Sunday 20 March 2011

A Roman visitor

Last week Cardinal Raymond Burke the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature came to Sydney, his first visit to Australia. Much of his time he gave to young people. His address to the Australian Catholic Students Association was very well received as he addressed the contemporary challenge of living and building the Christian Life in a neo-pagan culture. A summary of his talk has been published by Zenit.

The Cardinal also spoke at the tremendously formative monthly "Theology on Tap" in Parramatta (photo above). He addressed the question of how to concretely promote the Culture of Life: I was present for this talk and was very struck by how the Cardinal held the attention of maybe five hundred young people in a city pub. The new generation of young people in Sydney are so keen and so glad to have their spiritual fathers come to visit and are happy to hear any message of truth.

The Cardinal also treated us to a celebration of a Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form. The Mass was celebrated in a city Parish Church and drew one of Sydney's Auxiliary Bishops together with a huge throng of young people. It is a rare occasion today for people to witness the older form of the Liturgy with full pontificals, and to experience the Liturgy as it used to be. First of all, it is essential that young people have a point of reference in the old Liturgy so that they can see where we have come from - what the Liturgy used to look like. Fortunately this is possible today, and clearly the young Catholics of Sydney were very grateful to Cardinal Burke for allowing them to experience this rare form of the Liturgy. For a number of decades, people both young and old were denied this experience (apart from England and Wales where from 1971 a Pauline Indult had allowed the use of the older Liturgy), and the opportunity for having a greater appreciation of the Church's Liturgy.
Many young Catholics are seeking "form" both in the Liturgy and in their Spiritual lives, and it is appropriate that the Church is now responding to this desire. I think that it is also necessary that the other part of the equation be attended to; namely, to provide formation and catechesis about the older Liturgy and its structure, so that Christ rather than Liturgical forms might be whole focus of these expereinces. In other words, as well as the older Liturgy being celebrated, it needs to be studied and appreciated from the perspective of Christ, rather from that of mere ritual.

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