Friday, March 28, 2014

Cum Amore Ac Timore

How should we receive Our Lord in Holy Communion? With love and fear. But this presents some problems in the contemporary life of the Church.

Modern man has trouble believing, and if it has trouble believing, then it has trouble worshiping, since for the Christian the true worship of God is connected to truly believing in Him. It is not a matter of doing one's part as a good citizen like it was for imperial Romans, nor is it simply doing what God has commanded us to do so that we might be marked as His chosen people.

The latter is transformed in Christ, from Whom all grace flows, so that we might be conscious of sin as the Jews were under the law given to Moses and delivered from it, as is all of mankind, through the Passion of Our Lord. Through baptism, our rebirth in water and the Spirit which acknowledges our loving assent of faith, we enter the Mystical Body of Christ, and we come as close as we can to heavenly glory on Earth through the reception of Our Lord in Holy Communion, where Christ Jesus comes to live in our souls, body and blood, soul and divinity. Some have not believed in Him, but for those who believed "He gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."

The great liturgist Romano Guardini, author of The Spirit of the Liturgy among many other works, sent a letter to the Third German Liturgical Conference, held in April 1964, just four months after Venerable Paul VI and the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council promulgated Sacrosanctum Concilium. Guardini was concerned with the transformation of private prayer into corporate worship, that is to say, what is found in the liturgy of the Church, as he wrote:
Is not the liturgical act, and with it all that goes under the name ‘liturgy,’ so bound up with the historical background—antique or medieval or baroque—that it would be more honest to give it up altogether? Would it not be better to admit that man in this industrial and scientific age, with its new sociological structure, is no longer capable of the liturgical act?
 It seems that modern culture is more so than ever at war with Catholicism, preferring skepticism and uncertainty to the certainty offered on the wood of the Cross, which we hold onto by faith as we float over an ocean of uncertainty towards one of mercy. Instead of coming as individuals united to one another in Christ, we radically reject this in favor of autonomy and self-sufficiency over every aspect of our lives.

In his 1923 work Liturgische Bildung (Liturgical Education) Guardinia posited, "What assumes a liturgical posture, what prays, sacrifices and acts is not 'the soul,' not 'interiority,' but the human being. The entire human being bears the liturgical action." This means our body and our souls, the former so often misunderstood. For Cardinal Ratzinger in his work also entitled The Spirit of the Liturgy, it can be seen that our actions are united to our interior dispositions.

This goes back to what Guardini said in 1964. The act of receiving Holy Communion is one of adoration, and Blessed John Paul II agrees with this in nos. 48-49 of his encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia. The mystery of the Eucharist demands the proper interior dispostion united to and shown through our external gestures, to paraphrase the late Pontiff.

Notice so far that these sources are contemporary to the Council or follow it. It does not matter what form of the Church's liturgy one is assisting at, for the same principles are at work. Although I will cautiously proceed, because the Eastern tradition has found a different physical expression of adoration than the Latin one.

To be continued


  1. Where is the Mass in the photo here?

    1. I honestly don't remember, and I can't tell. I'm fairly sure it's JXIII though.