Over the past few weeks and months quite a bit of press has been given to the Motu Proprio that permits the celebration of the Liturgy of John XXIII more freely. It is an admirable subject, and I am looking forward to the celebration of the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, which is the day the directive comes into force. It will be an exciting time in the life of the Church, to experience a restoration of the Tridentine Liturgy for a variety of reasons. Some reasons that are put forward by Catholics are purely nostalgic, because they yearn for a liturgy that was curtailed without any popular support or input from the community of the faithful in general. Another reason there should be anticipation of the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Celebration of the Eucharist is rooted in a historical perspective…it is commendable to celebrate this form of the Church’s liturgy simply because it has been part of the historical Catholic experience for so many centuries. Finally, it is good to have an alternative expression of the celebration of the Liturgy of the Eucharist that will permit Catholics an opportunity to appreciate more clearly the liturgical chances designed by Vatican II. For over fourty years now the liturgy has been celebrated in the form of the Novus Ordo of Paul VI. The language of celebration has been the vernacular language indigenous to particular cultures and countries and quite honestly is the only form of the Sacred Liturgy most Catholics have ever known. The ability to participate in a sacred ritual that for the most part focuses its Eucharistic theology on the Sacrificial nature of the Mass, as opposed to the communal “meal” aspect of the Novus Ordo offers an opportunity for all Catholics to perhaps deepen their understanding of Eucharistic and Christological theology as they experience a more solemn form of the Mass.

With all of that said, it is a good opportunity to mention that the Roman liturgy is a sacred celebration of the mysteries of our Catholic faith. While we as Catholics indeed commemorate the Last Supper and the institution of the Sacraments of Eucharist and Holy Orders during our ritual celebration of the Breaking of the Bread, most importantly we reenact the Sacrifice of Jesus’ suffering on the Cross at Calvary in a transcendent and bloodless manner which unites humanity and divinity in our earthly attempt to glorify God the Father and Creator. The celebration of the Eucharist is a “time outside of time” experience, which allows us to physically experience the “sacred” in our desire and intentions to worship God.

Perhaps over the years, our Eucharistic Liturgy has lost a deep sense of an appreciation of the Mystery of God, the mystery of the Holy Trinity and the true gift of Eucharistic Real Presence that we experience in our Catholic Eucharist. Hopefully the restoration of permission to celebrate the Tridentine Liturgy will provide a rebirth of Catholic appreciation and devotion to the truly miraculous gift we receive through Christ’s Body and Blood.

The restoration of the former rite in itself is not the solution to problems and issues we have within our celebration of the Church’s divine life. However it is a beginning which enables us to appreciate the depth of all of our sacramental signs and symbols that have liturgically evolved and developed in the liturgical history and life of the Church. It does not seem to this author that Benedict XVI’s goal is a restoration of the former life and history of the Church, but rather a reevaluation for all faithful Catholics of our entire depository of faith that has come to us from the Apostles.

Additionally, the reinvigoration of spiritual renewal in our 21st century world of political, social and theological uncertainty marks how truly urgent the need is for Jesus Christ in our era that glorifies the technological and the humanistic aspects of our earthly existence. Benedict XVI clearly and explicitly is engaging the Catholic faithful throughout the world in a challenge that requires a spiritual response from all believers. It is especially refreshing to realize that the call to Catholic conversion for Benedict XVI is deeply rooted in a personal acceptance of a relationship with Jesus Christ, His Church, His Sacraments and the traditions of Christianity. We are experiencing a new road to Emmaus which not only demands Catholics worldwide open their theological but physical eyes to a world that needs a personal call to faith and global unity. With such a radical conversion of personal faith Catholics worldwide will certainly experience a spiritual Renaissance of faith and liturgical expression that gives glory to the manifestation of God among us.

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