Can a Mass be a form of evangelization and transform the culture?
I am solidly convinced that an authentic and faithful renewal and reform of the sacred liturgy is not only part of the New Evangelization — it is essential to its fruitfulness. The liturgy has the power to form and transform the Catholic faithful. We must live by the axiom lex orandi, lex credendi (the law of praying is the law of believing). What we celebrate in the Mass expresses the essential content of the faith, and it also reinforces our faith when celebrated well and with fidelity.
The liturgy both teaches us and expresses what we believe. If we do not get the sacred liturgy right, I fear that we will just be spinning our wheels rather than getting the New Evangelization going in the right direction. If we are transformed by the sacred liturgy, then we, as believers, can help transform the culture.
How does one speak of beauty in a relativistic culture?
We have to acknowledge that beauty is not some abstract concept, but reflects to us the beauty, perfection and goodness of God, the Creator of all.
When we experience or create something truly beautiful, we can experience something of God himself. Especially in a relativistic culture, we would expect many to live by the idea “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But this would be to deny that there are any objective standards for what is truly beautiful. There are things that are capable of speaking to every human person if we will open ourselves to the experience of what is in itself beautiful.
When I see the sun rise over Lake Superior, no one has to tell me that it is beautiful. I feel the presence of God swelling up in my soul. The same is true when I hear a beautiful piece of sacred polyphony, such as a piece by Palestrina. God is reflected in the beauty of created things. We need beauty to help form the human person, the human soul.
What are your plans for the liturgy in the Archdiocese of Portland?
I have no formal plans. I first need to learn and experience what is happening in the liturgical life of the archdiocese. My ultimate goal, however, will be to see that the liturgy is celebrated with all due reverence, prayerfulness, beauty, sacredness and dignity, in faithfulness to the true spirit of the liturgy and according to the liturgical discipline given to us by Holy Mother Church.
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