The Liturgy of the Ages

Wise, profound words on the heritage of the Liturgy as well as some of its aspects which perhaps grate on ‘modern sensibilities’ (I’ll name the source at the end):

We must not allow the adaptation of the liturgy to become an obsession. The liturgy, like the inspired writings, has a permanent value apart from the circumstances giving rise to it. Before altering a rite we should make sure that a change is strictly necessary. The liturgy has an impersonal character and also has universality in space and time. It is, as it were, timeless and thus enables us to see the divine aspect of eternity. These thoughts will enable us to understand what at first seem shocking in some of the prayers of the Liturgy – feasts that seem no longer appropriate, antiquated gestures, calls to vengeance which reflect a pre-Christian mentality {sic}, anguished cries in the darkness of the night, and so on. It is good to feel oneself thus linked with all the ages of mankind. We pray not only with our contemporaries but with men who have lived in all centuries.

These words were spoken at Rome’s Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s by the Melkite (Eastern) Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Maximos IV Sayegh.

(Antiochian Orthodox Fr. Ted Pulcini, ex-Latin and ex-Melkite, says the Melkites are the least-Latinized of the Byzantine Eastern Catholics [Navigate carefully around this e-book, since there are some hiccups after their website redesign! If one link doesn’t work, go BACK and try another].)

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