Saturday, September 20, 2008

Violation of Catholic rights: unapproved adaptations to the Sacred Liturgy

Some helpful pastoral teachings regarding unapproved adaptations to the Sacred Liturgy...

The Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on the Church states, "
By reason of the knowledge, competence, or pre-eminence which they have, the laity are empowered—indeed sometimes obliged—to manifest their opinion on those things which pertain to the good of the Church."

The fathers of the Second Vatican Council clearly stated that " other person, not even a priest, may add, remove, change anything in the liturgy on his own authority
" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, no. 23).

According to the Code of Canon Laws: "[
It is] the prerogative of the Apostolic See to regulate the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, to publish liturgical books and review their vernacular translations, and to be watchful that liturgical regulations are everywhere faithfully observed" [Canon 838.2].

John Paul II asserted, "
the Sacred Liturgy is quite intimately connected with principles of doctrine, so that the use of unapproved texts and rites necessarily leads either to the attenuation or to the disappearance of that necessary link between the lex orandi and the lex credendi" (Redemptionis Sacramentum (RS), 10).

John Paul II warns against the use of unapproved adaptations to the liturgy: "Take care, nevertheless, that the norms of the liturgical renewal be everywhere observed; otherwise, regrettable misunderstandings easily arise. Many people accuse the Church and liturgical renewal of that which in reality is not the intention of the Church but rather goes back to individuals who act arbitrarily" (L'Osservatore Romano, February 22, 1988). And "you will have to take care that the established norms are respected, above all in the Eucharistic celebrations, which should never depend on the whim or the special initiatives of individuals or groups who disassociate themselves from the directives given by the Church." (L'Osservatore Romano, October 27, 1988).

Catholics have a right to receive the liturgy in the manner prescribed by liturgical norms. Jazzing-up the Latin liturgy contrary to the Roman Missal is a violation of that right.

According to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: "
[T]he obligatory character of the essential parts of the Liturgy also guarantees the true freedom of the faithful: it makes sure that they are not victims of something fabricated by an individual or a group, that they are sharing in the same Liturgy that binds the priest, the bishop and the pope." (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Feast of Faith, translated by Graham Harrison. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1981) p. 67.)

The liturgical norms are intended to guarantee true freedom, as Cardinal Ratzinger affirmed, so Catholics can enjoy their right to celebrate the sacred liturgy unencumbered by illicit personal deviations and unapproved adaptations. It seems implied by some that Catholics have no such right in this regard, that the bishop or priest can simply fabricate whatever liturgy he fancies without receiving the canonical recognitio from the Holy See as prescribed by canon law. Nonetheless, Catholics are begging that their clergy show them some charity and allow the faithful to worship in accord with the liturgical law of the Church described in the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM) and the approved translation of the typical edition of the Roman Missal. That we have to beg this of them derives from a tragic lack of understanding as to the binding nature of liturgical law. It is our ecclesial right to worship in accord with the Latin Rite as prescribed by the approved liturgical texts of the Catholic Church, not be subjected to the fabricated rite of individual priests and/or bishops.

God bless,