To submit news, send e-mail to the contact team. Very often when we consider the question of the "ars celebrandi," or in other words, the proper and dignified celebration of the sacred liturgy, our mind turns to a consideration of how that may or may not be manifest in typical parish liturgy. For the most part, that will likewise put us into the context of the modern Roman liturgy. Perhaps in part because of this, and precisely because it is the predominant liturgical form in use, a not uncommon way of thinking that has developed amongst some of the liturgically-interested is that when one is considering poor manifestations of the celebration of the liturgy, including liturgical abuses, some might presume to think almost exclusively in terms of the modern liturgy. However, while it is true that there is much grass-roots work to be done in re-enchanting our typical parish liturgies as well as eliminating "normalized" abuses; and while acknowledging there are deeper issues also to be considered as part of the reform of the reform at the scholarly and formal ecclesial levels, I believe it is important to challenge the potential assumption that, by contrast, poor ars celebrandi and, for that matter, poor experience of the liturgy itself, are somehow things from which the usus antiquior is more or less exempt, or which will not be experienced in that context.
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This address was presented at the Gateway Liturgical Conference in St. It affirmed:. They express the rule of beauty, the measure by which perfection is measured, the completeness of that which is fully realized and of that which is perfectly expressed. Thus, with time this expression assumed a profoundly anthropological orientation. It entered liturgical vocabulary as something that expresses the necessary human action in liturgy.
Indeed, if ars celebrandi is to be understood as something based on human skills only, we have missed the point altogether. Whatever serves as the foundation for creative human art and skills cannot be ipso facto transferred to liturgy.
But in some circles any acceptance of the term ars celebrandi is interpreted to mean a glorification of a sense of horizontalism. That probably was the reason behind the clarification of Pope Benedict XVI on that subject in his exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis , that followed the Synod on the Eucharist.
In other words he seemed to indicate that actuosa participatio [actual participation in the liturgy] could not really happen unless the harmonious, beautiful and orderly celebration of the liturgy was insured. Without a properly understood and effected ars celebrandi , liturgy would probably end up being merely a series of meaningless, chaotic and insipid actions.
The pope, in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy , defines actuosa participatio as a call to a total assimilation in the very action of Christ the High Priest. It is in no way a call to activism, a misunderstanding that spread widely in the aftermath of Sacrosanctum Concilium.
We know that in many places this led to the amalgamation of the sanctuary with the assembly, the clericalization of the laity and the filling up of the sanctuary with the noisy and distracting presence of a large number of people. One could say that virtually Wall Street moved into the sanctuary. But was that really what the Council Fathers advocated? Cardinal Ratzinger does not think so. This kind of participation in the very action of Christ, the High Priest, requires from us nothing less than an attitude of being totally absorbed in Him.
Active participation, thus, is not a giving way to any activism but an integral and total assimilation into the person of Christ who is truly the High Priest of that eternal and uninterrupted celebration of the heavenly liturgy. Participatio itself is, I would say, in this sense, an ars [art] where we ourselves are not the artists; neither do we follow an art taught or handed down to us by others, but allow the Lord to be the artist through us, becoming part of what He does.
All that we do in liturgy makes us achieve that union with the eternal high priest, Christ and His sanctifying offering. The more we become part of the oratio of Christ, His eternal self-offering to God as the expiatory Sacrificial Lamb Rev.
It does not so much connote the freedom to do as one pleases as much as the freedom to be united to the priestly mission of Christ. To understand this concept well, we need to look at it as being effective at three different levels: an interior level in which the priest becomes a listener of the Word of God as it has been mediated by the Holy Spirit within the Church interiority ; an attitude of total obedience and identity with that Word obedience to norms ; and finally a profoundly absorbed celebration of the sacred mysteries in the liturgy devoutness.
This sequence requires, as a sine qua non on the part both of the priest and of the faithful, a profoundly reverent, totally concentrated and self-abasing attitude of faith and prayerfulness, as well as a sense of stupor before the great divine mysteries celebrated in the liturgy.
The question today is whether we do possess within ourselves such interior dispositions, or whether everything has become a matter of mere intellectualism, routine and a carrying out of a series of ritualistic acts or habits. There can be no true ars celebrandi unless every priest is first and foremost touched and profoundly motivated by his faith in the Lord and in the grandeur of his call as well as of the tasks entrusted to him by the Lord.
It is not so much a matter of understanding as much as of conforming to Christ with a profound sense of awe, faith and joy. The celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, especially of the Eucharist, is a tremendous trust that the Lord has entrusted to us priests. Indeed, liturgy is a treasure given to the Church, which is to be jealously guarded. Thus every liturgical act has a meta-cosmic extension. Besides, it is in and with the Church that Christ realizes His priestly office, making the liturgy profoundly ecclesial, in the sense of the whole Church.
It is the whole Church which celebrates liturgy each time a priest does so with his own local community. The fact of the steady growth of liturgical traditions along its bi-millennial history, and the surprisingly harmonious and natural way in which it has happened, is proof of the work of the Holy Spirit and the surpassing nobility of its contents.
It is like a tree, which continues to grow, at times shedding its leaves, at other times being pruned to become stronger and straighter, but always remaining the same tree. And so, the correct approach to ars celebrandi of priests and even of the faithful would be to insure that they allow Christ to take over at the altar, becoming the voice, the hands and the being of Christ, or the alter Christus. Any attempt to make themselves the center of the liturgical action contradicts their very identity as priests.
In everything the priest does at the altar he should always let the Lord take control of his being. Bishop Fulton J. It is only in this way that the priest can truly interiorize the Holy Sacrifice of Christ and of His Church so that it becomes co-natural with him. To be conscious of this before, during and after the celebration of the Eucharist and the other liturgical acts is extremely important.
None of us is exempt from this, and now with the Missa versus populum [Mass facing the people], that danger is even greater. Facing the people increases chances of dis -attention and distraction from what we do at the altar, and the temptation for showmanship.
In a beautiful article written by a German author, the following comments were made on the subject:. While in the past, the priest functioned as the anonymous go-between, the first among the faithful, facing God and not the people, representative of all and together with them offering the sacrifice … today he is a distinct person, with personal characteristics, his personal life style, his face turned towards the people.
For many priests this change is a temptation they cannot handle … to them, the level of success in their performance is a measure of their personal power and thus the indicator of their feeling of personal security and self assurance.
The priest here, as we can see, becomes the main actor playing out a drama with other actors on a platform- like place, and the more creative and dramatic they become, the more they feel a sense of ego satisfaction. But, where can Christ be in all of this? The true ars celebrandi thus requires from all, first and foremost, a sense of profound faith and veneration toward the nobility and celestial dignity of all liturgical acts that are to be celebrated.
A sense of awe at what is being done requires one to be cultivated in the way the surroundings of the celebration are handled in its preparation, its celebration, and even in the atmosphere that follows from this. These are never to be equated with any other ordinary activity of the day.
These inner spiritual dispositions, as well as the co-natural physical postures, gestures and actions, should be fostered even before any such celebration begins. A silent and prayerful atmosphere should be cultivated in the Church as a preparatory posture; the celebrants should be seen by the faithful at personal prayer at the altar before such celebrations even begin; this would stimulate the faithful, to, in turn, be recollected and prayerful.
The noble and prayerful way of vesting in the sacristy, too, becomes important; those vesting prayers should return to the sacristy. The moments of silent prayer, and the intense spiritual atmosphere, the feeling of gratitude for the eternal gifts received, in re- collected thanksgiving after the celebration, are all part of the powerful language of the presence and action of God in these celebrations.
In addition, liturgy is always the public prayer of the Church, and each time such is celebrated it is the actio Christi which the entire Church performs. Indeed the Church is Christ in His mystical presence in time and space, and so, what we do is what He Himself does mystically. We, as the Church, have received this from Him. It is this that places the rite above the authority of the celebrant.
It is Divine Liturgy, as the Christian East calls it, and not just liturgy. Unspontaneity is of their essence. And so, for its deeply divine and strongly ecclesial nature, liturgy cannot be arbitrarily changed. In short, the celebrant should realize what a great responsibility has been thrust into his hands, in spite of his fragile nature.
He should never assume a pedantic and haughty attitude of feeling that he can decide on the rite and add or remove anything at his own will. At the same time he should refrain from every effort at drawing the attention of the congregation to himself, and make sure that Christ outshines him in everything. The priest should also realize that by submitting humbly to the beauty of the rubrics, he will be freer to elevate his mind and heart to the contemplation of the mysteries he celebrates, and will be able to adore the Lord and the heavenly hosts that descend on the altar, as he is transmitting that same faith and devotion to his congregation.
Everything depends on the faith and the courage of the priest, as well as his sense of generosity. And ars celebrandi , then, would lead him to a true experience of inner beauty and grandeur. Once that union is yearned for and achieved, which is the deepest identity of a priest, then everything else will fall into place. The liturgy would become such an exhilarating and edifying experience that all the external aspects of the celebration that we mentioned above would be easily taken care of.
There would be no need for more documents from the Holy See which unfortunately gather dust in book-shelves and book shops , nor for any Swiss guards to impose liturgical discipline worldwide. In this matter the role of the bishops becomes extremely vital.
Besides, as Sacramentum Caritatis indicates, bishops have to be not only the guides of their community in this matter, but also personally examples of the dignified celebration of the liturgy, especially in their own cathedrals cf. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison; it is the sacrifice that man makes of his life to God; the Mass is the Sacrifice that God makes to man of His Body and His Blood.
Oh how great is the priest! If he understood himself he would die … God obeys him; he speaks two words, and our Lord comes down from Heaven at his voice, and shuts Himself up in a little Host.
God looks upon the altar. He can refuse nothing to the merits of the offering of this victim. The Little Catechism…, p. Toggle navigation. Find articles by keyword, title, or author name Search.
Toward an Ars Celebrandi in Liturgy. By The Editors March 15, Never miss Adoremus or AB Insight. Delivered directly to your inbox. Subscribe Now! All Rights Reserved.
Toward an Ars Celebrandi in Liturgy
Observance of Liturgical Norms and "Ars Celebrandi". Vatican Council II ordered a general reform of the sacred liturgy. It is not our intention to pause on this problem. We can say instead that it is generally agreed that an increase of abuses can be observed in the celebratory field after the Council.
This book presents the proceedings of the 15th International Liturgical Colloquium organised by the Liturgical Institute of the Faculty of Theology in Leuven from the 22nd through the 23rd of October The topic of this meeting was: 'ars celebrandi' or the art to celebrate the liturgy. After an English introduction to the topic by Prof. Lamberts Leuven the reader will find the following papers: Prof.
ISBN 13: 9789042912113
Print Share Calendar Diocesan Locator. In the course of the Synod, there was frequent insistence on the need to avoid any antithesis between the ars celebrandi , the art of proper celebration, and the full, active and fruitful participation of all the faithful. The primary way to foster the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is the proper celebration of the rite itself. The ars celebrandi is the best way to ensure their actuosa participatio.
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