Monday, 29 August 2011

Two snippets from ZENIT

Like Auntie Joanna, I thought this was a very interesting reaction to the recent World Youth Day in Madrid. In a vein similar to this reaction, the observation of the Mayor of Madrid about the willingness of the young people visiting Madrid to be helpful and cooperate with the instructions of police, etc, reminded me of a similar kind of reaction after the World Youth Day in Sydney - I recall one media report of police officers in Sydney finding themselves for the first time being thanked by people in the crowds for their work in respect of the events.

In the light of the forthcoming introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal, a message of Pope Benedict XVI to Italy's 62nd annual Liturgical Week is interesting. The theme of the week is "God Educates His People: The Liturgy, Inexhaustible Source of Catechesis", which has some relevance to the idea that the introduction of the new translation provides an opportunity for catechesis about the Eucharistic Liturgy. The emphases in the following extract have been added by me.
The Church, especially when she celebrates the divine mysteries, recognizes and manifests herself as a reality that cannot be reduced to a solely earthly and organizational aspect. It must appear clearly in these mysteries that the beating heart of the community should be recognized beyond the narrow yet necessary limits of ritualism, because the liturgy is not what man does, but what God does with his admirable and gratuitous condescension. This primacy of God in the liturgical action was highlighted by the Servant of God Paul VI at the closing of the second period of the Vatican Council, when he announced the proclamation of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: "In this event we observe that the correct order has been respected of the values and duties: thus we have recognized that the post of honor is reserved to God; that as first duty we are called to raise prayers to God; that the sacred Liturgy is the primary source of this divine exchange in which the life of God is communicated to us; it is the first school of our soul, it is the first gift that must be made by us to the Christian people." (Paul VI, Address for the Closing of the Second Period, December 4, 1963, AAS [1964], 34).

In addition to expressing the absolute priority of God, the liturgy manifests its being "God with us," since "being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." (Benedict XVI, encyclical Deus Caritas Est, 1). In this connection, God is the great educator of his people, the loving, wise, tireless guide in and through the liturgy, the action of God in the today of the Church.
The message also includes a reference to the Liturgy as "an integrated experience of catechesis, celebration and life". I do think that the catechetical possibilities of the homily at Sunday Mass are often not realised, with a kind of "pious encouragement" being offered instead of any systematic teaching that would be characteristic of catechesis more properly defined. An explanation of the Liturgical texts of the new translation does offer an opportunity for the "integrated experience" referred to here.

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