Liturgy – an Archbishop’s challenge

This year the Liturgical Institute celebrates its tenth anniversary. There are several events planned through the year. Next Thursday the day is given to a presentation of the Institutions catechesis for the introduction of the Revised Missal and Revised Order of the Mass.

Tonight was the occasion of the annual Hillenbrand lecture. Monsignor Reynold Hillebrand was a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, rector of this Mundelein seminary, and a significant figure in the development of the Liturgical Movement in the US Church in the years before and after the Second Vatican Council.

Tonight’s lecture was presented by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver and was titled: “Glorify God by your life:evangelization and the renewal of the liturgy.”

Archbishop Chaput is an intelligent and engaging speaker. You might like to read the full text of his address. It is a challenging read, but spending some time understanding what he says and reflecting on it will lead you to a deeper appreciation of the movement of the restoration of the Liturgy that we are undertaking at Our Lady of Victories.

The Archbishop begins by quoting one of the most significant minds in the Liturgical Movement of last century, Fr. Romano Guardini. Soon after the promulgation of the Vatican II document on the liturgy, “Sacrosanctum Concilium“, Guardini wrote to a gathering of liturgists. He concluded his letter by saying:

“Is not the liturgical act, and with it all that goes under the name ‘liturgy,’ so bound up with the historical background—antique or medieval or baroque— that it would be more honest to give it up altogether? Would it not be better to admit that man in this industrial and scientific age, with its new sociological structure, is no longer capable of the liturgical act?”i

The Archbishop reflects on this:

“Guardini believed that the spirit of the modern world wasundermining the beliefs that made this liturgical consciousness possible. His insight here is that our faith and worship don’t take place in a vacuum. We’re always to some extent products of our culture. Our frameworks of meaning, our perceptions of reality, are shaped by the culture in which we live – whether we like it or not.

He continues on the reasons that he thinks Guardini was accurate in his comment:

“…We’re surrounded in our daily lives by monuments to our power over nature and necessity. The trophies of our autonomy and self-sufficiency are everywhere — buildings, machines, medicines, inventions. Everything seems to point to our capacity to provide for our every need through our own know-how and technology.

“Again the question becomes: What does this do to the central premise of our worship — that we are creatures dependent upon our Creator, and that we owe thanksgiving to God for every good gift, beginning with the gift of life?


Archbishop Chaput then makes four points that he considers to be the steps we need to take to ensure that we are able to celebrate liturgy:


1. We need to recover the intrinsic and inseparable connection between liturgy and evangelization.

2. The liturgy is a participation in the liturgy of heaven, in which we worship in Spirit and truth with the worldwide Church and the communion of saints.

3. We need to strive to recover and live with the same vibrant liturgical and evangelical spirituality as the early Christians.


4. The liturgy is a school of sacrificial love. The law of our prayer should be the law of our life. Lex orandi, lex vivendi. We are to become the sacrifice we celebrate.

If If you are ready for a challenge – and some robust liturgical reflection, turn to the full text of the Archbishop’s talk.

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