Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Actuosa Participatio" to Guardini

Romano Guardini was a well-known liturgical scholar. The majority of his work preceded the Second Vatican Council; and he wrote some things which the Pragmata-Activists obviously ignored:

The liturgical act can be realized by looking. This does not merely mean that the sense of vision takes note of what is going on in front, but it is in itself a living participation in the act. I once experienced this in Palermo Cathedral when I could sense the attention with which the people were following the blessings on Holy Saturday for hours on end without books or any words of 'explanation'. Much of this was, of course, an external 'gazing', but basically it was far more. The looking by the people was an act in itself; by looking they participated in the various actions. However, cinema, radio and television-not to forget the flood of tourists-will have destroyed this remainder of old contemplative forces.

Only if regarded in this way can the liturgical-symbolical action be properly understood: for instance, the washing of hands by the celebrant, but also liturgical gestures like the stretching out of hands over the chalice. It should not be necessary to have to add in words of thought, 'this means such and such', but the symbol should be 'done' by the celebrant as a religious act and the faithful should 'read' it by an analogous act; they should see the inner sense in the outward sign. Without this everything would be a waste of time and energy and it would be better simply to 'say' what was meant. But the 'symbol' is in itself something corporal-spiritual, an expression of the inward through the outward, and must as such be co-performed through the act of looking.

...The active presence of the people of Palermo was based on the fact that they did not merely look up in the book what the various actions 'meant', but they actually 'read' them by simply looking-an after-effect of antique influences, probably paid for by a lack of primary education. Our problem is to rise above reading and writing and learn really to look with understanding.

This is the present task of liturgical education. If it is not taken in hand, reforms of rites and texts will not help much.

An imperfect analogy would be attending a concert. The orchestra plays--but the music has to be heard or it is not a "concert." I.E., it takes two to tango... Further, the presumption is that the audience understands the music just by hearing it. The orchestra credits its audience with "understanding".

A local Archbishop who was also a leader in the liturgical 'reform' emphasized (in his lectures, anyway) the importance of "symbol," echoing the Guardini piece. But either it was too late, too little, or his lectures were only 'for consumption;' it is clear that many priests in this Archdiocese do not credit their congregations with any understanding at all.

Perhaps that's related to the general Liberal conceit...

HT: In Illo Tempore.

No comments: