Skip to comments.The “Reform of the Reform” Has Already Begun (Benedict XVI Alert!)
Posted on 04/28/2005 10:53:14 AM PDT by NYer
ROMA, April 28, 2005 -On Sunday, April 24, Benedict XVI inaugurated his Petrine ministry as bishop of Romein the sunlight of a Saint Peters Square overflowing with crowds.
But his first intention was different. He had wanted to celebrate his first solemn mass as pope, not in the square, but inside the basilica of Saint Peter. Because there the architecture better directs the attention toward Christ, instead of the pope, he told the masters of ceremonies on Wednesday, April 20, his first full day as the elected pope. Only the immense number of faithful who were coming induced him to change his mind and celebrate the mass outdoors.
That same day, speaking to the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, he immediately made it clear that in the first place of his agenda for the papacy, above anything else, would be the Eucharist. He defined this as the permanent center and source of the Petrine ministry that has been entrusted to me
For him, the form and the substance of liturgical celebrations are intimately connected. And their disarray is expressed in a passage of the startling meditations that he wrote, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, for the Stations of the Cross last Good Friday: How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that He is there! Here He refers to Jesus Christ crucified and risen, the great missing person of so many new liturgies, which have become meaningless dances around the golden calf that is ourselves
For Benedict XVI, in the great sweep of Christian history the mass, or Eucharist, is the sacrament that creates the Church. It is the model for the Church, and at the same time it presents the image of the Church to the world.
He repeated this to the cardinals in the first speech outlining his agenda: the Eucharist is the heart of Christian life, and the source of the Churchs mission of evangelization
For this reason, he devoted the highest attention to the celebration of the beginning of his pontificate, which was singular in the history of the modern popes for its lavishness and eloquence of symbols.
First of all, there was the place. This included the circus where the emperor Nero had the apostle Peter martyred. Gianlorenzo Bernini redesigned this during the 1600s in the form of an amphitheater facing the new imperial dais, the pediment of the basilica, at the summit of which stands the risen Christ with the banner of his triumph, the cross which has been transformed into a trophy. And Benedict XVI, the latest successor of Peter, wanted to begin the celebration from this particular spot: the tomb of the apostle beneath the basilicas main altar. And it is there that he received his insignia: the patriarchs woolen pallium, and the ring of the fisher of men
Act Two: the procession. What the faithful gathered in the square could not see, they watched on the huge television screens, like the viewers in the most far-flung countries. The new pope, with the line of cardinals in front of him, processed from the center of the basilica toward the square, behind the cross and the book of the Gospels. The baldacchino with its spiral columns, another of Berninis brilliant inventions, framed him in perspective and seemed to move together with him. But what really set the visual atmosphere was the stained glass depiction of the Holy Spirit in the apse, set at the center of rays of light, which touched the cathedra of the apostle Peter with flame, braided the columns of the baldacchino, and, outside, filled the colonnade in the square, making it the sacred stage of the Church on its journey between heaven and earth.
Accompanying the procession was the chant of the "Laudes Regiae," pure Gregorian chant from the time>of Charlemagne. Benedict XVI is very demanding in this regard as well. The choir of the Sistine Chapel sang exclusively Gregorian chant and classic polyphony, all in Latin.
Even after the ceremony, while the pope was going around the square greeting the faithful from a roofless vehicle, the background music was carefully chosen: the Toccata and Fugue in D minor for organ, by Johannes Sebastian Bach.
Of course, the heart of the entire liturgy was the mass celebrated in the basilicas courtyard. The pope presided, but around him and at the altar was the circle of the more than one hundred concelebrating cardinals. And what especially caught ones attention, more so than ever, was the tapestry that had been hung over the central door of the basilica, showing the true protagonist of the sacrament: the risen Christ, who, on the shore of the lake, broke bread with the apostles and commanded Peter to nourish the Church, as found in the last chapter of the Gospel of John, which was sung in both Latin and Greek.
There was no word in the homily of an agenda for this pontificate. But the facts themselves spoke out. The mass itself was a realization of the first point of the agenda that had been announced four days earlier.
In the homily, Benedict XVI explained the symbols and readings of the ceremony. He spoke of the pallium as the yoke of Christ, as the lamb that had been lost and then saved from an outer and interior wilderness, as God who became a sacrificial lamb for a world that has been saved by the Crucified One, and not by the crucifiers. He then spoke of the ring of the fisherman, the net of the Gospel that pulls men out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God. Then there was the final be not afraid, because each of us is the result of a thought of God, each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary, not some casual and meaningless product of evolution
With his extraordinary passion for the liturgy, Benedict XVI is unquestionably a pope of the great tradition of liturgical texts, rituals, art, and music. Vatican Council II also began from this point: the most memorable mark it has left is that of liturgical reform.
But from the very beginning Ratzinger saw and denounced the distortions of this reform. He went so far as to write: They are the dead burying the dead, and they call it reform
The last complete book that he wrote -not a collection of essays -was published in 2001 under the title An Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy, and it outlines a reform of the reform. Its criticisms also apply to many of the innovations of showmanship that were introduced into the mass rituals dear to John Paul II.
Benedict XVIs first trip within Italy will be to the National Eucharistic Congress in Bari at the end of May. He has announced that he will give particular prominence to the feast of Corpus Domini in June. At World Youth Day in August, he will put the Eucharist at the center. In October, he will preside over a synod of bishops completely dedicated to The Eucharist, source and summit of the Churchs life and mission. The first speaker at the synod will be Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, one of Ratzingers disciples.
But more than anything else, the papal liturgies themselves will be for the whole world a prototype of the reform of the reform
The inaugural mass on Sunday, April 24 was an impressive first example of this.
Before he was elected pope, Joseph Ratzinger was best known and most fiercely opposed for one thing in particular: the August 6, 2000 declaration Dominus Jesus, on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church.
Benedict XVI did not cite this explicitly during his first week as pope. But in the opening mass of his pontificate, on Sunday, April 24, he did in fact repeat with great emphasis the central doctrine of Dominus Jesus. This doctrine is the nucleus of the faith of the New Testament.
In his homily, he said that his agenda is not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him.
No sooner said than done. The first reading of the mass was from the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 4, in which Peter says of Jesus:
There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved.
That same day, Sunday, April 24, in all the churches of the world the Gospel reading was from the fourteenth chapter of John, in which Jesus says of himself:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.
Musically, these two Masses were quite congruent with the reforms proposed by Vatican II, and with certain reforms that preceded it. (The papal funeral, less the responsory Credo, may also be counted.)
Congratulations to the Latin faithful and to the College of Cardinals on the selection.
That's good news.
of course, he himself has emphasized many times that the theologians closest to his heart are the Greek and Latin Fathers.
Viva il Papa!
Sadly, this is impossible.
But happily, the best solution for liturgical problems is also the best solution for all the rest of the Church's problems.
If every bishop is selected for godliness and Christian obedience rather than for politicking and fundraising ability, then things will improve.
"For Benedict XVI, in the great sweep of Christian history the mass, or Eucharist, is the sacrament that creates the Church. It is the model for the Church, and at the same time it presents the image of the Church to the world."
Given His Holiness' well know dedication to the patristic writings of the Fathers, I suspect that when he speaks of the Eucharist he in fact means the sacrament itself primarily and the Mass secondarily as that event during which the Eucharist is celebrated. His focus on the Eucharist as being definitional of the Church is very patristic. Among the earliest f the Fathers, +Ignatius of Antioch placed the Eucharist at the very center of The Church as is demonstrated by continuing themes in his letters like this snip from his Letter to the Philadelphians which also displays his image of the fullness of The Church subsisting in a single diocese:
"Take care, then, to partake of one Eucharist; for, one is the Flesh of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the cup to unite us with His Blood, and one altar, just as there is one bishop assisted by the presbytery and the deacons, my fellow servants. Thus you will conform in all your actions to the will of God."
Bumping for a later read. This sure is going to be an exciting time!
Outstanding! Did anybody notice at the Papal Installation Mass that at communion time, a female speaker advised Catholics in attendence to examine their consciences to make sure that they receive Our Lord in the right disposition(paraphrasing)?! I've seen a number of Masses at the Vatican but I don't ever recall people being reminded to examine their consciences! One more thing, again paraphrasing, non-Catholics were,in a nice way, told that since they were not in full communion,they could not receive.I could only make out every other word but that was the gist of it.
Thank you,The_Reader_David for your wonderful remarks! I'm still so happy about the College of Cardinals electing Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope,that I'm still smiling! A lady at my parish said that she started dancing around when she heard about the election. She said that it was like the Cardinals,with this election, were "in your face" to the World.
I noticed that, and you are right. That is the first time I had heard it, too. It was not said during the Funeral Mass.
I'm glad that you heard it too,Miss Marple! I wondered if anybody else heard it too.
NYer, is it just me, but wasn't the gospel reading at this mass the same as the second reading?
Yes I heard that and I was very pleased.
A number of Orthodox friends noticed the same thing. In our parish the priests have been saying this, or basically this, for about 18 months. They remind the non-Orthodox that communion is reserved for the Orthodox since we are not in communion with them and then they remind the Orthodox that they may approach only if they are living their lives in accordance with the teachings of the Church, have properly prepared by seeking forgiveness from those they have wronged and fasted.
I doubt that you will be happier than I will.
But I am very pleased to hear that the Easterns are taking note.
Maybe even the Greek Orthodox??
Although I haven't seen him lately, I'm acquainted with a Greek Orthodox priest who is of the "conservative" persuasion here in Milwaukee.
I'll have to ask him what he thinks of B-16. Should be interesting...