Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Liturgy as Source and Summit

I try to make it a practice to read the documents of Vatican II regularly. The nature of the documents (namely that they were written by committee) often makes it easy to breeze over some of the wonderful teachings because they are expressed with a flat sort of prose. I have never come away from reading them, however, without discovering some new gem of a teaching. Try this one out:

"[In seminaries and religious houses of studies]...those who teach other subjects [than the liturgy], especially dogmatic theology, sacred scripture, spiritual and pastoral theology, should--each of them submitting to the exigencies of his own discipline--expound the mystery of Christ and the history of salvation in a manner that will clearly set forth the connection between their subjects and the liturgy."

I doubt that there is a seminary that has truly adopted this as the goal of their program of studies. This is not meant as a criticism--there has hardly been time to think through the radical (radical in the best sense--at the root of our faith, which is the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ made present in the liturgy) implications of this simple statement. I had an excellent New Testament prof in seminary who definitely did this, but he is considered a bit of an oddball in the trade, probably for the very reason that he insists in the end on reading everything liturgically. We have spent many centuries 'liberating' the different disciplines from each other, and this has produced a wonderful blossoming of knowledge. But it is often lamented today that the cohesiveness of Catholic belief has been strained. Here is a game plan for its reintegration via the sacred liturgy, the idea being that well-formed priests can teach the faithful that the Eucharist truly is the source and summit of our Christian lives. But how exactly are seminaries going to carry this out? If you know of a seminary that really attempts this, please do share!

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
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