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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 ...

TOPICS: Catholic; Worship
KEYWORDS: easternrites; liturgy; romanrite
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To: WriteOn
Further: "dialectic" is a liberal code word, along with its twin "dialogue" and is a post-conciliar novelty. It had no widespread currency before Vatican II and is a mark of something far removed from Tradition.
21 posted on 11/25/2002 8:34:54 AM PST by ultima ratio
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To: Snuffington
You ask upon what authority can the fabricated liturgy be accepted? The answer is no authority on earth can force acceptance. This is why Cardinal Ratzinger reproved Bishop Ferrario of Honolulu for excommunicating Catholics who attended an SSPX Mass. The Cardinal affirmed the attendance "did not constitute the offense of schism" and that the excommunication "lacks foundation and hence validity." It is the modernists, rather, not traditionalists, who suppress and attack what has been received and violate the true faith by doing so.
22 posted on 11/25/2002 8:55:49 AM PST by ultima ratio
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To: ultima ratio
Your use of the word "modernists" keeps appearing. To you, what actions constitue "modernism" as opposed to natural evolution, in both the case of liturgy and that of catechism.

I'm just curious.
23 posted on 11/25/2002 9:00:23 AM PST by Desdemona
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To: ultima ratio

<> Tradition and the Living Magisterium link. Ultima, you are under the suzerainty of Satan in your opposition to Divinely-constituted authority<>
24 posted on 11/25/2002 9:18:37 AM PST by Catholicguy
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To: pegleg
<> No doubt there were some slaves of Satan back then that obejected it was a radical change because it was a different Liturgy than the Last Supper. Perhaps there was a SSSP (priestly society of saint peter) that formed a short-lived schism :)<>
25 posted on 11/25/2002 9:25:07 AM PST by Catholicguy
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To: ultima ratio
Tradition is not so definite that it can be codified once and for all, not when some of its is oral. But even the written part is subject to change, because language changes. Scripture itself is under the same rule, especially since the very words of Ourl Ord were in a language other than that in which they were committed to writing. Institutions are what provide constancy, and in the case of the Church that means the apostolic succession and Petrine supremacy. My problem is that you are asking me to accept your interpretation rather than Rome's. That seems to me private judgement, and I cannot accept yours anymore than Gary Will's, someone whose views we both reject.
26 posted on 11/25/2002 9:42:27 AM PST by RobbyS
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To: Catholicguy
Even Luther and the early Reformers took this route. They claimed to read tradition better than Rome. It was a while before they outright rejected tradition as a concept, or rather reduced it to what is contained in Scripture. Calvin made themost logical case for the Reformation, but of course many Protestants rejected him as their master and now he is generally ignored.
27 posted on 11/25/2002 10:04:08 AM PST by RobbyS
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To: ultima ratio
Do you think doctrine evolves without dialectic? How? Dialectic is a process of reason. All liturgy has been formed and informed by reason. (You're not suggesting it's a product of revelation are you?)

In that sense dialectic is the organic process by which Liturgy evolves, just as it is the process by which doctrine is arrived at. Reasoning, dialectic, exchange of arguments... the same category of gift that when guided by the Holy Spirit arrive at Truth.

28 posted on 11/25/2002 10:50:14 AM PST by WriteOn
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Comment #29 Removed by Moderator

To: Bud McDuell
Tell me who is the slave of Satan.

<> You, Ultima Ratio, other schismatics and, if what you say is true, this priest.

I was once at an SSPX Mass wherein the priest spent the entire sermon attacking the "fake"N.O. Mass and the Pope. He too is a slave of Satan

As St. Bob Dylan sang, "It may be the Devil. It may be the Lord, but you're gonna have to serve somebody..."

Come back into Union with the Pope and be a slave of Jesus. Quit your schism and stop being a slave of Satan<>

30 posted on 11/25/2002 12:43:15 PM PST by Catholicguy
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Comment #31 Removed by Moderator

To: WriteOn
Stick to the argument. We were talking about liturgy, not doctrine. But even here, you err. The deposit of faith IS something received as revelation and transmitted over the ages. Its doctrines may be clarified--i.e., developed--over time by the use of our reason, but they may not ever be contradicted precisely because they originate through divine revelation.

The traditional liturgy is not a doctrine but a divinely ordained action. The Old Mass, in fact, is profoundly connected to ancient sacrificial rituals. For example, the ancient Judaic rite of sacrifice followed the tri-partite pattern of oblation, immolation, consummation. The Old Mass follows this same ancient sacrificial formula with its Offertory (oblation), Consecration (immolation) and Communion (consummation). Simultaneously, the Old Mass transmits the faith by underscoring Catholic doctrines in its text and rubrics.

The new Mass disgards this ancient structure--just as it ignores fundamental Catholic doctrines in order to be user- friendly to Protestants. The idea that the pope, by assembling a committee, might fabricate such a liturgy, is alien to Tradition--i.e., to the Church's own experience of herself. It is a radical notion that is directly contrary to the faith and has already brought dire consequences.
32 posted on 11/25/2002 3:02:51 PM PST by ultima ratio
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To: Desdemona
Where to begin? There are a thousand problems with the modernist innovation. To begin with, the new missal pushes aside the notion of the ministerial priesthood in favor of the communal action of the assembly. Never once is the priest's agency in bringing about the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine ever mentioned. Only his role as presider over the assembly is mentioned--13 times. This underscores the priest's relation to the people of God, but not the power the priest alone possesses to consecrate. This is deliberate. The intention is to emphasize the Memorial Meal aspects of the Mass and to deemphasize the sacrificial aspects of the Mass. This would be but one small example of the radical break with the traditional liturgy. There are hundreds of these differences. Notice how the Old Mass begins: with the recitation of an ancient psalm beginning, "I will go up to the altar of God, to God Who is the joy of my youth." The New Mass opens by asking the assembly to recall its sins. The focus is not on God, but on ourselves. The orientation is totally different--hence the altar/table that faces the people instead of away from them, symbolically toward God.
33 posted on 11/25/2002 3:39:00 PM PST by ultima ratio
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To: Catholicguy
You are getting laughable with this "slave of Satan" crap. Try using arguments to support a viewpoint instead of throwing insults.
34 posted on 11/25/2002 3:41:53 PM PST by ultima ratio
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To: RobbyS
First of all, I posted CARDINAL RATZINGER'S argument, not mine. I have brought his perspective home to most of you, that's all. It is his position, as well as that of Vatican I that the Pope is not an absolute monarch. The papacy is at the service of Tradition, not the other way around.

The problem with most of you on this site is you're not accustomed to thinking in this way. Such a prospect forces you to reexamine your basic premises about the papacy itself and its limitations. This is because if Tradition is master of the pope and not the other way around, then our first duty is to Tradition, not to the pope, especially one who would assault Tradition in favor of endless innovations. This is because Tradition is nothing less than the faith itself.

But when you suggest that the Petrine supremacy is actually necessary for some kind of liturgical constancy, you are speaking foolishly. The east has done quite well preserving its heritage without the papacy. In fact, it has retained its Tradition intact without a pope, whereas we have discarded ours with a pope.
35 posted on 11/25/2002 4:15:14 PM PST by ultima ratio
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To: Catholicguy
As St. Bob Dylan sang,...

I must have missed news of his canonization, but I'm not surprised.

36 posted on 11/25/2002 5:20:36 PM PST by Land of the Irish
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To: Desdemona
You wanted an example of modernism in the catechism. Let me give one example that bugs me. Here is paragraph 105: "For this reason the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she has venerated the Lord's Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God's Word and Christ's Body."

This is modernist double-speak. In the Tradition of the Catholic Church, Sacred Scripture has NEVER been venerated the way we venerate Christ's Body, which has been ADORED. We do not worship Scripture, but we worship Christ's Presence in the Holy Eucharist. The attempt to ignore this huge difference and to pretend the two are held in equal esteem is offensive to the faith. This is the modernist, not the traditional, view, which conflates Christ's virtual presence in Scripture with his actual presence in the Sacred Host. This phony conflation occurs over and over in the Novus Ordo Mass.
37 posted on 11/25/2002 5:53:59 PM PST by ultima ratio
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To: ultima ratio
That is an amazing statement given the RC doctrine of the Real Presence.

38 posted on 11/25/2002 6:00:31 PM PST by drstevej
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To: RobbyS
You contend Rome is a better judge of Tradition than anyone else. What's traditional about the Novus Ordo Mass? What's traditional about Assisi Prayer meetings or kissing the Koran? What's traditional about giving openly apostate bishops the red hat? What's traditional about the Pope's visiting a synagogue to pray with Jews for a different messiah? Show me where the Church has ever supported such radical breaks with her own past--with no end in sight. You people are amazing. You sound truly desperate, coming up with such lame excuses.

By the way, it was Luther who BROKE with tradition, claiming he was returning to the primitive Church, though he had no way of knowing this apart from the Tradition he was trashing. He began as the modernists begin--by turning the altar around to face the people--a switch which Gamber has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be a false assumption about the early Church. Gamber has published photos showing bas-reliefs from the first century which depict altars facing east, away from the people, toward a rising sun. Luther also, by the way, rejected the Mass as a sacrifice, much as the modernists do, insisting the liturgy was nothing more than a memorial meal. So it is post-conciliar Rome that models itself on Luther's vision, rather than on the Tradition it has received from Christ and the apostles.
39 posted on 11/25/2002 6:13:10 PM PST by ultima ratio
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To: Catholicguy
I was once at an SSPX Mass wherein the priest spent the entire sermon attacking the "fake"N.O. Mass and the Pope.

I think the Novus Ordo wax in your years caused you to misunderstand "farce" of a Mass, to mean "fake". There's a difference.

40 posted on 11/25/2002 7:07:21 PM PST by Land of the Irish
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