Thursday, April 01, 2004

In memetipso juravi:
Egressa est de ore meo justitia,
verbum, quod non revertetur;
quia mihi curvabitur omne genu,
et jurabit omnis lingua.

--Is. 45:23

As some may know, in this benighted Archdiocese, our most reverend ordinary, alone among his American colleagues, has commanded that everyone at the "Ecce Agnus Dei" will continue to stand in the face of the Son of God. It is wonderful that he can take so much time out of his busy day dodging the grand jury and side-stepping the district attorney to afflict the consciences of the devout.

My friend Kirk Kramer has an excellent article in the lastest number of the Los Angeles Lay Mission analyzing His Eminence's most recent venture into liturgical choreography. You can find it here. Highly recommended.

The sidebar to this article is largely excerpted from Cardinal Ratzinger's The Spirit of the Liturgy It is a consolation for those of us in partibus infidelium:

Cardinal Ratzinger himself, in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, has addressed the theology of kneeling. Here are a few passages from the chapter, "The Body and the Liturgy."

"Kneeling does not come from any culture -- it comes from the Bible and its knowledge of God. The central importance of kneeling in the Bible can be seen in a very concrete way. The word proskynein [to kneel before] alone occurs fifty-nine times in the New Testament, twenty-four of which are in the Apocalypse, the book of the heavenly Liturgy, which is presented to the Church as the standard for her own Liturgy....

After considering several Biblical passages, Cardinal Ratzinger continues: "I have lingered over these texts, because they bring to light something important. In the two passages that we looked at most closely, the spiritual and bodily meanings of proskynein are really inseparable. The bodily gesture itself is the bearer of the spiritual meaning, which is precisely that of worship. Without the worship, the bodily gesture would be meaningless, while the spiritual act must of its very nature, because of the psychosomatic unity of man, express itself in the bodily gesture.

"The two aspects are united in the one word, because in a very profound way they belong together. When kneeling becomes merely external, a merely physical act, it becomes meaningless. On the other hand, when someone tries to take worship back into the purely spiritual realm and refuses to give it embodied form, the act of worship evaporates, for what is purely spiritual is inappropriate to the nature of man. Worship is one of those fundamental acts that affect the whole man. That is why bending the knee before the presence of the living God is something we cannot abandon....

"There is a story that comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers, according to which the devil was compelled by God to show himself to a certain monk. The devil looked black and ugly, with frighteningly thin limbs, but most strikingly, he had no knees. The inability to kneel is seen as the very essence of the diabolical.

"...The expression used by Saint Luke to describe the kneeling of Christians (theis ta gonata) is unknown in classical Greek. We are dealing here with a specifically Christian word. With that remark, our reflections turn full circle to where they began. It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture -- insofar as it is a culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the one before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the intrinsically necessary gesture. The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core. Where it has been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in fellowship with the apostles and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos, indeed in union with Jesus Christ Himself."

Thank God for the indult Mass on Sundays.