Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Liturgical Movement (Part 2)

Fr. Romano Guardini

Recently we discussed the "Liturgical Movement," which began in the 19th century seeking to reform liturgy by returning to a medieval model of worship.  In the 20th century this movement somehow lead to the Novus Ordo, which is about as medieval as spandex, though not nearly as elegant.  Perhaps the incongruity between modern civilization, which produces things like spandex, and medieval civilization, which produced things like the Cathedral at Chartres, is what doomed the Liturgical Movement from the start.

Fr. Romano Guardini, one of the leading figures in the Liturgical Movement, noted that "[r]eligion needs civilization" by which Guardini meant "works of art, science, social orders and the like."  Guardini goes on to say that:

"...generally speaking, a fairly high degree of genuine learning and culture is necessary . . . in order to keep spiritual life healthy.  By means of these two things spiritual life retains its energy, clearness, and catholicity.  Culture preserves spiritual life from the unhealthy, eccentric, and one-sided elements with which it tends to get involved only too easily.  Culture enables religion to express itself, and helps it to distinguish what is essential from what is nonessential, the means from the end, and the path from the goal.  The Church has always condemned every attempt at attacking science, art , property, and so on.  The same Church which so resolutely stress the "one thing necessary," and which upholds with the greatest impressiveness the teaching of the Evangelical counsels - that we must be ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of eternal salvation - nevertheless desires, as a rule, that spiritual life should be impregnated with the wholesome salt of genuine and lofty culture."

Part of our task, then, in restoring liturgy is to restore our civilization.  Seek beauty, knowledge, and truth, and thereby sow the seeds of liturgical revival.

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