provision for this training in the formation of seminarians, priests, religious, and lay pastoral personnel as well as teachers, parents, and students.")
  • The Rapid Development (Apostolic Letter to those responsible for communications), Pope John Paul II, 2005

Friday, February 05, 2010

"Pontiff Calls for Complete Fidelity to Magisterium"

What a shock!  That was the ZENIT headline:  "Pontiff Calls for Complete Fidelity to Magisterium".
Benedict XVI is urging prelates to call Catholics to complete fidelity to the magisterium, presenting Church teaching as a message of hope rather than a series of prohibitions. [...] "If the Church's teaching is compromised, even slightly, in one such area, then it becomes hard to defend the fullness of Catholic doctrine in an integral manner," the Holy Father said.

"Pastors of the Church, therefore, must continually call the faithful to complete fidelity to the Church's magisterium," he said, "while at the same time upholding and defending the Church's right to live freely in society according to her beliefs. [...] All too often the Church's doctrine is perceived as a series of prohibitions and retrograde positions, whereas the reality, as we know, is that it is creative and life-giving, and it is directed towards the fullest possible realization of the great potential for good and for happiness that God has implanted within every one of us."

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The "agenda" of the liturgical reform?

(Updated on Feb. 3rd; see below)

Here is an excerpt from a recent address given by Fr. Anscar Chupungco, OSB, in Australia. His overall tone can be gleaned from this question and answer he puts forth near the beginning: "What agenda does [a reform of the postconciliar reform] put forward so that liturgical worship could be more reverent and prayerful?  The agenda is, to all appearance, an attempt to put the clock back to a half century."

I find a bit of inconsistency in the following consecutive sentences of his address:
[T]he study of liturgy should have due regard for its historical, theological, and cultural elements. In this way we will not dismiss too readily the ancient prayers and rites of the liturgy on grounds that they belong to another culture and age. Such an iconoclastic attitude can indeed impoverish the theology of the liturgy. We know that many of these ancient forms are rich in doctrine and spirituality.

A serious study of liturgy will likewise neutralize the liturgical romanticism and allegorism that holds some sectors of the postconciliar Church. The indiscriminate revival of Latin and Gregorian chant, for example, indicates that some people have not followed the historical process. It is true that the Liturgy Constitution (SC 36 and 116), given the peculiar circumstances surrounding the council, claims them as distinctive elements of the Roman liturgy.
This seems duplicitous to me:  first he speaks of the danger of dismissing elements of worship "on grounds that they belong to another culture and age," then he speaks of the "peculiar circumstances surrounding the council" that led to its calling Latin and Gregorian chant normative and proper to the Roman Rite.  In other words, he is speaking dismissively of Latin and Gregorian chant as products of another culture and age which were only given lip service at the Council out of historical necessity.  I'm all for a Catholic faith which embraces the "both/and" (rather than "either/or") approach, but here it seems like Fr. Chupungco is asking too much:  he can't have it both ways here because the two ways are contradictory, not complementary.

He mentions the "indiscriminate revival" of Latin and Gregorian chant.  It should be noted that, had the Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy been more closely adhered to in the years following its promulgation, we would not be experiencing a revival of Latin and Gregorian chant; rather, they would have continued to be part of the normal liturgical life of Catholics.

For example, in article 54 of the Constitution, the same article which addressed in general terms the inclusion of the vernacular in the Mass, we read that "steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them."  These parts would include the Kyrie (in Greek, actually), Gloria, Credo (Creed), Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), and Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).

As for Gregorian chant, article 116 of the Constitution "acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited [proprium = proper] to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place [principem locum = the principal place] in liturgical services."

Next in Fr. Chupungco's address, he says:
It is true that Latin and Gregorian chant still claim their rightful place in the liturgy.
Do they, really?  Where, exactly?  I would expect most Catholics (especially English-speaking ones, or at least American ones) would disagree that Latin and Gregorian chant have (or should have) a "rightful place" in the liturgy.  But I interrupted; continuing:
But to recall them as the ordinary, normal language and song of worship in parishes seems to overlook the conciliar principle of intelligent participation. The Church of Rome might have delayed the use of the vernacular, but it is part of her earlier tradition to adopt contemporary language in order to foster active participation.
I disagree with him here.  First, just because a text is in your vernacular does not mean you understand it immediately; catechesis (and a good translation!) is still required.  Have English-speaking Catholics had both of these for the past forty years?  Second, the Constitution did expect Latin to remain in use in the Mass, despite its allowance of the vernacular; see articles 36 and 54.  Third, Latin is indeed the normal — and normative — language of the Latin Rite; there's no getting around it.

As for intelligent and active participation, it is utterly insulting to insinuate that modern Catholics cannot participate actively and intelligently where Latin is used; it implies that Catholics had not been participating intelligently for the previous centuries!  It is not a matter of learning Latin; it is simply a matter of learning a few Latin phrases and chants, which you'll say week after week — if not more often — and which don't change.

He continues by saying:
To revive Latin as the daily language of the liturgy, regardless of whether or not the presider and the assembly can follow the readings and prayers, disclaims “sound tradition” and obstructs what the Constitution (SC 23) calls “legitimate progress”.
Again this mention of "revival".  While it is historically what we are experiencing now, a look at the Constitution and several post-Conciliar magisterial liturgical documents makes it clear that Latin was not meant to be jettisoned from the liturgy!  On the contrary to his point here, the wholesale removal of Latin and Gregorian chant from the liturgy was neither "sound tradition" nor "legitimate progress".

Here are two views (one pro the address, one con).  Read either at your own leisure and/or risk.

Update:  Fr. Chupungco continued to speak very negatively of the development of the Latin liturgy from its original form(s).  After a worthwhile and enlightening example about the changes perceived in the sacrament of Confirmation, he says:
According to the Liturgy Constitution the study of liturgy has three chief orientations, namely theological, historical, and pastoral. [...] The theology of the liturgy is drawn best from the liturgical books, namely the prayers, readings, and introductory notes. [...] Theologizing about liturgy apart from the liturgical books could become an exercise in theological hallucination. At best, it encourages the allegorical understanding of the liturgy, which incidentally was a favorite pastime of the clergy during the Middle Ages.
Fr. Chupungco seems to be operating from the assumption that all liturgical developments during the Middle Ages (and the Medieval Ages) were "accretions" (see below).  With this mindset, he sees the allegorical interpretation of the liturgy as an effect of "theological hallucination" which surely cannot be good for one's spiritual health.  It is as if each liturgical rite or sign must have a clear-cut and immediately graspable value, and that multi-layered and allegorical signs (e.g. the priestly vestments) are unnecessarily encumbering and distracting, and do not build a person up spiritually.  I disagree entirely:  the wealth of signs in the liturgy is surpassed only by the diversity of meanings of those signs, and this provides more than a lifetime's worth of contemplation on the mysteries contained therein.  (It also gives catechists something to write about!)

Later on, he says:
Students of liturgy should be aware of recent developments, including recent documents from the Congregation for Divine Worship that are becoming increasingly perplexing. Students should be equipped with a critical mind that allows them to weigh the theological, historical, and pastoral value of new norms and directives, though always in the spirit of ecclesial obedience.
It would be nice if he provided some concrete examples of perplexing documents, although I assume he would include the instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum on that list.  What is perplexing about that document?  I don't know, Fr. Chupungco doesn't say, but the "student of liturgy" should be aware of it!  At least he tempers his call for critical examination (I would have said discernment) of liturgical norms and directives with a reminder of obedience, although there could be a wide interpretation of just how the "spirit of ecclesial obedience"

Then he says:
Everything in history has its own justification, though not necessarily a lasting and universal value. Not every text in the liturgical books, not every rite and symbol from the past, and not every feast in the calendar has perennial significance for the life of the Church. The reform of the Roman missal wanted by the Constitution (SC 50) eliminated much of the medieval textual and ritual accretions that only served to blur the meaning and purpose of the Mass.
It is clear that the liturgical reform carried out by the Consilium eliminated many medieval developments ("accretions") to the liturgy, but it is certainly debatable whether such elimination was "wanted by the Constitution" itself.  (Fr. Chupungco is clearly stating his stance on that question.)  But I find duplicity here again, a double standard which favors the (ancient) older over the (merely medieval) old.  He says that not everything that has been part of the liturgy has a "perennial significance," but he would probably argue that most of the most ancient parts which were omitted or replaced over time are superior to their replacements, and that most (if not all) of the additions from the Middle Ages onward "only serve to blur the meaning and purpose of the Mass."  I am curious if he is in favor of a diminution of feasts like Corpus Christi which were developed after the "ancient" period of liturgical development.

But he does not provide examples of these accretions and why he feels they bring about blurring.  (How I wish I could see notes on each element of the 1962 Missal that was touched by the Consilium's reforming pen, detailing each element's worth, meaning, and purpose.)  I am also not wholly convinced about certain changes that were made for the purpose of so-called "active participation," such as the change of the formula for distribution of Communion.

Now, it is true that the Constitution speaks of elements removed imprudently or added unhelpfully:  "[T]he rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary." (article 50)  But the Constitution does not say that all elements which were discarded or incorporated after a particular period of time are up for restoration or removal.  It does say that the substance of the rites must be preserved; whether that was always the case is a matter of debate, for example, in the case of the Offertory prayers.

For the record, I am in favor of the Prayer of the Faithful, an example of an element which "suffered injury" and has now been "restored."  There are other changes I'm not so sure about, but, as Fr. Chupungco suggested, my "critical mind" is tempered by "ecclesial obedience."

Later on, he describes "Vatican II's liturgical principles" as including "active participation with all this implies (use of the vernacular, congregational singing, lay ministry)."  While I recognize that the participation of the faithful at Mass is possible in a new way when the vernacular is used, the vernacular is not strictly necessary for active participation.  Regarding congregational singing, that need not mean injecting hymns into the liturgy, but could be fulfilled by singing the Ordinary (and perhaps also part of the Gradual or the Responsorial Psalm, part of the Alleluia, and maybe even the antiphon of the Communion chant); hymns, whether in Latin or the vernacular, can be wonderful, but it is unfair to the integrity of the liturgy to replace (to the point of near extinction) the Propers of the Mass with hymns chosen on a local whim.

On the topic of inculturation, he says:
Inculturation by definition uses dynamic equivalence to re-translate the liturgical books in the historical, socio-cultural, and religious context of the local Church.
That might be his working definition of inculturation, but is it the definition the Church uses?  To close this post, I will provide some references from magisterial texts addressing the matter of inculturation in the liturgy:

Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not implicate the faith or the good of the whole community; rather does she respect and foster the genius and talents of the various races and peoples. Anything in these peoples' way of life which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error she studies with sympathy and, if possible, preserves intact. Sometimes in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself, so long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit. (Sacrosanctum Concilium 37, Vatican II, 1963)

Provisions shall also be made, when revising the liturgical books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands, provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved; and this should be borne in mind when drawing up the rites and devising rubrics. (Sacrosanctum Concilium 38, Vatican II, 1963)

Within the limits set by the typical editions of the liturgical books, it shall be for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to specify adaptations, especially in the case of the administration of the sacraments, the sacramentals, processions, liturgical language, sacred music, and the arts, but according to the fundamental norms laid down in this Constitution. (Sacrosanctum Concilium 39, Vatican II, 1963)

In some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed, and this entails greater difficulties. Wherefore: 1) The competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, must, in this matter, carefully and prudently consider which elements from the traditions and culture of individual peoples might appropriately be admitted into divine worship. Adaptations which are judged to be useful or necessary should when be submitted to the Apostolic See, by whose consent they may be introduced. 2) To ensure that adaptations may be made with all the circumspection which they demand, the Apostolic See will grant power to this same territorial ecclesiastical authority to permit and to direct, as the case requires, the necessary preliminary experiments over a determined period of time among certain groups suited for the purpose. 3) Because liturgical laws often involve special difficulties with respect to adaptation, particularly in mission lands, men who are experts in these matters must be employed to formulate them. (Sacrosanctum Concilium 40, Vatican II, 1963)

The norm established by the Second Vatican Council — that in the liturgical reform there should be no innovations unless required in order to bring a genuine and certain benefit to the Church, and taking care that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing — must also be applied to efforts at the inculturation of the same Roman Rite. Inculturation, moreover, requires a necessary length of time, lest the authentic liturgical tradition suffer contamination due to haste and a lack of caution. Finally, the purpose of pursuing inculturation is not in any way the creation of new families of rites, but aims rather at meeting the needs of a particular culture in such a way that adaptations introduced either in the Missal or in combination with other liturgical books are not at variance with the distinctive character of the Roman Rite. (GIRM 398, 2000)

In preparing all translations of the liturgical books, the greatest care is to be taken to maintain the identity and unitary expression of the Roman Rite, not as a sort of historical monument, but rather as a manifestation of the theological realities of ecclesial communion and unity. The work of inculturation, of which the translation into vernacular languages is a part, is not therefore to be considered an avenue for the creation of new varieties or families of rites; on the contrary, it should be recognized that any adaptations introduced out of cultural or pastoral necessity thereby become part of the Roman Rite, and are to be inserted into it in a harmonious way.  Ever since the promulgation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the work of the translation of the liturgical texts into vernacular languages, as promoted by the Apostolic See, has involved the publication of norms and the communication to the Bishops of advice on the matter. Nevertheless, it has been noted that translations of liturgical texts in various localities stand in need of improvement through correction or through a new draft. The omissions or errors which affect certain existing vernacular translations – especially in the case of certain languages – have impeded the progress of the inculturation that actually should have taken place. Consequently, the Church has been prevented from laying the foundation for a fuller, healthier and more authentic renewal. (Liturgiam Authenticam 5-6, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 2001)

The development of sacred art and liturgical discipline which took place in lands of ancient Christian heritage is also taking place on continents where Christianity is younger. This was precisely the approach supported by the Second Vatican Council on the need for sound and proper "inculturation". (Ecclesia de Eucharistia 51, Pope John Paul II, 2003)

As early as the year 1970, the Apostolic See announced the cessation of all experimentation as regards the celebration of Holy Mass and reiterated the same in 1988. [...] As regards projects of inculturation in liturgical matters, the particular norms that have been established are strictly and comprehensively to be observed. (Redemptionis Sacramentum 27, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 2004)

A more effective participation of the faithful in the holy mysteries will thus benefit from the continued inculturation of the eucharistic celebration, with due regard for the possibilities for adaptation provided in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, interpreted in the light of the criteria laid down by the Fourth Instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Varietates Legitimae of 25 January 1994 and the directives expressed by Pope John Paul II in the Post-Synodal Exhortations Ecclesia in Africa, Ecclesia in America, Ecclesia in Asia, Ecclesia in Oceania and Ecclesia in Europa. To this end, I encourage Episcopal Conferences to strive to maintain a proper balance between the criteria and directives already issued and new adaptations, always in accord with the Apostolic See. (Sacramentum Caritatis 54, Pope Benedict XVI, 2007)

And, of course, the whole 2004 instruction from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Varietate Legitimae.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Prayers of the People in Leaflet Missal — and in DC

(Important update below!)

During the months of October and November, I contacted several bookstores and distributors around the country (some by email, some in person) offering a complimentary copy of The Prayers of the People and asking if they would be interested in carrying my book.  One company which responded in the affirmative was Leaflet Missal.  They have a national and international audience, and I was told that my book would be listed in their Spring 2010 catalog.

On January 28, I was informed that my book had received front cover placement on their catalog!  This is wonderful news!  I could not have asked for better exposure for my book!  (Now I will really have to get to work on the second volume...)

And I was contacted earlier today by someone at the bookstore at the Basilica Shrine in DC about a book-signing sometime in the near future!  How awesome is that?!

Notre Dame Center for Liturgy

I recently found out about the online catechesis for the new English translation of the Roman Missal provided by Notre Dame University.  It's got free audio and video presentations (either 15 or 60 minutes in length).  Yet another research tool for The Prayers of the Priest!

Monday, February 01, 2010

New translations in 2011?

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf has a post today about a article from the Catholic News Service.  This article reports that the new English translation of the Mass might be Advent of 2011.