Rorate Caeli

Fr. Cipolla's report on the "Sacra Liturgia Conference"

by Fr. Richard G. Cipolla

[Note: high-resolution images of the conference available here]

Dom Alcuin Reid, Bishop Dominique Rey and the other organizers of Sacra Liturgia 2013 are to be congratulated and sincerely thanked for what turned out to be an important and moving moment in the post-Conciliar traditional movement to restore liturgical continuity and traditional praxis in the post-Summorum Pontificum Church. This writer was most impressed by the high quality of the papers that were presented and by the enthusiasm of the more than 300 participants from every continent and isle. An analysis of the papers will be possible when they are published (we were promised that this would happen quickly).

But I would like to mention some of the highlights. Cardinal Ranjith’s paper on the Sacred Liturgy was vintage Ranjith: lucid, realistic, occasionally humorous, and clearly on the side of Tradition. Professor Tracey Rowland from Australia generated some of the loudest and sustained applause after her presentation on the Usus Antiquior and the New Evangelization, noting that the Traditional Mass is necessary for such evangelization to happen. Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, C.O, exposed quite beautifully the bankruptcy of post-modern church architecture and introduced the conference to the wonderful classical movement of the Notre Dame school of architecture. Archbishop Sample brought down the house when he introduced the last part of his paper on the role of the Bishop as governor of the Liturgy with the statement that the best thing that has happened to the Liturgy in the past forty years is Summorum Pontificum. Cardinal Burke made his paper on Liturgical Law a tour de force and, contrary to expectations about any talk about Canon Law, because of his quietly heroic support of the Usus Antiquior, his talk was forcefully engaging.

There were four liturgical celebrations as part of the conference. The first evening Solemn Pontifical Vespers was celebrated in the Novus Ordo form, Bishop Rey presiding. The second evening Pontifical Mass was celebrated in the Novus Ordo form, Cardinal Cañizares pontificating. The penultimate evening of the conference Cardinal Brandmüller pontificated at Solemn Mass in the Usus Antiquior, and the conference closed with Solemn First Vespers of SS. Peter and Paul in the Traditional Rite. Suffice it to say that the noble simplicity of the last two rites was there for all to experience.

I offer some general comments as follows. It was so heartening to see young people in attendance. I met a group of American students from the top universities who have a great love for and understanding of the Traditional Mass and who have succeeded in organizing celebrations of that Mass on their campuses. When traditional Catholics get together there is always a danger of indulging in negativity and hand-wringing and circling the wagons. There was none of this at all. In fact, there was among the participants a real optimism for the future of the Traditional Mass and the liturgical life of the Church, and a sense of good will and thanksgiving. This was no Pollyanna indulging in wishful thinking. This was genuine Christian hope that could not but show itself in joy.

My last comment probably is the most important. If I could summarize the conference in one sentence, it would be this: the conference was a true homage to the person of Benedict XVI. But this not merely in an academic sense, although nearly every paper referred to the writings of this great man and great Pope. There was a palpable love for Benedict that pervaded this conference that was not at all sentimentalism but rather a true sentiment of love, Christian love, a love for this man whose intelligence is grounded in Tradition, whose selfless labor for the Church earned him only the disrespect of both the secular world and a great part of the Church both clergy and lay--but without whom there would be little hope of a true liturgical reform in the Church. For me, this alone was why it was so wonderful to participate in Sacra Liturgia 2013.