Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Living the Eucharistic Mystery": Genuflection, deep bowing, kneeling, prostration, silence

More from Cardinal Arinze on inculturation and liturgical "updating"

"That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood is something that cannot be apprehended by the senses," says St. Thomas, "but only by faith which relies on divine authority" (S. Th. III, 75, 1: cf. Paul VI: Mysterium)

"I devoutly adore you, O hidden God,
Truly hidden beneath these appearances.
My whole heart submits to you,
And in contemplating you,
It surrenders itself completely.
"Sight, touch, taste are all deceived
In their judgment of you,
But hearing suffices firmly to believe.
I believe all that the Son of God has spoken;
There is nothing truer than this word of truth."
(Adoro Te Devote)
"This faith demands the surrender of our will, the sacrifice needed in order to believe or not to trust in the senses. Freed from doubt and pride, we are made free for the light of faith. We are ready to adore. . . .

"Adoration manifests itself in such gestures in genuflection, deep bow, kneeling, prostration and silence in the presence of the Lord. Asian cultures have a deep sense of the sacred and transcendent. Reverence in Asia to civil authorities sometimes shows itself in clasped hands, kneeling, bows, prostration and walking away while facing a dignitary. It should not be too difficult to bring and elevate this cultural value to honour our Eucharistic Jesus. The fashion in some parts of the world of not installing kneelers in churches should not be copied by the Church in Asia . . . .

"The way in which Holy Communion is distributed should be clearly indicated and monitored and individual idiosyncracies should not be allowed. In the Latin Rite, only concelebrating priests take Holy Communion. Everyone else is given (communion), be the person cleric or lay. It is not right that the priest discard any of the vestments just because the climate is hot or humid. If necessary, the Bishop can arrange the use of lighter cloth. It is altogether unacceptable that the celebrant will opt for local dress in the place of universally approved Mass vestments or use baskets, or wine glasses to distribute the Holy Eucharist. This is inculturation wrongly understood . . . .

It is the tradition of the Church that during the Mass the readings are taken only from the Holy Scriptures. Not even the writings of the Saints or Founders of Religious Orders are admitted. It is clear that the books of other religions are excluded, no matter how inspiring a particular text may be. . . .

The major Church documents that give directives on how inculturation is to be made are Sacrosanctum Concilium, 37-40, the 1994 Instruction: Roman Liturgy and Inculturation, and Chapter IX of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. If these directives are followed, the local Church will be spared questionable or downright mistaken innovations and idiosyncracies of some enthusiastic cleric whose fertile imagination invents something on Saturday night and whose uninformed zeal forces this innovation on the innocent congregation on Sunday morning. Dance in particular needs to be critically examined because most dances draw attention to the performers and offer enjoyment. People come to Mass, not for recreation but, to adore God, to praise and thank him, to ask pardon for their sins, and to request other spiritual and temporal needs. The monasteries may be of help in how graceful body movements can become prayer. . . .

The Colombo Liturgical Convention of September 2008 insists that local Ordinaries and National Conferences of Bishops should carefully ensure the proper observance of liturgical norms, and that Bishops are responsible for the liturgy celebrated in their dioceses, including those held in the house of religious men and women, ashrams and religious movements. (cf. Colombo Statement, 13)

-- from Francis Cardinal Arinze's homily at the Closing Solemn Mass of the Ninth FABC Plenary Assembly in Manila, the Philippines, on 16 Aug. 2009

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