Friday, August 28, 2009

Feast day of St. Augustine of Hippo; Report on "Vox Clara" session

The following excerpt from the Confessions of St. Augustine (Book VII 10, 18; 10, 27) is used in today's Office of Readings for the liturgical memorial of Saint Augustine.

Augustine had sought God through an exotic Eastern cult and then through the best that Greco-Roman philosophy had to offer before he finally found Him through the Catholic Christianity that he had rejected as a teen. So he could proclaim from personal experience that Jesus is the only Way to intimate knowledge of God:

Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my helper was I able to do so. I entered, then, and with the vision of my spirit, such as it was, I saw the incommutable light far above my spiritual ken and transcending my mind: not this common light which every carnal eye can see, nor any light of the same order; but greater, as though this common light were shining much more powerfully, far more brightly, and so extensively as to fill the universe. The light I saw was not the common light at all, but something different, utterly different, from all those things. Nor was it higher than my mind in the sense that oil floats on water or the sky is above the earth; it was exalted because this very light made me, and I was below it because by it I was made. Anyone who knows truth knows this light.

O eternal Truth, true Love, and beloved Eternity, you are my God, and for you I sigh day and night. As I first began to know you, you lifted me up and showed me that, while that which I might see exists indeed, I was not yet capable of seeing it. Your rays beamed intensely on me, beating back my feeble gaze, and I trembled with love and dread. I knew myself to be far away from you in a region of unlikeness, and I seemed to hear your voice from on high: “I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me”.

Accordingly I looked for a way to gain the strength I needed to enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who is also God, supreme over all things and blessed for ever. He called out, proclaiming I am the Way and Truth and the Life, nor had I known him as the food which, though I was not yet strong enough to eat it, he had mingled with our flesh, for the Word became flesh so that your Wisdom, through whom you created all things, might become for us the milk adapted to our infancy.

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

Seventeenth Session of the "Vox Clara" Committee

Members of the Vox Clara Committee meeting at the Pontifical North American College, August 25-27, pose with newly-appointed Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P.

Vox Clara Chairman Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, who has put in close to 600 hours flying to meetings since 2001

PRESS RELEASE (August 27, 2009)

The Vox Clara Committee met for the seventeenth time from August 25-27, 2009 at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. This Committee of senior Bishops from Episcopal Conferences throughout the English-speaking world was formed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on July 19, 2001 in order to provide advice to the Holy See concerning English-language liturgical books and to strengthen effective cooperation with the Conferences of Bishops in this regard.

Left to right: Most Reverend Oscar Lipscomb, Emeritus Archbishop of Mobile, Alabama; Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster, England; Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., Mt. Angel Abbey, Oregon, advisor; Most Reverend J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., Secretary CDW

The Vox Clara Committee is chaired by Cardinal George Pell, Sydney (Australia). The participants in the meeting were Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb, Emeritus Mobile (USA), who serves as First Vice-Chairman; Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Emeritus Westminster (England), who serves as Secretary; Cardinal Justin Rigali, Philadelphia (USA), who serves as Treasurer; Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., Chicago (USA); Archbishop Alfred Hughes, Emeritus New Orleans (USA); Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Ottawa (Canada); Archbishop Peter Kwasi Sarpong, Emeritus Kumasi (Ghana); Archbishop Kelvin Felix, Emeritus Castries (Saint Lucia), and Bishop Philip Boyce, O.C.D., Raphoe (Ireland). Also a member of the Committee, though not present at this meeting, is Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Bombay (India), who serves as Second Vice-Chairman.

Advisors Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B. (left) and Father Dennis McManus consult on a technical, linguistic-stylistic issue

The members were assisted in their work by the following advisors: Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B. (USA), Reverend Dennis McManus (USA), and Monsignor James P. Moroney (USA), Executive Secretary. Monsignor Robert K. Johnson (USA), provided technical support. Two other advisors, Monsignor Gerard McKay, and Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, O.S.B. (England), were unable to attend. The customary assistance of officials of the Congregation, led by Reverend Anthony Ward, S.M., Undersecretary, was also appreciated.

The Committee began by exploring means by which it might provide effective support to the Congregation as it seeks to achieve an expeditious confirmation of the Roman Missal. Certain technical and editorial processes were developed by which amendments submitted by the Conferences of Bishops, the counsel of the Vox Clara Committee and the internal deliberations of the Congregation might be effectively utilized by the Congregation in its final editing of the final text of the Roman Missal.

Left to right: Bishop Philip Boyce, O.C.D., Raphoe, Ireland; Most Reverend Kelvin Felix, Emeritus Archbishop of Castries, St. Lucia; Most Revenend Peter Sarpong, Emeritus Archbishop of Kumasi, Ghana during a working session

The greater part of the time was spent in a final review of four White Book translations of Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, as produced by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy and recently approved by several Conferences of Bishops. Following their discussion of the ICEL renderings of Masses for Various Needs and Intentions, Ritual Masses, Votive Masses, Masses for the Dead, and the Order of Mass II, the Committee submitted its recommendations to the Congregation concerning the definitive confirmation of these texts.

Left to right: Most Reverend Alfred Hughes, Emeritus Archbishop of New Orleans and Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago

Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia O.P., recently appointed Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, was welcomed and briefed by the Committee on the last day of its work. Archbishop Di Noia thanked the Committee for its working in applying “the critical distinction between translating a text and translating a sacred text in the vernacular.” He also expressed his thanks for the proposal for additional assistance to the Congregation, noting, in particular, the need for assuring the technical quality and internal consistency of the new Missal.

The Committee will meet again in January, 2010 in Rome.


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