The Glory of the Liturgy: Pope Benedict's Vision

The following is Bishop Peter J. Elliott's presentation at the recent Time Drawn Into Eternity Conference held by the Te Deum Institute of the Diocese of Tulsa.

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The Te Deum Institute of Sacred Liturgy
Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Friday  March  11th 2011


Most Rev Peter J. Elliott*

I wish to express my gratitude to Bishop Slattery for inviting me to give the keynote address at this historic event in the Diocese of Tulsa, the conference inaugurating the Te Deum Institute of Sacred Liturgy. I suppose you get tired of visitors, at least from my generation, who go on about the delightful musical named after your State. But that is the reason I have always wanted to visit Oklahoma. Many years ago as a small child I sat enraptured when the stage of Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne glowed with light and a tenor voice rang out with “Oh what at beautiful morning”. But I wondered how your corn could grow higher than our Australian wheat. Therefore my presentation on the glory of the liturgy, Pope Benedict’s vision, may appropriately begin in the innocent, but luminous, world of childhood.

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In Milestones, Memoirs 1927-1977, the short autobiography that covers the first fifty years of his life, our Holy Father Pope Benedict explains how his love of the liturgy began when he was a boy.  “Naturally the child I then was did not grasp every aspect of this, but I started down the road of the liturgy, and this became a continuous process of growth into a grand reality transcending all particular individuals and generations, a reality that became an occasion for me of ever-new amazement and discovery. The incredible reality of the Catholic liturgy has accompanied me through all phases of life, and so I shall have to speak of it time and again.” [1]

The child sensed the glory and scope of the “grand reality”. Children approach the mysteries of Christian worship with a sense of awe and wonder. Thus the glorious Corpus Christi processions of Bavaria spoke to the young Josef Ratzinger. He could later observe: “Liturgy is not the private hobby of a particular group; it is about the bond which holds heaven and earth together, it is about the human race and the entire created world. In the Corpus Christi procession, faith’s link with the earth, with the whole of reality, is represented ‘in bodily form’ by the act of walking, of treading the ground, our ground.”[2]

How We Understand Time

A procession moves forward, as does time itself. The theme chosen for this inaugural conference of the Te Deum Institute is sacred time, that is, how we celebrate salvation history in Christian worship.  But as Cardinal Ratzinger put it: “Time is first of all a cosmic phenomenon. Man lives with the stars. The course of the sun and the moon leaves it mark on his life.” [3] I will reflect briefly on time, because other speakers from a range of Christian traditions will deal with it in finer detail.

The cycles of creation reflect the glory of the Creator, including time measured at different levels of being among plants and animals. However, the dominant Christian understanding of time is teleological not cyclic. Teleology means that we are all moving towards an end, a telos, a goal, “the consummation of the ages”, the coming of the Kingdom or parousia. This is “eschatological” time, all creation moving to the eschaton, the end as a fulfilment.

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Photos from Time Drawn into Eternity Conference

Mr. Joey Spencer, Director of the Te Deum Institute of Sacred Liturgy, of the Diocese of Tulsa, has forwarded these pictures from the recent Time Drawn in Eternity Conference, with Bishop Peter J. Elliot, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, liturgical expert and Pastoral Delegate for the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus in Australia.

The photographs are from a celebration of the Novus Ordo Missae celebrated ad orientem.

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Time Drawn into Eternity

Mr. Joey Spencer, Program Director, writes to inform us that the Te Deum Institute of Sacred Liturgy of the Diocese of Tulsa will host a conference on Sacred Time and the Liturgical Calendar on March 11th and 12th, 2011, featuring the internationally recognized liturgical scholar, author, and Pastoral Delegate for Anglicanorum Coetibus in Australia, Auxiliary Bishop Peter J. Elliott of Melbourne.  The conference will be held at the Downtown DoubleTree Hotel, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Bishop Elliott, author of Ceremonies of the Roman Rite and Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year, will give the keynote address, entitled: “The Glory of the Liturgy – Pope Benedict’s Vision” on Friday evening (March 11) with presentations on Saturday (March 12) by Fr. William Christ (Holy Trinity Orthodox Church), Fr. Angelo Van der Putten, F.S.S.P, and Pastor Mason Beecroft (Grace Lutheran Church, LCMS).

A panel discussion in which all the presenters will come together to answer questions will follow.

“The Liturgy and the Eucharist are the source and summit of our life in Christ,” insisted Bishop Edward Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa.  “When we are joined with Christ in the Eucharist, we participate in the eternal now of God and time is drawn up into Eternity.”  Participants who attend this conference will deepen their understanding of the importance Sacred Time, the manifold ways by which Sacred Time is expressed in the Church’s liturgical calendar, and how the liturgy and the Church Calendar can open up new meaning in our secular calendar.

This conference is open to the public.  Cost for the entire conference is $40.00.  Special room rates at the DoubleTree are available for those who will stay overnight or for the weekend.  For more information or to register, please contact the Te Deum Institute at