Rorate Caeli

Bishop Aillet on the liturgy, future priests, and the two forms of the Roman Rite

Bishop Marc Aillet of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron is said to be one of France's more tradition-friendly bishops, along with Bishops Dominique Rey (bishop of Frejus-Toulon), Jean-Pierre Batut (auxiliary of Lyons), Nicolas Brouwet (auxiliary of Nanterre) and Yves Le Saux (bishop of Le Mans).

Rorate recently featured Msgr. Aillet's response to Gay Pride in Biarritz (see here and here).

From the French Catholic website Eucharistie Sacrement de la Misericorde:

Mgr Aillet is of the opinion that future priests must make the liturgy theirs again

July 8 2009 - In an interview with the French internet-magazine “L'Homme nouveau" dated July 4 2009, Mgr Aillet, Bishop of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron gives his instructions in the form of a “waybill” of how the mission in his diocese should be run.

Mgr Aillet thinks that future priests must make the liturgy theirs again

July 8th 2009 - The Eucharist, Sacrament of Mercy – In an interview that appeared in the French Internet-magazine "Homme nouveau" dated on the 4th of July 2009, Mgr. Aillet, Bishop of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron, gives his instructions in the form of a “waybill” for how the mission in his diocese should be run. This waybill is marked by his experience in the Community of Saint-Martin and in the Diocese of Toulon where he was the Vicar General. Here is what Mgr Aillet has to
say about the liturgy:

"We must be very careful about liturgical education and see to it that it permits us to appropriate for ourselves the spirit of the liturgy. Future priests should benefit from a very attentive instruction in which the liturgy is included as a priority discipline in the course. And this is due to the simple reason that the liturgy must be “the source and summit of the whole Christian life”. It is a question of forming a liturgical life that is being taught in the very heart of the seminary. This formation should not only be carried out in the form of a mere study on liturgy, but above all arousing a liturgical spirituality and a practical usage of the liturgical rites. It is necessary to have in mind that the liturgy, more than being just an object of study, is a life in itself. However, all too often what we are doing is reducing the liturgy to a kind of intellectual discipline which actually studies the various stages of the constitution on the liturgy. This must of course also be done, taking care, however not to reduce the liturgy to a history of rites. It has not been sufficiently stressed that the liturgy is the place where the Christian experiences the Faith, receiving a concrete experience of the mystery of the faith. A whole vast field opens up in front of us in the liturgy.”

It is more than 40 years since we have heard such words from the mouth of a Bishop!

On the two forms of the Roman rite we were given this declaration by Mgr Aillet:

"(...) as for myself, it seems to me that the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI will in the long run be a necessary factor of unity as it will normalise the situation for those faithful who are attached to the extraordinary rite and make it possible for them to live their faith without having the impression of being marginalised. In my opinion, the more we implement the Motu proprio within the parish communities themselves, the better result we will have with the transition between the two forms of the Roman Rite (...) I think we must avoid to “chapelize” (in French, "chapelliser" -- CAP) the extraordinary form, meaning that we must avoid its remaining in a kind of marginalisation, which reduces the life of the Church of those who adhere to it. There are two ways of doing this. Either one addresses oneself to a well-defined community, or one arranges for a timetable for the extraordinary form to be inserted in the midst of the life of the parish, so that the parishioners – even if they participate only in one or the other form of the Roman Rite, may drink out of the same source in their own parish.

In my opinion, the Reform of the Reform above all is about rediscovering the spirit of the liturgy, in its extraordinary form as well as in its ordinary form, such as we find it in the great uninterrupted tradition of the Roman liturgy. Thus I interpret the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum as a first stage where we implement the re-apprenticeship of the extra-ordinary form in order to reduce the gap between the two modes of celebration and learn to retrieve the same theological principles that govern the one and the other liturgical form. In a second stage, this might lead to a reform of the Missal (apparently referring to the Missal of Paul VI – CAP) into which could be incorporated the intuitions of the liturgical movement and which would then reduce the elements that may have become too arbitrary in the realization of the liturgical reform."

"The elements that may have become too arbitrary in the realization of the liturgical reform..” for once it is not the Pro Liturgia who says it but a French bishop. Bravo, Monseigneur!

As for the “reform” of the Missal, it is perhaps not that which is pressing, but rather the formation which will make the priests – and thus the parish communities – use the Missal in a way which does not betray it, such as the Community to which Mgr. Aillet belongs knows how to do.