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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Sacramentum Caritatis" and Liturgical Beauty



Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara was interviewed by Zenit.

He spoke about "Sacramentum Caritatis" and Liturgical Beauty. Father McNamara is a professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university in Rome, and writes the weekly liturgy column for ZENIT.

In the lengthy interview, Father McNamara makes clear that the true beauty of the liturgy comes about when the priest and the congregation participate in it actively and piously,

The full interview is at Zenit; (Code: ZE07031928 Date: 2007-03-19).

Here is part of what Father McNamara had to say:

"As the Holy Father says, beauty is inherent to liturgy, it is intimately bound up with authentic liturgy.

Beauty however does not only mean splendid sacred buildings and sublime music. The primary beauty in liturgy is that of a community united heart and soul in prayerful celebration of Christ's sacrifice. It is the beauty of priest and people engaged in full, active and pious participation in the mystery.

This beauty is achieved, in spite of a possible lack of external splendor, whenever the sacred ministers and each member of the faithful strive to live the liturgy to the full.

Other forms of beauty: music, art, poetry, and a sober solemnity in the ritual derive naturally from this inner beauty because the deeper a community lives and comprehends the beauty of the liturgical mystery the more it strives to express it in wonderful outer forms. It is the natural understanding that only the very best we can offer is truly worthy of the Lord.

Thus there is strong historical evidence that even before the end of the era of persecutions; Christians sought to celebrate the Eucharist with the finest materials available. This explains why the construction boom in imposing basilicas, as soon as the persecutions were over, along with the more solemn ritual forms required by these new buildings, was perceived as a natural development and not a rupture with earlier practice.

It is this same understanding which led generations of poor immigrants to the United States to sacrifice so much in order to endow their parishes with majestic churches replete with fine arts and crafts.

Ugliness, blandness, banality and bad taste on the other hand diminish the liturgy and betray a lack of appreciation of the mystery and sometimes, alas, a certain lack of faith. "