Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Post #500 and Mediator Dei

Wow, according to Blogger this will make my 500th post. I suppose it's probable that at least some of them are still stuck as likely-never-to-be-published drafts, but I won't quibble. That aside, I'd not expected when I started this little endeavor to have this much to say, nor that anyone would really be all that interested anyway. Pleasant surprises are the best kind. But enough about me.

Today is the 60th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's Encyclical Mediator Dei, on the Sacred Liturgy. I just pulled my copy off of the printer so that I might finally remedy the fault of my never having read it. I am simply amazed both at the language (we just don't write that way any more!) and the insight of this document.

Assuredly it is a wise and most laudable thing to return in spirit and affection to the sources of the sacred liturgy. For research in this field of study, by tracing it back to its origins, contributes valuable assistance towards a more thorough and careful investigation of the significance of feast-days, and of the meaning of the texts and sacred ceremonies employed on their occasion. But it is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device. Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive tableform; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer's body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See. (paragraph 62).
Shawn Tribe's review at NLM, from whence I snipped the above quote, points out that what can often be seen as prophetic in Mediator Dei can also be seen rather as insightful, given that much of what it speaks out against was already in practice or in the trajectory of the Liturgical Movement. Even if not purely prophetic, however, it provides rich insight that we, at a time of great moment in the history of liturgy in the Church, would do well to familiarize ourselves with. So, in the waning hours of this day or in the full of the day to come do yourself, the Church and the world a great favor and start reading.