The liturgy is not first and foremost the worship of the congregation (priests and faithful) assembled hic and nunc, but that of the universal Church, who, as it were, engraves her image of God, her understanding of being redeemed, her own sacramental consciousness and spirituality in the forms of the liturgy. True, certain expressions might be changed, but eighty percent of what is said and done in the liturgy is independent of the passing of time, not dependent upon historical periods, social levels, gender and age groups.

If on the basis of an appeal to pastoral intentions, the liturgy is subjected to the religious ideas and tastes of historical periods, social strata, gender and age groups, then the continuous transmission of the Church’s faith and life might be interrupted, at least in the most important and most effective (i.e., cultic) form of this transmission. The liturgy fulfills its goal not only, and indeed not primarily, by speaking to concrete communities, but simply by existing. Its effect continues also in an invisible way (as during the period of the Latin liturgy in the souls of people unfamiliar with Latin), not only by its sacramental power, but also by the devotion, style, and discipline radiating from it, through the words of theologians, preachers and catechists, through spiritual literature settling down on the “bedrock” of the Church’s common sense and furnishing hungry souls with the authentic nourishment of faith and life. Hence a genuine pastoral liturgy is not a liturgy forced into the service of short-term aims and of “pastoral intentions,” but a more or less fruitful and effective pastoral activity for transmitting the content and practice of the liturgy in the sphere of the faithful.

Laszlo Dobszay, The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform (2003)


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