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Friday, March 16, 2007

Sacramentum Caritatis

Well it seems that most of the Catholic blogging world had read the Exhortation within hours of it's release. I've been much slower. I have read the first two parts. Here are some of the things I've found interesting thus far.
Paragraph 14: The Fathers of the Church often meditated on the relationship between Eve's coming forth from the side of Adam as he slept adn teh coming forth of the new Eve, the Church, from the open side of Christ sleeping in death: from Christ's pierced side, John recounts, there came forth blood and water, the symbol of the sacraments.
This is something that I hadn't really thought much about. This is such an obvious connection, I don't know why I hadn't ran across this before. I've highlighted this section with the intent to track down some of the referrenced writings and read more about this subjetc.
Paragraph 33: From the Annunciation to the Cross, Mary is the one who received the Word, made flesh within her adn then silences in death. It is she, lastly, who took into her arms the lifeless body of the one who truly loved his won "to the end".

Consequently, every time we approach the Body and Blood o f Christ in the eucharistic liturgy, we also turn to her who, by her complete fidelity, received Christ's sacrifice for the whole Church.
I find this to be a very interesting thought as well. The Virgin Mary is our example of a complete Christian life from her yes to being the vessel that would bring Christ into the world to her arms waiting to receive his body from the cross. I think this section of the Exhortation is definatly something to prayerfully contemplate and educate ourselves on. Being not to long ago that I was a non-Catholic with very little to no understanding of the Church's relationship with the Virgin Mary, I can see how I would have been taken aback and very put off by this statement. I think it is important for us to fully understand, and be able to explain to those who don't, that we look to the Virgin Mary as one who at every turn of her life shows us how we ought to receive Christ.
Paragraph 42: Generic improvision or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy whould be avoided. . .Finally, while respecting various styles and different adn highly praisworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the requests advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy.
I am happy about this section on liturgical music. When I first started seriously attending Mass I went to a parish that used a lot of contemporary music with guitars, drums, etc. At first I found this very pleasing. However, over the past year or so my views on liturgical music have changed quite a bit. My current parish uses much more traditional music with organ accompaniment and I find it much more conducive to worship.
Paragraph 49: It should be kept in mind that nothing is lost when the sign of peace is marked by a sobriety which preserves the proper spirit of the celebration, as, for example, when it is restricted to one's immediate neighbors.
Simply outstanding that this is clearly stated. I find it very disruptive when people are wandering all over the church during the sign of peace. Even more so when the priest leaves the sanctuary to shake hands with half the congregation!
Paragraph 53: It is helpful to recall that active participation is not per se equivalent to the exercise of a specific ministry. The active participation of the laity does not benefit from the confusion arising from the inability to distinguish, within the Church's communion, the different functions proper to each one.
This is a very important matter and I am glad that it is included. After the recent directive from Rome that the laity not be allowed to purify the sacred vessels after communion there were some who were quite offended. I was in a brief exchange with another blogger who was upset at the loss of her "right" to full and active participation in the from of purifying the sacred vessels. She seems to have started ignoring me and a couple others who didn't agree with her. I fear that is has become all to commen for things like purifying the sacred vessels and serving as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion have become symbols of status and power within the parish. I'm glad to see the Holy Father taking a strong hand in this area.
Paragraph 62: [In speaking on Masses held with an international mix of worshipers] . . . with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin. Similarily, the better-known prayers of the Church's tradition shoudl be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sun. Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts adn execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and aslo to sing parts of the Liturgy to Gregorian chant.
This section is quite interesting. Father Z at What Does the Prayer Really Say?, whose blog is down at the moment, has pointed out a conflict in the translation in this passage. Where the English says, "could be celebrated in Latin" the Latin and all other venacular translations use words more accurately translated as "should". Is this a simple error or a diliberate alteration, I'm not sure since I'm not a translation expert. Some have commented that this could be the crack in the door for Latin to continue to be discouraged or even forbidden in many US dioceses. However, I feel that the next couple of lines are meant to be much broader in scope, refering to more than just celebrations with international worshipers. It is clearly stated that common prayers of the Church should be recited in Latin. The Holy Father give a strong indication that he desires that seminarians be adequately trained in Latin. Could this be a hint at the coming of the rumored document from Pope Benedict granting wider usage of the Latin Mass?

These are just a few of the things that I have thoughts on so far. I'm close to halfway though the document and must say that it has been quite educational, uplifting and enjoyable so far. I will share more thoughts after I finish reading it. As I mentioned there are also some things that the document has brought to my attention that I need to explore deeper.

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