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The Spirit of the Liturgy
Una Voce ^
| November 17, 2002
| Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Posted on 11/24/2002 4:55:40 PM PST by ultima ratio
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Contact Excerpt from Cardinal Ratzinger's The Sprit of the Liturgy Rites are not rigidly fenced off from each other. There is exchange and cross-fertilization between them. The clearest example is in the case of the two great focal points of ritual development: Byzantium and Rome. In their present form, most of the Eastern rites are very strongly marked by Byzantine influences. For its part, Rome has increasingly united the different rites of the West in the universal Roman rite. While Byzantium gave a large part of the Slavic world its special form of divine worship, Rome left its liturgical imprint on the Germanic and Latin peoples and on a part of the Slavs.
In the first millennium there was still liturgical exchange between East and West. Then, of course, the rites hardened into their definitive forms, which allowed hardly any cross-fertilization. What is important is that the great forms of rite embrace many cultures. They not only incorporate the diachronic aspect, but also create communion among different cultures and languages. They elude control by any individual, local community, or regional Church. Unspontaneity is of their essence. In these rites I discover that something is approaching me here that I did not produce myself, that I am entering into something greater than myself, which ultimately derives from divine revelation. That is why the Christian East calls the liturgy the "Divine Liturgy", expressing thereby the liturgy's independence from human control.
The West, by contrast, has felt ever more strongly the historical element, which is why Jungmann tried to sum up the Western view in the phrase "the liturgy that has come to be". He wanted to show that this coming-to-be still goes on as an organic growth, not as a specially contrived production. The liturgy can be compared, therefore, not to a piece of technical equipment, something manufactured, but to a plant, something organic that grows and whose laws of growth determine the possibilities of further development.
In the West there was, of course, another factor. With his Petrine authority, the pope more and more clearly took over responsibility for liturgical legislation, thus providing a juridical authority for the continuing formation of the liturgy. The more vigorously the primacy was displayed, the more the question came up about the extent and limits of this authority, which, of course, as such had never been considered. After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West.
In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the liturgy. It is not "manufactured" by the authorities. Even the pope can only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and identity. Here again, as with the questions of icons and sacred music, we come up against the special path trod by the West as opposed to the East. And here again is it true that this special path, which finds space for freedom and historical development, must not be condemned wholesale. However, it would lead to the breaking up of the foundations of Christian identity if the fundamental intuitions of the East, which are the fundamental intuitions of the early Church, were abandoned. The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition. Still less is any kind of general "freedom" of manufacture, degenerating into spontaneous improvisation, compatible with the essence of faith and liturgy. The greatness of the liturgy depends we shall have to repeat this frequently on its unspontaneity (Unbeliebigkeit).
Let us ask the question again: "What does 'rite' mean in the context of Christian liturgy?" The answer is: "It is the expression, that has become form, of ecclesiality and of the Church's identity as a historically transcendent communion of liturgical prayer and action." Rite makes concrete the liturgy's bond with that living subject which is the Church, who for her part is characterized by adherence to the form of faith that has developed in the apostolic Tradition. This bond with the subject that is the Church allows for different patterns of liturgy and includes living development, but it equally excludes spontaneous improvisation. This applies to the individual and the community, to the hierarchy and the laity. Because of the historical character of God's action, the "Divine Liturgy" (as they call it in the East) has been fashioned, in a way similar to Scripture, by human beings and their capacities. But it contains an essential exposition of the biblical legacy that goes beyond the limits of the individual rites, and thus it shares in the authority of the Church's faith in its fundamental form. The authority of the liturgy can certainly be compared to that of the great confessions of faith of the early Church. Like these, it developed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13).
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2000), pp. 164-167).
Posted 17 November 2002/sl
(Excerpt) Read more at unavoce.org ...
TOPICS: Catholic; Worship
KEYWORDS: easternrites; liturgy; romanrite
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To: ultima ratio
Part of it has to do with the differences between Latibn and Greek. The former is curt, so the Roman Liturgy early on became shorter than the Greek Liturgy it replaced.
posted on 11/24/2002 5:06:49 PM PST
To me the key passage is this: "THE AUTHORITY OF THE POPE IS NOT UNLIMITED. IT IS AT THE SERVICE OF SACRED TRADITION." That is not a notion that sits well with a great many Catholics on this site.
To: ultima ratio; crazykatz; don-o; JosephW; lambo; MarMema; MoJoWork_n; newberger; Petronski; ...
"THE AUTHORITY OF THE POPE IS NOT UNLIMITED. IT IS AT THE SERVICE OF SACRED TRADITION."
From the Eastern perspective, the authority of the Pope does not exceed that of any other Patriarch.
I'm not saying this to offend, but to deliniate how far apart East and West remain.
I do not believe there is anything else that I can add.
posted on 11/24/2002 8:50:49 PM PST
To: ultima ratio
Of course the authority of the pope is subject to Tradition. The question is, however, what is traditional and what is customary?
posted on 11/24/2002 8:59:58 PM PST
It is a distinction without a difference. Customary means habitual practice, Tradition means that which is handed-down. None of this precludes gradual change, as the popes and councils themselves have taught and as Ratzinger is at pains to point out. What Tradition cannot be is revolutionary or radical.
No one can deny that what has been going on since Vatican II has been a radical assault on Tradition. The Novus Ordo was a fabrication to start with and a radical break with the past. But there have been many other departures from Tradition as well, both in what is taught and what has been doctrinally suppressed. This has been tantamount to a break with the faith itself.
Insofar as the Pope approves of such a course, he transcends his authority. In fact he has taken a solemn oath to do just the opposite and to defend Traditional teachings and practices. Thus the faithful are placed on the horns of a dilemma. They can either follow the novelties modernists are instituting with the approval of the Pope, or they can stick with Tradition and with the faith itself.
To: ultima ratio
But neither you nor I have the right to make such distinctions. Boniface VIII made some way-out claims of direct secular authority which were supported by many in Rome for a long while. In the end they were rejected by Bellarmin when Sixtus V, his boss, began to entertain them. The Jebbie would have lost his job had not the pope died.
posted on 11/24/2002 10:42:20 PM PST
So what are you saying? Certainly we know what a tradition is--or else language has lost all meaning. The Pope takes an oath not to alter Tradition. Tradition is called "God-given" in the Papal Oath. Vatican I affirms that the popes must guard Sacred Tradition--which it identifies with revelation. Tradition is accordingly that which has been received from the apostles themselves--handed-down to us through the ages. By this definition the old Latin Mass is above all else traditional and apostolic. Ratzinger himself says--as did Pius XII--that it had evolved under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The new liturgy, on the other hand, was fabricated out of whole cloth by an ad hoc committee and is the very antithesis of something traditional, being an innovation that breaks with our Catholic past. None of this is obscure.
To: ultima ratio
In these rites I discover that something is approaching me here that I did not produce myself, that I am entering into something greater than myself, which ultimately derives from divine revelation. That is why the Christian East calls the liturgy the "Divine Liturgy", expressing thereby the liturgy's independence from human control.
And, the liturgy is an expression of the church community toward God and toward one another, as well as a teaching tool for novice churchmembers and a vehicle to lift oneself up to God. I cannot imagine the uproar which would be heard if a change in the liturgy were suggested to us.
posted on 11/25/2002 4:38:34 AM PST
<> A good question. The answer is that Rome, the Pope, the Magisterium decides what is and isn't Tradition. Ultima and his ilk think they define what is and isn't Traditon.
The Pope occupies the seat of Divinely-constituted authority and Ultima and his ilk are slaves of Satan in their opposition to Divinely-constituted authority. It really is that clear-cut and straightforward. It is mere Christianity. :)<>
I cannot imagine the uproar which would be heard if a change in the liturgy were suggested to us.
You make a good point. No doubt our Eastern Catholic brothers feel the same way. I attended an Eastern Rite (Ukranian) Catholic Church yesterday and it was the first time I ever heard the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. I must say it was very powerful. My wife commented the Mass seemed holier and more mysterious than the ones we normally attend.
posted on 11/25/2002 5:34:52 AM PST
<> That is not necessarily a benificence. The Mass is the Mass is the Mass. Adopting an attitude of "never changing" the Liturgy is to court the error of mistaking the "accidents" of the setting of the Liturgy with the "sustance" of the Mass, the action of Jesus, offering Himself as a Sacrifice of propititiation for His people, as both priest and victim. On these threads one can witness so-called traditionalists making that error repeatedly. They have made of a Rite a superstition
Besides, the Litrugy of St. J. Chrysostom was itself radically changed early on, as you well know<>
Your notion that the Pope decides what is Tradition is absurd. It places the pope above the Holy Spirit and makes him the master of Tradition, not its servant. If he had such authority, he would not have to take a solemn oath on ascending to the papacy to guard Tradition and not to change it. But he does take such an oath under pain of excommunication. This is Ratzinger's point when he reminds us Vatican I set clear limits on the papacy. The pope is not, he says, "an absolute monarch". His power is limited by Tradition which is something he receives and is obliged to pass on. Papal power exists precisely to protect Tradition, not to undermine it or even attack it as the post-conciliar popes have done.
Here is the exact wording of the papal oath: "I vow to change nothing of the received Tradition, and nothing thereof I have found before me guarded by my God-pleasing predecessors, to encroach upon, to alter, or to permit any innovation therein." And here is the Vatican I statement on the limits of papal power: "For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith." This is not done when a pope allows suppression of traditional doctrines out of an exaggerated ecumenism, or when he awards with the red hat apostates who question traditional doctrines or when he invents his own liturgy to replace one which had been divinely inspired.
Besides, the Litrugy of St. J. Chrysostom was itself radically changed early on, as you well know
I wonder if it was considered innovative when St. John Chrysostom introduced it?
posted on 11/25/2002 6:47:55 AM PST
Your conflict is with Ratzinger and Klaus Gamber who know a lot more than you will ever know about the liturgy. Clearly the Mass is NOT the Mass, as you try to argue. One has been divinely ordained and transmitted through the ages, the other has been fabricated by modernists. Your attempt to equate the two is laughable--but also pernicious. The Traditional Mass has Catholic doctrinal underpinnings, the new Mass has Protestant doctrinal underpinnings. For instance, the latter emphasizes the meal aspect of the Mass and suppresses any conscious allusion to the Real Presence. On the contrary, everything is done to deemphasize that doctrine and to suppress its articulation as well as the yearning of the faithful to adore. Hence we have communion in the hands and no kneeling before communion. Do you think this is accidental? Is the removal of the words "Mystery of Faith" from the Consecration accidental as well? You can hardly say so. These are deliberate assaults on Traditional faith in order to appeal to non-Catholics.
The Pope is a divinely constituted authority, yes. No one argues that. To call me a "Slave of Satan" is stupid, however, when I am merely pointing out that the Lord has set limits on the papacy. You do not recognize these--which is why you are essentially a pope-worshiper and choose the pope over tradition. You do not mind any radical change, so long as the Pope wills it. By choosing thus, you are placing the Pope before the faith. This is to your own discredit, not mine.
Reread the excerpt. No one denies change is possible. But it is gradual, incremental, organic. The liturgy grows and changes like a living organism. This is Ratzinger's point-- and Jungmann's and Gamber's. What is NOT permissible is revolutionary change, radical change. This is what Ratzinger stated in his preface to Gamber's classic text: "In the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the living, organic process of growth and development over the centuries, and replaced it--as with a manufacturing process--with a fabrication, an on-the-spot product."
To: ultima ratio; Catholicguy
But it is gradual, incremental, organic.
What does organic mean in the context of the Liturgy? Ratzinger's position is not different the current or previous Pope's. Organic means dialectic. One cannot have a dialectic with oneself. The dialectic has to be in the context of ecumenism. Ratzinger is merely holding up one end of the spectrum, the East, and saying, "It is now time to reaccount for the East." Do you reject dialectic in Liturgical reform? If you don't, then you have to answer with what points the dialectic should be involved. If you do, then you have to explain what change means in Liturgy. The Popes have shown the way on this. The dialectic is with the separated brethren, East and West.
posted on 11/25/2002 8:06:53 AM PST
Organic does not mean dialectical. Where on earth do you get such nonsense? Organic means natural, by a process of living growth--and all living growth is gradual, incremental, never revolutionary, never radical. The pre-conciliar popes have affirmed this. The post-conciliar popes have not, but have proceeded to tinker with what has been given to us by God as our patrimony, in violation of their own papal oaths. Read Mediator Dei by Pius XII. Read Gamber. Read Jungmann.
To: ultima ratio
Reading the following Ratzinger statements together presents an interesting problem:
"After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. ... In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the liturgy. It is not 'manufactured' by the authorities. Even the pope can only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and identity."
"In the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the living, organic process of growth and development over the centuries, and replaced it--as with a manufacturing process--with a fabrication, an on-the-spot product." ...
The obvious question that follows would be, upon what authority then can the "fabricated liturgy" (Ratzinger's term) be accepted? It would seem Cardinal Ratzinger provides convincing testimony against papal authority being sufficient - even when backed by an ecumenical council.
I would truly like someone to try to bridge this problem without resorting to the usual antagonistic diatribes. I seriously doubt it is the first time this question has been posed, so someone out there might be aware of some more substantive responses.
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