For some years now we have been publishing Ecclesia Orans, and it is fair to ask if it has been successful. The mere fact that it has subscribers does not necessarily mean that it is being read and that, for some, the chronicle at the end of each issue goes beyond the scope of the publication.
We are not proposing a new approach for the review; there has been ampie discussion pro and con on that point.
For some the problem is more serious and, for them, the strain of those who delve deeply into liturgical sources is almost extinct and beyond hope of resurrection.
I do not think that such a position is tenable. In staunch opposition to such pessimism allow me to cite as an example what frequently happens in St. Anselm’s Liturgical Institute. Intense study of the texts and serious research do not put students off – even if many of them will not spend their lives in scientific research – but prove that they do have the capacity for such research. But they need time and experience to arrive at a sound liturgical formation. In my view there is no room for pessimism; we need to have confidence in the liturgists of the future. We must also admit that the era of a Duchesne, a Morin and Wilmart is long gone, that epoch when there was a vast terrain to discover. Today many of the ancient texts have been studied, many enigmas deciphered. There is no doubt but that the age of sensational discoveries that brought such glory to these authors is well and truly over.
But there is no point in bringing out new editions of texts which are already well edited, especially if there is really nothing new to add. We should beware of commercialization and conceit.
Surely much remains to be done; some established opinions can be challenged. Even in this periodical the attribution of «The Apostolic Tradition» to Hippolytus of Rome has been called into question, and we hope that the research will continue. We have also printed articles about the liturgy of the city of Rome from the 5th to the 8th centuries, articles which raise questions specifically about the 8th century Mass lectionary found there. Again some manuscripts edited by Edmond Martène have been more accurately identified. There are other obscure points in the liturgy, even those we take for granted, for example, the use of the Kyrie eleison. If some hypotheses which were once considered certainties have been discredited, we cannot say that we are even now headed in the right direction.
But it is not just the texts and ancient rites that remain to be clarified; so many other theological aspects, for example, regarding the sacraments and therefore their pastoral practice, need further theological investigation. To mention only one, we need think only of the liturgy and pastoral practice concerning Confirmation in the West.
If textual and historical research have seen their fields of specialization shrinking, by way of contrast some of the new sciences, such as anthropology and sociology, are blazing new trails. The liturgy cannot be confused with them, but it cannot on the other hand dispense with the understanding and pastoral practice deriving from them. There is then a thrust toward the human sciences, and we cannot ignare them without harming the quality of research and formation now required of students.
There is stili much to be done regarding the liturgical renewal. It has been going on for 30 years now, but further change is needed. This is by no means a criticism of what has been done. The pastoral problems, no less than the study of history and texts, deserve scientific inquiry. Ecclesia Orans has not neglected these problems; we have reflected competently on the problems of adaptation, reviewing with the students the choice of Mass lectionary readings, etc.
Many questions stili remain without clear answers, and in my opinion there is no doubt but that we will see serious research continue with interest and competence. We must afford our young people the time to complete their formation and to try out the skills which they have learned.
We might add that the lack of openness in certain arcas of the liturgical renewal does not encourage our young people to engage in pastoral research. We do not think them incapable of understanding such difficulties, which are bound up with a certain kind of conservative mental attitude. Some are of the opinion that changes might disturb the peace achieved, but which monetheless remains uneasy. Others, and this is fraught with consequences, hold that the reform is over and that it is better to stay where we are for a long time to come.
We do not think that young students are upset by such divergent opinions, which have always been with us and always will be. But these considerations must not keep us from our principal topic: is there still interest in research and will it still find competent ivestigators? I believe ve can answer in the affirmative and with great optimism. Liturgical scieence is not keeping its own death watch; it remains vibrant. It is our task to encourage it and not consider it a luxury, since it is at the very heart of an effective and balanced pastoral vision.
We cannot finish this editorial without thanking all our contributors; many have attested to their outstanding fidelity. Some new authors appear in certain numbers of the year just concluding and of the new year now neginning, the twelfth in the life of this young journal. Nor can we forget the precise and invaluable assistance of the journal’s Secretary; his efforts and those of many others on our behalf may be hidden but they are not unimportant. A journal always owes a good deal to a great number.