Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fr. Jeremy Driscoll on Liturgical Reform

There’s an informative video (below) and accompanying article provided by the June 15, 2012 edition of CatholicNewsService. (H/T Chant Café for the video)

The tag on the YouTube video says: “This week's Vatican Report features an interview with Benedictine Father Jeremy Driscoll, speaking about the liturgical reform that followed the Second Vatican Council.” 

I’ve provided a transcript below the video.

Here’s an excerpt from the article. Read more here.

Even among the vast majority of Catholics who have accepted the Mass in its current form, debates often occur over aspects of worship that include choices in sacred music, the correct manner of receiving Communion, and, in the English-speaking world, the revised translation of the Mass, which was introduced last year.

Yet according to one distinguished scholar, such disputes are largely rooted not in the liturgical texts themselves, but in contemporary misunderstandings about the very nature of Catholic worship.

Benedictine Father Jeremy Driscoll is a professor at Rome's Pontifical Athenaeum of San Anselmo and the author of a guidebook for non-experts, "What Happens at Mass."

A zealous debunker of what he regards as false dichotomies and oppositions, Father Driscoll rejects a common complaint that the reform has turned the Mass into a communal meal at the expense of its traditional sacrificial dimension, or that it places excessive importance on the faithful instead of focusing on God.

Transcript of the Video

The Liturgical Reform

We associate the reform of the liturgy with the desire of the Council expressed especially in its document Sacrosanctum Concilium. But the document in itself is not sufficient in indicating the reform or the limits of the reform I would say either one.

Because in fact the Church lives after a Council and continues to do its work; and the reform was indicated in broad strokes by the Council was continued under the pontificate of Paul VI.

A Loss of the Sacred?

The missal of Paul VI does not presume any less reverence at all than the Tridentine missal.

We Americans in any case rather have come naturally to think that in the liturgy we want to express ourselves, and if it doesn’t feel like us, then we don’t want to say it!

But the whole tradition of liturgy is not primarily expressive of where people are and what they want to say to God. Instead it is impressive. It forms us, and it is always bigger than any given community that celebrates it.

Mass Facing the People

I think the mass can be celebrated very beautifully and worthily in either direction. The question is what the priest understands his role to be, and how he expresses [it] in his style of celebration.

If he’s facing the assembly and the assembly is gathered around the altar, you’re making a kind of visual symbol, rightly, a symbol of the whole community united. The symbol is slightly tweaked if the priest turns toward the east…you hear it said, “turning his back to the people”. Well, that’s a misinterpretation of what the priest is doing, and it’s sort of like “that guy has turned his back on us.” No; it’s Christ, the priest, turns to face the Father, with his people behind him. That’s what it means.

People can feel offended by what they call the priest turning his back and you can’t see what’s happening. But in fact there is nothing to see! The mystery is invisible no matter which way you turn, so that’s why we shouldn’t fight about it – “I can’t see, I can’t see!” No! You can’t!

Sacrifice or Supper?

Sacrifices are meals. That’s a way in which one participates in a sacrifice.  Very close to that question that you’ll hear the same sort of worry or complaint is that the Tridentine Mass is focused on God, and the Mass of Paul VI is focused on the assembly.

Textually, that is not true, but in our talk perhaps we’ve made that mistake. But they’re inextricable. Christ is crucified, risen, sends the Spirit, for the sake of building the Church.  

You can’t have Mass without, in the end, noticing the Church, that is to say noticing the community. That’s the whole purpose of it. But that’s different from the community expressing itself. That’s a mistake! The community is impressed, indeed comes into being precisely because of God’s action. And precisely by focusing on God, the community comes into being.

So again, those are false opposites, those are not to be opposed.
Active Participation

Participation doesn’t necessarily mean doing something. Participation – the deepest participation – on the part of the assembly is following it. The missal of Paul VI is presuming that the people understand themselves – and are instructed in this way – understand themselves to be involved in the ritual action from start to finish. And that their very presence in the church is participation – to hear the Word, to sing the song, to stand now, to kneel now. To receive the Sacrament. That’s participation.

Criticism and the Reform

Basically the reason to be critical would be to say, is this working, was this a good move or not? And of course it can be changed further. As we look at things that were eliminated, and perhaps regret their loss, of course those can be put back in in a new form of the missal.

So I think it’s a living product that takes place under the guidance of Peter.

For more posts on the Mass on this blog, click on the "TLM and Liturgy" tab at the top of the page.

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