Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Ancient Roman Rite and Secularization

From "The New Liturgical Movement"

Article by: Roberto de Mattei

"The ritual dimension is a constituent dimension of the birth and development of the European and Christian society of the first centuries. The word traditio, in its original sense, refers to the handing over of the symbola fidei, that is those verbal formulas, confirmed by the ecclesiastical Authority, or-dained for the public profession of the Faith. The traditio is expressed in the handing over of the truths destined to form the depositum fidei, but is also a searching for ways in which these truths are trans-mitted, a searching for symbols and rites that effectively express these truths. Every truth in fact trans-lates into a liturgy, according to the well-known formula of Prosper of Aquitaine, lex orandi, lex cre-dendi (or legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi; De Vocation omnium gentium, 1, 12).

The description of the Eucharist on Sunday bequeathed to us by St. Justin (Justin, Apologia, 61-62, 65-67) attests to us, even before the year 165, the ritual practices of the Roman Church, "in which - as Saint Irenaeus wrote - the tradition come down from the apostles was faithfully kept "(Adversus hae-reses, ii, 3).

In this sense, Europe was born also around a liturgical tradition. Christopher Dawson notes, not wrongly, that after the fall of the Roman Empire of the West, the sacred order of the liturgy remained intact in the chaos and the liturgy constituted the principal link of interior unity of the society.

The liturgy was at the same time the seat of Tradition and the seat of Faith, because within it Faith and Tradition met and reconciled with each other. To Pope Damasus, elected Bishop of Rome in 366, we owe the first exposition of the concept of Petrinitas, as a principle of ecclesiastical hierarchical order. But the assertion of the Roman primacy, under Damasus and his successors, runs, as one can say, par-allel to the assertion of the Roman liturgical order, the definitive configuration of which occurred be-tween the fourth and the sixth century, culminating in the creation of the Liber Sacramentorum of Gregory the Great.

The Damaso-Gregorian liturgy - as Monsignor Klaus Gamber recalls - was imposing itself progressively in the West, and it is that which now Benedict XVI proposes and offers anew to the Church."

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