Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eamon Duffy in The Tablet on the Pope on the Liturgy...

I highlighted a little while back our Tracey's article on Pope Benedict in The Tablet. Well, this time they have Eamon Duffy (he of "The Stripping of the Altars" fame) writing on Pope Benedict's attitude toward the liturgy.

Much of it is purely descriptive, rather than evaluative, such as this paragraph:
Clearly, these opinions place the Pope as a theologian at right angles to a good deal that is most characteristic of the post-conciliar liturgy. We now have a Pope profoundly unhappy about much of what goes on in our parish churches Sunday by Sunday. In his view, the liturgy is meant to still and calm human activity, to allow God to be God, to quiet our chatter in favour of attention to the Word of God and in adoration and communion with the self-gift of the Word incarnate. The call for active participation and instant accessibility seem to him to have dumbed down the mystery we celebrate, and left us with a banal inadequate language (and music) of prayer. The “active participation” in the liturgy for which Vatican II called, he argues, emphatically does not mean participation in many acts. Rather, it means a deeper entry by everyone present into the one great action of the liturgy, its only real action, which is Christ’s self-giving on the Cross. For Ratzinger we can best enter into the action of the Mass by a recollected silence, and by traditional gestures of self-offering and adoration – the Sign of the Cross, folded hands, reverent kneeling.
In this passage, one gets the feeling (from the way Duffy has worded the passage) that he agrees with Ratzinger on this emphasis.

Only at the very end do we get a slight attempt at an evaluation of Pope Benedict's liturgical path:
It is Pope Benedict’s hope that the free celebration of the old Mass will help reconcile to the wider Church many of those who view Vatican II with deep suspicion. It is possible, however, to sympathise with many of the Pope’s liturgical instincts and preferences, while fearing that his gesture, and the manner of its making, will be read by many as a sign of his own reservations about the work of the Council, and thereby help entrench such reservations at the heart of the Church’s worship.


At Friday, August 27, 2010 10:19:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Hopefully the new missal will go some way towards redressing the balance.

A hearty amen to that.

At Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:16:00 am , Anonymous Bob said...

I'm not a Catholic, but Eamon Duffy's comments sound to me well expressed and because they touch recognizable themes persuasive. My impression from outside the RC Church is that Vatican 2 was part of wave of secularism that swept Christian churches in the 60s. harvey Cox wrote 'The Secular City, and 'religionless Christianity' became the 'obvious way ahead--except that Cox denounced his own book, and religionless Christianity is now recognised to have been a slogan taken out of context from Bonhoeffer's prison letters. Unfortunately, because Vatican 2 was an 'ecumenical council', it is much harder to deny its implicit trendiness. Except that as Tracey Rowland points out in her book, Pope Benedict has been able to make some sober critiques of some of the documents. There must have been gains from the Council, but from my angle, the net effect has been to make priests uncertain about their role and there to be a loss of the sense of participating in a Mystery by the laity. I am glad therefore to see (as expressed in Tracey Rowland's book and in the Pope's own statements) that Benedict XVI is regaining some of this lost ground for priests and laity alike. All the best to him and the Catholic Church for this.


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