The French website, Chrétienté Info, has posted a transcript of Cardinal Francis Arinze's address on the liturgy given last week in Paris. This is the address that has attracted some attention in view of the possible expansion of the use of the Latin liturgy in an anticipated (but not yet released) Papal decision. Here is an English translation of Cardinal Arinze's entire address taken from the Chrétienté Info corrected version of a Forum Catholique transcription. As stated in Chrétienté Info, "This is a text to be meditated upon and printed for distribution in parishes. This is how the Church speaks. In service to the Mysteries of Christ":
The opening speech of the conference organized on the occasion of the Celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the "Higher Institute of Liturgy" of the "Catholic Institute of Paris":
1. Blessed Celebration. Time of Grace.
God be praised for the celebration of this fiftieth anniversary of the life and the service of "the Higher Institute of Liturgy". During these fifty years, the Institute has offered to the Church an important and significant contribution to reflection upon life and formation in the field of the Liturgy. We pray that the Lord Jesus will bless and reward all those who, in the past, or in our time, lent, or lend still, their assistance to this important section of the Catholic Institute of Paris. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments addresses its warmest congratulations to this Institute.
The celebration of a jubilee like this one is not only an occasion to give thanks; it also offers us an opportunity to undertake a reflection, with a view to a re-examination of trends, so that we can clearly trace the road that is best to follow, and can make resolutions for the future. We will consider several topics on the subject, for which one would think that a Higher Institute of Liturgy like this one could endeavor to render certain services. It is important to show the way of light in various aspects which constitute the Liturgy. For this reason, as we will see, the ars celebrandi and the homily deserve to have detailed attention given to them. In the same way, within the framework of the ecclesiology of communion, it is important to clearly underline the roles assumed by the priest and by the diocesan Bishop. After evoking these various points, we will be prepared to present, in conclusion, a list of the principal services which one could expect from an Institute of Liturgy.
2. To Show the Way of Light in the Liturgical Field
First of all, one of the duties of a Higher Institute of Liturgy is to be a beacon which shows a path of light in matters of the Liturgy. Assuming such a duty makes it possible, at the same time, to inform and also to form leaders, who are capable of appreciating the riches contained in the Church’s public worship, in the true value of those riches, and who, moreover, are ready to share them with others. That makes it possible to enlighten, and to make more explicit, the close link that exists between theology and liturgy, the faith of the Church and the celebration of the Mysteries of Christ, between lex credendi and lex orandi.
It is true that a Higher Institute of Liturgy must promote research. However, above all, it should establish its work on the solid and durable foundations of the faith, Church Tradition, and the heritage present in the texts, the liturgical gestures and attitudes. Such an Institute must thus be pleased to consider that the Holy Liturgy is a gift that we receive from Christ through the Church. In fact, the Holy Liturgy is not a thing that one invents. It includes, indeed, immutable elements, which come from our Savior Jesus Christ, such as the essential elements of the Sacraments, and also variable elements, which have been carefully transmitted and preserved by the Church.
Many abuses, in the field of the Liturgy, originate not in unwillingness, but in ignorance, since people generally reject “those elements whose deeper meaning is not understood and whose antiquity is not recognized” (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 9). Thus, certain abuses have as their origin the practice of giving place to spontaneity, or to creativity, or even to a false idea of freedom, or to that error that has a name, "horizontalism", which consists in placing people at the center of the liturgical celebration instead of drawing their attention upwards, that is, toward Christ and His Mysteries.
Darkness is dissipated by virtue of the light, and not by verbal condemnations.
This is why, notably, a Higher Institute of Liturgy must concern itself with training experts in the best and authentic theological-liturgical tradition of the Church. It thus forms them in the love of the Church and its public worship, and it teaches to them to follow the norms and directions given by the Magisterium. In the same way, such an Institute also envisions suitable courses for those who want to promote the continuing education of the clergy, the consecrated people and the faithful laity. As Pope Jean-Paul II wrote to the plenary assembly of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, one month before his death: "Adequate training programs in parish communities, associations and ecclesial movements are urgently needed, so that the liturgy may become better known in the richness of its language and be lived to the full. To the extent that they can do this, communities will feel the beneficial influence of the liturgy on both their personal and community life.” (Letter of Pope John Paul II to Cardinal Arinze, March 3, 2005, n.5).
3. The Promotion of Ars Celebrandi
A solid theological-liturgical foundation, a quality formation in the area of the faith, and respect for the proper character of the Liturgy, lead to the support for that reality which has as the name "ars celebrandi"; in fact, that will be promoted not only by the celebrating priest, but also by all those who take part in the liturgical actions: first of all, the deacon, but also the servants of the altar, readers, choirmasters, and the entire assembly that takes part in the liturgical action.
The ars celebrandi is founded on a theological truth that the Vatican II Council expresses in these terms: "the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7).
An Institute of Liturgy should help each person who takes part in a liturgical celebration to appreciate this truth. That applies, first of all, to the celebrating priest or bishop. If they are sufficiently immersed in comprehension of the liturgical celebrations that have Christ as their head, if they respect Scripture, Tradition, the historical foundations of the sacred texts and the theological riches of liturgical expressions, then all of that will have the blessed result of manifesting ars celebrandi in an admirable way. Liturgical celebrations will manifest the splendor of the faith of the Church; they will nourish the faith of the participants; they will remove torpor and indifference from this faith; and they will send the faithful home with the burning resolution to live a truly Christian life and to spread the Word of God everywhere. We will then be quite far from that coldness, that horizontalism, that puts humanity at the center of liturgical action, and also sometimes from this overtly egocentric mannerism that our Sunday assemblies are sometimes obliged to endure. The Letter of Pope John Paul ll, already mentioned (N 3), just as the Synod of the Bishops of October 2005 (prop. 25) have both underlined the importance of ars celebrandi.
4. The Homily
The Vatican II Council said that "the homily, therefore, is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 52). In the homily, the bread of the Word of God is distributed to the faithful. The Holy Scriptures are compared with realities of life in today's world. And it is true that a good homily, prepared well, warms the hearts of the faithful who listened to it, that is, with the "fire" mentioned in the Gospel about the two disciples of Emmaüs (cf Luke 24:32).
Unfortunately, many homilies, delivered by priests or deacons, do not achieve this much desired goal. Some of them greatly resemble speeches marked by considerations of a sociological, psychological nature, or, even worse, political style. These homilies are not sufficiently rooted in the Holy Scripture, the liturgical texts, the Tradition of the Church and a solid theology. In certain countries, there are people who do not appreciate the fact that the homily, during the Eucharistic celebration of the Sacrifice, is a pastoral ministry reserved only to ordained ministers: the deacon, the priest and the bishop. However, although it is true that the faithful laity can very well impart the catechesis outside of the Mass, they are not entitled to deliver the homily, for which it is necessary to receive ordination.
A Higher Institute of Liturgy can thus help to spread right convictions about the homily. It can help to create a climate of opinion for homilies where the People of God could find a more substantial spiritual food. On this subject, it is appropriate to recall that, for many Catholics, the homily is probably the only religious and catechetical continuing education which they receive during the week (cf Letter of the Pope John Paul II, N. 4; Synod of Bishops of October 2005, m.. 19).
5. The Liturgical Role of the Priest
It is essential for a Higher Institute of Liturgy to clearly state exactly what the role of the priest is to be in the Holy Liturgy. The Vatican II Council says, indeed, that "Animated by the spirit of Christ, this sacred synod is fully aware that the desired renewal of the whole Church depends to a great extent on the ministry of its priests." (Optatam Totius, Preamble).
The common priesthood of all baptized people and the ministerial priesthood of ordained priests come from Christ Himself. However, if in the Church’s hierarchical constitution, we confuse those roles with each other, that always does harm. Moreover, such a position does not further the testimony given to Christ, nor the holiness of the clergy and faithful laity. Lastly, neither attempts to clericalize the laity, nor efforts to laicize the clergy can be bearers of divine graces. The Council of Vatican II said that "in liturgical celebrations each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 28). Thus, for a priest to try to share the role that he exercises as a priest in the liturgy, and which is thus strictly reserved to him, with the faithful lay people, is to display feigned humility and an unacceptable concept of democracy or fraternity.
Thus, it is not superfluous to affirm that a Higher Institute of Liturgy, like any theological faculty, must help the people to understand that the ministerial priesthood is an integral part and constituent of the Church’s structure, and that, consequently, we have an absolute need for ordained priests to celebrate Holy Mass, to absolve the faithful from their sins through the Sacrament of Penitence, and to give the Anointing of the Sick to those who need it (cf. Tc 5, 14-15). Moreover, considering that many of the people who come to the celebrations of marriages and funerals, may receive great benefits on the spiritual level, it should be affirmed that, especially in those cases, we need priests to celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice, to deliver words marked by their spirituality in quality homilies to the people, a certain number of whom seldom take part in the Mass, to bless them, and thus, to be a sign showing that the Church is close to them like a milestone set on their life’s path. Moreover, and without doubt, the priest’s ministry must not be limited to performing simple liturgical duties; rather, his ministerial activities must come from his heart as a spiritual father and, consequently, his pastoral presence must constitute a spiritual food for the people.
If the role of the priest is weakened, or if it is not appreciated, a local Catholic community may sink dangerously in the idea that it is possible to imagine a community without a priest. However, such a thought is not in conformity with the authentic design of the Church instituted by Christ.
If a diocese does not provide a sufficient number priests, initiatives should be taken to draw them from other places, to encourage local ministerial vocations, and to keep alive among the people this authentic "hunger" to have priests in their service (cf. John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 32; “When, due to the scarcity of priests, non-ordained members of the faithful are entrusted with a share in the pastoral care of a parish, they should bear in mind that – as the Second Vatican Council teaches – ‘no Christian community can be built up unless it has its basis and centre in the celebration of the most Holy Eucharist’. They have a responsibility, therefore, to keep alive in the community a genuine “hunger” for the Eucharist.” And they should resist the temptation that lies in trying to persuade the faithful that they must be accustomed to regard them as substitutes for priests (cf op cit., 33). There is no place in the Catholic Church for the creation of a kind of parallel “clericalized laity” (cf. Redemptionis Sacramentum,149-153, 165)
On their part, priests should show explicitly that they are happy in their vocation, which goes hand in hand with a very clear consciousness of their identity within the framework of their liturgical functions. If priests celebrate the Sacred Mysteries with faith and devotion, and in accordance with the approved books, their testimony will then constitute a true sermon in favor of vocations to the priesthood. On the other hand, young people will not want to join to a group of clergy who seem doubtful of their mission, who criticize their Church and disobey it, and who celebrate their proper "liturgies" in conformity with their personal choices and their theories.
In conclusion, a Higher Institute of Liturgy and a faculty of theology are precious instruments through which the Church provides for a diffusion of a correct theology of the priesthood, as well as instruments of Christ in the Holy Liturgy.
6. The Role of the Bishop
It is obvious that the Ecclesial communion must mean communio with diocesan bishop and between the Bishops and the Pope. In the diocese, the Bishop is the first distributor of the Mysteries of Christ. He is the regulator, the promoter and the guard of the entire liturgical life of the diocesan Church (cf Christus Dominus, 15; CIC, can. 387; Redemptionis Sacramentum, 19). The Bishop directs the administration of the sacraments, in particular that of the Holy Eucharist. When he concelebrates in his cathedral in the company of his priests, with the assistance of deacons and ministers of lower rank, and with the participation of the holy People of God, one is then in the presence of "the pre-eminent manifestation of the Church" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 41).
Catholic theological faculties, liturgical institutes and pastoral centers have a vocation to help the Bishop, in his role as Shepherd of the diocese. They also cooperate in a suitable way with the Conference of Bishops and the Apostolic See, and they help to explain and distribute documents and instructions released by those various authorities. They constitute obviously valuable advisers for the diocesan Bishop, the Conferences of Bishops and the Holy See. Because of their capabilities, they help the people to understand that Holy Liturgy is not a domain where free exploration reigns, but that it is really the official and public prayer of the Church for which the Pope and Bishops are first in responsibility. A Catholic institute or a faculty of theology understands that it is not appropriate to assume a path parallel with that of the Bishop or the Holy See, or even to consider itself to be an independent or critical observer.
On this subject, we must thank the "Higher Institute for Liturgy" for the positive role that it has played for half a century in the Church, for the promotion of Holy Liturgy and the Ecclesial communion. These remarks lead us to the conclusion, which will comprise a list of some of the services that one could expect from a Higher Institute of Liturgy.
7. The Several Services Expected from a Higher Institute of Liturgy
From what has been just said, one can conclude that a Higher Institute of Liturgy should be a house where light and love reign. It should, then, prepare experts ready to inform and to give, themselves, a formation in liturgical matters. Consequently, it is their task to stir up among the people the faith and love of the Church, so that they can appreciate that " these [liturgical] norms are a concrete expression of the authentically ecclesial nature of the Eucharist; this is their deepest meaning. Liturgy is never anyone's private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated." (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 52).
That means that institutes of liturgical studies should place at the disposal of the faithful the necessary means so that they will be able to reject vulgarization, desacralization and secularization.
The horizontalism, which leads people to celebrate themselves instead of celebrating the Mysteries of Christ, has harmful consequences for Catholic faith and the worship, and this is why it absolutely must be avoided.
The liturgical institutes should also help the people to better appreciate the existing link between the Eucharistic celebration of the Sacrifice, on the one hand, and the respect and adoration of the Holy Eucharist outside of the Mass, on the other, by supporting such practices as the visitation of the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharistic Blessing, Eucharistic adoration, Eucharistic Processions or Congresses (cf Redemptionis Sacramentum, nn. 129-145).
An Institute such as yours exerts a great influence, because of the inclination and spirit of those who study here, its publications, and also because of its moral authority when it transmits its ideas and its reflections to liturgical centers and diocesan pastoral centers, as well as to publishing companies. This influence extends beyond France, and has reached the villages of Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
A Higher Institute of Liturgy must constitute an effective help for the Bishop, the Conference of Bishops and the Holy See, in connection with the formulation of directives in liturgical matters, and the articulation of the theology that underlies liturgical rites. Since "the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10), no one can fail to consider the importance of the apostolate of an institute of liturgical studies.
Dear "Institut Supérieur de Liturgie", I give you all my best wishes on the occasion of your fifty year anniversary! By the intercession of the Very Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord, whose mysteries we celebrate in the liturgy, may this institute and all those which, like it, are spread throughout the whole world, grow in effectiveness and in its love for the Church, in the achievement of her high vocation and her noble mission.
Cardinal Francis Arinze
October 26, 2006
Updated Jan. 20, 2007: Zenit now also has an English translation of this address.