Noen ganger blir man anklaget for å være mot (Vatikan)konsilet eller for å gå mot Kirkens lære, når man f.eks. har synspunkter på hvordan Kirkens liturgi best kan feires. (Eller man anklages når denne bloggen slipper til kritiske kommentarer, slik jeg nylig er blitt – en debatt som man kan lese om i neste nummer av St Olav tidsskrift.) Men jeg syns det er naturlig for en prest å være opptatt av hvordan messen best kan feires, og også ha meninger om vellykkede de mange liturgiske forandringene (offisielle og uoffisielle) som kom etter konsilet har vært.
På bakgrunn av disse hendelsene har jeg lest med ekstra stor interesse en artikkel erkebiskop Malcolm Ranjith, sekretær i Vatikanets sakramentskongregasjon, nylig har offentliggjort i tidsskriftet First Things. (Hele artikkelen er så langt bare åpen for abonnenter, og blir tilgjengelig for alle om en måneds tid.) Erkebiskopen er kjent for å være konservativ mht liturgien, og ganske frittalende (se tidligere innlegg på bloggen, HER og HER), men det er interessant å se hvor kritisk han er mot de siste års liturgiske utvikling (og lese hans mange sitater fra kardinal Ratzinger), men ikke mot Vatikankonsilet. Jeg tar her med noe av det han skriver:
How much of the postconciliar liturgical reform truly reflects Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on Sacred Liturgy? This is a question that has been debated in ecclesial circles ever since the Consilium ad Exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia, the group charged with implementing Vatican II’s changes, finished its work in 1970. The question has been debated with even greater intensity in the last few decades. And while some have argued that what was done by the Consilium was indeed in line with that great document Sacrosanctum Concilium, others have disagreed.
In the search for an answer, we must take into account the turbulent mood of the years that immediately followed the council. In his decision to convoke the Second Vatican Council, John XXIII wished the Church to be prepared for the new world that was emerging in the aftermath of the disastrous events of the Second World War. [Her hopper jeg over mange avsnitt som beskriver andre aspekter ved konsilet.]
… An exaggerated sense of antiquarianism, anthropologism, confusion of roles between the ordained and the nonordained, a limitless provision of space for experimentation—and, indeed, the tendency to look down on some aspects of the development of the liturgy in the second millennium—were increasingly visible among certain liturgical schools. Liturgists had also tended to pick and choose sections of Sacrosanctum Concilium that seemed to be more accommodating to change or novelty, while ignoring others. Besides, there was a great sense of hurry to effect and legalize changes. Much space tended to be provided for a rather horizontalist way of looking at the liturgy. Norms of the council that tended to restrict such creativity or that were favorable to the traditional way seemed to be ignored.
Worse still, some practices that Sacrosanctum Concilium had never contemplated were allowed into the liturgy, such as saying the Mass versus populum, Holy Communion on the hand, altogether giving up on Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of “active participation” ( actuosa participatio).
All of this had its effect on the work of the Consilium. Those who guided the process of change both within the Consilium and later in the Sacred Congregation of Rites were certainly influenced by these novel tendencies. Not everything they introduced was negative. Much of the work was praiseworthy. But much room was also left for experimentation and arbitrary interpretation. These freedoms were exploited to their fullest extent by some liturgical experts, leading to much confusion.
Cardinal Ratzinger explains how “one shudders at the lackluster face of the postconciliar liturgy as it has become, or one is bored with its banality and its lack of artistic standards.” This is not to lay the responsibility for what happened solely on the members of the Consilium. But some of their approaches were weak. There indeed was a general spirit of uncritical giving in on certain matters to the rabble-rousing spirit of the era, even within the Church (most visibly in some sectors and geographic regions). Some of those in authority at the level of the Sacred Congregation of Rites also showed signs of weakness in this matter. Too many indults were given on certain requirements of the norms.
Naturally the “spirit of freedom” that some of these powerful sectors within the Church unleashed in the name of the council, even causing the important decision makers to vacillate, led to much disorder and confusion, something that neither the council nor the popes who guided it ever intended. The sad comment made by Paul VI during the troubled 1970s that “the smoke of Satan has entered the Church,” and his comment on the excuses made by some to impede evangelization “on the basis of such and such a teaching of the council,” show how this anti-spirit of the council rendered his labors most painful.
In the light of all this, and of some of the troublesome consequences for the Church today, it is necessary to find out how the postconciliar liturgical reform did emerge and which figures or attitudes caused the present situation. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger analyzed the situation thus: “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy. . . . When the community of faith, the worldwide unity of the Church and her history and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless.”
Certain weaknesses of those responsible and the stormy atmosphere of theological relativism—coupled with the sense of fascination with novelty, change, man-centeredness, and accent on subjectivity and moral relativism as well as on individual freedom, all of which characterized the society at large—undermined the fixed values of the faith and caused this slide into liturgical anarchy.
The role played in the reform movement by Ferdinando Cardinal Antonelli, one of the most eminent and closely involved members of the Consilium who supervised the reform process, seems to have been largely unknown until Monsignor Nicola Giampietro came across his personal agenda notes and decided to present them in a study. The publication in English of this interesting study will, I am sure, contribute greatly to the ongoing debate on the postconciliar liturgical reforms.
What is most clear to any reader of Giampietro’s True Development of the Liturgy is that, as Cardinal Ratzinger stated, “the true time of Vatican II has not yet come.” The reform has to go on. The immediate need seems to be that of a reform of the Missal of 1969, for quite a number of changes originating within the postconciliar reform seem to have been introduced somewhat hastily and unreflectively, as Cardinal Antonelli himself repeatedly stated. The change must be made to fall in line with Sacrosanctum Concilium itself, and it must indeed go even further, keeping with the spirit of our own times.
What urges such changes is not merely a desire to correct past mistakes but much more the need to be true to what liturgy in fact is and means to us and what the council defined it to be. What we need today is not only to engage ourselves in an honest appraisal of what happened but also to take bold and courageous steps in moving the process along. We need to identify and correct the erroneous orientations and decisions, appreciate the liturgical tradition of the past courageously, and ensure that the Church rediscovers the true roots of its spiritual wealth and grandeur, even if that means reforming the reform itself, thereby ensuring that liturgy truly becomes what Pope Benedict called the “sublime expression of God’s glory and, in a certain sense, a glimpse of heaven on earth.”