What, Then, Is Liturgy?: Musings and Memoir


Father Anscar Chupungco fondly recalls his first class as a student at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in 1965. Professor Salvatore Marsili 'famed theologian, liturgist, and cofounder of the institute 'entered the lecture hall, and after a prolonged and awkward silence finally asked, And so, what is liturgy?"

This seemingly simple question underlies Chupungco's untiring love for liturgy and his lifetime of searching for answers. His is a passion deeply rooted in tradition, ...

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Father Anscar Chupungco fondly recalls his first class as a student at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in 1965. Professor Salvatore Marsili 'famed theologian, liturgist, and cofounder of the institute 'entered the lecture hall, and after a prolonged and awkward silence finally asked, And so, what is liturgy?"

This seemingly simple question underlies Chupungco's untiring love for liturgy and his lifetime of searching for answers. His is a passion deeply rooted in tradition, which is evident in this volume. Relying on Scripture, patristic writers, and conciliar and postconciliar documents 'and with great skill, prudence, and the fundamental virtue of obedience 'he carefully examines current liturgical trends that are the subject of fierce debate. At a time when we focus so intently on the debate itself, Chupungco cautions us to remember: "At the end of the day what matters are not personal opinions but what truly contributes to making the prayer of the Church an encounter with the person of Christ." It is this most sacred encounter that is at the heart of What, Then, Is Liturgy? And it is this encounter that will lead us day by day to the ultimate heavenly liturgy, our eternal and perfect offering of praise to God.

Anscar Chupungco is a Benedictine of the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat in Manila. He is former president of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome, where he taught history of the liturgy and liturgical inculturation. Chupungco was Executive Secretary of the Philippine Episcopal Commission on Liturgy for eighteen years and is currently Secretary of the Asian Liturgy Forum. He has served as consultor to both the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, was a member of the Advisory Committee of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) for ten years, and for some time served as Chair of ICEL's Translations and ReVisions Subcommittee. Chupungco edited the five-volume Handbook for Liturgical Studies and is author of Liturgical Inculturation (both published by Liturgical Press), Cultural Adaptation of the Liturgy, and Liturgies of the Future.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

What, Then, is Liturgy? Musings and Memoir has left me with a greater understanding and appreciation of the way we as Catholics celebrate our faith. It is also a timely work which should be read by all concerned with and involved in the current liturgical changes.
Suzanne Sykes, M.A., Seat of Wisdom

This is not your usual historical book on liturgy. It is, however, a chance for the reader to sit at the foot of a master teacher and liturgist, one who has taught well, lived the spirit of the gospel, and has dedicated his life to ensuring that history and pastoral practice enliven the faith and give us a glimpse of the heavenly liturgy.

Anyone in a responsible ministerial role in the coming year would benefit greatly by studying these pages carefully.
Pastoral Music

Anscar Chupungco’s latest book offers a needed perspective in the midst of the present debates on the future of church life and liturgical reform. With the skills of a master teacher he reminds us of the central theological concerns underlying the last half-century of liturgical changes, offers thoughtful and balanced criticism of possible gaps and misdirections in implementing these changes, but most importantly provides a confident sense of hope for the future. Like Bernard Botte’s From Silence to Participation, Fr. Anscar’s ‘musings and memoir’ give us a vivid account of the thinking of those who shaped the post-Vatican II liturgical renewal in the light of its reception in varied cultures in the years since. Highly recommended for those who are seeking a scholarly yet accessible, principled yet irenic account of post-Vatican II Roman Rite liturgical reform in an era of liturgical polemics.
Fr. Jan Michael Joncas
Associate Professor of Catholic

Benedictine Father Anscar Chupungco writes about the liturgy with the authority of a world-renowned scholar and the familiarity of a dear old friend. He treats both worship and Christian faith with an admirable and attractive sense of wonder. No one who cherishes the liturgical reform of the past fifty years can afford to overlook this delightful book. It’s an inspiring read.
John F. Baldovin, SJ
Professor of Historical & Liturgical Theology
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

The genuine voice of Anscar Chupungco sounds in these pages—with the characteristic notes of deep fidelity to Catholic tradition, utter clarity, gracious wisdom, Benedictine humility, and gentle hints of humor. That voice is a treasure. Chupungco articulates a vital memory of the very heart of the liturgical movement and many of its formative leaders, and one slowly comes to see that he himself has been one such leader. He speaks a clear and authoritative criticism of the recently too frequent cases of liturgical reaction on the part of some Roman Catholic leaders, yet he loses neither hope nor dignity in the process. Reading this book, you will discover again the basic principles of Catholic liturgical reform and its ecumenical resonances. You will also be encouraged to sentire esse ecclesiam, to recover the empowered sense of being the church: yourself with others as you gather around the presence of Christ now in word and sacrament.
Gordon W. Lathro

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814662397
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press, The
  • Publication date: 8/28/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Anscar J. Chupungco, OSB, who passed away in 2013, was a member of the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat in the Philippines. He was president of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome and is currently director of Paul VI Institute of Liturgy in the Philippines. In 2011, the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions presented to him the Frederick R. McManus Award for his contribution to pastoral liturgy. He authored many books, including What, Then, Is Liturgy? Musings and Memoir (Liturgical Press, 2010).

Keith F. Pecklers, SJ, is professor of liturgy at the Pontifical Gregorian University and professor of liturgical history at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome. He is the author of the following titles published by Liturgical Press: Dynamic Equivalence: The Living Language of Christian Worship; The Unread Vision: The Liturgical Movement in the United States of America 1926-1955; Worship: A Primer in Christian Ritual; and editor of Liturgy for the New Millennium: A Commentary on the Revised Sacramentary. He is also the author of "Liturgy from Trent to Vatican II" included in the Handbook of Liturgical Studies published by Liturgical Press.

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Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Preface xiv

Acknowledgments xvii

Chapter 1 Both Human and Divine 1

Tensions Generated by the Liturgical Reform 4

Challenges of the Liturgical Reform 9

Liturgy and Technology 10

Sunday Observance 12

Weekday Order of Mass 14

Role of Women 17

Inculturation 19

Liturgy of the Hours 22

The Church Intent on Contemplation 24

Liturgy and the Universe 31

The Human Body and Liturgy 42

Chapter 2 "And So, What Is Liturgy?" 51

Liturgy Is Service 51

The Official Worship of the Church 59

Liturgy and the History of Salvation 66

Salvation History 69

The Paschal Mystery and Hope 71

Anamnesis and Epiclesis 77

Sacramentals and Blessings 83

Components of Liturgical Worship 93

Word and Sacrament 94

Other Components 97

Chapter 3 To the Father, Through the Son, in the Holy Spirit 99

Liturgy Is Encounter with God 99

Glory to the Father 101

Through Christ Our Lord 105

Christ the Sacrament 106

Christ the Mediator 108

Through Him, with Him, in Him 110

In the Unity of the Holy Spirit 112

The Holy Spirit in the Liturgy 112

The Holy Spirit and the Incarnate Word 118

The Mission of Christ in the Spirit 120

The Spirit of the Glorified Lord 124

Chapter 4 In the Holy Church 128

The Worshiping Community 128

Christ and the Priestly People 130

Christ's Presence in the Church 134

The Liturgy as Epiphany of the Church 138

The Church and Places of Worship 144

Where to Find the Church 151

Chapter 5 Per Ritus et Preces 154

Liturgy as Ritual Feast 154

Liturgical Symbols 156

Rubrics in the Liturgy 163

The Use of the Vernacular Language 173

Ritual Language 178

The Ritual Language of ICEL 183

Principles of Liturgical Translation 189

A Note on Liturgiam authenticam 204

Musical Liturgy 209

Liturgical Vessels and Vestments 217

Sacred Images in the Liturgy 223

Mass Media in the Liturgy 228

Conclusion: Liturgy and Spirituality 233

Spirituality in General 233

Liturgical Spirituality 235

Index of Ecclesiastical Documents 242

Index of Persons 244

Index of Subjects 247

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