Reading SacrCar 23 through the lens of Card. Arinze

I am thinking about the problems with the translation of SacrCar 23. They are serious.  As you know, the translation distorted the Latin and/or Italian focus on the priest leading the liturgical "action" toward the priest leading the "assembly".  That is wrong in so many way, one hardly knows where to begin. 

However, a friend reminded me of Card. Arinze’s marvelous speech in London on 3 April 2006 which I want to call to your minds.  This is a very good lens, or hermeneutic, with which to read SacrCar 23. 

Try this on for size (my emphasis).

"Liturgy", says Pope John Paul II, "is never anyone’s private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated. Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church" (Eccl. de Euch., 52). At the direction of Pope John Paul II, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum in March 2004 "precisely to bring out more clearly this deeper meaning of liturgical norms" (Eccl. de Euch., 52).

It follows that individuals, whether they be priests or lay faithful, are not free to add or subtract any details in the approved rites of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist (cf Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22). A do-it-yourself mentality, an attitude of nobody-will-tell-me-what-to-do, or a defiant sting of if-you-do-not-like-my-Mass-you-can-go-to-another-parish, is not only against sound theology and ecclesiology, but also offends against common sense. Unfortunately, sometimes common sense is not very common, when we see a priest ignoring liturgical rules and installing creativity ­ in his case personal idiosyncracy ­ as the guide to the celebration of Holy Mass. Our faith guides us and our love of Jesus and of his Church safeguards us from taking such unwholesome liberties. Aware that we are only ministers, not masters of the mysteries of Christ (cf I Cor 4:1), we follow the approved liturgical books so that the people of God are respected and their faith nourished, and so that God is honoured and the Church is gradually being built up.

Notice the how Card. Arinze made the connection between obedience to the RITE with both respect for the people and building up the Church.

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  1. danphunter1 says:

    Do you think that this statement by His Eminence will rein in priests who want make it up as they go along?The ones who like to put on an Andrew Lloyd Webber show during mass.
    I ask because this is what is still happening all over the place.How does a marvelous speech like the above get listened to by the majority of priests?Even if someone forced them to listen to it they would do nothing to change their bad theatrics.I have seen it firsthand.
    Prayers are continued for yourself and all priests.
    God bless you.

  2. I see additions to the Mass a lot in parishes, not just on the part of the priest, but also by the laity. They add all sorts of gestures or devotions, some of which I don’t think are appropriate for Mass. I also notice it with not just “liberal” priests, but also “conservatives.” Just because something seems pious and devotional or tradtional, doesn’t mean you can add that to the rite either.

    Sometimes I hear priests say, “well it doesn’t tell me I can’t do that.” But that is turning the purpose of the rubrics on their head. They only tell you what to do, and that is what you do, nothing more nothing less. The proper response to that is, “but does it say you CAN do that?” The rubrics don’t specifically say that I can’t do cartwheels during the readings, but that doesn’t mean I can do them. At that point I am usually told that I am too “rigid.”

    Unfortunately, it is often just due to ignorance. There is a mentality, that it is OK to add or subtact things to the Mass for “pastoral” reasons, even when there is not an option. Again I see this with priests and laity. I saw one place where they just made up half the Palm Sunday things because that was the way the previous priests had done it. Thus nobody knew what was going on.

    It’s definitely frustrating.

  3. catholiclady says:

    Dan P Hunter

    I would venture to say the key is a good bishop who respects and insists on use of the approved liturgical books and norms. I know this has made a difference in our diocese. We still have bad music at many and there are still indult approved altar girls and the lay folks as Roman pointed out still indulge in their hand holding and other gestures imitating the priest but overall I have seen a remarkable improvement in the N.O. Masses I have attended.

    I still prefer the so called Tridentine Mass but since those in the Diocese are some distance from me, I must attend the N.O. and grit my teeth through the music but can be thankful the Mass itself is free of abuses and made up things.

  4. Geri says:

    “Sometimes I hear priests say, ‘well it doesn’t tell me I can’t do that.’ But that is turning the purpose of the rubrics on their head. They only tell you what to do, and that is what you do, nothing more nothing less. The proper response to that is, “but does it say you CAN do that?” The rubrics don’t specifically say that I can’t do cartwheels during the readings, but that doesn’t mean I can do them. At that point I am usually told that I am too ‘rigid.'”

    A usually wrong-headed but seemingly well-read liturgist about Saint Blog’s once cited a rubric from medieval times (I have no idea if the story was apocryphal, or not,) that the celebrant was not to bring along his falcon to the sanctuary for Mass.
    If the tale is true, it gives evidence that such thinking has always been with us.

    At my parish, there is a mindset that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing during Mass, so we have a great many additions, not just of a devotional nature, in fact, but even of a secular nature.

    (Save the liturgy, save the world!)

  5. Andrew says:

    This is so obvious that I am surprised it should merit so much attention. Any child knows that priests who do not stick to the liturgical text are “making up their own Mass”. Let’s hope they don’t have to grasp any more complex ideas, if they struggle with that one.

  6. Andrew: But there are some subtle things in the Holy Father’s text and in the talk of Cardinal Arinze that are simply unacceptable to the brighter of the movers and shapers of the progressivist liturgists… the “bearers of their vision”.

  7. Le Renard says:

    Interesting how this was based on something that Pope John Paul II stated — a supposed Modernist

  8. Diane Lang says:

    I attend a Latin Rite Tridentine Mass in Atlanta. The difference from my old parish is there is no phoney handholding to simulate human connection, or folks dressing like they were at a picnic, or loud children going to the bathroom during any and every part of mass, incessant talking, or sappy left over 60s music. At the Latin Mass there is quiet and simplicity, reverence, modesty in dress and speech, well behaved children, many many young families with more than 1.2 children — all this was and is an absolute joy to experience. It isn’t about nostalgia it is about a good order of life that I can see in the happy faces of people who attend this Mass in this parish. My grown sons never knew anything BUT the Mass in English, hand holding,often horrible music, sermons that amounted to what the TV show Seinfeld was all about—- THEY NOW attend every Sunday. Before I started going to the Latin Rite church their attendance was whenever the month of blue moons came around.

    The young people and families who fill the pews in the Latin Rite churches give me hope all is not lost. That somewhere there are those who still believe in the REAL presence of Christ in the Eucharist, that there is the cross, heaven, hell, sin and salvation and redemption, that the tabernacle is not shunted off to some dark corner, that there is adoration every Friday, that the priest still hear confessions where people line up to receive. As far as I am concerned, attending Mass in English or Latin makes no difference to me as long as there is SOME relation to the Divine, to Christ as the Son of God, to good order and adhering to the doctrines of the Catholic Church as advanced by the Holy Father. What I like about the Tridentine Mass is the silence that allows me on occasion to get close to the Trinity a happenstance I do not expeience in the modern version of the Mass because in many cases it has become one more form of entertainment. Perhaps that is my fault—but some of us are only human and require stillness, silence, reverence in order to come nearer to God. My fellow parishioners I can see after Mass at coffee and doughnuts, holding hands with them during Mass or constant interruptions of the Mass by junk the liturgy committee decides to throw into the mix detracts terribly from what I believe is the reason I am at Mass – to worhsip GOD and to give it my best shot at hearing what HE may be trying to tell me.

  9. T. Spilman says:

    I attended a Latin Mass in our parish and it was awful. Then I went down to Hanceville, AL and at the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament, the Mass was incredibly beautiful. Respect, quiet, altar boys, Communion rail, altar turned around back, a tabernacle, Gregorian chant, constants of the Mass in Latin and rest in English. No phony hand-holding or extraneous gestures (where did they come from?) Our worship should be spectacular as it is the most important event on earth. If their new Bishop will allow it to be televised, people will be able to see what a truly worshipful Mass is – I know I had forgotten.

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