Pope Benedict’s teachings on Liturgical Music

///Pope Benedict’s teachings on Liturgical Music
Pope Benedict’s teachings on Liturgical Music 2016-12-07T21:05:00+00:00

pope-benedict-xvi-0202Rite and Culture

The Christian faith can never be separated from the soil of sacred events, from the choice made by God, who wanted to speak to us, to become man, to die and rise again, in a particular place and at a particular time. “Always” can only come from “once for all”. The Church does not pray in some kind of mythical omnitemporality. She cannot forsake her roots. She recognizes the true utterance of God precisely in the concreteness of its history, in time and place: to these God ties us, and by these we are all tied together. The diachronic aspect, praying with the Fathers and the apostles, is part of what we mean by rite, but it also in­cludes a local aspect, extending from Jerusalem to Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople. Rites are not, therefore, just the products of inculturation, how­ever much they may have incorporated elements from different cultures. They are forms of the apostolic Tradition and of its unfolding in the great places of the Tradition.

[The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 164]

Spontaneity and Creativity

The great­ness of the liturgy depends—we shall have to repeat this frequently—on its unspontaneity (Unbeliebigkeit)…. Only respect for the liturgy’s fundamental unspontaneity and pre-existing identity can give us what we hope for: the feast in which the great reality comes to us that we ourselves do not manufacture but receive as a gift. This means that “creativity” cannot be an authentic category for matters liturgical. In any case, this is a word that developed within the Marxist world view. Creativity means that in a universe that in itself is meaningless and came into existence through blind evolution, man can creatively fashion a new and better world. Modern theo­ries of art think in terms of a nihilistic kind of creativity. Art is not meant to copy anything. Artistic creativity is under the free mastery of man, without being bound by norms or goals and subject to no questions of meaning. It may be that in such visions a cry for freedom is to be heard, a cry that in a world totally in the control of technology becomes a cry for help. Seen in this way, art appears as the final refuge of freedom. True, art has something to do with freedom, but freedom understood in the way we have been describing is empty. It is not redemptive, but makes despair sound like the last word of human existence. This kind of creativity has no place within the liturgy. The life of the liturgy does not come from what dawns upon the minds of individuals and plan­ning groups. On the contrary, it is God’s descent upon our world, the source of real liberation. He alone can open the door to freedom. The more priests and faithful humbly surrender themselves to this descent of God, the more “new” the liturgy will constantly be, and the more true and personal it becomes. Yes, the liturgy becomes personal, true, and new, not through tomfoolery and ba­nal experiments with the words, but through a coura­geous entry into the great reality that through the rite is always ahead of us and can never quite be overtaken. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 170]

The Primacy of Singing

THE IMPORTANCE of music in biblical religion is shown very simply by the fact that the verb “to sing” (with related words such as “song”, and. so forth) is one of the most commonly used words in the Bible. It occurs 309 times in the Old Testament and thirty-six in the New. When man comes into contact with God, mere speech is not enough. Areas of his existence are awakened that spontaneously turn into song. Indeed, man’s own being is insufficient for what he has to express, and so he in­vites the whole of creation to become a song with him: “Awake, my soul! Awake, 0 harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, 0 Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithful­ness to the clouds” (Ps 57:8f.). We find the first mention of singing in the Bible after the crossing of the Red Sea. Israel has now been definitively delivered from slavery. In a desperate situation, it has had an overwhelming experi­ence of God’s saving power. Just as Moses as a baby was taken from the Nile and only then really received the gift of life, so Israel now feels as if it has been, so to speak, taken out of the water: it is free, newly endowed with the gift of itself from God’s own hands. In the biblical ac­count, the people’s reaction to the foundational event of salvation is described in this sentence: “[T]hey believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses” (Ex 14:31). But then follows a second reaction, which soars up from the first with elemental force: “Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord” (i 5: i). Year by year, at the Easter Vigil, Christians join in the singing of this song. They sing it in a new way as their song, because they know that they have been “taken out of the water” by God’s power, set free by God for authentic life. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 136]

The singing of the Church comes ultimately out of love. It is the utter depth of love that produces the singing. “Cantare amantis est”, says St. Augustine, singing is a lover’s thing. In so saying, we come again to the trinitarian interpretation of Church music. The Holy Spirit is love, and it is he who produces the singing. He is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit who draws us into love for Christ and so leads to the Father. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 142]

In liturgical music, based as it is on biblical faith, there is, therefore, a clear dominance of the Word; this music is a higher form of proclama­tion. Ultimately, it rises up out of the love that responds to God’s love made flesh in Christ, the love that for us went unto death. After the Resurrection, the Cross is by no means a thing of the past, and so this love is always marked by pain at the hiddenness of God, by the cry that rises up from the depths of anguish, Kyrie eleison, by hope and by supplication. But it also has the privilege, by anticipation, of experiencing the reality of the Resur­rection, and so it brings with it the joy of being loved, that gladness of heart that Haydn said came upon him when he set liturgical texts to music. Thus the relation of liturgical music to logos means, first of all, simply its relation to words. That is why singing in the liturgy has priority over instrumental music, though it does not in any way exclude it. It goes without saying that the biblical and liturgical texts are the normative words from which liturgical music has to take its bearings. This does not rule out the continuing creation of “new songs”, but in­stead inspires them and assures them of a firm grounding in God’s love for mankind and his work of redemption. [The Spirit of Liturgy [SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000], p. 149]

Latin in Liturgy

I would be in favor of a new openness toward the use of Latin. Latin in the Mass has come meanwhile to look to us like a fall from grace. So that, in any case, communication is ruled out that is very necessary in areas of mixed culture… Let’s think of tourist centers, where it would be lovely for people to recognize each other in something they have in common. So we ought to keep such things alive and present. If even in the great liturgical celebrations in Rome, no one can sing the Kyrie or the Sanctus any more, no one knows what Gloria means, then a cultural loss has become a loss of what we share in common. To that extent I should say that the Liturgy of the Word should always be in the mother tongue, but there ought nonetheless to be a basic stock of Latin elements that would bind us together. [God and the World, SF, CA: Ignatius, 2002, pp. 417-18]

Trent and Music

In the West, in the form of Gregorian chant, the inherited tradition of psalm-singing was developed to a new sublimity and purity, which set a permanent standard for sacred music, music for the liturgy of the Church. Polyphony developed in the late Middle Ages, and then instruments came back into divine worship—quite rightly, too, because, as we have seen, the Church not only continues the synagogue, but also takes up, in the light of Christ’s Pasch, the reality represented by the Temple. Two new factors are thus at work in Church music. Artistic freedom increasingly asserts its rights, even in the liturgy. Church music and secular music are now each influenced by the other. This is particularly clear in the case of the so-called “parody Masses”, in which the text of the Mass was set to a theme or melody that came from secular music, with the result that anyone hearing it might think he was listening to the latest “hit”. It is clear that these opportunities for artistic creativity and the adoption of secular tunes brought dan­ger with them. Music was no longer developing out of prayer, but, with the new demand for artistic autonomy, was now heading away from the liturgy; it was becoming an end in itself, opening the door to new, very different. ways of feeling and of experiencing the world. Music was alienating the liturgy from its true nature. At this point the Council of Trent intervened in the culture war that had broken out. It was made a norm that liturgical music should be at the service of the Word; the use of instruments was substantially reduced; and the difference between secular and sacred music was clearly affirmed. [The Spirit of the Liturgy (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), pp. 146-47]

Sacred vs. Performance

Whether it is Bach or Mozart that we hear in church, we have a sense in either case of what Gloria Dei, the glory of God, means. The mystery of infinite beauty is there and enables us to ex­perience the presence of God more truly and vividly than in many sermons. But there are already signs of danger to come. Subjective experience and passion are still held in check by the order of the musical universe, reflecting as it does the order of the divine creation itself. But there is already the threat of invasion by the virtuoso mentality, the vanity of technique, which is no longer the servant of the whole but wants to push itself to the fore. During the nineteenth century, the century of self-emancipating subjectivity, this led in many places to the obscuring of the sacred by the operatic. The dangers that had forced the Council of Trent to intervene were back again. In similar fashion, Pope Pius X tried to remove the operatic element from the liturgy and declared Gregorian chant and the great polyphony of the age of the Catholic Reformation (of which Palestrina was the outstanding representative) to be the standard for liturgical music. A clear distinction was made between liturgical music and religious music in general, just as visual art in the liturgy has to conform to different standards from those employed in religious art in general. Art in the liturgy has a very specific responsibility, and precisely as such does it serve as a wellspring of culture, which in the final analysis owes its existence to cult. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), pp. 148]

Not every kind of music can have a place in Christian worship. It has its standards, and that standard is the Lo­gos. If we want to know whom we are dealing with, the Holy Spirit or the unholy spirit, we have to remember that it is the Holy Spirit who moves us to say, “Jesus is Lord” (~Cor 12:3). The Holy Spirit leads us to the Logos, and he leads us to a music that serves the Logos as a sign of the sursum corda, the lifting up of the human heart. Does it integrate man by drawing him to what is above, or does it cause his disintegration into formless intoxication or mere sensuality? That is the criterion for a music in harmony with logos, a form of that logike latreia (reasonable, logos-worthy worship)… [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 151]

Development in Sacred Music

“An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.” [Speaking in the Sistine Chapel following a tribute concert to Dominico Bartolucci, June 24, 2006.]

Musical Culture Today

After the cultural revolution of recent decades, we are faced with a challenge no less great than that of the three moments of crisis that we have encountered in our his­torical sketch: the Gnostic temptation, the crisis at the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modernity, and the crisis at the beginning of the twentieth century, which formed the prelude to the still more radical ques­tions of the present day. Three developments in recent music epitomize the problems that the Church has to face when she is considering liturgical music. First of all, there is the cultural universalization that the Church has to undertake if she wants to get beyond the boundaries of the European mind. This is the question of what in­culturation should look like in the realm of sacred music if, on the one hand, the identity of Christianity is to be preserved and, on the other, its universality is to be ex­pressed in local forms. Then there are two developments in music itself that have their origins primarily in the West but that for a long time have affected the whole of mankind in the world culture that is being formed. Modern so-called “classical” music has maneuvered itself, with some exceptions, into an elitist ghetto, which only specialists may enter—and even they do so with what may sometimes be mixed feelings. The music of the masses has broken loose from this and treads a very different path. [The Spirit of the Liturgy [SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000) p. 148]

Popular and Rock Music

On the one hand, there is pop music, which is certainly no longer supported by the people in the ancient sense (populus). It is aimed at the phenomenon of the masses, is industrially produced, and ultimately has to be described as a cult of the banal. “Rock”, on the other hand, is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship. People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the experience of being part of a crowd and by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects. However, in the ecstasy of having all their defenses torn down, the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe. The music of the Holy Spirit’s sober ine­briation seems to have little chance when self has become a prison, the mind is a shackle, and breaking out from both appears as a true promise of redemption that can be tasted at least for a few moments. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p 148]

Contemplation of Beauty

The encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes, so that later, from this experience, we take the criteria for judgment and can correctly evaluate the arguments. For me an unforgettable experience was the Bach concert that Leonard Bernstein conducted in Munich after the sudden death of Karl Richter. I was sitting next to the Lutheran Bishop Hanselmann. When the last note of one of the great Thomas-Kantor-Cantatas triumphantly faded away, we looked at each other spontaneously and right then we said: “Anyone who has heard this, knows that the faith is true.” The music had such an extraordinary force of reality that we realized, no longer by deduction, but by the impact on our hearts, that it could not have originated from nothingness, but could only have come to be through the power of the Truth that became real in the composer’s inspiration. [Message to Communion and Liberation, August 2002, Rimini, Italy, made available May 2, 2005, Zenit)

Apollo or Dionysis

The Church’s Tradition has this in mind when it talks about the sober inebriation caused in us by the Holy Spirit. There is always an ultimate sobriety, a deeper rationality, resisting any decline into irrationality and immoderation. We can see what this means in prac­tice if we look at the history of music. The writings of Plato and Aristotle on music show that the Greek world in their time was faced with a choice between two kinds of worship, two different images of God and man. Now what this choice came down to concretely was a choice between two fundamental types of music. On the one hand, there is the music that Plato ascribes, in line with mythology, to Apollo, the god of light and reason. This is the music that draws senses into spirit and so brings man to wholeness. It does not abolish the senses, but inserts them into the unity of this creature that is man. It elevates the spirit precisely by wedding it to the senses, and it el­evates the senses by uniting them with the spirit. Thus this kind of music is an expression of man’s special place in the general structure of being. But then there is the music that Plato ascribes to Marsyas, which we might describe, in terms of cultic history, as “Dionysian”. It drags man into the intoxication of the senses, crushes ra­tionality, and subjects the spirit to the senses. The way Plato (and more moderately, Aristotle) allots instruments and keys to one or other of these two kinds of music is now obsolete and may in many respects surprise us. But the Apollonian/Dionysian alternative runs through the whole history of religion and confronts us again today. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), pp. 150-51]

Authentic Artistic Freedom

The great cultural tradition of the faith is home to a presence of immense power. What in museums is only a monument from the past, an occasion for mere nostal­gic admiration, is constantly made present in the liturgy in all its freshness. But the present day, too, is not condemned to silence where the faith is concerned. Anyone who looks carefully will see that, even in our own time, important works of art, inspired by faith, have been pro­duced and are being produced—in visual art as well as in music (and indeed literature). Today, too, joy in the Lord and contact with his presence in the liturgy has an inexhaustible power of inspiration. The artists who take this task upon themselves need not regard themselves as the rearguard of culture. They are weary of the empty freedom from which they have emerged. Humble sub­mission to what goes before us releases authentic free­dom and leads us to the true summit of our vocation as human beings. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), pp. 155]

Liturgical Dancing

Dancing is not a form of expression for the Christian liturgy. In about the third century, there was an attempt in certain Gnostic-Docetic circles to introduce it into the liturgy. For these people, the Crucifixion was only an ap­pearance. Before the Passion, Christ had abandoned the body that in any case he had never really assumed. Danc­ing could take the place of the liturgy of the Cross, be­cause, after all, the Cross was only an appearance. The cultic dances of the different religions have different pur­poses—incantation, imitative magic, mystical ecstasy— none of which is compatible with the essential purpose of the liturgy of the “reasonable sacrifice”. It is totally absurd to try to make the liturgy “attractive” by introducing dancing pantomimes (wherever possible performed by professional dance troupes), which frequently (and rightly, from the professionals’ point of view) end with applause. Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attrac­tiveness fades quickly—it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation. I myself have expe­rienced the replacing of the penitential rite by a dance performance, which, needless to say, received a round of applause. Could there be anything farther removed from true penitence? Liturgy can only attract people when it looks, not at itself, but at God, when it allows him to enter and act. Then something truly unique happens, beyond competition, and people have a sense that more has taken place than a recreational activity. None of the Christian rites includes dancing. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 198]


We are realizing more and more clearly that silence is part of the liturgy. We respond, by singing and praying, to the God who addresses us, but the greater mystery, surpassing all words, summons us to silence. It must, of course, be a silence with content, not just the absence of speech and action. We should expect the liturgy to give us a positive stillness that will restore us. Such stillness will not be just a pause, in which a thousand thoughts and desires assault us, but a time of recollection, giving us an inward peace, allowing us to draw breath and rediscover the one thing necessary, which we have forgotten. That is why silence cannot be simply “made”, organized as if it were one activity among many. It is no accident that on all sides people are seeking techniques of meditation, a spirituality for emptying the mind. One of man’s deepest needs is making its presence felt, a need that is manifestly not being met in our present form of the liturgy. For silence to be fruitful, as we have already said, it must not be just a pause in the action of the liturgy. No, it must be an integral part of the liturgical event. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 209]

Is a Choral Sanctus Permitted?

My former Münster colleague and friend E. J. Lengeling has said, if one understands the Sanctus as an authentic part for the congregation celebrat­ing Mass, “then this not only leads to compelling conclusions for new musi­cal settings, but also results in vetoes for most of the Gregorian and for all the polyphonic versions since they exclude the people from singing and do not take the character of acclamation into account.” With all due respect for the eminent liturgist, his opinion shows that even experts can be wide of the mark. First of all, mistrust is always in order when a large part of the liv­ing history has to be thrown onto the garbage dump of discarded misunder­standings. This is all the more true for the Christian liturgy, which lives from the continuity and inner unity of the history of religious prayer. In fact, the assertion that the acclamatory character can be attended to only by the con­gregation is completely unfounded. In the entire liturgical tradition of the East and the West, the Preface always closes with the reference to the heav­enly liturgy and invites the assembled congregation to join in the acclama­tion of the heavenly choirs. The end of the Preface in particular has had a decisive influence on the iconography of the Majestas Domini, which was the point of departure for my remarks. Compared to the biblical basis of the Sanctus in Isaiah 6, there are three new accents in the liturgical text. The scene is no longer the Temple in Jerusalem, as in Isaiah, but heaven, which opens itself up to the earth in mystery. For this reason it is no longer just the seraphim who are exulting, but all the hosts of heaven in whose acclamation the whole Church, redeemed humanity, can sing in unison because of Christ, who connects heaven and earth with each other. Finally, from there the Sanctus has been transferred from the “he”-form to the “you”-form: heaven and earth are full of your glory. The “Hosanna,” originally a cry for help, thus becomes a song of praise. Whoever does not pay attention to the mystery character and cosmic character of the invitation to sing in unison with the praise of the heavenly choirs has already missed the point of the whole thing. This unison can occur in a variety of ways, and it always has to do with being representative of or standing in for others. The congregation assembled in one place opens into the whole. It also repre­sents those who are absent and unites itself with those who are far and near. If the congregation has a choir that can draw it into cosmic praise and into the open expanse of heaven and earth more powerfully than its own stam­mering, then the representative function of the choir is at this moment par­ticularly appropriate. Through the choir a greater transparency to the praise of the angels and therefore a more profound, interior joining in with their singing are bestowed than a congregation’s own acclamation and song would be capable of doing in many places…. Does it not do us good, before we set off into the center of the mystery, to encounter a short time of filled silence in which the choir calms us interiorly, leading each one of us into silent prayer and thus into a union that can occur only on the inside? Must we not relearn this silent, inner co-praying with each other and with the angels and saints, the living and the dead, and with Christ himself? This way the words of the Canon do not become worn-out expressions that we then in vain attempt to substitute with ever newly assembled phrases, phrases which conceal the absence of the real inner event of the liturgy, the departure from human speech into being touched by the eternal. Lengeling’s veto, which has been repeated by many others, is meaning­less. The choral Sanctus has its justification even after the Second Vatican Council. [A New Song for the Lord, (NY: Crossroad, 1995) pp. 141-142]

A Split Sanctus and Benedictus

It is true that splitting the Sanctus and the Benedictus is not necessary, but it makes a lot of sense. if the choir sings the Sanctus and the Benedictus together, then the break between the Preface and the Eucharistic Prayer can indeed be too lengthy. When this happens, it no longer serves the congrega­tion’s silent, yet cooperative entering into cosmic praise because the inner tension is not sustained. On the other hand, if a filled silence and an interior greeting of the Lord along with the choir take place after the consecration event, it corresponds profoundly to the inner structure of the occasion. The pedantic proscription of such a split, which came about not without reason in the development, should be forgotten as quickly as possible. [A New Song for the Lord, (NY: Crossroad, 1995) p 145]

A Choral Agnus Dei

Now just a word about the Agnus Dei. In the Regensburg cathedral it has become a tradition that after the Sign of Peace the Agnus Dei is first spoken three times by both the priest and the people and then continued by the choir as a communion hymn during the distribution of Communion. Over against this custom it has been asserted that the Agnus Dei belongs to the rite of the breaking of the bread. Only a completely fossilized archaism can draw the conclusion from its original purpose of accompanying the time of the breaking of the bread that it should be sung exclusively at this point. As a matter of fact, it became a communion song as early as the ninth and tenth centuries when the old rites of the breaking the bread were no longer neces­sary because of the new hosts. J. A. Jungmann points out that in many cases in the early Middle Ages only one Agnus Dei was sung after the Sign of Peace while the second and third ones found their niche after Communion and thus accompanied the distribution of Communion where there was one. And does the request for the mercy of Christ, the Lamb of God, not make sense at that exact moment when he defenselessly gives himself into our hands again as Lamb, the sacrificed, yet triumphant Lamb who holds the keys of history in his hands (Revelation 5)? And is the request for peace made to him, the defenseless yet victorious One, not appropriate especially at the moment of receiving Communion since peace was, after all, one of the names of the Eucharist in the early Church because it tears down the boundaries between heaven and earth and between peoples and states and joins humans to the unity of the Body of Christ? At first glance, the Regensburg tradition and the conciliar as well as post­conciliar reform seem to be two opposite worlds, which clash in harsh con­tradiction. Whoever stood right between them for three decades was able to experience the severity of the posed questions for himself. But where this tension is endured, it turns out that all this belongs to the stages of one single path. Only if one holds these stages together and holds out will they be correctly understood and will true reform flourish in the spirit of the Sec­ond Vatican Council—reform that is not discontinuity and destruction but purification and growth to a new maturation and anew fullness. The cathe­dral choirmaster who has borne the weight of this tension deserves thanks: This was not only a service for Regensburg and its cathedral, but a service for the entire Church. [A New Song for the Lord (NY: Crossroad, 1995) p. 145]

Active Participation

Wherever an exaggerated concept of “community” predominates, a concept which is (as we have already seen) completely unrealistic precisely in a highly mobile society such as ours, there only the priest and the congregation can be acknowledged as legitimate executors or performers of liturgical song. Today, practically everyone can see through the primitive activism and the insipid pedagogic rationalism of such a position which is why it is now asserted so seldom. The fact that the schola and the choir can also contribute to the whole picture, is scarcely denied any more, even among those who erroneously interpret the council’s phrase about “active participation” as meaning external activism. (“In the Presence of the Angels…” Adoremus Bulletin, Vol. 2, Nos. 6-8, Oct-Dec. 1996).

On External Actions

Of course, external actions—reading, singing, the bringing up of the gifts—can be distributed in a sensible way. By the same token, participation in the Liturgy of the Word (reading, singing) is to be distinguished from the sacramental celebration proper. We should be clearly aware that external actions are quite secondary here. Do­ing really must stop when we come to the heart of the matter: the oratio. It must be plainly evident that the oratio is the heart of the matter, but that it is important precisely because it provides a space for the actio of God. Anyone who grasps this will easily see that it is not now a mat­ter of looking at or toward the priest, but of looking to­gether toward the Lord and going out to meet him. The almost theatrical entrance of different players into the lit­urgy, which is so common today, especially during the Preparation of the Gifts, quite simply misses the point. If the various external actions (as a matter of fact, there are not very many of them, though they are being arti­ficially multiplied) become the essential in the liturgy, if the liturgy degenerates into general activity, then we have radically misunderstood the “theo-drama” of the liturgy and lapsed almost into parody. True liturgical education cannot consist in learning and experimenting with external activities. Instead one must be led toward the essential actio that makes the liturgy what it is, toward the transforming power of God, who wants, through what happens in the liturgy, to transform us and the world. In this respect, liturgical education today, of both priests and laity, is deficient to a deplorable extent. Much remains to be done here. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 170]

Liturgical Disintegration

I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not He speaks to us and hears us. But when the community of faith, the world-wide 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. And, because the ecclesial community cannot have its origin from itself but emerges as a unity only from the Lord, through faith, such circumstances will inexorably result in a disintegration into sectarian parties of all kinds – partisan opposition within a Church tearing herself apart. This is why we need a new Liturgical Movement, which will call to life the real heritage of the Second Vatican Council. Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977 (SF, CA: Ignatius), p. 149.