We begin a new millenium, a new century and a new year of publication of Ecclesia Orans with a selection of articles that represent a balance of quality, tradition, and current research that have characterized our volumes since the beginning.
The editorial staff looks forward with appreciable anticipation to the continued publication of studies of merit submitted by our faculty und by other scholars. Contributions in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish on the liturgy in its various aspects are welcome for consideration.
One thing that has become very evident after the Second Vatican Council in the matter of liturgy is that we need to have a clear understanding in depth of why and what we do in worship. It has not proven sufficient simply to modify some external aspects. We gain true insight into the working of liturgy from considering the whole breadth of its past history in its myriad forms and fluctuations combined with a criticai observation of the present and of contemporary cultures.
There are always two points to harmonize with one another: 1. Continuity and fidelity to authentic tradition, and 2. Changes to relate the celebration of liturgical rites to the present time and to the diversity of cultures. In a sense there are two «continuities» that are normative for Christian worship: continuity through time (diachronic) and continuity with the concrete worshipping community (synchronic). There is a certain tension between the two poles, but unity and diversity are not mutually exclusive, as some would have us believe. From the beginning liturgy has been and will continue to be in process, imperfect in its celebrative aspect but capable of creative improvement.
When one looks at present discussions of worship and of liturgical renewal since the Second Vatican Council, there seem to be two extremes that threaten the health of the ecclesia orans, the Christian community at prayer: l. An a-historical nostalgia for the changeless and perfect liturgy of a golden age of the past that is more a myth than an actuality, and 2. A shallow notion of adaptation that aims at creating « successful » liturgy in terms of culture or local circumstances according to the norm of more «attractive» or «exciting» worship celebrations. If the first instance ends with an ossifield antiquarianism that has no true connection with either the present or the eternal, the second approach produces a liturgy that is more entertainment than worship of God. The opus Dei, the work of praising God and giving thanks as a community, cannot be a question of popular tastes though it should certainly enrich our lives as believers and foster our understanding of our common faith.
Diversity of persons and cultures is inevitably present in our liturgical celebrations, but we have to avoid the danger of subjectivism that would over-individualize ritual actions in the name of adaptation or inculturation. A safeguard from either extreme is the consensus of the Church, which worships as Body of Christ hierarchically organized.
It is hoped that the studies and reviews presented in Ecclesia Orans will contribute to the continuing discussions of the challenges that liturgy faces in this third millenium of the Church’s life and worship. Our aim is to present as ever a moderate and balanced selection of studies that promote the authentic progress of liturgical research and praxis.
EPHREM CARR, osb