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Ratzinger says cut talk at Mass for sake of essentials

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has said that church services risk being overloaded with explanations and worship disrupted by being too "busy", according to a report in The Tablet on Saturday.

Speaking at the 40th anniversary celebrations of Sacrosanctum Concilium in Trier, Germany, on 4 December, the prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith warned against trends which reduced the liturgy to banal levels.

The Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium provided the blueprint for the post Vatican II reform of the liturgy which made the Mass more accessible to the faithful in the pews.

Cardinal Ratzinger described the moment of liturgical reform at Vatican II as "a great day for the council and the Church in general". He said its task had not been to produce something previously unknown, but to give shape to growing developments.

But he added that interpretation since the council had often been one-sided. He said the ease with which different proponents appealed to the Council for justification give pause for thought, calling for a balance to be restored through reflection on the original conciliar text. The cardinal was also critical of attempts to introduce elements from other religions to attract believers, although he stressed that misuse is no reason to return to the old missal.

He called for a rediscovery of the "essence" of the liturgy. He said that sometimes the teaching element of the Mass is overstated and the liturgy becomes tantamount to a school lesson. Often believers were subjected to torrents of talk, he complained.

Meanwhile Rome news agency Zenit has published its own translation of Pope John Paul's apostolic letter released on the 4 December anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium. The letter, together with another released in the same week, were previously available only in Italian.

The Holy Father expressed similar thoughts to Cardinal Ratzinger, especially in his emphasis on the "experience of silence" within liturgy.

"In a society that lives ever more frenetically, bewildered by rumours and distracted in the ephemeral, it is vital to rediscover the value of silence," he said. "It is no accident that beyond Christian worship, meditation practices are spreading that give importance to recollection."

Liturgists must remember 'dignity of the temple' (The Tablet 13/12/03)
Apostolic Letter on Sacred Liturgy on the 40th Anniversary of "Sacrosanctum Concilium" - English translation (Zenit 12/12/03)

Perth seminar told liturgical renewal a "work in progress" (CathNews 5/12/03)
Sacrosanctum Concilium, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy - Second Vatican Council, Promulgated by His Holiness Pope Paul VI On December 4, 1963
Times were a-changing (Catholic Weekly 7/12/03)
Archbishop warns against liturgy nostalgia (CathNews 4/12/03)
The Fortieth Anniversary of the Liturgical Reform of Vatican II (David Orr OSB)
Some Highlights of the Liturgical Renewal Initiated by Sacrosanctum Concilium (Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments)

Liturgical music must be reverent, accentuate the sacred, Pope writes (Catholic World News 4/12/03)
Music must be appropriate for liturgical celebration (Vatican Information Service/EWTN 4/12/03)

15 Dec 2003