Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The CDW Secretary Speaks

Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the newly-named #2 man at the Congregation for Divine Worship, apparently has a bit of a paper trail....

He wrote a response to Redemptionis Sacramentum, last year's instruction intended to correct liturgical abuses, shortly after its release in L'Osservatore Romano. Some snips:
One wonders why it is that the Church was unable to make the most of the fruits of the Council for a full reawakening of ecclesial faith. Indeed, people appeared who interpreted the Council Documents as a justification for counter-reformist attitudes, that is, the attitudes of those who took the reform to be a relaxation of regulations, which only weakened the Church and took her backwards. Pope Paul VI complained that certain people exploited one or other Council teaching to "impede evangelization" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 80).

I think that the general problem was an erroneous idea of the purpose of the Council. Indeed, speaking of the conciliar reforms, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger says: "The [Council] Fathers wanted to update the faith, indeed, to present it with its full impact. Instead, people gradually formed the idea that the reform consisted merely of throwing out the ballast, in other words, of divesting it so that in the end the reform did not appear to radicalize the faith but to dilute
it" (Salt of the Earth, p. 86).

This erroneous attitude gave rise to theological schools which, by down-playing the importance of Tradition and the ecclesial Magisterium in theological direction and research, have advanced confusing opinions, The same situation has more or less plagued sacramental and especially Eucharistic theology. New approaches of certain other theological disciplines, such as those concerning ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, have influenced events. These bewildering theological opinions on the nature of the sacrament have subsequently given rise to not a few problems....

It is therefore regrettable that one encounters in theological circles reductive interpretations of the greatness and deep significance of the sacrament.

Some people, forgetful of its essentially sacrificial aspect, reduce it to a fraternal banquet. Some confuse the separate role of the ministerial priesthood with the common role, reducing Holy Mass to community prayers over which the priest presides; some also no longer believe in the continual presence of the Lord, and behave inappropriately during and after Mass.

Such attitudes have contributed to weakening the Eucharistic faith of a great number of our faithful and to causing this serious crisis concerning the central place of the Eucharist.

A further cause of the negative effects of the liturgical reform is the arbitrary spirit eager for experimentation and adventure that has guided certain sectors of the Church, especially at the height of the reform.

At that time everything seemed acceptable. The dominant trend was to experiment with all aspects of the celebration. Some experiments were carried out without careful research, for reasons that were not really serious or valid, as a reaction to formalism or even to the authority of the Holy See.

A reform based on such considerations cannot be effective or valid. Intense faith and great love for the Church alone must animate every reform, and especially a liturgical reform.

The erroneous interpretation of the meaning of the role and importance of the local Church and her relationship with the universal Church has also contributed to undermining the Eucharistic liturgy.

The Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, is one, holy, catholic and apostolic. She is fulfilled in every local Church as well as in the universal Church. She is not a confederation of different Churches, but organically one, since Christ, her Head, gives life to her wherever she may be. This is why, as Lumen Gentium states, "[The Bishops must safeguard] the unity of the faith and the unique divine structure of the universal Church" (n. 23).

In the difficult post-conciliar years, certain theological trends sought to present these two manifestations of the same reality as opposite poles. Some, therefore, justified certain experiments in liturgical matters as "a right" of the local Churches, without even considering the universal nature of the Church and the damage such experiments could cause.

I also believe that another cause of the crisis is neglect of or insufficient insistence on the aspects of the mystery and the mysticism of the sacrament. What happens on the altar really is a mystery for it is invisible to our eyes. Jesus in the Eucharist gives himself ceaselessly to the heavenly Father and to his brothers and sisters, while he becomes God-sacrificed-for-us and our spiritual and heavenly food. The bread and wine are truly changed, through a mystery of faith, into the real Body and Blood of Christ. He continues what he began on Calvary, offering himself as a sacrifice for the expiation of our sins in a continuous process of cosmic liberation, hence creating the "new heavens and a new earth" (II Pt 3:13).
Strong stuff. And that's just two segements.