ROME: Sacra Liturgia Conference – Day 3

We are getting underway on the 3rd Day of the Sacred Liturgy Conference.

The first speaker is Fr. Michael Uwe Lang of the Brompton Oratory, one Sacred Architecture at the Service of the Church.

Non linguistic signs may be more important than words.


Fr. Lang examined what happens to church architecture when the wrong starting points are adopted. He assigned more blame to ecclesiastics rather than to architects. If the theological starting points are wrong-headed, the building will not serve its proper purpose. Lang posited that many modern (really ugly, failure) churches take as their starting points the notion of Rahner, and then Schillebeecxk, that sacraments recognize preexisting realities rather than confer grace. Contrast that with Sacrosanctum Concilium 7.


The next talk was by dom Alcuin Reid, who spoke to the need of a true “spirit of the liturgy”. To recover a proper liturgical spirit, and therefore to foster authentic “actual participation”, we need a kind of lectio divina in sound liturgical sources and commentaries.


Now my old friend Archbp. Sample is speaking about the role of diocesan bishop in regulating the liturgical life of a local church. He says that safeguarding he liturgical life of the diocese should be one of the highest priorities for a bishop.


He cited the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Bishops’ Pastoral Office in the Church, Christus Dominus, in speaking of the diocesan bishop, states: “In fulfilling their duty to sanctify, bishops should be mindful that they have been taken from among men and appointed their representatives before God in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Bishops enjoy the fullness of the sacrament of orders, and all priests as well as deacons are dependent upon them in the exercise of authority … Therefore bishops are the principal dispensers of the mysteries of God, just as they are the governors, promoters and guardians of the entire liturgical life in the church committed to them.” (Christus Dominus, 15)

He goes on to talk about preventing abuses from creeping into the celebration of sacraments and sacramentals.


At the after noon session, we have a talk by the great Msgr. Nicola Bux!

Before he began, he told an anecdote about an Italian priest who went to the new bishop and said that he was celebrating the older form of Mass. The bishop, on the edge of indifference, shrugged and said that it was okay but that it wasn’t a “priority”.

It isn’t a priority? Consider that Benedict XVI’s letter to bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum points out that in some places the faith is dying out. That being the case, we have to start again from the liturgy and adoration of God. So, the Roman Rite IS a priority. We have to have our fons et culmen. If we want to evangelize we go to liturgy. We are in a critical period for the Roman Rite. It is about to be snuffed out. If it weren’t for Benedict XVI we would be in serious straights. We might look again at SC 37 with a stricter view. It, with SP, could be tools for rebuilding the Roman Rite.


Bux also reminded us that in the famous verse of the letter of St. Peter, in which we are admonished to be ready to reasons for the faith we have, we are not to be intimidated and we are to adore God in our hearts (cf 1 Peter 3).

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. L. says:

    Father, these reports about the conference are very interesting. I regret to say, however, that when reading them I feel like golfing legend Bobby Jones when he saw a young Jack Nicklaus win the 1965 Master’s, and said he “was playing a game with which I am not familiar.”

    I hope I get the chance some day in my diocese to become familiar with it.

  2. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “….the notion of Rahner, and then Schillebeecxk, that sacraments recognize preexisting realities rather than confer grace.”

    Lemme get this straight. If you boil down all the ten-dollar words that make no sense, Rahner and improbable consonantal blend guy are BABTISTS!? Hardshell Baptists? Except without the fun, the bobbiecue, the church suppers, the Wednesday night services, or the devoutness?!?

    Shee-yit, and they call themselves highfalutin’ academicals. God love ’em, but we got plenty of Baptists here at home without going to any of these here German universities. And they’re better cooks, too. I sure am glad I never wasted a braincell on reading ’em.

  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Back to topic and away from my bad Joe Bob Briggs imitation (Pope Joe Bob I: “Gun fu, knife fu, miracle fu, holy water fu. Heads will roll.”).

    Yes, a lot of churches deliberately ape the outside world (especially malls and auditoriums), and a lot of priests and laypeople are hostile to the idea that church and Mass are where “we lift up our hearts to the Lord,” not just where we hang out and listen to secular boring yadda for an hour, before peeling out of the parking lot with a bulletin.

    Of course, there’s also the newish tendency toward “church architecture that looks better where Father’s gaze rests, so that the people have to look at beige but behind their backs it’s pretty.” It’s been driving me nuts, why some of the ugliest churches have such nice back walls and doorways. Yeah, all for Father’s benefit while he’s saying Mass, which is nice for him but not so nice for those of us without eyes in our backs.

  4. Andrew says:

    Rahner: The sacraments constitute the manifestation of the holiness and the redeemed state of the secular dimension of human life and of the world. [] God is adored, experienced and accepted everywhere … adoration of him takes place not in Jerusalem alone but everywhere …

    Sacrosanctum Concilium 8: In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims.

    We journey as pilgrims. Except for Rahner. He’s staying.

  5. Gratias says:

    Conferences like these are very useful in keeping the Faith. Glad you are there to report to us Father Z.

  6. pvmkmyer says:

    “Fr. Lang examined what happens to church architecture when the wrong starting points are adopted. ”
    As a Catholic in the LA Archdiocese I can tell you what happens to church architecture: the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

  7. Wow Father, this conference and the people here are awesome. On the unfortunate side, while many good things are being said here, I doubt few, if any priests or bishops will heed these words and the institutional Church is going to collapse big time in the future. In other words, the higher ups (and the laity educated by said higher ups) just don’t give a rat’s behind about any of this. It seems sometimes like its only our Holy Father, but even with he, it seems, the EF is a smaller priority in his pontificate.

    On the Brightside, I have an acquaintace here in this conference as a layman, and he shared this from the one of the greatest minds today for the EF, the Mighty Dom Alcuin Reid of Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described fame!!!:

    “In terms of trying to form modern man, we have failed, we have emptied our churches, emptied our monasteries and religious houses, and maybe even heaven. Liturgy cannot be formed to the spirit of the modern world, rather a true spirit of the liturgy must be revived.” Dom Alcuin Reid

    Man are you and the other participants blessed! I wish I was there.

  8. One of those TNCs says:

    I took away a different lesson from the quotation from Rahner, in the second photo posted.

    I thought that the quotation fit perfectly not only for church architecture, but also for Christian witness. We, too, must “erect” ourselves to be a “landmark” and “sign” for God in this world.

    ESPECIALLY in today’s world, where Christians far too often would rather hide than stand out and be noticed. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil…”

  9. ejcmartin says:

    I just found out my neighbour is at the conference (and this from a town of approximately 1,000 people). He is a very gifted organist and is dragging a lot of the diocese kicking and screaming to a more sacred liturgy. Unfortunately he suffers a lot from the “powers that be” who are much more Rahneresque in outlook. Keep him in your prayers.

  10. ehbehb says:

    Is the Roman Rite really about to be snuffed out? I went to talk to a priest today in Annapolis and asked him straight up about the Latin Mass. I really want to have Latin Mass here but I am a new, young Catholic who just moved here. Please send prayers. Everyone. Thank you.

  11. Suburbanbanshee says:

    St. John Neumann’s in Montgomery Village MD has the EF Mass at 1:30 PM on Sundays. Is that close to Annapolis?

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Oh, and there’s an 11 AM at St. Francis de Sales in Benedict, MD (heh, fitting). I’m sure there’s other EF Masses in Maryland, if you do a websearch. Sorry I don’t have any local geography knowledge!

  13. acardnal says:

    Here is a GREAT video interview from CNS with Cardinal Ranjith while he was at the Sacra Liturgia conference in Rome this week. He asks “where is the mystery” in the Novus Ordo liturgy”? He says the TLM/EF has preserved it. The liturgy needs mystery.

  14. JMody says:

    SC is rather full of contradictions and vague expressions — Ferrara wrote that had it been written by a lawyer charged with defending the Rite, it could have got him sued for malfeasance. We really do need to start considering what would happen if we were to ignore something that is openly stated to be non-dogmatic.

  15. ehbehb says:

    Is it uncatholic to church shop and go out of your parish? I live in downtown Annapolis…. I was thinking that the low attendance in church has something to do with the Mass offered. (The supposed statistic is 40% attend Sunday, 16,000 in parish).

  16. ehbehb says:

    And thank you, surburbanbanshee

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