Society of St Gregory
The Eucharist in the life of the Church
Society of St Gregory
Annual Crichton Lecture
Pershore, Worcestershire on Saturday 27 November 2004 by Dr Peter McGrail, priest of Liverpool Archdiocese and lecturer at Hope University.
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Brief reviews of recent liturgical publications have previously been carried in Liturgy Newsletter. Because of pressure of space it has been decided that all further reviews, and details of books received, will be put directly on the Liturgy Office website. This has the advantage of allowing more substantial reviews of a broader selection of materials.
Much-trailed in the Catholic Press, this Instruction from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments was published in April. In his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia Pope John Paul noted that he was asking the Congregation to prepare such a document to bring out more clearly the deeper meaning of liturgical norms, particularly with regard to inculturation and adaptation. The Holy Father noted that sometimes such adaptation worked against authentically ecclesial nature of the Eucharist. (c.f. EdE. 52)
At a press conference to launch the Instruction Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation, noted that the work on the Instruction had been underway even prior to the publication of the Holy Father’s request. The Congregation had asked member bishops, cardinals and others to send the complaints and doubts that are expressed so to have an idea of the problems to be addressed.
He also advised that this Instruction is the fruit of intense collaboration not only within his Congregation but also with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The two congregations established a joint commission at the beginning of 2003. The first draft of the document was presented in May 2003 to all the members of the two congregations — some 70 cardinals, archbishops and bishops.
Shortly after that discussion the draft text was leaked to the Press. Headlines and press reports suggested that the Congregations were planning significant change to existing liturgical norms. The content of the press reports were taken up by the Bishops of England and Wales during their Ad limina visit to the Holy See in October 2003. During their meeting with Cardinal Arinze they were assured that the final document would not be as had been reported.
Cardinal Arinze has since said that the Instruction went through a dozen drafts between May and February 2004, but that this should be considered normal for such a document.
The Instruction’s publication was widely reported in the British media. There seemed a certain disappointment in some quarters that the previously reported ‘banning’ of girl altar servers and liturgical dance was missing and that the Instruction was not as controversial as anticipated. Even so the reporting focused very much on it as ‘a document about abuses’. In fact the greater part of the document is not about abuses but is devoted to promoting best practice, reminding and explaining the norms for authentic celebration already established in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. The significance of failure to celebrate according to the mind of the Church is also noted, and particular abuses are identified.
The Instruction will assist dioceses and parishes in undertaking the sort of examination of conscience in regard to the implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium and the renewal of the liturgy that it mandated, which the Holy Father proposed in his Apostolic Letter of 2003, Spiritus et Sponsa.
A summary of the Instruction has been prepared by the Litury Office.
Year of the Eucharist
The Lineamenta has been published for the Synod of Bishops, taking place in the Vatican from October 2–29, 2005, and whose theme will be ‘The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church’. The Synod will conclude the Eucharistic Year called by Pope John Paul and running from October 2004 to October 2005. The Lineamenta can be downloaded from the Vatican website.
Rest in Peace
Fr. Joe O’Mahony died during July. A priest of Middlesbrough dicoese, and, chair of the Rites and Pastoral Liturgy Committee of the former National Liturgy Commission, he was responsible for preparing for publication a number of the revised rites. He was active in the liturgical renewal movement over many years, for example promoting the dialogue Mass in the 1940s and 50s. He attended the International Congress of Pastoral Liturgy at Assissi in 1957.
Patrick Lee, active member of Universa Laus and Society of St Gregory and an accomplished crafter of texts for liturgical song, died in August. I Wake Refreshed, was published recently published by Matthew James Publishing.