Sep 15, 2010

Chicago’s Liturgical Institute Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

Online Edition:
September 2010
Vol. XVI, No. 6

Chicago’s Liturgical Institute Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

by Helen Hull Hitchcock

Ten years ago, Chicago Cardinal Francis George established the Liturgical Institute at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. The institute celebrated its tenth anniversary at a banquet on July 7, 2010, at which its director, Father Douglas Martis, presented its first Spiritus Liturgiae (Spirit of the Liturgy) award to Monsignor James Moroney.

Monsignor Moroney, who is rector of Saint Paul Cathedral in Worcester, Massachusetts, and teaches at Saint John Seminary in Boston, had served as director of the secretariat of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy from 1996-2007. He is now the Executive Secretary of the Vox Clara committee, the international group of English-speaking bishops and experts that aids the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship with liturgical translations.

In his acceptance of the award, Monsignor Moroney thanked the founders for their vision, and said, in part:

And how blest we are to be witnesses to the second springtime of the vision of the Council Fathers lived out in our own day, as we prepare to utter, in some ways for the first time, the ancient collects which define who we are and who we are supposed to be; as we seek to move from ideology to worship, and from novelty to mystery: as we seek to desire not so much to change the Liturgy, as to be utterly transformed by it; as we seek to move from the prestige of being liturgists, to a recognition of our role as the very model of unworthy servants of this holy and living sacrifice.

This holy work to which we have given our lives is not by choice, it is the love of Christ which compels us.  For without the Sacred Liturgy we would be without a source or a summit, a beginning or an end, we would simply have no place to go, nothing to do and no meaning at all.

In his address, Father Martis said that the Liturgical Institute “was founded to be a kind of next step in liturgical renewal”:

Cardinal George established the Liturgical Institute to explore the connection between liturgical expression and sacramental theology. We take as our starting point the liturgical rites as given and then ask the questions about their origin, meaning, and implementation. Our purpose is not to change the liturgy but rather to help the faithful better understand and appreciate the Church’s prayer in its purest form.…

“We want to celebrate the liturgy as carefully as possible, to let its own beauty be revealed”, Father Martis said.

I would apply Chesterton’s famous phrase to the liturgy: “it is not that liturgical reform has been tried and found wanting, it’s that it hasn’t really been tried yet.” What we would like to see different in the liturgical experience, is not any particular aspect of the reform, but rather people’s intelligence of it. We have been seized by the foundational notions of Liturgical Movement, such as “without intelligence, there can be no worship.” (Dom Virgil Michel) We would like to see people engaged in the liturgy not as a curiosity, not as an occasional, frenzied (or ecstatic) experience, but as something that really grounds their lives as Christians.

Every aspect of the current liturgy has the potential to lead the faithful deeper into the mystery of salvation. It is our conviction, that if the mystery is not tapped into, it is not a lack of the reform, but rather symptomatic of the urgent need for liturgical renewal.

Liturgical renewal, Father Martis emphasized, “is a perennial task because the liturgy continues to reveal her treasures gradually. I like to say that the liturgy is designed for those who are in it for the long-haul, true liturgical expression cannot be reduced to a ‘flash in the pan’ encounter. This is why the Roman liturgy is radiant with noble simplicity”.

He noted that at the Liturgical Institute they pray both in Latin and the vernacular. “Language is not a political statement”, he said, “but is seen as a natural aspect of our Catholic faith and celebration. We see Latin not as archaism but as heritage”.

He concluded,

Our liturgical expression is both patristic and scholastic, it is modern and ancient. There is room for Aquinas and Augustine. We don’t have to choose one or the other. We try to balance immanence and transcendence. We see the Eucharist as the body of Christ without compromising our participation in it.

In short, all we need in the liturgy is already available to us. Like grace, as Augustine says, it is always present, but needs to be received. We have no purpose other than the praise of God and imploring the sanctification of the world. If we are fortunate, the byproduct is community, engagement, nourishment.

Special guest alumnus Bishop James Wall of Gallup, New Mexico, was also honored at the anniversary banquet; and Founders Awards were presented to Cardinal George, to Dr. Denis R. McNamara, an original faculty member and assistant director of the Liturgical Institute, and to its first director, Monsignor Francis Mannion (in absentia).

Another event at the Liturgical Institute in observance of its tenth anniversary was the combined Liturgical Retreat for Priests and Sacred Music Retreat, held June 20-25, which featured Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, presenting the Hillenbrand Lecture on June 24, in which he praised the institute’s role in the renewal of the liturgy and the evangelization of America. (Archbishop Chaput’s lecture is on the facing page of this issue.)

Monsignor Reynold Hillenbrand was a pioneer figure in the liturgical movement of the mid-twentieth century, like Monsignor Martin Hellriegel of Holy Cross in St. Louis, with whom he collaborated. Monsignor Hillenbrand was rector of Saint Mary of the Lake (Mundelein) Seminary from 1936-1944, then was pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Chicago. He died in 1979 at age 74.

The Liturgical Institute currently has eight students studying in the doctoral program, thirty students enrolled in the summer program, twenty full-time students and sixteen part-time students, and thirty-three graduates. Its publishing imprint, Hillenbrand Books, has released 35 titles, with more on the way.

Web site of the Liturgical Institute:



Helen Hull Hitchcock

Helen Hull Hitchcock (1939-2014) was editor of the <em>Adoremus Bulletin</em>, which she co-founded. She was also the founding director of Women for Faith & Family and editor of its quarterly journal, Voices. She published many articles and essays in a wide range of Catholic journals, and authored and edited <em>The Politics of Prayer: Feminist Language and the Worship of God</em> (Ignatius Press 1992), a collection of essays on issues involved in translation. She contributed essays to several books, including <em>Spiritual Journeys</em>, a book of “conversion stories” (Daughters of St. Paul). Helen lectured in the US and abroad, and appeared frequently on radio and television, representing Catholic teaching on issues affecting Catholic women, families, and Catholic faith and worship.