Benedict XVI and the tension of liturgical “traditio” and “progressio”

On VIS there is a summary and in the pages of L’Osservatore Romano there is the Italian text, which the same paper featured as its front page story today.

Pope Benedict gave a talk to the Ninth International Congress on the Liturgy sponsored by the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Rome’s St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, on the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation.  My emphases and comments.  It starts with the usual opening remarks blah blah.

CHURCH’S LITURGY GOES BEYOND CONCILIAR REFORM
VATICAN CITY, 6 MAY 2011 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received participants in the Ninth International Congress on the Liturgy sponsored by the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Rome’s St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, on the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation.

The Pope recalled that “Blessed John XXIII, recognizing the requests of the liturgical movement that sought to give new impetus and a new spirit to the Church’s prayer, shortly before Vatican Council II and during its celebration, asked the faculty of Benedictines on the Aventine Hill to establish a center for study and research to ensure a solid basis for conciliar liturgical reform”.

Referring to the title chosen for the congress: “The Pontifical Liturgical Institute: Between Memory and Prophecy”, the Pope said that the “‘memory’ pertains to the very life of the Institute that has offered its contribution to the Church dedicated to the reception of the Second Vatican Council over fifty years of academic liturgical formation”.

[You were, perhaps, waiting for something more interesting…]

Benedict XVI highlighted that, “with the term ‘prophecy’, our gaze opens to new horizons. The Liturgy of the Church goes beyond the ‘conciliar reform’, [pay attention… ] the objective of which in fact was not mainly to change the rites and texts but rather to renew the mentality and to put the celebration of Christ’s paschal mystery at the center of Christian life and pastoral work. [There’s more…] Unfortunately the liturgy has perhaps been seen – even by us, pastors and experts – more as an object to reform than a subject capable of renewing Christian life, [Get that?  It became the “object” when it was supposed to be the “subject”.] seeing that “a very close and organic bond exists between the renewal of the liturgy and the renewal of the whole life of the Church“.  [From the onset of the pontificate I have argue that central to Pope Benedict’s vision was a renewal of Catholic identity, and that renewal required a proper liturgical praxis in continuity, not rupture, with our tradition.  This is how the Council should be read.  This is how our liturgical worship should be conducted.]

“The liturgy, … lives a proper and constant relationship between sound ‘traditio’ and legitimate ‘progressio’, clearly seen by the conciliar constitution Sancrosanctum Concilium at paragraph 23. … Not infrequently are tradition and progress in awkward opposition. Actually though, the two concepts are interwoven: tradition is a living reality that, in itself, includes the principle of development, of progress”.  [The core of SC 23 reads: “That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress….” and “Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.”]

[…]

The concluding remarks are the usual blah blah.

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3 Responses to Benedict XVI and the tension of liturgical “traditio” and “progressio”

  1. Something that is missed in many quarters, both liberal and conservative (I hate those terms!) is the interiority that is absolutely necessary for both celebrant, those involved in ministering at the Altar, and the faithful. It’s not enough to have the traditional “externals”…interior prayer, preparation for Holy Mass, “lectio divina” with the holy texts of the Sacred Liturgy and proper dispositions (interior recollection, freedom from mortal sin, a desire to encounter God) demand a lot of time and attention.
    Pope Benedict is emphasizing this.
    A mere return to the traditional externals will not bring about “holiness”…the commitment to daily prayer, virtuous living and the love for the Sacred Liturgy (which means interiorizing the very texts and sentiments) will bring about the fruits of worship “in spirit and truth”.
    Thank the good Lord for our Pope…he’s absolutely incredible.

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    The Liturgy of the Church goes beyond the ‘conciliar reform’, the objective of which in fact was not mainly to change the rites and texts but rather to renew the mentality and to put the celebration of Christ’s paschal mystery at the center of Christian life and pastoral work. Unfortunately the liturgy has perhaps been seen – even by us, pastors and experts – more as an object to reform than a subject capable of renewing Christian life

    Doesn’t this say that the intent of Vatican II was to rejuvenate interior participation in the liturgy rather than to reform the structure of the Mass? If so, isn’t the Pope calling here for an authentic reinterpretation of the Council–and suggesting that the liturgical reform that has occurred was not what the Council intended in Sacrosanctum Concilium?

  3. The point is that, rather than observing Mass from the outside (no matter what our reasons and how good they are) and tinkering with it (in whatever direction), the important thing is to go inside the Mass and let Christ observe and tinker with you.