Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thought for the day

"The great problem of contemporary liturgical life (apathy towards worship, boredom, lack of vitality and participation) stems from the fact that the celebration has sometimes lost its character as mystery, which fosters the spirit of adoration. We often encounter an inflation of words, explanations and comments, homilies too long and poorly prepared, which leaves little room for the mystery being celebrated.

Serious mistakes have sometimes been made in certain places: the location of the altar, tabernacle, and celebrants' chairs, overpowering illumination, excessive removal of ornamentation, etc.

The fact that the celebrants and faithful constantly face each other closes the liturgy in on itself. On the other hand a sound celebration which takes into account the pre-eminence of the altar, the discretion of the celebrants' ministry, the orientation of everyone towards the Lord and the adoration of His presence signified in the symbols and realized by the sacrament, confers on the liturgy that contemplative atmosphere without which it risks being a tiresome religious disquisition, a useless community distraction, a sort of rigmarole.

Wherever tradition has left stupendous altars placed against the apse, this arrangement could be respected by dividing the celebration into a face-to-face between the celebrants and the community for the Liturgy of the Word and a common orientation towards the altar from the time of the offertory to the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer. This solution is preferable to setting up a second, portable altar in the shape of a chest or small table.

The urgent need for the Church's liturgy today is to arrange everything so as to foster in the greatest possible way the contemplative adoration of the Lord , who reveals himself to His people in Word and Sacrament, and whose humble unobtrusive servants are the celebrants."

Rev M Thurian "The Liturgy and Contemplation" in L'Osservatore Romano, English edition (24 July 1996)

The above was written just prior to the death of Rev Max Thurian. Rev Thurian was subprior of the (Protestant) TaizĂ© community and served as one of the Protestant advisors to Pope Paul VI's Consilium which composed the Novus Ordo.  In 1988 he become a Catholic and was ordained to the priesthood. As a celebrated convert and member of the International Theological Commission the article caused quite a stir.