Vol. III, No. 9:
December 1997/January 1998
Adoremus Holds Liturgy
How to recover a renewed sense of the sacred in the celebration of the liturgy as envisioned by the Second Vatican Council was the theme addressed by speakers at the first liturgical conference sponsored by Adoremus.
The conference, attended by about 500 people, was held November 22, 1997 in suburban Los Angeles.
Featured speakers were
Father Cassian Folsom, OSB
of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome;
professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville;
, associate professor at the Notre Dame University
School of Architecture; and
Father Joseph Fessio, SJ
Heaven on Earth"
Scott Hahn provided a theological basis for liturgical renewal in his talk, "Liturgy as Heaven on Earth".
The norm for all liturgical worship, he said, is the worship of the saints and angels in heaven. But because of worldliness, people are unable to understand that the liturgy is truly "heaven on earth". Since Mass is where heaven touches earth, it is our entrance into the communion of Saints.
Quoting Cardinal Ratzinger, Hahn observed that Catholics do not attend Mass to feel a part of a community, but to be brought into union with the Body of Christ. It is from this union, realized at Mass, that believers are given the power to wage "liturgical warfare" against the evils of our time.
Father Cassian Folsom, speaking on "Restoring Reverence to the Liturgy", emphasized the importance of external gestures in restoring reverence to the liturgy. The meaning of "active participation" at Mass, he said, is an interior participation of all the powers of the soul in the sacrifice of Christ, but this necessarily involves actions of the body. The sense of union of the body and soul has largely been lost in modern times, Father Folsom observed, and this loss has led to erosion of understanding that the soul expresses worship through the body. The goal of the Christian, he pointed out, is the resurrection of the body, not simply the immortality of the soul.
According to Father Folsom, the
solution to the divorce of the body from the soul is proper liturgical
formation. Catholics must learn to express their interior life
in an appropriately exterior way. He stressed the importance
of liturgical gestures, such as genuflecting, making the sign
of the cross, use of holy water, striking the breast, and he
described the meaning of such gestures, why they are important
and how these physical actions are fitting expressions of worship.
Duncan Stroik, whose
in the October edition of
, addressed the group on "Environments
for Liturgical Worship". The topic is particularly timely
because of the many renovation and remodeling projects involving
Catholic churches, and also because a committee of bishops and
liturgists is currently at work on a new version of a 1978 statement
of the bishops’ liturgy committee,
Environment and Art in
, which has governed most of these renovations.
In Professor Stroik’s view, the extreme "functionalist" theory which has prevailed in both secular and church architecture for nearly 70 years is aesthetically limited. His own architectural work suggests alternatives to the long dominance of the modernist model. Creative use of historic elements in new church buildings, he believes, may help to recapture the transcendent vision of the Christian faith.
Father Joseph Fessio
was the principal celebrant and homilist at the conference Mass. In his homily, Father Fessio explained that this Mass was celebrated principally in English because of the unfamiliarity of Latin to most Catholics. But, as Father Fessio also explained, the use of Latin in the liturgy is not only in full conformity with Vatican II’s
, but the Council clearly intended that Latin would remain the language of the Roman Rite, and decreed that the faithful should be able to chant the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin and that Gregorian chant should be accorded "pride of place" in sacred music.
In an authentically reformed Roman Rite as intended by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, Father Fessio pointed out, the unchanging parts of the Mass — the Ordinary (the
) and the Canon (known as Eucharistic Prayer I) — would have been in Latin, but other parts such as Scripture readings would have been in the vernacular.
At the conference Mass, most of the liturgy was said in English, a layman read the Epistle and led the Responsorial Psalm. But Father Fessio and the concelebrants said Mass facing the altar (that is, with the people, not toward them). The Ordinary of the Mass was chanted by the people to a Gregorian setting, and sacred polyphonic music was sung by a choir (the Saint Augustine Voices) during Communion.
All sessions were audio taped by St. Joseph’s Communications, PO Box 720, West Covina, CA 91753-0720. A complete set of all six tapes is available for $24.95 (plus $3.00 shipping and handling. CA residents add 8.25% tax, Florida residents add 6% tax).
(Chris Zehnder contributed information for this story.)