There are in the first place those countries which do not have a Christian tradition or where the Gospel has been proclaimed in modern times by missionaries who brought the Roman rite with them. It is now more evident that "coming into contact with different cultures, the church must welcome all that can be reconciled with the Gospel in the tradition of a people to bring to it the riches of Christ and to be enriched in turn by the many different forms of wisdom of the nations of the earth.
The situation is different in the countries with a long-standing Western Christian tradition, where the culture has already been penetrated for a long time by the faith and the liturgy expressed in the Roman rite.
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That has helped the welcome given to liturgical reform in these countries, and the measures of adaptation envisaged in the liturgical books were considered, on the whole, sufficient to allow for legitimate local diversity cf. In some countries, however, where several cultures coexist, especially as a result of immigration, it is necessary to take account of the particular problems which this poses cf.
It is necessary to be equally attentive to the progressive growth both in countries with a Christian tradition and in others of a culture marked by indifference or disinterest in religion. Process of Inculturation Throughout the History of Salvation.
Light is shed upon the problems being posed about the inculturation of the Roman rite in the history of salvation. The process of inculturation was a process which developed in many ways. The people of Israel throughout its history preserved the certain knowledge that it was the chosen people of God, the witness of his action and love in the midst of the nations. It took from neighboring peoples certain forms of worship, but its faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob subjected these borrowings to profound modifications, principally changes of significance but also often changes in the form, as it incorporated these elements into its religious practice in order to celebrate the memory of God's wonderful deeds in its history.
The encounter between the Jewish world and Greek wisdom gave rise to a new form of inculturation: the translation of the Bible into Greek introduced the word of God into a world that had been closed to it and caused, under divine inspiration, an enrichment of the Scriptures. The Old Testament, comprising the life and culture of the people of Israel, is also the history of salvation.
On coming to the earth the Son of God, "born of a woman, born under the law" Gal. It is for this that he was called the 'new Adam.
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Christ, who wanted to share our human condition cf. By his death he wanted to break down the wall of separation between mankind, to make Israel and the nations one people. By the power of his resurrection he drew all people to himself and created out of them a single new man cf. In him a new world has been born cf. In him, darkness has given place to light, promise became reality and all the religious aspirations of humanity found their fulfillment.
By the offering that he made of his body, once for all cf. As Christ and Lord, he has made out of the new people "a kingdom of priests for God his Father" cf.
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Here is to be found the fundamental principle of Christian liturgy and the kernel of its ritual expression. At the moment of his going to his Father, the risen Christ assures his disciples of his presence and sends them to proclaim the Gospel to the whole of creation, to make disciples of all nations and baptize them cf. On the day of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit created a new community within the human race, uniting all in spite of the differences of language, which were a sign of division cf. Acts Henceforth the wonders of God will be made known to people of every language and culture cf.
Those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and united in fraternal communion cf. Acts are called from "every tribe, language, people and nation" cf. Faith in Christ offers to all nations the possibility of being beneficiaries of the promise and of sharing in the heritage of the people of the covenant cf. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, following the example of St.
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Peter cf. Acts 10 , St. Paul opened the doors of the church, not keeping the Gospel within the restrictions of the Mosaic law but keeping what he himself had received of the tradition which came from the Lord cf. Thus, from the beginning, the church did not demand of converts who were uncircumcised "anything beyond what was necessary" according to the decision of the apostolic assembly of Jerusalem cf. In gathering together to break the bread on the first day of the week, which became the day of the Lord cf. Acts ; Rv. In continuity with the unique history of salvation, they spontaneously took the forms and texts of Jewish worship and adapted them to express the radical newness of Christian worship.
The spread of the Gospel in the world gave rise to other types of ritual in the churches coming from the gentiles, under the influence of different cultural traditions. Under the constant guidance of the Holy Spirit, discernment was exercised to distinguish those elements coming from "pagan" cultures which were incompatible with Christianity from those which could be accepted in harmony with apostolic tradition and in fidelity to the Gospel of salvation. The creation and the development of the forms of Christian celebration developed gradually according to local conditions in the great cultural areas where the good news was proclaimed.
Thus were born distinct liturgical families of the churches of the West and of the East. Their rich patrimony preserves faithfully the Christian tradition in its fullness. During the course of the centuries, the Roman rite has known how to integrate texts, chants, gestures and rites from various sources 32 and to adapt itself in local cultures in mission territories, 33 even if at certain periods a desire for liturgical uniformity obscured this fact.
In our own time, the Second Vatican Council recalled that the church "fosters and assumes the ability, resources and customs of each people. In assuming them, the church purifies, strengthens and ennobles them Whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, it is not only saved from destruction but it is also cleansed, raised up and made perfect unto the glory of God, the confounding of the devil, and the happiness of mankind.
It must be capable of expressing itself in every human culture, all the while maintaining its identity through fidelity to the tradition which comes to it from the Lord. The liturgy, like the Gospel, must respect cultures, but at the same time invite them to purify and sanctify themselves. In adhering to Christ by faith, the Jews remained faithful to the Old Testament, which led to Jesus, the Messiah of Israel; they knew that he had fulfilled the Mosaic alliance, as the mediator of the new and eternal covenant, sealed in his blood on the cross.
They knew that, by his one perfect sacrifice, he is the authentic high priest and the definitive temple cf. In a more radical way Christians coming from paganism had to renounce idols, myths, superstitions cf. Acts ; 1 Cor. But whatever their ethnic or cultural origin, Christians have to recognize the promise, the prophecy and the history of their salvation in the history of Israel.
They must accept as the word of God the books of the Old Testament as well as those of the New. The challenge which faced the first Christians, whether they came from the chosen people or from a pagan background, was to reconcile the renunciations demanded by faith in Christ with fidelity to the culture and traditions of the people to which they belonged.
And so it will be for Christians of all times, as the words of St. Paul affirm: "We proclaim Christ crucified, scandal for the Jews, foolishness for the pagans" 1 Cor. The discernment exercised during the course of the church's history remains necessary, so that through the liturgy the work of salvation accomplished by Christ may continue faithfully in the church by the power of the Spirit in different countries and times and in different human cultures. Requirements and Preliminary Conditions for Liturgical Inculturation.
Before any research on inculturation begins, it is necessary to keep in mind the nature of the liturgy. It "is, in fact the privileged place where Christians meet God and the one whom he has sent, Jesus Christ" cf. The nature of the liturgy is intimately linked up with the nature of the church; indeed, it is above all in the liturgy that the nature of the church is manifested. It is not gathered together by a human decision, but is called by God in the Holy Spirit and responds in faith to his gratuitous call ekklesia derives from klesis , "call".
This singular characteristic of the church is revealed by its coming together as a priestly people, especially on the Lord's day, by the word which God addresses to his people and by the ministry of the priest, who through the sacrament of orders acts in the person of Christ the head. Because it is catholic, the church overcomes the barriers which divide humanity: By baptism all become children of God and form in Christ Jesus one people where "there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female" Gal. Thus church is called to gather all peoples, to speak the languages, to penetrate all cultures.
Finally, the church is a pilgrim on the earth far from the Lord cf. The church is nourished on the word of God written in the Old and New Testaments. When the church proclaims the word in the liturgy, it welcomes it as a way in which Christ is present: "It is he who speaks when the sacred Scriptures are read in church.
Since the church is the fruit of Christ's sacrifice, the liturgy is always the celebration of the paschal mystery of Christ, the glorification of God the Father and the sanctification of mankind by the power of the Holy Spirit. The whole life of the liturgy gravitates in the first place around the eucharistic sacrifice and the other sacraments given by Christ to his church.
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In virtue of its pastoral authority, the church can make dispositions to provide for the good of the faithful, according to circumstances, times and places. The church of Christ is made present and signified in a given place and in a given time by the local or particular churches, which through the liturgy reveal the church in its true nature.
In the liturgy the faith of the church is expressed in a symbolic and communitarian form: This explains the need for a legislative framework for the organization of worship, the preparation of texts and the celebration of rites. However deep inculturation may go, the liturgy cannot do without legislation and vigilance on the part of those who have received this responsibility in the church: the Apostolic See and, according to the prescriptions of the law, the episcopal conference for its territory and the bishop for his diocese. The missionary tradition of the church has always sought to evangelize people in their own language.
Often indeed, it was the first apostles of a country who wrote down languages which up till then had only been oral. And this is right, as it is by the mother language, which conveys the mentality and the culture of a people, that one can reach the soul, mold it in the Christian spirit and allow to share more deeply in the prayer of the church. After the first evangelization, the proclamation of the word of God in the language of a country remains very useful for the people in their liturgical celebrations.
The translation of the Bible, or at least of the biblical texts used in the liturgy, is the first necessary step in the process of the inculturation of the liturgy. So that the word of God may be received in a right and fruitful way, "it is necessary to foster a taste for holy Scripture, as is witnessed by the ancient traditions of the rites of both East and West. The different situations in which the church finds itself are an important factor in judging the degree of liturgical inculturation that is necessary.
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The situation of countries that were evangelized centuries ago and where the Christian faith continues to influence the culture is different from countries which were evangelized more recently or where the Gospel has not penetrated deeply into cultural values. A more complex situation is found when the population has different languages and cultures.
A precise evaluation of the situation is necessary in order to achieve satisfactory solutions. To prepare an inculturation of the liturgy, episcopal conferences should call upon people who are competent both in the liturgical tradition of the Roman rite and in the appreciation of local cultural values. Preliminary studies of a historical, anthropological, exegetical and theological character are necessary. But these need to be examined in the light of the pastoral experience of the local clergy, especially those born in the country.
Liturgical inculturation should try to satisfy the needs of traditional culture 68 and at the same time take account of the needs of those affected by an urban and industrial culture. Since it is a question of local culture, it is understandable that the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium assigned special responsibility in this matter to the "various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.
Conferences may determine, according to the procedure given below cf. They will always be careful to avoid the danger of introducing elements that might appear to the faithful as the return to a period before evangelization cf.