By JAMES MONTI
(Editor’s Note: Restoring the Sacred will be a semi-regular feature in The Wanderer, written by James Monti, who recently covered the Sacra Liturgia USA 2015 Conference and also wrote a two-part critique of the screen adaptation of Wolf Hall for us. Monti wrote The King’s Good Servant but God’s First: The Life and Writings of Saint Thomas More [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997].)
+ + +
During his eight-year pontificate Pope Benedict XVI imparted to the Church a rich and enduring legacy, at the heart of which was his endeavor to restore a sense of the sacred to the liturgy, the supreme expression of his famed “hermeneutic of continuity,” whereby, “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too” (July 7, 2007 letter of Pope Benedict XVI accompanying his apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum).
That quest to restore the sacred to Catholic worship continues, bolstered by the recent news from Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (June 1), that His Holiness Pope Francis has himself asked that “the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI” be continued.
Central to restoring a sense of the sacred is the realization that man has an inborn need and hunger for ceremony — richly textured, beauty-laden ceremonies, fragrant with mystery and symbolism. There is in us an anthropological longing for pageantry to express our highest aspirations.
It was not so many weeks ago that we were all celebrating the Memorial Day weekend. A few days afterward I received an e-mail with a link to a most remarkable nine-minute video of the ceremony of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery that had aired as a Memorial Day weekend tribute on the PBS News Hour. This brief film is a powerful illustration of the remarkable similarity that exists between solemn military ceremonies and reverently celebrated liturgical rites. … Continue Reading