That They May Be One: Liturgical Reconciliation
University of Notre Dame
September 23-25, 2021
Theme 2021: What is Liturgical Reconciliation?
In his Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man, Henri de Lubac, S.J. describes the unifying function of liturgical prayer. In offering the Eucharistic sacrifice, the Church participates in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. It is through this sacrifice that men and women in the Church are restored to the original communion that was the destiny of the human family. The unity made possible by Christ’s sacrifice is ritually celebrated each Holy Thursday during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper as the Church sings, “Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur:/Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus./Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites./Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus” (So when we as one are gathered all together,/let us strive to keep our minds free of division;/may there be an end to malice, strife and quarrels,/and let Christ our God be dwelling here among us).
The irony is that much liturgical scholarship and practice in the last fifty years has led to disunity rather than unity within the Church. Catholics who worship according to the reformed rites of the Second Vatican Council may be viewed as participating in a liturgically deficient presentation of Christ’s sacrifice. Many liturgical scholars, pastoral liturgists, and even clergy of the post-conciliar era cast a suspicious eye toward Catholics who celebrate the Extraordinary Form or who desire a retrieval of liturgical and devotional practices from pre-conciliar Catholicism. The liturgical arts, especially sacred music and architecture, have become a space of contestation within Catholicism.
Liturgical renewal within both scholarship and pastoral practice must move beyond a mutual suspicion that does harm to Christ’s Body. The task of reconciliation within liturgical scholarship and practice cannot proceed as benign tolerance or a naïve relativism. Instead, it must include a deeper reflection on a liturgical theology of unity, grounded in what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called the sacramental mysticism central to Catholicism.
The 2021 conference of the Society for Catholic Liturgy features papers and pastoral presentations that treat the theme of liturgy and unity in the Catholic Church. Conference schedule includes papers that address eastern Catholic liturgies, the reformed rites of the Second Vatican Council, the Extraordinary Form, and the Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans. Schedule for the conference will be available in December of 2020.
Presentations are expected to be 30 minutes in length for full panels, 20 minutes in length for student panels. Each panel will be followed by 15 minutes of discussion. Papers will be published in the Society for Catholic Liturgy’s journal Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal.