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Online Edition - April 2006

Vol. XII, No. 2

What Will Pope Benedict’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Say About Liturgy?

The final proposal from the Synod on the Eucharist is to be presented to Pope Benedict XVI in June. The proposal, based on the fifty propositions that were made at the end of the Synod last October, will form the basis for the pope’s post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist. It is being prepared by a commission of twelve cardinals and bishops, and will be presented in June by Archbishop Nicola Eterovic, secretary of the Synod of Bishops.

According to a March 20 report by Catholic News Agency (www.catholicnewsagency.com), citing an unnamed Vatican source, the commission will approve “a proposal and a plan for liturgical reform” in the Apostolic Exhortation that the Holy Father expected to be released by October 2006. CNA’s “Vatican source” said that the exhortation would include an invitation to greater use of Latin in the daily prayer of the Church and in the Mass -- with the exception of the Liturgy of the Word -- as well as in large public and international Masses. It would also encourage a greater use of Gregorian chant and classical polyphonic music, the CNA report said, the gradual elimination of the use of songs whose music or lyrics are secular in origin, as well as the elimination of instruments that are “inadequate for liturgical use”. The story said that the pope is expected to call for “more decorum and liturgical sobriety in the celebration of the Eucharist, excluding dance and, as much as possible, applause”.

This would be the normal expectation. Most of these suggestions for improvement in the celebration of Mass were included in the Instrumentum laboris (working document) for the Synod. For example,

61. Some responses particularly mentioned the use of musical instruments, referring to the general guidelines contained in the Constitution Sacrosanctum concilium.89 In this regard, a certain appreciation was often voiced in the Latin tradition for the organ, whose majestic sound adds solemnity to worship and is conducive to contemplation....

[Some responses] lamented the poor quality of translations of liturgical texts and many musical texts in current languages, maintaining that they lacked beauty and were sometimes theologically unclear, thereby contributing to a weakening of Church teaching and to a misunderstanding of prayer. A few responses made particular mention of music and singing at Youth Masses. In this regard, it is important to avoid musical forms which, because of their profane use, are not conducive to prayer. Some responses note a certain eagerness in composing new songs, to the point of almost yielding to a consumer mentality, showing little concern for the quality of the music and text, and easily overlooking the artistic patrimony which has been theologically and musically effective in the Church’s liturgy.

In keeping with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium,90 the suggestion was made that, at international gatherings, the liturgy be in Latin, at least the Eucharistic Prayer, to facilitate a proper participation of the concelebrants and those who are not familiar with the local vernacular language....

To review the Instrumentum laboris, see AB October 2005: www.adoremus.org/ 1005InstrumentumLaboris.html.

— hhh

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