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'Horizontalism … Does Damage to Catholic Faith and Worship'

1/21/2007 - 6:45 AM PST

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Cardinal Arinze Address to Institut Supérieur de Liturgie

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 21, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is an address given by Cardinal Francis Arinze at a colloquium to celebrate the golden jubilee of the Institut Supérieur de Liturgie of the Institut Catholique de Paris. The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments gave the address Oct. 26.

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At the Service of the Mysteries of Christ

1. Fitting Celebration. Time of Grace

God be praised that the Institut Supérieur de Liturgie is celebrating a half-century of its life and service. In these 50 years this institute has made a significant contribution to liturgical reflection, life and allied formation in the Church. We pray the Lord Jesus to bless and reward all who in the past, or at the present time, have contributed to the work of this important section of the Institut Catholique de Paris. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments offers its warm congratulations to the institute.

A jubilee celebration such as this is a time not only for thanksgiving but also for reflection, for re-examination of orientations, for clarification of the road map, and for resolutions for the future. Let us touch on some of the areas which a higher liturgical institute such as this one could seek to serve. It is important to show the light in matters liturgical. The "ars celebrandi" and the homily deserve special mention. An ecclesiology of communion includes clarity on the roles of the priest and of the diocesan bishop. A consideration of these elements will help us to conclude with a listing of the major services expected of a liturgical institute.

2. Show the light in matters liturgical

Primary among the duties of a higher liturgical institute is to be a beacon of light in matters liturgical. It informs and forms leaders who appreciate the riches to be found in the public worship of the Church and who will be ready to share them with others. It throws light on the close link between theology and liturgy, between the faith of the Church and the celebration of the mysteries of Christ, between the "lex credendi" and the "lex orandi."

While, therefore, a higher liturgical institute should promote research, it above all bases its strong and durable foundations on the faith, on the Tradition of the Church and on the heritage enshrined in liturgical texts, gestures and postures. Such an institute appreciates that the sacred liturgy is a gift we receive from Christ through the Church. It is not something that we invent. It has therefore unchangeable elements which come from our Savior Jesus Christ, as in the essential forms of the sacraments, and changeable elements which have been carefully handed on and guarded by the Church.

Many abuses in matters liturgical are based, not on bad will but on ignorance, because they "involve a rejection of those elements whose deeper meaning is not understood and whose antiquity is not recognized" ("Redemptionis Sacramentum," No. 9). Thus some abuses are due to an undue place given to spontaneity, or creativity, or to a wrong idea of freedom, or to the error of horizontalism which places man at the center of a liturgical celebration instead of vertically focusing on Christ and his mysteries.

Darkness is chased away by light, not by verbal condemnation. A higher liturgical institute trains experts in the best and authentic [theological]-liturgical tradition of the Church. It forms them to love the Church and her public worship and to follow the norms and indications given by the magisterium. It also provides appropriate courses for those who will promote ongoing liturgical formation for clerics, consecrated people and the lay faithful.

As Pope John Paul II wrote the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments a month before his death: "It is urgent that in parish communities, in associations and in ecclesial movements there be assured adequate courses of formation, so that the liturgy be better known in the richness of its language and that it be lived in fullness. To the measure to which this is done, the result will be benefits showing themselves in personal and community life" (Letter of John Paul II to Cardinal Arinze, March 3, 2005, No. 5).

3. Promotion of "ars celebrandi"

A consequence of sound [theological]-liturgical grounding and proper formation in faith and reverence is that the "ars celebrandi" will be promoted not only on the part of the celebrating priest, but also as regards all others who take part in liturgical functions, above all, the deacon, but also altar servers, readers, those who direct the singing and all the faithful who participate.

"Ars celebrandi" is based on the theological truth articulated by the Second Vatican ...

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