Small birds that land in curiosity
From 30 Days, an interview with Cardinal Godfried Danneels on the subject of the liturgy:
Cardinal Godfried Danneels:Many African and Asian bishops have spoken to me about “threshold proselytes…”
Who are they?
DANNEELS: They’re the polygamists, the non-baptized, even Moslems who look in through the door of the Church attracted by the beauty of the liturgy. They feel there’s something going on…
What else struck you during the Synod?
DANNEELS: The underlining of the sacrificial character of the Eucharist, which to tell the truth had never been denied. But that at a certain moment, after the Council, had been confined to the shade, and the stress was put on the Eucharist as banquet. But the Last Supper was not a simple group meal. It was a ceremonial and at the same time sacrificial banquet. The apostles and Jesus did not meet in the cenacle only to eat together like all the other times. But to remember the paschal meal of the Hebrews, and commemorate the work of salvation performed by God in Egypt…
Worship is also a very traditional practice.
DANNEELS: I notice that many young people discover it as a new thing. One saw that in Cologne also. Or in the silent adoration of the First Communion children, in Saint Peter’s square, on October 15. Young people appreciate a faith announced without packaging, without endless preambles and “trick” of pre-evangelization. They are open to those who witness the Christian faith to them in freedom, without trying to convince them by putting pressure on their freedom. They’re like the small birds that land in curiosity on the windowsill. One shouldn’t try to catch them.
The sacraments themselves are a visible fact.
DANNEELS: The sacraments are concrete gestures, that make use of materials signs. The sign is always visible, but is always a sign of something of not visible: the res sacramenti that is communicated through the sign. There lies the force of the liturgy. This res is not perceptible when the liturgy becomes theater, self-celebration constructed by us. And precisely when that happens the liturgy becomes something of a burden. There’s no sense in going to the same piece of theater each Sunday… The sacramental signs present themselves with the features of humility. They are simple, ordinary, poor: water, bread, wine, oil. It’s not a matter of making an impression, of staging with special effects. The liturgy with its repeated and discreet gestures suggests, is the suggestion of invisible reality of which the effects are seen. And the subject of the liturgical and sacramental action is Christ himself.