Friday, August 24, 2012

The Eucharistic Mystery Calls For Our Response - Cardinal Francis Arinze (2006) Part 5

5. Observance of Liturgical Norms

In the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the observance of liturgical norms is one of the ways in which we show our Eucharistic faith. To a person who asks why there should be liturgical norms at all, we answer that the Church has the right and duty to promote and protect the Eucharistic celebration with appropriate norms. Christ gave the Church the essentials of the Eucharistic celebration. As the centuries rolled by, the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, developed details on how the mysteries of Christ are to be celebrated. Being an hierarchical society, the Church also manifests her nature and structure in the celebration of the Holy Mass.
The Mass is the most solemn action of the sacred liturgy, which is itself the public worship of the Church.
"Liturgy", says Pope John Paul II, "is never anyone's private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated. Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church" ( Eccl. de Euch., 52). At the direction of Pope John Paul II, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum in March 2004 "precisely to bring out more clearly this deeper meaning of liturgical norms" ( Eccl. de Euch., 52).
It follows that individuals, whether they be priests or lay faithful, are not free to add or subtract any details in the approved rites of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist (cfSacrosanctum Concilium, 22). A do-it-yourself mentality, an attitude of nobody-will-tell-me-what-to-do, or a defiant sting of if-you-do-not-like-my-Mass-you-can-go-to-another-parish, is not only against sound theology and ecclesiology, but also offends against common sense. Unfortunately, sometimes common sense is not very common, when we see a priest ignoring liturgical rules and installing creativity — in his case personal idiosyncracy — as the guide to the celebration of Holy Mass. Our faith guides us and our love of Jesus and of his Church safeguards us from taking such unwholesome liberties. Aware that we are only ministers, not masters of the mysteries of Christ (cf I Cor 4:1), we follow the approved liturgical books so that the people of God are respected and their faith nourished, and so that God is honoured and the Church is gradually being built up.

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