Pope Benedict on the Eucharist. This past week, the holy father issued a long-awaited letter called Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Love). It is a lengthy meditation on the Eucharist. Parishioners may be interested to know he recommends some things we are already doing:
• Perpetual adoration of our Eucharistic Lord.
• Following the rubrics closely.
• Gregorian chant: “I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy.”
• Latin: “the better-known prayers of the Church's tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung. Speaking more generally,* I ask that future priests…receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant.”
Some wonder why I asked you to learn some prayers in Latin. I reiterate: Vatican II said to do it; so did Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and now Pope Benedict XVI. This is not “going back,” it’s continuing to embrace our tradition, rather than leaving it behind.
After I’ve read the holy father’s letter more closely, I will propose a way we can study it together. The successor of St. Peter is teaching us about the Mass; shall we not learn from him?
* Update, 6 pm: A comment to this post highlights what I suspect will be the "hermeneutic of restriction" likely to be offered by those who don't like the idea of using Latin in the Mass: "oh, he was only talking about large, international gatherings." As I say in the comments, sure he did talk about them, but he's not only talking about that. That said, I decided I won't give anyone an easy target: so I edited the item for the bulletin, and hence, I likewise edited the post, above (deleted text is grey.)