This is a syndicated post from The Chant Café. [Read the original article...]
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be remembered in Church history for his
work to recover the beauty of traditional liturgy, according to Bishop
James D. Conley.
The head of the Lincoln, Neb. Diocese, who has
been reading Benedict’s writings on liturgy for decades, said these
works “will remain a great contribution to liturgical theology for years
“His great legacy,” Bishop Conley told EWTN News Feb. 27, “will be the re-discovery of the beauty of the traditional liturgy.”
awakened a “new way” of looking at the ordinary form of the Mass – the
liturgy which came after the 1960s Second Vatican Council – “with a
greater attempt to be more attentive to the rubrics.”
former pontiff’s view, Mass should be celebrated with beauty, dignity,
and in continuity with the tradition of the Church, Bishop Conley noted.
liturgical legacy also includes his “blessing” of those “who have a
great attachment to the old Mass” and who are in union with the Holy
See, the bishop said.
In 2007, Pope Benedict released a directive
titled “Summorum pontificum,” which in a “watershed moment,” gave every
priest permission to say Mass using the 1962, or pre-Vatican II Missal.
made it one of his priorities to…introduce the ‘hermeneutic of
continuity’, trying to show that the pre-conciliar liturgy of the 1962
Missal is the same liturgy as the Roman Missal of Pope Paul VI,” the
Pope Benedict “allowed the traditions to
harmonize…so the cross-pollination could take place; so the very best
of the reforms of the post-conciliar liturgy could be enhanced and
influenced, by an open, unbiased acceptance of the Mass that preceded
Bishop Conley believes that Pope Benedict has allowed the
pre-conciliar liturgy to flourish alongside of the post-conciliar
liturgy “in a hope that some of the transcendence, the beauty, the
tradition, the Latin” will permeate the new liturgy.
own manner of celebrating Mass, including subtle “symbolic gestures”
have “sent a message” and have had “a catechetical value” for both
priests and faithful, said Bishop Conley.
These gestures include
distributing Communion to the faithful kneeling; beautiful vestments and
those which had fallen into disuse; ensuring a cross and candles are on
the altar; and celebrating facing the same direction as the faithful,
all elements of a “reform of the reform of the liturgy.”
created a new way of looking at the two traditions,” reflected Bishop
Conley, “the extraordinary form and the ordinary form.” Pope Benedict
coined these terms in “Summorum pontificum,” to refer to pre and post
Vatican liturgies respectively.
“They’re two parts of the same
form, and of the same Roman rite: that’s what he really wanted to
emphasize by that change in language.”
Transcendence and beauty
Pope Benedict has long been “trying to recover that sense of transcendence and beauty of the liturgy,” reflected the bishop.
of this effort was his involvement in the translation of the third
edition of the Roman Missal. Bishop Conley noted the former Roman
pontiff’s concern that the Latin prayers be translated both accurately
and “also with a sense of beauty in the language.”
The bishop also
noted Pope Benedict’s creation in November of a “Pontifical Academy for
Latin.” He sees this as tied to the Pontiff’s desire to increase the
use of Latin in the Church’s life, including in her liturgy.
Conley also noted how Pope Benedict’s vision was shaped by the
Liturgical Movement of the early 20th century, an effort that called for
a reform of the Church’s worship, led largely by Benedictines.
“He knew the great players of the Liturgical Movement back before the Council,” the bishop said.
of his major writings on the liturgy was his 2000 work “The Spirit of
the Liturgy.” That publication hearkened back to a book of the same name
by Father Romano Guardini, known as one of those “great players.”
“The Spirit of the Liturgy,” Benedict – as a theologian writing before
his rise to the papacy – encouraged a “New Liturgical Movement” that
would recall the best elements of the first Liturgical Movement.
concern with beauty and liturgy is not one of mere aesthetics, Bishop
Conley noted, but flows from a recognition that liturgical prayer is the
“source and summit” of the Christian life, as the Second Vatican
“A lot of people are talking about the impact that
he’s had on the Church, and you certainly have to say that the liturgy
is going to be one; primarily because he took such a personal interest
in it and he believed that…everything flows from prayer,” said Bishop
“That’s what he said when he announced his resignation,
that he made this decision after deep prayer. And now he’s going to a
life of deep meditation and contemplation, and all that centers on the
Eucharist, and the liturgical worship of the Church, which he very much
has a profound love for.”