Church and Religion

"Sacrosanctum Concilium" co-author reflects on liturgy 40 years after council

One of the authors of Vatican II's liturgy document, "Sacrosanctum Concilium", has said that the changes in the liturgy could turn the Mass into a social event, with the trivialisation of language and elimination of the sacred.

Speaking at the annual Canisius Lecture at Boston College on April 17 2007, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the archbishop of Malines-Brussels, said the new liturgy was an "unstoppable succession of words" with little time for reflection. He said the faithful needed time and space to leave the chaos of the world behind. In order to do that, they also needed silence.

"It must be very difficult to imagine, for those who have not experienced it for themselves, just how much liturgical practice has changed in the last half century," he said.

He said the aim of the liturgical movement, which originated in Belgium, was to initiate active participation for lay people. But there could be a "shadow side," with the changes leading to a "taking possession of the liturgy".

In some cases, this could lead to a situation where "the sacred is eliminated, the language trivialised and the cult turned into a social event or a piece of theatre," he said. In these situations, the real subject of liturgy was no longer Christ.

Even with the use of the vernacular, the Cardinal said, problems still existed. He said words like Easter, resurrection and the Eucharist could not be replaced. Like some words in the liturgy, they must be learned.

The Cardinal said that, since Christian liturgy could not be known from human experience alone, it demanded catechesis. At the liturgy's core was a mystery that must be accepted through openness and faith. It is that mystery that God, through the Catholic Church, offered to all people, he added.

"I see even in the secularised world we live in, the attention for liturgy and for symbols is growing and growing and growing," he said. "Many people are looking for something more profound."

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Online, 24/05/2024 às 16:53:12h