Common Good Conference in Berlin

I’m in Berlin for a conference entitled “Beyond Liberalism: Commons, Constitutionalism, and the Common Good.”

On Wednesday evening I responded to a very thought-provoking talk by David Bollier (embedded below; my contribution begins at the 50 minute mark).

Yesterday evening saw a talk by Adrian Vermeule on the common good in the classical legal tradition, with responses by Corine Pelluchon and Joseph Weiler (embedded below).

It has been a stimulating conference with contributions from very different perspectives, and some surprising convergences.

Guardini vs. Erasmus on Active Participation

One of the primary concerns of the the Liturgical Movement was the demand for participatio actuosa, active (or actual) participation of the congregation in the liturgy. An early expression of this concern can be found in Romano Guardini’s 1918 book The Spirit of the Liturgy. Guardini writes:

It is of paramount importance that the whole gathering should take an active share in the proceedings. If those composing the gathering merely listen, while one of the number acts as spokesman, the interior movement soon stagnates. All present, therefore, are obliged to take part. It is not even sufficient for the gathering to do so by repeating the words of their leader.

Guardini goes on to contrast the form of prayer found in a Litany, with that of the antiphonal singing of the Psalms. While the former has its uses, he argues, the later is the normative form of liturgical prayer:

The liturgy adapts the dramatic form by choice to the fundamental requirements of prayer in common. It divides those present into two choirs, and causes prayer to progress by means of dialogue. In this way all present join the proceedings, and are obliged to follow with a certain amount of attention at least, knowing as they do that the continuation of their combined action depends upon each one personally. Here the liturgy lays down one of the fundamental principles of prayer, which cannot be neglected with impunity. However justified the purely responsive forms of prayer may be, the primary form of prayer in common is the actively progressive–that much we learn from the lex orandi. And the question, intensely important today, as to the right method to employ in again winning people to the life of the Church is most closely connected with the question under discussion. For it is modern people precisely who insist upon vital and progressive movement, and an active share in things.

I have highlighted the words “people” and “modern people” which represent a strange error, or perhaps correction, in Ada Lane’s translation of Guardini. In the translation the passage clearly anticipates later stages of the Liturgical Movement; it is modern people who insist on active participation, as opposed to passive looking and listening. People have stopped going to church, and in order to draw them back, they must be allowed to take a more active part, as monastic choirs chanting the divine office do. In the original of the passage, however, there is no equivalent to the words “people” or “modern”. Here is the original:

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Archbishop Gänswein on Constantine

Archbishop Georg Gännswein was in Heiligenkreuz yesterday and today for a conference on “The Prophetic” in the theology of Pope Benedict XVI. He gave a talk yesterday evening, and today he celebrated Mass and participated in a panel discussion.

Archbishop Gänswein’s talk (Photo: Stift Heiligenkreuz)

I was particularly struck by the opening of his talk yesterday. After quoting from a parish bulletin from Germany that had spoken of the death of Pope Benedict as a turning point, the Archbishop said the following:

For me, and for us, Feast of Pope St Sylvester of the past year will remain connected until the end of our days with the passing of Pope Benedict XVI. And it will become clear whether the 31st of December 2022 will indeed mark a kind of turning point— a turning point of certain elements in the Church towards a subordination under secular machinations. The Church has often been accused of having subjected herself to Caesar, or, as we say now, the state, since the fourth century when under the Emperor Constantine she was declared politically free, and shortly thereafter declared the state religion. But the historical findings are actually exactly the opposite. The emperor, Emperor Constantine, had submitted himself to the sign of the cross—in hoc signo vinces—under which he then defeated his enemies. (This is somewhat crudely sketched, but history is history). The external freedom that now gave peace to the Church allowed something to blossom that had lain hidden like a grain of wheat in the catacombs and in the seclusion of the domestic churches. We can see this in the architecture of the churches, in the magnificent mosaics, but above all in sacred music and in the liturgy. Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict, was deeply attached to this beauty of the faith and of the Church. This beauty, however, is not an insubstantial aesthetic surface, but the mirror of the action of the one God. This mirror is unclouded when truth and goodness can flourish unhindered. This unity of the true, the good, and the beautiful finds its highest expression in the liturgy celebrated with love and dignity. This is not merely something incidental, an amusement. It is not an ‘optional’ but an ‘essential.’ Liturgy, in the broad sense, was especially close to Pope Benedict’s heart throughout his life. (Quick translation by Sancrucensis)

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The Eucharist in the Plan of Salvation, First Part

The following is the first part of a day of recollection that I preached recently on the theme of “The Eucharist in the Plan of Salvation.”  In the first part I give an outline of the plan of Salvation. In the second part (which I will post soon) I reflect on how the Eucharist contributes to that plan.

The Plan of Salvation

1 God’s Happiness

The first article of the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the plan of salvation as follows:

God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Saviour. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life. (CCC 1)

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