A multifaceted affirmation of Joseph Ratzinger’s theology of liturgy – Catholic World Report

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In The Dynamics of Liturgy, Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, who studied under Ratzinger, brings his own experience as a theologian and as a missionary to his insightful interpretation of the great theologian’s thought and work.

The relation between ontology and history, writes Joseph Ratzinger, is “the fundamental crisis of our age.”1 It is the pressing question of contemporary theology, a question that Ratzinger repeatedly queries. In dense prose he argues that since creatureliness has its origin in creative freedom, i.e., God, “it includes, therefore, in a positive way, the temporality of being as the mode of its self-fulfillment, history as substantiality, not mere accidentally, but in such a way that time has its unity in the Creator Spiritus and, because it is sequential, is still a continuity of being by way of succession.”2

The human creature has a nature, but it is a nature that he fulfills on his pilgrimage through time. In Jesus Christ, God has time for us, and he draws us into the dynamics of relation: the Church is dynamic and so too is her liturgy. The motivating and driving force of liturgy—the other meaning of dynamics—is the Holy Spirit. Yet, the unchanging ground of liturgy, the Holy Spirit, works within history, continually bringing, as Fr. D. Vincent Twomey puts it, “order out of the chaos.” Liturgy involves fidelity and fecundity. It is with these two senses of ‘dynamics’—the driving force and the pattern of historical growth (the ontological and the historical)—that Twomey sets out his interpretation of Ratzinger’s theology of liturgy.

Twomey studied under Ratzinger in Regensburg in the 1970s, and, like his Doktorvater, is a truth seeker and thereby a bridge builder.3 The Dynamics of Liturgy is not a polemic for or against either the Tridentine Mass or the Novus Ordo. He does not polarize, nor does he remain naively uncritical:

Lest anyone be led astray by nostalgia for the pre-Vatican II liturgy, the then-Cardinal Ratzinger reminded the participants at the Fontgombault Liturgical Conference in July 2001 how much the traditional liturgy before the council was in urgent need of reform. That, to put it mildly, the reform was not exactly what the council had intended is what motivated Ratzinger to devote so much time to promoting what has been called the “reform of the reform”. In the meantime, this so-called Benedictine Reform seems to have lost some of its initial steam. But it is unstoppable, since it is so desperately needed.4


A multifaceted affirmation of Joseph Ratzinger’s theology of liturgy – Catholic World Report

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