Sunday, December 10, 2006

More De Lubac... (On the liturgy...)

Writing in 1956 on the relationship between the Church's communion and the Eucharist
"O sign of unity, O bond of charity." There is indeed something exalting in a mystery of this kind for him who receives this in a spirit of faith and tries hard to carry it on into his personal life and awareness -- or rather, to carry it out there. Hence the lyricism with which someone like Saint Augustine, for example, speaks of it. Yet we should not let ourselves be mistaken as to its nature. As Simone Weil puts it, "Undoubtedly there is a real intoxication in being a member of the Mystical Body of Christ. But today a great many other mystical bodies which have not Christ for their head, produce an intoxication in their members that to my way of thinking is of the same order." Those lines may serve as a warning for us in their very lack of understanding of the mystery of faith. In the present welcome efforts to bring about the celebration of the liturgy that is more "communal" and more alive, nothing would be more regrettable than a preoccupation with the success achieved by some secular festivals by the combined resources of technical skill and the appeal to man at his lower level. To reflect for a moment on the way in which Christ makes real the unity between us is to see at once that it is not by way of anything resembling mass hysteria, or any sort of occult magic. The faithful do not gather for the commemoration of Christ as an assembly of initiates come to partake of a secret that is to set them apart from the common herd. They are not a mob from which a common personality is to be conjured up by the intensifying of its latent properties, resources, values, and predilections (not to mention its powers of self-deception and even its potentialities of the diabolical kind). The Catholic liturgy is luminous in its very mysteries, balanced and reposeful in its very magnificence; everything in it is ordered, and even that which calls most strongly to our being at the level of the senses comes by its meaning only through faith. Its fruit is joy but the lesson it teaches is one of austerity; the sacrifice that is its centre is "a symbol and representation of the Passion of the Lord", and sacrament of his sacrifice, and the memorial of his death. Through the communion that is its consummation it feeds us on his Cross, and it would be of no value if it did not bring about interior sacrifice in all those who take part in it. The "unanimous life of the Church" is not a natural growth; it is lived through faith; our unity is the fruit of Calvary, and results from the Mass' application to us of the merits of the Passion, with a view to our final redemption.
(The Splendor of the Church, 154-5)

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