Why Liturgy According to Tradition?

Concerning things in Rome, and the pope in particular, the recent appointment of a new papal emcee (Master of Ceremonies) strikes me as something worth posting. Granted, I’m sure most of you could care less who the papal emcee is—it happens now to be Guido Marini—but there is a definite beauty about the mentality he brings to his job, and that seems to me very worth mentioning.

In a recent interview, Marini, who oddly enough is replacing another Piero Marini (that’s Italy for you…), describes the way in which he views his upcoming duties. In stating what he has planned for liturgies at the Vatican, Marini says: “What the Church wants and teaches, no more, no less. I am not the sort of person who looks for novelties or oddities. I might seem banal, but the liturgy needs respect for the rules dictated by the Church, and I don’t see any reason why I should ignore them… The Mass is a gift, a grace, not a show.”

I think this is right on—not from the vantage point of some supreme, totalitarian attitude, but with regard to the Catholic liturgy being a sort of ‘primary theology.’ In fact, within the context of the liturgy (i.e. the Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic adoration, Marian devotions, etc.), we encounter the fullness of revelation and the fullness of our Catholic faith. Jesus Christ, who is truly present in the Eucharist, especially, but also in the readings from the Gospel and in the presence of the community, constitutes the fullness of revelation; nothing is revealed which is not contained in the person of Christ. Also he is the fullness of our faith, because all we have to believe and practice is contained in the very life of this one God-made-man. The liturgy, then, where Christ is made present through the mysterious sacrifice of the altar, is precisely a theology accessible to all the faithful in the fullest sense.

For this reason, when the liturgy is celebrated by the ordinances of the Church—using the formulas provided and performing them with true and heartfelt devotion—the greatest good is incurred for both the parish and universal Church. The bishops in union with the Holy Father, in the grace and wisdom provided them by their important offices, do not intend to give us anything less than what we need to be good and holy servants of Christ on earth. Monsignor Guido Marini seeks to show us this in his role as papal emcee, and it is a lesson that we all ought to consider in our own ‘full and active participation’ at the sacred liturgy.