post-synodal exhortation on the eucharist released!

Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, “The Sacrament of Charity”, has been released. The 100+ page document available for purchase through the USCCB, is the work of a meeting of the Synod of Bishops discussing the Eucharist.
I’m still skimming over it, so I don’t know what to highlight yet. Some early highlights include a section on the practice of the liturgy in relation to beauty. Paraphrased, a liturgy done according to the books is always more beautiful than one not according to the books since the liturgy developed over the centuries is designed to awaken the whole human person. Chant is given is a heavy plug.

42. In the ars celebrandi, liturgical song has a pre-eminent place. (126) Saint Augustine rightly says in a famous sermon that “the new man sings a new song. Singing is an expression of joy and, if we consider the matter, an expression of love” (127). The People of God assembled for the liturgy sings the praises of God. In the course of her two-thousand-year history, the Church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love. This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration (128). Consequently everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons (129). Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed (130) as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy (131).

Something I personally agree with, the text mentions greater restraint during the Sign of Peace, noting that within men and women there “…is an irrepressible desire for peace…” and that in the Sign of Peace, Jesus Christ, through the ministry of the Church, brings peace when human efforts can fail. That being said, an overdone actions can be distracting toward the community as they prepare for the reception of Communion and “it should be kept in mind that nothing is lost when the sign of peace is marked by a sobriety which preserves the proper spirit of the celebration, as, for example, when it is restricted to one’s immediate neighbors”
The Pope mentioned Latin in Mass by saying “I wish to endorse the proposal made by the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the directives of the Second Vatican Council, that, with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, [large international] liturgies could be celebrated in Latin.” He continues:

Similarly, the better-known prayers (183) of the Church’s tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung. Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant.

I have to get a move on my day so I’ll read over the rest of it later. I’ll be out of town for the week so I may not be able to post on it until early next week.





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