Saturday, 14 May 2011

The enabling grace of "Universae Ecclesiae"

The new Instruction Universae Ecclesiae points to the freedom of the Church in its Liturgy, which is the high point of her life. It opens up the whole Church to a much greater liturgical horizon than has been possible for some time. We have lived, for some decades now, an inadequte liturgical settlement, in which there was on one hand, an entrenched and disapproved of Tridentine usage, and on the other, a poorly initiated and developed New usage, both sides being prejudiced against the other.

The atmosphere which has surrounded this liturgical polarity has been, in my experience, one of personal opinion (like this one), narrow mindedness and an abscence of liturgical formation. In fact, the Church needs to occupy a much greater space than that which the liturgical settlement of the last forty years has permitted. It is a shame that we did not have the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum some years ago.

From the Council there was a clear desire to reform the old Rite (which was then never undertaken), and now there is a clear need to develop the new Rite so that it can be more Catholic. B16 has developed the context for this to take place. An era of inadequate dogmatism is being replaced by an era of freedom for reform. B16 is ushering in an era of openness to what the Liturgy is, rather than what we think it is. It is the way into the Mystery of Christ, who has the power to transform us.

Both sides may see inadequacies and deficiences in the new Instruction, but this document cannot be either totally prescriptive, nor can it legislate against prejudices, which ever side they are on. But it is endeavouring to establish a context in which the whole and undiminished Liturgy (which includes Latin, all the elements of the Tradition, and the developed sense of the Church that the liturgical reform has given us), can be better seen, celebrated and engaged with.

Thank you, Holy Father.

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