Pope Benedict XVI: Liturgical Abuses Detract From Christ!

“If The Centrality Of Christ Does Not Emerge In The Celebration, Then It Is Not A Christian Liturgy!”

By: David Kerr

Vatican City, Oct 3, 2012 / 09:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).– Pope Benedict XVI has reminded Catholics that the liturgy belongs to Jesus Christ and his Church, and should not be changed according to individual whims.

“It is not the individual – priest or layman – or the group that celebrates the liturgy, but it is primarily God’s action through the Church, which has its own history, its rich tradition and creativity,” the Pope said during his Oct. 3 general audience in Rome.

“This universality and fundamental openness, which is characteristic of the entire liturgy is one of the reasons why it cannot be created or amended by the individual community or by experts, but must be faithful to the forms of the universal Church,” he stated.

With over 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope explained how the Church is made most visible in the liturgy where “God enters into our reality and we can meet him, we can touch him.” The liturgy is where “he comes to us, and we are enlightened by him.”

The primary importance of Jesus Christ within the liturgy has been a constant theme of Pope Benedict’s teaching during his seven-year pontificate. He has often expressed concern that bad teaching can lead some Catholics to view the liturgy “horizontally” as the creation of a parish or group in which the community celebrates itself. “The liturgy is not a kind of ‘self-manifestation’ of a community,” he told pilgrims.

Pope Benedict noted that when priests or parishioners reflect on how to make the liturgy “attractive, interesting and beautiful,” they can “risk forgetting the essential: That is the liturgy is celebrated for God and not for ourselves.”

To help counter such erroneous concepts, Pope Benedict XVI’s papal liturgies are always celebrated with a prominent crucifix placed centrally upon the altar.

The liturgy is God’s work and he is the subject, the Pope said, adding that this means when it comes to the liturgy we must “open ourselves to him and be guided by him and his body which is the Church.”

“If the centrality of Christ does not emerge in the celebration, then it is not a Christian liturgy, totally dependent on the Lord and sustained by his creative presence,” he said.

“God acts through Christ, and we can only act through him and in him.”

This conviction must grow in the hearts and minds of Catholics each day because “the liturgy is not our, my, ‘action,’ but the action of God in us and with us.”

“Let us ask the Lord to learn every day to live the sacred liturgy, especially the Eucharistic celebration, praying in the ‘we’ of the Church, that directs its gaze not in on itself, but to God, and feeling part of the living Church of all places and of all time,” Pope Benedict said in conclusion.

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12 comments to Pope Benedict XVI: Liturgical Abuses Detract From Christ!

  • Hi Brother sale,
    I am an artist and I repair church statues – I see this kind of thing all the time, some clergy think they are above the so -called ” superstitious” practices of Marian processions and such. They are actually very backward as they cannot see the desperate need to catechise through beautifull imagery – as the church used to do in pagan times ( pagan as we are in now!) to compete with the media’s seductive use of imagery.
    I have met with a lot of congregations who are begging with their priests to bring these images back to their rightful places, and to restore the church interiors. They meet with constant refusals – even though they are willing to pay from their own pockets.A lot of the faithful are being tortured by this pomposity. It affects me too as I try to earn for my family; its like the letter Pope JP2 and Pope Benedict wrote to artists was never addressed to priests to tell them to support artists and return beauty to the churches. I empathise with you.

  • In past times, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in a a ” reredos” which was as I understand adjacent to the altar; however, because faith and understanding grows as the church matures – the taberacle with the reserved species came to be placed centrally.
    Those who argue historically for the tabernacle to be off to the side ; need to open their eyes and see how this has led to a loss of faith – people are bobbing to the altar, the priest, – anyone rather than the reserved species; because they don’t have the focus.
    Thinking of young children entering the church; they would understand that a king – a very important person would be placed centrally in his throne room, is it any wonder – what with liturgy ladies ans schools referring to Jesus as mere ” Blessed bread” that a whole generation has suffered this injustice and do not know where to look for to find their Saviour and King.

  • Andy

    Ours has been in a special alter in a different place and has been that for as long as I can remember. Doesn’t make church any different. We stillgive praise and thanks.

  • ALL4Him

    Pray for our priests!

  • Br. Christopher Sale

    This is becoming the norm in many churches. I find it
    utterly disgusting. At one of our local parishes the
    priest took down all the statues and put them in a closet.
    Needless to say I don’t go there anymore. I sometimes
    think the church is like the Democratic party removing
    God. Just last year I donated a 6ft statue of Our Lady
    of Guadalupe to my home parish in memory of my
    parents. The priest put it out on Dec 12th for the feast
    day and then put it in storage. And to make matters
    worst the Pastor never thanked me, not that I care..

  • TG

    I, too, must attend a church with the tabernacle in the center. We have 3 Catholic churches in my town and I attend the one with the tabernacle in the center and it looks like a Catholic church. I was away from the church for many years. Was is the reasoning for putting Christ to the side or worse (no tabernacle but a little cheap table on the side)? So people can talk more? I’m just curious if anyone can give me the reason. I guess I shouldn’t complain when I read how bad it is in other parts of the country. (Mary, agree with your comments.)

  • Br. Christopher Sale

    Thank you Pamela. Actually its Brother. I would love to be a priest but God has placed me here for now.
    I think its up to the faithful to demand the pastor put the Tabernacle where it belongs. Our Blessed Lord must never be treated this way.

  • Pamela feist

    My heart goes out to you father sale,this is a travesty and should be reported as such.

  • Br. Christopher Sale

    I drive 30 plus miles a day to pray in a church with the Tabernacle at the center of the altar. I just refuse to go into a church that doesn’t have it where it belongs.

  • Mary Floeck

    My heart goes out to you and all Catholics who endure this. I must say that at least our priest moved the Tabernacle back inside right behind the altar underneath our very large Crucifix, which is quite beautiful. This is wonderful. Now if people would only notice that and be quiet and respectful of Our Lord when they enter the Church. The last 40 years have done much damage to our understanding of the sacredness and holiness of God.

  • Br. Christopher Sale

    I agree Mary. Actually the Pope is very much against clapping when its praising ones accomplishments. I for one wish the Priest would turn his chair around and face the altar. I’m also against the tabernacle being moved to side altar. That’s becoming quite common here in Los Angeles. Its as though Christ is hidden from us and being treated like He’s second class. Yes I’m old school, but being a brother of Padre Pio I think Padre Pio would feel the same as I do. My parish has been closed all week preparing for a Bach concert to make money. They even moved the mass to the parish hall for this event.
    I don’t feel the church should be used for this reason.
    God bless.

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