While on the train to London on Friday ( more about that later) I checked Luke Coppen`s very useful Editor`s Briefing: Morning Catholic must-reads site and found a talk by Archbishop Chaput which I think is well worth reading. I see the NLM has also noticed it. For those who don`t know Archbishop Chaput is the archbishop of Denver in the USA who has been outspoken in defence of pro-life issues.
He acknowledges that he is not personally interested in the Extraordinary Form. He writes:
By the way, for the record, I’m also very grateful that the Holy Father has allowed wider use of the older Tridentine form -- not because I personally prefer it, in fact I find the Novus Ordo, properly celebrated, a much richer expression of worship; but because we need access to all of the Church’s heritage of prayer and faith.
(I`m always intrigued when people speak about the OF `properly celebrated`. When I was at the English College in Rome there were earnest young priests who believed this was the way forward but when it came to them celebrating Mass it didn`t seem very different to the way others celebrated except that they didn`t smile or tell jokes. Some of those priests, but not all of them, are now happy to celebrate the EF.)
Nonetheless the archbishop makes very good points in explaining the Eucharist through the lens of the early Church and its martyrs.
A few good quotes. The first is in reference to a Fr Barron who took up Guardini`s idea that modern man is incapable of a liturgical act:
Barron puts the issue this way: “The project is not shaping the liturgy according to the suppositions of the age, but allowing the liturgy to question and shape the suppositions of any age. Is the modern man incapable of the liturgical act? Probably. But this is no ground for despair. Our goal is not to accommodate the liturgy to the world, but to let the liturgy be itself -- a transformative icon of the ordo of God.”
Barron suggests that in the post-conciliar era, the professional Catholic liturgical establishment opted for the former path, trying to adapt the liturgy to the demands of modern culture. I would agree. And I would add that time has shown this to be a dead end. Trying to engineer the liturgy to be more “relevant” and “intelligible” through a kind of relentless cult of novelty, has only resulted in confusion and a deepening of the divide between believers and the true spirit of the liturgy.
If our liturgies strike us as pedestrian, narrowly parochial, too focused on our own communities and needs; if they lack a powerful sense of the sacred and the transcendent, it’s because we have lost the sense of how our worship participates in the heavenly liturgy.
Some of the worst liturgical ideas since the council have been based on a woolly romanticizing about what the early Christians believed and how they worshipped. It has been argued, for example, that the early Church had no sacramental priesthood and that the Eucharist was celebrated with limited ritual, essentially as a meal shared among friends.
I won’t take the time here to rebut these claims. The problem with all such nostalgic-primitivist reconstructions can be summed up in one thought: Nobody risks torture and death for a meal with their friends. And torture and death were the frequent penalty for being caught celebrating the Eucharist in the world of the early Church.
The liturgical act becomes possible for modern man when you make your lives a liturgy, when you live your lives liturgically -- as an offering to God in thanksgiving and praise for his gifts and salvation. You are the future of the liturgical renewal