Sunday, September 18, 2005

"It's impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that"

An extract from "Salt of the Earth - The Church at the End of the Millennium", by Cardinal Ratzinger. (an interview with Peter Seewald) English translation. Page 176 - 177. All emphases are mine.

Wouldn't it be conceivable to reactivate the old rite in order to work against this leveling and demystification?

That alone would not be a solution. I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to those who desire it. It's impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest posession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent. Can it be trusted any more about anything else? Won't it proscribe tomorrow what it prescribes today? But a simple return to the old way would not, as I have said, be a solution. Our culture has changed so radically in the last thirty years that a Liturgy celebrated exclusively in Latin would bring with it an experience of foreignness that many could not cope with. What we need is a new liturgical education, especially of priests. It must once again become clear that liturgical scholarship does not exist to produce constantly new models, though that may be all right for the auto industry. It exists in order to introduce us into feast and celebration, to make man capable of the mystery. Here we ought to learn not from just the Eastern Church but from all the religions of the world, which all know that liturgy is something other than the invention of texts and rites, that it lives precisely from what is beyond manipulation. Young people have a very strong sense of this. Centers in which the liturgy is celebrated reverently and nobly without nonsense attract, even if one doesn't understand every word. We need such centers to set an example. Unfortunately, in Germany tolerance for bizarre tinkering is almost unlimited, whereas tolerance for the old liturgy is practically nonexistent. We are surely on the wrong path in that regard.


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