.- 245 prelates from around the world began their eighth session of the 11th General Synod of Bishops this morning at the Vatican. The subject of liturgical reform and the deep consequences thereof played a particularly prominent role in the discussions.
Addressing specific forms and practices within the liturgy, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said that "Focusing on the Eucharistic celebration, 'ars celebrandi' refers to both interior and exterior participation on the part of the celebrating priest and on the part of the congregation."
He said that, "'Ars celebrandi' helps the priest to have a faith‑filled and disciplined posture at Mass. On the one hand, he cannot isolate himself from the presence of the people. On the other hand he should not become a showman who projects himself.
"The liturgy" he stressed, "is not primarily what we make but what we receive in faith."
He also noted other aspects and participants of the celebration including the altar servers, readers, choir, etc. saying that "'ars celebrandi' demands good preparation, faith, humility and focussing attention on the sacred mystery rather than on self. When the Mass is celebrated in this spirit it nourishes faith and manifests it powerfully - 'lex orandi, lex credendi.' With a genuine understanding of the role of liturgical norms, such a celebration is free of trivialization and desacralization. It sends the people of God home properly nourished, spiritually refreshed and dynamically sent to evangelize."
Archbishop William Levada, the recently instated Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith called for a certain reform of homilies during the Mass in order to better catechize the faithful.
"A certain artificial opposition", he said, "between homilies with doctrinal characteristics and those with liturgical ones has prevented the catechetical formation of the faithful, making it difficult for them to practice their faith in the modern secularized world."
"This false dichotomy", he said, "can be overcome only by showing how the doctrinal aspect is that which draws the most profound meaning from Sacred Scripture, in a similar way to the liturgy itself, bringing us to meet Christ, our Redeemer.
The Archbishop proposed that the Synod "makes its own the recommendation (cf. no. 47) to prepare a pastoral program - not to be imposed but to be proposed to those who preach during Sunday Eucharistic celebrations - on the basis of a three-year partition of the lectionary, linking the proclamation of the doctrine of the faith to the biblical texts in which such truths are rooted, and making reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and to its recently published Compendium."
Yesterday, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid, addressed a problem he sees of "radically secularized" interpretations of the second Vatican Council which distort proper celebration of the Eucharist.
"Vatican Council II", he said, "brought together, in a beautifully concise theological synthesis, the doctrinal and pastoral fruits of the liturgical, spiritual and apostolic renewal of Church life in the first half of the twentieth century."
But, he said that the Synod Fathers must give special attention "to the antithesis of the Council, as represented by radically secularized interpretations of the content, significance and ways of celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrament 'fons et culmen totius vitae christianae.'"
He said that "we have reached the moment for a new doctrinal and pastoral synthesis in order to clarify and overcome this antithesis: by way of a Paschal renovation of the doctrine, catechesis and practical experience of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, wherein Christ's sacrifice and priestly oblation are conveyed ... by way of canonical and pastoral education ... that eliminates subjectivism and arbitrariness in the celebration of the Eucharist; ... and by fomenting a Eucharistic spirituality based on the habit and experience of adoring the Sacrament par excellence, 'the Sacrament of the Love of Loves'."