An Article on the “art of Celebrating” the liturgy by Pope Francis’ Master of Ceremonies.
3. The “Ars Celebrandi”
Here are the reasons why in the last four decades the Magisterium has reminded priests several times of the importance of the “ars celebrandi,” which — although it does not consist only in the perfect execution of the rites according to the books, but also and above all in the spirit of faith and adoration with which these are celebrated — cannot be carried out, however, if it is removed from the norms established for the celebration.
It is expressed thus, for example, by the Holy Father Benedict XVI: “The first way with which the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is fostered is the proper celebration of the rite itself. The ‘ars celebrandi’ is the best premise for the ‘actuosa participatio.’ The ‘ars celebrandi’ stems from faithful obedience to the liturgical norms in their plenitude, as it is precisely this way of celebrating which has ensured for two thousand years the life of faith of all believers, who are called to live the celebration as People of God, royal priesthood, holy nation (cf. 1 P 2, 4-5.9).”
Recalling these aspects, one must not fall into the error of forgetting the positive fruits produced by the movement of liturgical renewal. The problem indicated, however, subsists and it is important that the solution of the same begin with the priests, who must commit themselves first of all to know in a profound way the liturgical books and also to put faithfully into practice their prescriptions. Only knowledge of the liturgical laws and the desire to hold oneself strictly to them will avoid further abuses and arbitrary “innovations” that, if at the time might perhaps move those present, in reality soon end by tiring and disappointing. Saving the best intentions of those who commit them, after forty years of “liturgical disobedience” it does not in fact build better Christian communities, but on the contrary it puts in danger the solidity of their faith and of their belonging to the unity of the Catholic Church.
The more “open” character of the new liturgical norms cannot be used as pretext to pervert the nature of the public worship of the Church: “The new norms have much simplified the formulas, gestures, liturgical acts […]. But neither must one go in this field beyond what is established: in fact, by doing so, the liturgy would be stripped of the sacred signs and of its beauty, which are necessary so that the mystery of salvation is truly realized in the Christian community and that it also understood under the veil of visible realities, through an appropriate catechesis. In fact the liturgical reform is not synonymous with de-sacralization, nor is it the motive for that phenomenon called the secularization of the world. Hence, it is necessary to preserve in the rites dignity, seriousness, sacredness.”
Therefore, among the graces we hope to be able to obtain from the celebration of the Year for Priests is also that of a true liturgical renewal in the heart of the Church, so that the sacred liturgy is understood and lived for what it is in reality: the public and integral worship of the Mystical Body of Christ, Head and members, worship of adoration that glorifies God and sanctifies men.