Message of John Paul II to priests on the "art of celebrating"

Source: FSSPX News


In a message addressed from his room at the Gemelli polyclinic, the pope invited the participants to the plenary meeting of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to give special attention to the manner of celebrating as well as to the homily and the liturgical formation of both priests and faithful. – The plenary meeting of the Congregation for Divine Worship gathered 51 members of the dicastery in Rome from March 1st to 4.

This document, addressed on March 3 to Cardinal Francis Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, insists on the importance of "words, signs and rites" "in the Eucharistic celebration". The pope also tackles the question of the "liturgical formation", a "basic element of the preparation of priests, deacons, lay ministers and religious, but also a source of permanent catechesis for all the faithful".

On March 8, Cardinal Francis Arinze declared on Radio Vatican: "The art of celebrating, really means knowing how to pray. Consequently, the art of celebrating calls for silence, contemplation, the sense of stupor before the mystery we are celebrating."

To the invitation of John Paul II to foster "the art of praying" among Christians, the Nigerian cardinal answers: "Yes, because personal prayer as well as community prayer must be nourished by Eucharistic prayer. So, we must all be attentive to the periods of silence during the celebrations, especially during Holy Mass. In this regard, meditation before Mass, after communion, and after Mass is of great importance."

For the Year of the Eucharist, Cardinal Arinze exhorts us to become more fully aware of the "necessity to go back to a state of stupor before the great mystery of the Eucharist: we must return to the great respect for Our Lord in this inestimable gift of the Eucharist. And this respect is expressed through our manner of celebrating, our manner of receiving Jesus, and in Eucharistic adoration". – Through this surprising word "stupor", which must perhaps be taken in its Latin meaning of "awe, adoration", isn’t it simply the sense of the sacred which is evoked and whose loss is implicitly lamented. Does the liturgy, reformed after Vatican II bear no responsibility for this loss of the sense of the sacred? Do the vernacular, the manifestations of inculturation, the ecumenical gestures towards the other religions, really inspire the respect due to the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament?