August 17, 2022

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Pope issues apostolic letter “Desiderio Desiteravi”: Abandoning debates and rediscovering the beauty of worship

It was published in Rome on Wednesday, June 29, the Feast of Saints Peter and Saint Paul. Apostolic Epistle desiderio desideravi Creation of God’s People Worship. Searching for text Calling to create liturgies recalling the deeper meaning of the Eucharistic celebration that arose from the Council. There are 65 paragraphs in which he recounts the results of the plenary session of the Dicastery for Divine Worship in February 2019 and follows the motu proprio.Conventions are protection”, reaffirms the importance of ecclesiastical unity around liturgy as a result of post-conciliar liturgical reform.

This is not a new instruction or a directory with specific regulations, but a meditation to understand the beauty of liturgical celebration and its role in evangelization. And it ends with a plea: “Let us put aside arguments, maintain unity, and marvel at the beauty of worship to listen together to what the Spirit is saying to the church” (65).

Let’s meet the living Jesus

Christian faith, Francis writes, is either an encounter with the living Jesus or it is not. And “Liturgy guarantees us the possibility of such an encounter. We don’t need a vague memory of the Last Supper: we need to be present at that supper.

Remembering the Importance of Constitution”Sacrosanctum Consilium” Vatican II, which led to the recovery of the theological understanding of the liturgy, the Pope adds: “I wish not to be superficial and distort the beauty of the Christian celebration and its necessary consequences in the life of the Church. its devaluing understanding or, worse, its instrumentalization in the service of some ideological vision, whatever that may be” (16).

After warning against “spiritual worldliness” and the gnosticism and neo-Philgianism that feeds it, Francis explains, “Participating in the Eucharistic Sacrifice is not our achievement, we can boast about it before God and our brothers” and “there is liturgy. It has nothing to do with ascetic discipline: it is the gift of the Lord’s Passover. , which is obediently welcomed and renews our lives. One enters the upper room only by the force of attraction of the desire to eat Easter with us”(20).

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In order to break free from spiritual worldliness, it is necessary to rediscover the beauty of worship, but this rediscovery is not “a search for a ritual aesthetic that delights only in attending to the external formality of a ritual or is satisfied with honest observance. Rubrics. Obviously, this statement does not intend in any way to recognize the opposite behavior, which confuses simplicity with disordered ordinariness. , the essential is ignorance with superficiality, the concreteness of ritual action with an enthusiastic practical activity”(22).

“Every aspect of the celebration (place, time, gestures, words, objects, clothes, songs, music, …) must be observed, and every rabbi must be observed: the Pope explains that it will be enough not to lose this attention. What must be done, that is, The Paschal Mystery is celebrated in the ritual established by the Church. But even if the quality and ethics of the celebratory action are guaranteed, it is not enough to make our participation whole”(23).

Indeed, if we lack the “charm for Pascal’s mystery” that lies “in the certainty of sacramental signs,” we run the risk of not being able to penetrate the ocean of grace that floods every celebration” (24). This charm has nothing to do with a ‘sense of mystery’, Francis makes clear: sometimes , in the accusations against the liturgical reform, it is said to have been removed from the celebration. The re-enchantment the Pope speaks of is not a kind of confusion in the face of an ambiguous reality or an enigmatic ritual, but rather, “on the contrary, surprise at the fact that God’s plan of salvation is revealed to us on Easter. Sunday. Jesus” (25).

So how do we regain the ability to fully live the liturgical activities? Confronted with the chaos of postmodernism, individualism, subjectivism and abstract mysticism, the Pope invites us to return to the ideals of reconciliatory constitutions that are inseparable from each other. And he writes, “Unfortunately it is trivial to read the tensions surrounding the celebration as a simple difference between different sensibilities related to the ritual form. The problem is above all the Church” (31). The Pope states that he does not accept the liturgical reform born out of the Concilium.

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Cult formation

Citing the theologian Romano Cardini in the Apostolic Letter, Francis affirms that without liturgy, “reforms in ritual and text will not help much” (34). He emphasizes the importance of formation, especially in seminaries: “A liturgical-intellectual approach to theological formation in seminaries will certainly have positive effects on pastoral activity as well. There is no aspect of church life that does not find its zenith and source. As a result of comprehensive plans, overall pastoral care, natural and integrated, is the result of placing the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist, the foundation of communion, at the center of community life. A theological understanding of liturgy in no way allows these words to be understood as reduced to the liturgical aspect. A celebration that does not evangelize is not genuine, just as a proclamation that does not meet the Risen One in the celebration is not genuine: both, without the witness of virtue, are like sounding brass or cymbals. ”(37)

Wild creativity

Educating is important to understanding symbols that are increasingly difficult for modern man, Pope explains. One way to do this is to “take care of the art of celebration, of course,” which “cannot be reduced to simply observing the tool of rubrics, and cannot even be thought of as an imaginative – sometimes wild – creativity without rules. Ritual is ethical and ethical is never an end, but always it is. is in the service of the higher reality it seeks to preserve” (48). The art of celebration cannot be learned “by study in oratorical or persuasive communication techniques,” it requires “devoted dedication to the celebration, allowing the celebration to transmit its art to us” (50). And “among the ritual gestures belonging to the whole assembly, silence occupies an absolute importance”, which “moves to repentance and the will to change; it encourages the hearing of the word and prayer; it expresses the veneration of the Body and Blood of Christ” (52).

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Parish Priest

Francis observes that in Christian communities, their way of life is “conditioned – for good and, unfortunately, for evil – on how the parish priest presides over the assembly.” He lists several inadequate “models” of the presidency, albeit with the opposite sign: “Strict rigidity or enthusiastic creativity; spiritualizing mysticism or practical activity; emphatic haste or delay; sloppy carelessness or excessive refinement; excessive conformity or hierarchical incompetence. All models have the same source: “The exuberant personality of the celebratory style, which sometimes expresses a thinly disguised passion for leadership” (54), is amplified when celebrations are streamed online. Meanwhile, “to preside at the Eucharist is to plunge into the furnace of God’s love. If we can understand this reality, or even intuit it, we can behave properly.” We certainly do not need a directory” (57).

One prayer

The Pope concludes the letter by asking “all bishops, priests and deacons, seminarians, professors of theological faculties and professors of theological schools, all catechists, to help the holy people of God to use what is always the source of Christian spirituality.” , reiterates that the “ritual custody” is established so that “the Church can raise, in various languages, one and the same prayer capable of expressing its unity” and that this unique prayer is the result of the conciliar reform established by the Roman rite and saint Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.