“So that the liturgy, from the battlefield, becomes a school of unity again”

A few weeks after pointing out the risk that the liturgy might persist, “battlefield” invites the Pope in his letter Desiderio desideravi Bee “to rekindle our amazement at the beauty and truth of Christian celebration”. It is about much more than simple words of reconciliation, as some commentators have written somewhat superficially, but about the proposal of an authentic spiritual way that reconnects with the great tradition of the liturgical movement, so that the liturgy can once again become a source of spiritual life. for the Christian people. In this sense, this letter is in line with the great texts of the Magisterium that have accompanied the liturgical movement since its origin.

A Real Encounter with Christ in His Passover

In the Pope’s text, the object of wonder is not the “powerful beauty of the liturgy”, only in so far as it allows the baptized, through a true encounter with Christ, to be reached through the power of his Paschal mystery. Thus the Pope situates the liturgical question at the level, theologically and spiritually inseparable, which he should never have left and which was privileged by the Movement and the liturgical reform, that of the invigorating encounter with the Mysterious Easter Day of Christ , brought up to date. , made present and effective in the sacred liturgy. The path preferred by the Pope is one that is both sensitive and spiritual, and in that sense homogeneous with the nature of the liturgy, of wonder.

It is the whole force of this letter that invites us not to consider, but not to dwell on, the formal, even legal aspects of the liturgy. Indeed, the object of contemplation, and thus of wonder, is not the liturgy itself, but its truththat is, under the Pope’s pen the beauty of the saving mystery of Christ Himself. The Pope also ensures that the mystery in question should not be understood in the sense, all too human, even a little pagan, of a mysterious sacred hieraticism, a “mystery” that would be all the more fascinating than it would be hidden, but precisely of a revealed mystery, the paschal mystery of Christ, revelation on the deformed-transformed face of the most beautiful of the children of men with the deep identity of the hidden God.

Go beyond the incantation phase

After bringing the liturgical question to the right level, inextricably theological and spiritual, the Pope proposes some concrete paths. In fact, there is a risk that this call to rediscover wonder in the liturgy will remain in the incantation stage, without any concrete effect on the liturgical life of the Christian people. And this is where Francis takes up one of the intuitions of the Conciliar Constitution on the sacred liturgy, from which we may not have sufficiently integrated how much it insisted on the necessity of formation as a precondition for the fruitfulness of the liturgical renewal it called for. The strong appeal in favor of formation in and through the liturgy launched by the Pope can only rejoice the designer that I am, but it must question our collective more fundamentally.

After the Council it was perhaps naively thought that the switch to the vernacular would make the liturgy immediately accessible as if by magic. This is clearly not the case, and that is fortunate, because again, the experiential contemplation to which we are invited is not that of the liturgy as such, but that of the mystery of the dead and risen Christ. And the Pope invites us, through a vigorous effort of formation, to emerge from what he describes as:“symbolic illiteracy” characteristic of contemporary society.

Formation of Priests and Laity

Moreover, the Council of Trent understood this in a very different context from ours, but which had in common with the present situation that the missionary renewal for which it prepared the Church necessarily went through the renewal of the liturgy. The times are no longer the same, but the requirement for formation is the same, in the service of the mission: formation of priests urged by the Pope, but also formation of the laity.

The Pope’s call for formation in and through the liturgy must be taken seriously: I know from experience that formation is one of the very concretely effective conditions for renewing the dialogue in liturgical matters on solid foundations and a minimum of peace on the battlefield to find that threatens to remain the liturgical question of whether one may wander along the poisonous thread of sensitivities, subjectivity and ideology.

liturgical discipline

The Pope speaks on this subject from liturgical discipline, a concept he borrows from the great Romano Guardini, one of the masters of his predecessor, Pope Benedict. When Guardini speaks of discipline in connection with the liturgy, it is not primarily on a moral or legal level, but on a spiritual level. Community life, life in society, life in the Church are never easy things and the liturgy, because it precedes us and because we receive it from the tradition of the Church, is a demanding but fruitful school for coexistence. The Church is far from being a stranger to this process of archipelagoization (1) that threatens to disrupt our liberal postmodern societies. However, the Church cannot accept the fatality of such an evolution. The sacred liturgy, paradoxically the place where the fractures of our communities are expressed and crystallized, can and must once again become a school of unity. It is not the least credit of the Pope’s letter to remind us of this forcefully and clearly.

Leave a Comment