The other day, 4 December, the great Fr. Nicola Bux (happy onomasitico in advance) had a piece in L’Osservatore Romano on liturgy.
You might remember The Bux Protocol. He is also author of the recent La Riforma di Benedetto XVI: la liturgia tra innovazione e tradizione.
A Roman friend ran up a fast translation of this piece by Bux, which I share here.
This is actually from the new book I mentioned, above, pp. 123-125.
Liturgy between innovation and tradition
With the patience of love
By Nicola Bux
A new liturgical movement is rising that looks to the liturgies of Benedict XVI; instructions prepared by experts are not enough, what is needed are exemplary liturgies that allow an encounter with God.
Only intentionally shallow spirits could fail to notice it. It is a new beginning that comes from the core of liturgy just like last century’s liturgical movement that reached its peak with the council.
Liturgy as the place of the encounter with the living God, neither a show to render religion interesting nor a museum of grandiose ritual forms. The people of God celebrates the new rite with respect and solemnity, but remains disoriented by the contradictions of the two extremes. Liturgy gets back to being an ecclesial action, not of specialists and liturgical committees, but of fathers and teachers who – thanks to their knowledge of sources - saw western liturgy as the result of a historical development and eastern liturgy as a reflection of the eternal one. They opposed the falsification of liturgy and through their knowledge of history they showed us the several forms of its itinerary. The Holy Father picks up their legacy and renders it fruitful. He fulfilled their wish that both the ancient and the new form could coexist side by side as is already with the Ambrosian and the Eastern liturgies.
Let’s trust him: he brings patiently the wisdom of Catholic imagination into the life of today’s Church. He understands well how innovation is not hostile to tradition but is part of it as the lymph of the Holy Spirit. He is neither a “conservative” nor an innovator, but a missionary “humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord”. In the book “Jesus of Nazareth” he stresses the “sympathy” for the Israelites Jesus demonstrates – unlike in the other Gospels – in the Gospel of Luke:
“It seems to me particularly meaningful – he observes – the way he concludes the story of the new wine and the old and fresh wine skins. In Mark we read: “no one pours new wine into old wine skins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wine skins." (Mk 2,22). In Matthew, 9,17, the text is similar. Luke hands down the same conversation, but he adds at the end: And) no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’"(5,39) – an addition that could perhaps be interpreted as an expression of sympathy for those who wanted to stick with the “old wine” (pp 216-217)”.
Couldn’t this parable be applied to the debate between usus antiquior and usus novus of the Mass that followed the Motu proprio?
Christian liturgy, like the Christian event itself (“avvenimento Cristiano”), is not something we make.. A word like actualization has given birth to the idea that we had the power to replicate it, to create the right conditions for it to happen, to organize it, as if we were the creators of what we affirm to believe. As a matter of fact it is Jesus Christ who makes the sacred liturgy with the Holy Spirit. Our role is to follow, give room to his work. The method within everyone’s reach is to watch what happens – they used to say to “assistere” – that is ad-stare, to stand before his presence; it means to adhere to Something that precedes us, to follow what he does in our midst, always capable of turning upside down the idea that (culto) worship (liturgy) is something we make . Liturgy is sacred because it is one Thing that comes from Heaven.
We would like to help the comprehension and the worthy celebration of the Liturgy as the possibility of the encounter with the reality of God and the source of man’s morality, (to help) understand its degradations as a symptom of spiritual emptiness, to show the path to a restoration of its spirit in the perspective of the unity of the Catholic and Apostolic faith, and to promote a serious debate and an educational itinerary by following the thought and the example of the Pope to allow a restart of the liturgical movement. We need to aim to the spirit of the liturgy as the worshiping of the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit, and as a pedagogy to enter the mystery and be transformed by it in morality and holiness. It’s an invitation to those who do not believe but desire truth, because nobody goes untouched by the doubt that perhaps Someone else exists to dedicate time to! On this “perhaps” – which liturgy does not unveil completely, and that’s why it is necessary to preserve the sense of mystery and sacred – it will be possible to enable the communication between believers and non-believers or differently believing?