The other day Pope Benedict addressed the Roman Curia for the annual exchange of Christmas greetings.
You might recall his foundational speech in 2005 which defined much of the work of his pontificate.
This year, the Holy Father reviewed the year, spending a good deal of time on reflections about his trip to Africa and the Synod on Africa.
During these remarks he spoke about his experience of liturgy in Africa…. translating, as it were, the immaterial into the material… always a challenge.
Here is my overly fast translation of the Italian original posted in haste from my phone:
There was impressed on my memory in an especially profound way memory of the liturgical celebrations. The celebrations of the Holy Eucharist were truly feasts of faith. I would like to mention two elements which seemed to me especially important. There was above all a great shared joy, which was expressed also through the body, but in a disciplined manner also directed to the presence of the living God. With this there was indicated the second element: the sense of the sacrality, of the mystery present of the living God formed (plasmava), so to say, each individual gesture. The Lord is present – the Creator, He to whom everything belongs, from whom we have our origin and toward whom we are journeying. Spontaneously there came to my mind the words of St. Cyprian, who in his commentary on the Our Father wrote: "Let us remember that we are in the sight of God which is turned upon us. We must be pleasing to God’s eyes, both with the attitude of our body as also with the use of our voice" (De dom. or. 4 CSEL III 1 p 269). Yes… this understanding was there [I think he means in Africa]. From this there does not come fear or inhibition, nor even an exterior obedience to the rubrics and even less a putting of oneself on display to others or a shouting in an undisciplined way. There is rather what which the Fathers called "sobria ebrietas": being filled up with a joy that nevertheless remains sober and orderly, which unites persons from within, leading them in common praise of God, a praise which at the same time arouses love of neighbor, reciprocal responsibility.
Forgive errors in this fast work… I am waiting for a flight.
I suspect some of you will find his comments a little challenging.
Also in this speech the Holy Father spoke of the ecclesiology of the Council.
This was a very "conciliar" speech in many ways.
I may try to add to this a little later.