Liturgy

Liturgy


I read with interest and with pleasure the report of Archbishop Coleridge's recent address to the National Liturgical Conference (May AD2000).

It seems to me that what he is reported as saying is exactly what needs to be emphasised, namely that liturgy must recapture the sense of the numinous, of the transcendent, "as something received rather than something we do."

Convinced and committed Catholics who regularly attend Mass - and in fact these days, it seems, these are effectively the only regular participants - would, I hope, accept what the Archbishop has to say, even if they don't necessarily express themselves as I might here.

Liturgical worship is primarily and essentially an act of adoration - we come to adore God and to admit our complete dependence on Him.

The object of liturgical communal worship is not primarily instruction, though it is to be hoped that it achieves such, and furthers knowledge and understanding of our faith.

Neither is it primarily aimed at community building and the strengthening of our Catholic Christian ethos, though again it is to be hoped that it does.

Perhaps the Eastern Orthodox liturgies in their various rites better understand and embody this dimension of liturgy as adoration, the reason being, I think, that they have never been much influenced by the Reformation of the 16th century.

Protestant worship, especially under Calvinistic influence, deliberately reduced God-contact essentially to the will with little or no place for the aesthetic dimension - hence the dominance of the pulpit and preaching and the effective diminution, even removal, of the sacramental and symbolic emphasis.

It seems to me that in more recent times, after Vatican II, and the popular presentation of what was proposed as the aims and hopes of the Council, our liturgy has come to be more and more dominated by the word - by exhortation and commentary. As Archbishop Coleridge puts it, "It feels as if we have got words, words, words." Further, a more radical emphasis has tended more and more to Reformation austerity with splendour in liturgy coming to be considered suspect. Instead, the ideal for some has almost become a "kitchen liturgy."

As the Archbishop has written, "We are being summoned to an advance in liturgical culture that touches words, touches ritual, touches music, touches silence."

BR CHRISTIAN MOE FSC
Mentone, Vic

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