American Benedictine abbot is in charge of liturgical art
The U.S. born abbot Michael John Zielinski has been chosen as head of the new office for liturgical architecture and music in the Congregation for Divine Worship
A Benedictine abbot has been chosen to lead the new office of the Congregation for Divine Worship called and give out guidelines for liturgical music and architecture, in an attempt to do away with ugly garage churches. Today, Benedict XVI appointed the American Olivetan abbot, Michael John Zielinski, as the new office manager in the dicastery led by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera.
His entry to the Congregation is strictly linked to the restructuring of the dicastery approved by the Secretariat of State last 3 September.
Zielinski was born in Lakewood, Ohio, in April 1953. He joined the Benedictine monastic Congregation of Saint Mary of Monte Oliveto after his novitiate at the abbey of San Miniato al Monte in Florence and made the perpetual monastic profession on 8 December 1975 in the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore (Siena). He studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical University of St. Anselmo in Rome and was ordained priest in 1977.
He studied monastic spirituality, Gregorian polyphonic and modern music, medieval and renaissance history and history of art. In 1991 he graduated from the University of Florence with a thesis on social psychology. He spent a number of years in the abbey of San Miniato al Monte in Florence where he was elected Prior and was also given the task of teaching novices. He was also an associate professor at the University of Siena. In 1999 he joined the monastic community of the Abbey of Santa Maria Pilastrello in Lendinara, in the diocese of Rovigo, northern Italy and in 2003 he was nominated secretary of the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation, Fr. Notker Wolf.
The office he has been chosen to lead constitutes the main change to the structure of the dicastsery for divine worship which will deal specifically with art and music for the liturgy, giving guidelines to ensure the hymns sung at mass, as well as the structure of the new churches are adequate and correspond to the mystery which they are celebrating, according to the conciliar Constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium”.
From February, 2007...
For the Record - An abbot explains why "the Tridentine Mass is the missing link"
A solid interview with Dom Zielinski, OSB Oliv., Abbot of the Olivetan Abbey of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Pecos, New Mexico (Tip: Reader).
Q: Will the Pope restore the Tridentine Mass?
Abbot: The Tridentine Mass, the Mass of St. Pius V cannot be considered abolished by the so-called new mass of Paul VI. We must never forget that the Second Vatican Council was not a break from the past, but a renewal in continuity. That is why the question regarding the liturgy must be one of seeking the true sense of the Council and implementing it. Therefore, the question that needs to be asked is whether or not the Indult of Pope John Paul II and the creation of the Pontifical Commission of Ecclesia Dei, that gave permission to the Bishops to allow for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, was implemented in the spirit of justice and compassion.
Q: Well, was the Indult of John Paul II implemented in the spirit of justice and compassion?
Abbot: Unfortunately, some Bishops have not always granted the Indult. When this did happen, the conditions were often very difficult and almost impossible for its practical implementation. Therefore, if there is to be a motu proprio regarding a universal indult for the Old Mass, it means that the present one is not meeting the pastoral needs of the traditionalist world.
Q: But is the traditionalist world so important that the Holy Father should risk his pontificate by giving them a motu proprio?
Abbot: Jesus Christ, when talking about the Good Shepherd and the lost sheep, spoke about leaving the ninety-nine in order to seek out the one. We are talking about one percent. But we are also talking about the very vocation of the Good Shepherd. It is interesting to note that some Bishops speak about the Traditionalists as a “drop in the ocean.” As a matter of fact, the traditionalist world constitute a little over one percent of the Catholic Population. How Christ-like indeed it would be to offer a gesture of pastoral love in the form of a motu proprio!
Abbot: The motu proprio would be a response of justice and compassion not only to the traditionalist world, but also to the Church as a whole. We must never think that a motu proprio would be written only for the Lefebvrians. As Archbishop A. M. Ranjith, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship stated very clearly, “The Tridentine Mass is a treasure for the entire People of God and not the private property of the Society of St. Pius X.” But I am most certain that those in the Society are praying and waiting with great hope for a motu proprio regarding a universal indult for the Old Mass.
Q: What is your relationship with the Lefebvrian world?
Abbot: I met Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior of the Society of St. Pius X, more than five years ago. During that time, I have come to know many other priests, and also monks and religious who are connected with the Society. I was invited to speak at the recent Congress of “Si, Si. No, No” in Paris. And there, I spoke about my experience of the Tridentine Mass as a recovery of the sacrificial nature of the Mass. The Traditional Rite has a very important role to play in the Church. It can enhance reverence and the sense of mystery and awe before God’s action.
Abbot: Unfortunately, even at high levels in the Church, there is not always full knowledge of the Society. The Society has always recognized the legitimate successor of St. Peter. There are traditionalist groups that do not recognize the last popes after Pius XII. These are called “empty throne” people. Visiting some of the Societies’ houses, I was amazed to see the photo of Benedict XVI and also to know that they pray daily for him and the Church.
Abbot: I believe that a motu proprio would be a first step towards full communion. However, the simple restoration of the Old Mass is not only what the Society is looking for. They are asking very serious theological and liturgical questions that we must address. Otherwise, we reduce the whole question of Monsignor Fellay and the members of the Society to a question of choreography and not to substantial questions of faith. The motu proprio, therefore, is a beginning. But also, it is the possible beginning of a reform and renewal of the sacramental character of the liturgy; and therefore, the beginning of a liturgical movement that wants for the People of God a new awakening of the faith.
Q: Some Bishops, priests and theologians say that a motu proprio allowing broader use of the Tridentine Rite would “plunge us back into the liturgical life of another age.” What is your thought about this?
Abbot: Liturgical time is a sacred and holy time. I guess we could call it “timeless.” And the reason is that the Mass has to do with eternity and not with days, weeks, months or years.
Abbot: I believe that the Dogmatic Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium was a response to a widely held conviction that the liturgy needed a reform. The Council Fathers were seeking to bring out the community aspects of the mass, as well as make it more effective in teaching the truths of the Catholic Faith. Unfortunately, the theological necessity for a continuity in the underlying doctrine and structure of the celebration of the Mass in its preconciliar and post conciliar forms had undergone a rupture or break with Tradition. That is what we are dealing with today. The Second Vatican Council clearly called for some modest reforms in the liturgy, but it intended them to be organic and clearly in continuity with the past. The Old Rite becomes a living treasure of the Church and also should provide a standard of worship, of mystery, and of catechesis toward which the celebrations of the Novus Ordo must move. In other words, the Tridentine Mass is the missing link. And unless it be re-discovered in all its faithful truth and beauty, the Novus Ordo will not respond to the organic growth and change that has characterized the liturgy from its beginning. This is what should be prompting many of us to the founding of a new liturgical movement which will be able to give back to the liturgy its sacramental and supernatural character, and awaken in us a faithful understanding of the Catholic Liturgy.