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The Essential Form of Roman Rite Catholic Liturgy,
This review is from: Heresy of Formlessness (Paperback)
Saint John's Gospel records the ultimate entry of God into history with those beautiful words: "The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us." There is no Christianity without Jesus Christ made man, without Christ truly taking human form. Christian faith is utterly contingent upon the Incarnation.
It logical, then, that Christian worship is itself incarnational - it embraces the senses in coveying through its rites and prayers the graces brought to us by God incarnate. Naturally, it has done this in different ways throughout history, and the manner of Christian worship has developed over time.
The reforms in Western Catholic Liturgy in the latter half of the twentieth century have provoked controversy. Were they an act of positivist papal tyranny that destroyed the form of the Liturgy, or were they a legitimate refinement and development of it?
Mosebach - a German layman of some literary renown - holds the former. He maintains that the form, the incarnation of the Catholic faith in Roman rite Liturgy has been so badly mutilated in recent generations as to prejudice the celebration and transmission of the faith itself. Hence his use of the strident term "heresy." He is, of course, not alone in this conviction. But his perspective is of interest. He is no professional theologian or liturgist. He is an educated layman, a man of letters, who drifted away from the Church as the Mass of Paul VI engulfed it and who returned, gradually, through the rediscovery of the traditional Liturgy.
The book brings together a series of essays whose underlying thesis is that the form of the Traditional Liturgy is essential for Roman rite Catholics - spiritually and theologically - and that it should be restored. Were Mosebach a professional theologian he may have discussed this in relation to Von Balthasar's theology (a link is plausable). His reflections are personal, but are, perhaps, all that much more valuable for that. Many will identify with his struggles and desires.
Father Fessio's preface to the book is curious - it seems (most respectfully) to oppose the author's thesis. And the English edition apparently omits some of the stronger passages of the German original. But its publication is a sign that the cry for the restoration of the traditional Roman liturgy which it espouses is no longer regarded as absurd. Mosebach, in entering this debate, has given voice to many laymen who have suffered long and whose desires are not often articulated so clearly. Future generations will wonder why it took us so long to listen.