Like most of you, I have enjoyed reading the Holy Father’s thoughts on the liturgy and the Holy Mass over the years. Pope Benedict was undeniably prolific in his theological reflection on Liturgy and the Eucharist prior to his election as Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. Even before I became Catholic, I was impressed by his forthrightness and clarity on what constitutes genuine and God-honoring liturgy.
These are only the tip of the iceberg. I’d encourage you to read the books when you have time. Tell then, here goes:
Ratzinger on the Liturgical Reformers Creating a ‘Fabrication, Banal Product’
The liturgical reform, in its concrete realization, has distanced itself even more from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but devastation. In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy. They have deserted a vital process of growth and becoming in order to substitute a fabrication. They did not want to continue the development, the organic maturing of something living through the centuries, and they replaced it, in the manner of technical production, by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment. (Ratzinger in Revue Theologisches, Vol. 20, Feb. 1990, pgs. 103-104)
Ratzinger on Those Who Appreciate the Latin Mass being Wrongly Treated Like ‘Lepers’
“For fostering a true consciousness in liturgical matters, it is also important that the proscription against the form of liturgy in valid use up to 1970 [the older Latin Mass] should be lifted. Anyone who nowadays advocates the continuing existence of this liturgy or takes part in it is treated like a leper; all tolerance ends here. There has never been anything like this in history; in doing this we are despising and proscribing the Church’s whole past. How can one trust her at present if things are that way?” (Spirit of the Liturgy, 2000)
Ratzinger on the Degeneration of Liturgy and ‘Liturgical Fabricators’
“[W]e have a liturgy which has degenerated so that it has become a show which, with momentary success for the group of liturgical fabricators, strives to render religion interesting in the wake of the frivolities of fashion and seductive moral maxims. Consequently, the trend is the increasingly marked retreat of those who do not look to the liturgy for a spiritual show-master but for the encounter with the living God in whose presence all the ‘doing’ becomes insignificant since only this encounter is able to guarantee us access to the true richness of being.” (Cardinal Ratzinger’s preface to the French translation of Reform of the Roman Liturgy by Monsignor Klaus Gamber, 1992).
Ratzinger on the ‘Disintegration of the Liturgy’
“I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is, to a large extent, due to the disintegration of the liturgy.” (Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977)
Ratzinger against ‘Homemade Liturgy’
“It is also worth observing here that the ‘creativity’ involved in manufactured liturgies has a very restricted scope. It is poor indeed compared with the wealth of the received liturgy in its hundreds and thousands of years of history. Unfortunately, the originators of homemade liturgies are slower to become aware of this than the participants…” (Feast of Faith p. 67-68)
Ratzinger on the Latin Mass as the ‘Holiest and Highest Possession’
“I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It’s impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent.” (Ratzinger Salt of the Earth (1997)
Ratzinger on the Danger of Creative “Presiders” at the Mass
In reality what happened was that an unprecedented clericalization came on the scene. Now the priest — the “presider”, as they now prefer to call him — becomes the real point of reference for the whole Liturgy. Everything depends on him. We have to see him, to respond to him, to be involved in what he is doing. His creativity sustains the whole thing.
Ratzinger on the Danger of ‘Creative Planning of the Liturgy’
Not surprisingly, people try to reduce this newly created role by assigning all kinds of liturgical functions to different individuals and entrusting the “creative” planning of the Liturgy to groups of people who like to, and are supposed to, “make a contribution of their own”. Less and less is God in the picture. More and more important is what is done by the human beings who meet here and do not like to subject themselves to a “pre-determined pattern”. (Spirit of Liturgy, ch. 3)
Ratzinger on Why the Priest Should Not Face the People During Mass
The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is locked into itself. The common turning toward the East was not a “celebration toward the wall”; it did not mean that the priest “had his back to the people”: the priest himself was not regarded as so important. For just as the congregation in the synagogue looked together toward Jerusalem, so in the Christian Liturgy the congregation looked together “toward the Lord”. (Spirit of Liturgy, ch. 3)
Ratzinger on the Priest and People Facing the Same Direction
On the other hand, a common turning to the East during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of accidentals, but of essentials. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord. (Spirit of Liturgy, ch. 3)
Ratzinger on the ‘Absurd Phenomenon’ of Replacing the Crucifix with the Priest
Moving the altar cross to the side to give an uninterrupted view of the priest is something I regard as one of the truly absurd phenomena of recent decades. Is the cross disruptive during Mass? Is the priest more important than Our Lord? (Spirit of Liturgy, ch. 3)