Church liturgy and catechesis: a critical examination of liturgical development in its relationship to catechesis in the modern Catholic Church

Smith, Josephine Mary (2013) Church liturgy and catechesis: a critical examination of liturgical development in its relationship to catechesis in the modern Catholic Church. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Why this study now? As the Catholic Church advances through the twenty first century it continues to be deeply influenced by the great legacy of its previous pontiff Pope John Paul II (1920- 2005). This legacy includes his championing of a new evangelisation; the pivotal role that he gave to catechesis in this process and his desire to eliminate unacceptable departures from liturgical norms. Recalling his own words at the Congress of Liturgical Commissions (1984) Pope John Paul II stated: In the work of liturgical renewal, desired by the Council, it is necessary to keep in mind "with great balance the part of God and the part of man, the hierarchy and the faithful, tradition and progress, the law and adaptation, the individual and the community, silence and choral praise. Thus the Liturgy on earth will fuse with that of heaven, where ... it will form one choir ... to praise with one voice the Father through Jesus Christ" (Vicesimus Quintus Annos #23). The words of Pope John Paul II call for a liturgical perspective which is characterised by moderation and an appreciation of the eschatological dimension of the sacred liturgy. Through his liturgical writings, Pope John Paul II sought to be a corrective voice in trying to ensure universal fidelity to the liturgical law. This is exemplified in his exposition of the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Church in Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003), a work that was intended to remedy the liturgical ‘abuses’ that had become apparent in the Church’s worship. It is acknowledged here that the word ‘abuse’ carries connotations associated with offenses of a moral nature. Turner (2012), expresses caution about an overuse of the word ‘abuses’ in the context of how the Church prays and the manner in which the sacred mysteries are celebrated (p,169). In this discussion on the liturgy (and throughout this thesis) the word ‘abuse’ is applied in a technical manner to describe 2 significant departures from liturgical norms which falsify and damage the Church’s liturgy as well as the tradition and authority of the Church in relation to public worship 1 In Ecclesia de Eucharistia Pope John Paul II recognises the positive signs of Eucharistic faith and then he refers to “the shadows” (#10) identifying these as the abandonment of Eucharistic adoration and also those unorthodox liturgical practices which resulted in confusion and a weakened understanding of liturgy: It is my hope that the present Encyclical Letter will effectively help to banish the dark clouds of unacceptable doctrine and practice, so that the Eucharist will continue to shine forth in all its radiant mystery (#10). Redemptionis Sacramentum seeks to develop a deeper appreciation of the value of liturgical norms so that the whole Church, Bishops, Priests, Deacons and lay faithful can carry them out according to their responsibility. There is also recognition of a clear link between the liturgy of the Church and its faith and the use of unapproved rites, texts or practices damages this link. The use of the word ‘banish’ in the words cited above is interesting since it denotes a dramatic and immediate attempt to dispel rather than a gradual elimination or negotiation. This communicates the urgency and the level of concern about the unacceptable practices that have obscured the Eucharistic celebration. In Spiritus et Sponsa (2003), in observance of the fortieth anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pope John Paul II reflects on the degree to 1 The Instruction from the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004) states: “Certainly the liturgical reform inaugurated by the Council has greatly contributed to a more conscious, active and fruitful participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar on the part of the faithful” (#4). Even so, “shadows are not lacking”(10). In this regard it is not possible to be silent about the abuses, even quite grave ones, against the nature of the Liturgy and the Sacraments as well as the tradition and the authority of the Church, which in our day not infrequently plague liturgical celebrations in one ecclesial environment or another (11). Whenever an abuse is committed in the celebration of the sacred Liturgy, it is to be seen as a real falsification of Catholic Liturgy (171). Among the various abuses there are some which are objectively graviora delicta or otherwise constitute grave matters, as well as others which are nonetheless to be carefully avoided and corrected. 3 which the spirit and liturgical mandate outlined in Sacrosanctum Concilium has been implemented by the Church. Pope John Paul’s "chirograph" on sacred music, in observance of the 100th anniversary of Pope Saint Pius X's document on the same subject, Tra le sollecitudini (1903), was also intended “to offer the Church practical guidelines in that vital section of the liturgy…presenting a juridical code of sacred music” (#1) In all of these writings his deep concern for the sacred liturgy is clearly evident. Pope John Paul II’s successor to the See of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), has continued and developed this focus on the centrality of the liturgy in the life of the Church, although he has approached the matter from a different perspective. Benedict is a prolific writer on liturgical matters and the dominant focus of his work on the liturgy is to establish an understanding of its objective nature. As the current pontiff he is leading the Church into the twenty first century during what is a challenging and also a privileged time. The English speaking world is both cautiously and eagerly undertaking the implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal (Advent 2011) - a process which will continue to require significant and sustained programmes of Liturgical Formation and Liturgical Catechesis over several years. At this stage in its history the Catholic Church faces various other concurrent pastoral and liturgical challenges in terms of dwindling congregations, a diminishing number of priests and what some perceive to be a widening of the perceived gap between the Church and people in the context of a dramatically changed social landscape (Taylor 2007, p513-516). Despite these massive societal and ecclesial changes and their sometimes pernicious effects, (or perhaps because of them), there is also a sense that the Church is entering a vital and exciting era in liturgical and catechetical development. 4 The major themes of this thesis are ‘Church’, ‘Liturgy’ and ‘Catechesis’ from which an associated secondary theme of Liturgical Formation emerged. Part of the discussion will explore the relationship between these various elements. The current relevance of this study comes from three main sources. Firstly, the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI is signalling a new phase in the life of the Roman Catholic Church where sociological influences, ecclesial concerns, catechetical endeavour and a liturgical agenda are meeting and interacting. His pontificate is producing a creative synthesis leading the Church into a new stage in the organic development of the sacred liturgy and the result is prolific liturgical homilies and writings. Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy is characterised by a desire to ensure a deeper understanding of the essence of liturgy coupled with a leadership which demonstrates a reforming zeal for the sacred liturgy. At the centre of the pontiff’s vision to restore the liturgy (as expressed in The Spirit of the Liturgy), is a belief that a deeper understanding of, and fidelity to, its objective nature, will help to restore reverence and beauty in the celebration of sacred rites (2000, p9). He also insists on fidelity to the authentic vision of liturgical renewal expressed by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council (2000, p, 8; p,171). 2 Nearly five decades after this Council, Pope Benedict XVI is acutely aware that there continues to be a pressing challenge to ensure accurate translation of the primary conciliar liturgical directive as expressed in Sacrosanctum Concilium: Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people’ (1Pt 2:9;cf.2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism” (#14). 2 Address to the Roman Curia (22 December 2005): AAS 98 (2006), 44-45 5 The liturgical mandate given above has been subject to a misinterpretation of the mind of the Council Fathers in relation to active participation. Pope Benedict is eager to focus on this concept as a ‘spiritual’ rather than a physical one. His pontificate is one of four clearly identifiable and critical chronological junctures in the history of the organic development of the liturgy. Three other significant crossroads will be examined in this thesis: The Council of Trent; the Liturgical Movement and The Second Vatican Council. Each of these vital historical ‘moments’ has made a vital and transforming contribution to the development of the Church’s liturgical understanding, its liturgical practice and its educational mission. The second reason offered for the current relevance of this research is that the introduction of a new English translation of the Roman Missal and the associated formation and catechesis that is required, dominates contemporary liturgical debate. Thirdly, this thesis takes cognisance of societal changes including changes in patterns of religious allegiance; diminishing Mass attendance and the erosion of family life. This sociological shift means that there is now less evidence of a gradual, traditional, guaranteed socialisation into liturgical awareness, understanding and behaviour. In this process the sacred liturgy has become somewhat devalued presenting the Catholic Church with the urgent challenge of restoring a sense of liturgical literacy, liturgical awareness, liturgical confidence and liturgical vitality. In addition to developing an appreciation of the educational dimension of the liturgical action, a long process is now at hand to educate and re-educate about the role of the sacred liturgy in Catholic life. Part of the response to this challenge is to put robust, systematic and integrated Liturgical Formation and Liturgical Catechesis at the top of the Church’s agenda. The research process investigated and explored these issues within the Roman Church. Chapters Four and Five have been devoted entirely to these aspects. Part of the aim of 6 this thesis is to encourage courageous and imaginative action particularly in the area of formation and catechesis as part of the Church’s ongoing conversation on the liturgy. Chapter six, therefore, includes some predictions, proposals and recommendations for the liturgical journey ahead, with important questions being raised concerning the organic development of liturgy and its attendant catechesis within the specific context of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Church liturgy, catechesis
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Davis, Prof. Robert and Conroy, Prof. James
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: miss Josephine Mary Smith
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4218
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2013 11:45
Last Modified: 30 Apr 2013 11:45
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/4218

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