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Archive for the ‘Liturgy’ Category

From the Telegraph‘s Damian Thompson:

Two and a half years after the name “Josephum” came booming down from the balcony of St Peter’s, making liberal Catholics weep with rage, Pope Benedict XVI is revealing his programme of reform. And it is breathtakingly ambitious.

The 80-year-old Pontiff is planning a purification of the Roman liturgy in which decades of trendy innovations will be swept away. This recovery of the sacred is intended to draw Catholics closer to the Orthodox and ultimately to heal the 1,000 year Great Schism. But it is also designed to attract vast numbers of conservative Anglicans, who will be offered the protection of the Holy Father if they covert en masse.

… The liberation of the Latin liturgy, the rapprochement with Eastern Orthodoxy, the absorption of former Anglicans – all these ambitions reflect Benedict’s conviction that the Catholic Church must rediscover the liturgical treasure of Christian history to perform its most important task: worshipping God.

One might recall this passage from a prophetic letter to Pope Paul VI written by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, on the eve of the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae:

The Apostolic Constitution makes explicit reference to a wealth of piety and teaching in the Novus Ordo borrowed from Eastern Churches. The result – utterly remote from and even opposed to the inspiration of the oriental Liturgies – can only repel the faithful of the Eastern Rites. What, in truth, do these ecumenical options amount to? Basically to the multiplicity of anaphora (but nothing approaching their beauty and complexity), to the presence of deacons, to Communion sub utraque specie.

Against this, the Novus Ordo would appear to have been deliberately shorn of everything which in the Liturgy of Rome came close to those of the East.

Moreover in abandoning its unmistakable and immemorial Roman character, the Novus Ordo lost what was spiritually precious of its own. Its place has been taken by elements which bring it closer only to certain other reformed liturgies (not even those closest to Catholicism) and which debase it at the same time. The East will be ever more alienated, as it already has been by the preceding liturgical reforms.

By the way of compensation the new Liturgy will be the delight of the various groups who, hovering on the verge of apostasy, are wreaking havoc in the Church of God, poisoning her organism and undermining her unity of doctrine, worship, morals and discipline in a spiritual crisis without precedent.

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Here’s an interesting interview (in Italian) with His Holiness, Alexis II, the Patriarch of Moscow, who is enthusiastic about the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. (Translation of relevant bits and commentary by Father Zuhlsdorf).

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Orthodox and Catholic Christians are united today in their celebration of the feast day of the Coryphaei of the Apostolic band, Saints Peter and Paul.

Both Orthodox and Catholics (regardless of rite), likewise, will surely be edified by praying this beautiful Akathist service to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul (from the website Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, Lorain, Ohio, Orthodox Church in America, Diocese of the Midwest).

O holy Peter, chief of the apostles, rock of faith steadfast in thy confession, foundation of the Church immovable in Christ, pastor of the rational flock of Christ, keeper of the keys to the kingdom of heaven, fisherman most wise who from the depths of unbelief dost draw forth men! Thee do I humbly entreat, that the net of thy divine draught encompass me and draw me forth from the abyss of perdition. I know that thou has received from God the authority to loose and to bind; release me who am bound fast with bonds of sin, show forth thy mercy on me, wretch that I am, and give life to my soul which hath been slain by sins, as before thou didst raise up Tabitha from the dead; restore me to the good path, as before thou didst restore the lame man at the Beautiful Gates, who had been lame fro his mother’s womb; and as thou didst heal all the infirm by thy shadow, may the grace given thou canst do all things, O holy one, through the power of Christ, for Whose sake thou didst forsake all to follow in His steps. Wherefore, pray thou to Him in my behalf, wretch that I am, that by thy supplications He may deliver me from all evil and teach me with a pure heart to send up glory to the Father, and to the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O holy Paul, eminent among the Apostles, chosen vessel of Christ, recounter of heavenly mysteries, teacher of all the nations, clarion of the Church, renowned orator, who didst endure many misfortunes for the name of Christ, who didst traverse the sea and didst go about the land, and dist convert us from the deception of idolatry! Thee do I entreat and to thee do I cry; disdain me not, defiled as I am, but raise me up who have fallen through sinful sloth, as in Lystra thou didst raise up the man who had been lame from his mother’s womb; and as thou didst give life unto Euthyches who lay dead, so also raise me up from my dead works; and as at thine entreaty the foundation f the prison once quaked and thou didst loose the bonds of the prisoners, so draw me out of the snare of the enemy, and strengthen me to do the will of God. For thou canst do all things by the authority given thee by God, to Whom is due all glory, honor and worship, with His unoriginate Father and His all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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The final witness to the mind of the early church, and thence to the mind of Christ, is the liturgy. Being the official prayer of the church, it is a testimony to the belief not of individuals but of the whole community. Needless to say, the liturgical feasts do not all date back as far as the fathers, but they compensate in official status for what they lose in antiquity. Above all the liturgy represents the mentality of the church prior to the schism between East and West, and it was too firmly established to be changed after the separation.

It would be superfluous to search for testimonies to St. Peter in the liturgy of the Western Church. Even the most superficial knowledge of the matter shows that the Western liturgy is in full accord with the tradition of St. Peter’s authority over the whole church. What is frequently overlooked, though, is the strength of this attitude in the Eastern liturgy. A pro-Petrine liturgy is to be found as far afield as among the Jacobites of India, and the Greeks and Russians honour him as head of the Apostles even at the present day.

In the liturgy of the Greeks and Russians the feast of SS. Peter and Paul is observed on June 29th. To give solemnity to the occasion, it is preceded by a period of fasting, similar to Lent, which begins on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The hymn of the dawn office contains the following verse:

“Thou art rightly called the rock,
In whom the Lord consolidated the unshaken faith of the Church,
The Lord appointed thee as prince and shepherd of the rational sheep,
So that thou mightest admit all those who approach in faith.”

The Book of Homilies assigns to this feast of the sermons of St. John Chrysostom, in the course of which St. Peter is addressed as “Leader and Commander, supreme pastor of the Apostles.”

These are not random examples. The tone of the whole liturgy is consistent in this matter. Many other feasts could be referred to but the feast of the Dormition of the Virgin is the most deserving of mention. For this feast, the Book of Homilies contains a sermon of John of Thessalonika, who died iin about the year 630. He describes the death-bed scene of the Blessed Virgin, and tells how she wished to give to St. John the palm branch which the Angel Gabriel had presented to her on the occasion of the Annunciation. St. John is unwilling and says: “I cannot accept it without the other apostles while they are not here, in case there should be a quarrel among us, for among us there is one senior to me who has been set in charge of us.” The identity of the senior Apostle is soon disclosed. When all are assembled St. Peter is unwilling to be the first to pray, but the others persuade him with the words: “Father Peter: thou hast been set in charge of us, do thou pray before us.” When the actual funeral ceremonies are taking place Peter turns to John and says: “You are a virgin, and you must chant the hymns at the bedside, holding the palm.” To this John replies: “You are our father and supervisor, it is for you to stand at the bedside chanting, while we give place to you.”

These brief extracts are typical of the attitude of the Eastern and Western liturgies to St. Peter and are all the more significant in the East since they represent the pre-schismatical tradition.

– Michael M. Winter, Saint Peter and the Popes
(Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1960), pp. 79-81.

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