Friday, August 18, 2006

Cardinal Francis Arinze - Questions on Liturgy

The question and answer session followed Cardinal Arinze's talk on the meaning of the Eucharist. The cardinal, who has headed the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments since last October, has addressed these summer conferences, held at "Catholic Familyland" in Bloomingdale, Ohio for a number of years. Full text and article located HERE.

Does everybody have to stand until the last person has received Holy Communion?

There is no rule from Rome that everybody must stand during Holy Communion. There is no such rule from Rome. So, after people have received Communion, they can stand, they can kneel, they can sit. But a bishop in his diocese or bishops in a country could say that they recommend standing or kneeling. They could. It is not a law from Rome. They could -- but not impose it. Perhaps they could propose. But those who want to sit or kneel or stand should be left reasonable freedom.

Why do so many churches not place the tabernacle in the center of the altar or in a prominent place?

The directives from Rome -- including the new Missal issued two years ago -- say that the tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved is to be located in a very prominent place either at the center or at such a side altar that it is really prominent and that around it there are kneelers and chairs so that people can pray -- kneel down or sit down. And it is to be so prominent that nobody should need to look for it when you enter the church.

Therefore, whenever you enter a church and you look for the tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved and you do not easily see it, then those who arrange it are already wrong. Because it should be prominent -- it should stand out -- to show our faith.

However, it is not a law that it must be at the center. But it is a law that where it is should be prominent. And that it should be easy for people to see it and to go there and pray. But unfortunately in some churches, sometimes those who did it did not know. But they did not know that they did not know.

So you enter the church and you ask where is the tabernacle? "They have taken the Lord away and we do not know where they have put Him". That's what Mary Magdalene said on Easter day.

In the history of the Church, were there ever women priests? Women can't be made priests, at any time; even the pope can't do that, can he?

No, the pope issued a document about seven years ago* saying that the Church has no power to ordain women priests. There were never women priests in the Church. If Christ would have wanted women to be priests, His Blessed Mother surely should have been number one.

* Ordinatio Sacerdotalis

Could you address the Church's teaching on abstaining from meat on Fridays outside of Lent?

The law is that we don't -- well, Good Friday and Ash Wednesday are the major days for fasting in general for those who have reached the age 21 and are not yet 60. Abstinence, that means no meat on those days for those who are age 14 [or over]. General canon law says that Fridays are days of abstinence -- no meat -- but if you want to eat meat, you should substitute some other form of penance. That's the Church law.

Has liturgical dance been approved for Masses by your office?

There has never been a document from our Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments saying that dance is approved in the Mass.

...Now, some priests and lay people think that Mass is never complete without dance. The difficulty is this: we come to Mass primarily to adore God -- what we call the vertical dimension. We do not come to Mass to entertain one another. That's not the purpose of Mass. The parish hall is for that.

So all those that want to entertain us -- after Mass, let us go to the parish hall and then you can dance. And then we clap. But when we come to Mass we don't come to clap. We don't come to watch people, to admire people. We want to adore God, to thank Him, to ask Him pardon for our sins, and to ask Him for what we need.

Don't misunderstand me, because when I said this at one place somebody said to me: "you are an African bishop. You Africans are always dancing. Why do you say we don't dance?"

A moment -- we Africans are not always dancing! [laughter]

Moreover, there is a difference between those who come in procession at Offertory; they bring their gifts, with joy. There is a movement of the body right and left. They bring their gifts to God. That is good, really. And some of the choir, they sing. They have a little bit of movement. Nobody is going to condemn that. And when you are going out again, a little movement, it's all right.

But when you introduce wholesale, say, a ballerina, then I want to ask you what is it all about. What exactly are you arranging? When the people finish dancing in the Mass and then when the dance group finishes and people clap -- don't you see what it means? It means we have enjoyed it. We come for enjoyment. Repeat. So, there is something wrong. Whenever the people clap -- there is something wrong -- immediately. When they clap -- a dance is done and they clap.

It is possible that there could be a dance that is so exquisite that it raises people's minds to God, and they are praying and adoring God and when the dance is finished they are still wrapped up in prayer. But is that the type of dance you have seen? You see. It is not easy.

...I saw in one place -- I will not tell you where -- where they staged a dance during Mass, and that dance was offensive. It broke the rules of moral theology and modesty. Those who arranged it -- they should have had their heads washed with a bucket of holy water! [laughter]

...If people want to dance, they know where to go.
Full text and article located HERE.

In Our Lord and Our Lady,

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