Liturgy Institute London

For a detailed and peaceful study of Liturgy

Contribution of AL to IL


From Benedictine Culture 4 (2011)

The Contribution of the project Appreciating the Liturgy

Leading to the research Institutum Liturgicum

James Leachman – Daniel P. McCarthy


The project Appreciating the Liturgy was developed as a response to the felt need for a renewed way of looking at the post–Vatican II liturgy. Since the publication of the post-conciliar liturgical books, much scholarly attention has been dedicated to their translation and pastoral implementation. Seeing that the time was opportune to deepen the academic study and appreciation of the renewed liturgical books, we undertook to provide a literary-critical analysis and interpretation of the renewed liturgical rites for the Church’s further discerning the course of liturgical renewal. From its inception in 2007 Appreciating the Liturgy has combined an ongoing colloquium – both international and ecumenical – with a series of publications and a variety of collaborators.

The first colloquium was held on 31 May 2008 at Sant’Anselmo, Rome. From our discussion, we published the book Appreciating the Collect: An Irenic Methodology (St Michael’s Abbey Press, Farnborough, England 2008) in which we present a method for interpreting liturgical texts that combines the clear and detailed understanding of the Latin language, as taught by Reginald Foster OCD, and the historical-critical textual hermeneutic of Renato De Zan, a professor at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, Rome. To broaden the discussion to the non-specialist we held a study day on the same topic on 23 August 2008 at Ealing Abbey.

The second colloquium was held on 11 September 2009 at St. Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough, England, and a study day followed. The papers and discussion addressed the theme “Human Maturation in the Liturgy”. This colloquium sought to discern and describe the process of human maturation as it appears in the prayers and rites of the liturgy. How to foster human maturation through good celebration of the liturgy was the topic at the third colloquium held on 6 January 2010 at Clement Manor, Greenfield, Wisconsin. This consideration of human maturation has helped us to clarify our proper contribution to the interpretation of the liturgical celebration. Two books are in preparation.

For our fourth colloquium we returned to Sant’Anselmo on 29 May 2010. We sought to classify the different rationales for liturgy curricula currently employed at selected institutions in preparation for the announcement of the Institutum Liturgicum. We considered the teaching and study of liturgy from an ecumenical prospective on the previous day during our first Anglican – Roman Catholic Symposium dedicated to the “Consensus in Liturgical Research, Differentiation in Liturgical Renewal”. The teaching and study of liturgy specifically in England and Wales was the topic of a study day hosted by the Lincoln School of Theology and jointly sponsored with the project Appreciating the Liturgy, on 24 September 2010 at the Cathedral Centre, Lincoln. This booklet provides a summary of selected presentations from all three of these days, and a book is in preparation.

To support the international and ecumenical character of our project, we have associated a body of academic peers with our work as well as qualified students. These women and men represent many countries in Europe, North America and Australasia as well as a diversity of Christian liturgical traditions. With them, we have secured the sponsorship of several bishops and Benedictine superiors.

The Dean’s Council of the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy has constantly endorsed our project; the current Dean, Ephrem Carr, serves as moderator and James Leachman and Daniel McCarthy serve as its founding directors.

The evaluation at the end of the third year of inspired us to develop the project further in regard to research and higher teaching on the liturgy. We held our first research seminar on 6-10 September 2010 at Pluscarden Abbey, Scotland, so that others may join us in this method of research.

Encouraged by Fr Ephrem Carr, OSB, on Saturday 12th September 2009, Abbot Martin Shipperlee of Ealing and Abbot Cuthbert Brogan of Farnborough together with Frs James Leachman, OSB, and Daniel McCarthy, OSB, agreed to serve on a board to promote the establishment of a research and teaching Institutum Liturgicum in England and Wales with a faculty of liturgy which would offer courses in liturgical studies and undertake research and publishing. The curriculum is intended to offer in English a core group of the courses offered in Italian at the PIL.

Frs Leachman and McCarthy hope to inaugurate the programme of studies in the summer of 2011 with twelve-day units of study in the “Methodology Pro-seminar” and a taught course in “Liturgical History” “Latin for Liturgists” at the intermediate level will prepare prospective students for the entrance qualification, and at the advanced level will guide the students in selected readings on the Liturgy. In 2012 they have planned several other core curriculum courses including, “Western Liturgical Books”, “Liturgical Theology”, “Liturgical Hermeneutics I”, as well as several elective courses and a research seminar.

In preparation for the research and teaching activities of the Institutum Liturgicum, we are developing a small research library and would appreciate the donation of scholarly books.