For the past twelve years Dom Adrien Nocent, O.S.B., had been writing the Editorial of Ecclesia Orans. Each Editorial is worth rereading. One is able to glean the vision, projects, and concerns of Dom Adrien over the years, not only regarding the periodical he so professionally directed, but also the continuance of the conciliar reform of the liturgy.
Time and again Dom Adrien would recall that the mandate given by the Editorial Board to Ecclesia Orans is to reflect one of the statutory aims of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, namely to promote liturgical research and the scientific study of the liturgy (Editorial III/l, 1986). On the fifth year of the periodical Dom Adrien reaffìrmed the need to pursue its original direction, saying that scientific research is «indispensable and eminently pastoral» (Editorial VI/l 1989). Those who sat at his feet know that for Professor Nocent there is no way one can responsibly deal with pastoral liturgy without the strong hacking of solid theology, textual analysis, and historical research. In the Editorial for the 1995 issue (XII/l) he calmed the fears of those who alleged that the study of liturgical sources «is almost extinct and beyond the hope of resurrection». There is still a great deal of interest in the study of the sources, which Dom Adrien proved by citing the experience of the Pontifical 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».
Ecclesia Orans is the offìcial organ of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute. According to the Statutes of the Institute, its objectives and orientation must be grafted on the conciliar Constitution on the Liturgy, especially arts. 15, 16, 23, and 44. Fidelity to the Council, which does not necessarily exclude responsible critique of the postconciliar interpretation and implementation of its directives, is thus a necessary trait of the periodical.
Dom Adrien, who worked tirelessly to promote the conciliar reform, did not let the thirtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the conciliar Constitution pass without words of defense. In the Editorial of 1993 (X/1) he wrote: «From its first publication in 1984 Ecclesia Orans has repeatedly treated the topic and will not ignore this opportunity to once again address its importance». He criticized in scorching words those who «choose to lament it [Constitution] as a form of collective aberration by a majority of the Council Fathers». On the other hand, he continued, «we believe that we should be grateful to the Lord and to all of those who have worked for the renewal of the liturgy. They tried, as objectively as they could, to put at the service of the Faith and of life the accumulated results of historical and scientific research stretching back to the beginning of the liturgical movement».
As Ecclesia Orans enters into its fourteenth year, the Editorial Board wishes to assure the readership that the periodical will continue its service to the liturgical world with the same orientation it received when it was founded in 1984. It will continue to welcome with gratitude contributions that pursue scientific research, manuscript editions, historical study, textual criticism and analysis, theological reflections, and pastoral concerns. And most importantly it will continue to uphold with dedication and loyalty the conciliar principles of liturgical reform, even as it encourages healthy and useful critique on how the reform could be improved. These are the basic premises for any fruitful exchange of views among liturgists who are called to serve the postconciliar Church.
Inspired by art. 10 of the Constitution on the Liturgy, the charter of foundation of Ecclesia Orans declares in hope: Faxit Deus ut hoc in periodico Ecclesia Orans signum inveniat et instrumentum ad opus glorificationis Dei et sanctificationis hominum in dies melius perficiendum.