zaterdag, oktober 31, 2009

Waarom "versus Deum"?

Waarom “versus Deum”? (Voor alle seminaristen die op 5-6 november navolging willen geven aan de oproep van paus Benedictus tot de "opvoeding van de gelovigen tot het besef van de Eucharistische Aanwezigheid")

De bekende Engelse theoloog Aidan Nichols O.P., die het prachtige boek Reason with Piety. Garrigou-Lagrange in the Service of Catholic Thought (Naples, FL., 2008), publiceerde, schreef onlangs het volgende m.b.t. de discussie getiteld “Is the SSPX right about the liturgy?”
That said, I would agree with you that we need to "re-sacrificialise", in your invented but useful word, our common or garden usage of the rite of Paul VI - if not, in some respects, the rite itself. But to my mind the single greatest contribution we can make to that end is to press - judiciously and with respect - for the celebration of the Mass versus orientem, the Liturgy "turned towards the Lord". The celebrant stands ministerially in the place of Christ the High Priest. Appropriately, since our Great High Priest is Mediator between God and men, the Church's priest, during the Liturgy of the Sacrifice - after, that is, the litany-like moment of the Bidding Prayers - turns at key moments to the body of the faithful, engaging their response ("active" participation means engaged participation, not jumping up and down) to the sacred action of which he is protagonist. Essentially, however, in the celebration of the Sacrifice the ministerial priest is turned - always in spiritual attitude if, in our current practice, seldom in empirical fact - not to face the people but, with the beloved Son, to face the Father, to whom the Oblation of praise and thanksgiving, propitiation and supplication is addressed. Your desire for a clearer indication of the change in level as we move from the Liturgy of the Word to the Liturgy of the Sacrifice would be well met by the change of direction whereby the priest at that shift in gear turns from facing the people to facing the Father. A strengthening of the Offertory rite would appropriately accompany that change.”

De theologische achtergrond (en hier is het ons altijd om te doen) wordt verder toegelicht in volgende woorden uit een recent artikel van hem St. Thomas and the Sacramental Liturgy
The Thomist72 (2008): 571-93 (pp. 585-588)

VIII. The Priesthood of Christ As Foundation of the Liturgy

By far the most important Christological theme Thomas invokes in this connection from the New Testament and the Fathers is the priesthood of Christ. The office of a priest--and on this point social anthropology and traditional theology are at one--is to serve as a mediator between God and human beings, conveying men's prayer and penance to God and God's gifts to men. Thomas completely approves of the decision of the author of the Letter to the Hebrews to describe Jesus Christ and his work in priestly terms. As he remarks pithily in the Tertia Pars: "Through [Christ] divine gifts are bestowed on human beings, and he himself reconciled the human race to God. Thus priesthood is maximally fitting to Christ."(48)

In his commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews, Thomas sets out at some length the priestly office of Christ, the divine Word who assumed the wounded human condition to the extent of the humiliation of the Cross, thereby becoming "Lord"--that is, meriting to be exalted to the glory of heaven and installed in his humanity as our merciful judge and faithful advocate with the Father.(49) It is in this context of New-Testament-inspired reflection that Thomas is moving when in the Summa Theologiae he calls Christ the "primal agent" in the genus of priesthood. Just as the sun is not illumined but illuminates, and fire is not warmed but warms, so Christ is the "fount," fons, of all priesthood worth the name.(50) Likewise, his supreme priestly act--the sacrifice he consummated in his passion and death--has an everlasting power that invigorates all the sacrifices dependent on it while receiving nothing from them. In other words, the sacrifice of our great high priest is the source of whatever is valid for salvation in the sacrificial worship of the Church. In a Thomist perspective, the entire Liturgy of the Church thus shares in the "liturgy" of Jesus's life--the worship he gave the Father through the visible signs which were the "mysteries," the chief events, of that life--and the Church's worship is effective only by their power.(51)

All the mysteries of Christ's life can be included here because the Savior's self-oblation on the tree, the "baptism" (in blood, not water) of which he said he was "straitened" until it was "accomplished" (Luke 12:50), made of his whole life the priestly service of God. All his significant actions and sufferings can be considered as ordered to the offering on the Cross, the offering that will transmit for all time the salvation there merited.(52) Though situated in the past, these actions and sufferings of the incarnate Word, with the Cross as their center, have present efficacy. The Liturgy draws attention to this in explicit fashion since its prayers and sacrifices are pleaded on the basis of the unique merits his human career and destiny gained him: the goods we seek from God are sought, as the terse Roman formula has it, "through Christ our Lord." Thomas writes epigrammatically: "the whole cult of the Christian religion is derived from the priesthood of Christ" (totus ritus christianae religionis derivatur a sacerdotio Christi),(53) a statement that must be interpreted in the light of its fellow in the immediately previous question of the Summa Theologiae: "Through his Passion he inaugurated the rites of the Christian religion by 'offering himself as an oblation and sacrifice to God.'"(54)

Christ's priesthood means utter ecclesial fruitfulness in the sacramental Liturgy. Thomas never--or, if ever, then (in the words of W. S. Gilbert in H. M. S. Pinafore) hardly ever--speaks of the sacrifice of Christ without simultaneously thinking of its actualization in the sacraments and especially the Holy Eucharist.(55) Dom Vagaggini, fulfilling his brief as a Thomist Benedictine, wrote:

“Christian worship is the worship of God instituted by Christ in his mortal life, chiefly on Golgotha, as Redeemer and Head of the redeemed humanity which was to be formed into his Church, his body and his spouse, the expression of himself and the continuation of his work in the world until his glorious return. It is, therefore, the worship of God in Christ and through Christ: begun by Christ, continued invisibly by him in us, through us and for our benefit, that is, in his Church, by means of his Church and for the benefit of his Church, who simply takes part and associates herself in his worship. The proper excellence of the divine life on which Christian worship is formally based is, therefore, the divine life manifested in Christ.”(56)

It was said more succinctly by Pius XII, "The Liturgy is nothing more nor less than the exercise of the priestly function of Jesus Christ," words which achieved a resonance in both the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council and, thirty years later, the present Catechism of the Catholic Church.(57)

48.  STh III, q. 22, a. 1.

49.  G. Berceville, O.P., "Le sacerdoce du Christ dans le Commentaire de l'Epitre aux Hébreux de saint Thomas d'Aquin," Revue Thomiste 99 (= Saint Thomas d'Aquin et le Sacerdoce: Actes du colloque organisé par l'Institut Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin les 5 et 6 juin 1998 à Toulous), 150.

50.  STh III, q. 22, a.4.

51.  Berger, Thomas Aquinas and the Liturgy, 69.

52.  In Hebr.X, lect. 1.

53. STh III, q. 63, a. 3.

54. STh III, q. 62, a. 5, with an internal allusion to Eph 5:2.

55.  Berceville, "Le sacerdoce du Christ dans le Commentaire de l'Epitre aux Hébreux de saint Thomas d'Aquin," 151.

56.  Vagaggini, Theological Dimensions of the Liturgy, 135.

57.  Pius XII, Mediator Dei, 22 (Christian Worship, p. 17); Sacrosanctum Concilium 7; Catechism of the Catholic Church 1069

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