Thursday, November 7, 2013
WAS THE FIRST DOCUMENT ISSUED BY VATICAN II A RUSH JOB?
We all know that the first document to be issued by the Second Vatican Council was on the liturgy. I learned something new today. It was a rush job. The world was expecting the some 2000 bishops meeting here in Rome to come up with something dramatic and after the first year no one was ready to issue anything, no one of the 16 committees working on the 16 documents. So the Liturgy Committee was urged to submit its document first, although they were not ready to do so, but first they went and we got Sacrosanctum Concilium.
It was a rush document and compared to all the others is still the most controversial and continually is being explained.
Certainly there is the work of the Holy Spirit in this document since it is a product of an ecumenical council approved by all the bishops of the Church and ratified by the pope. It remains a part of the Magisterium of the Church. But it was a rush job and probably could have used another year or two of fine tuning, but that's water under the bridge now.
But I do sense that a new maturity is developing concerning the liturgical renewal of the Mass.
Let's start with the basics of what is truly good and needs further renewal:
1. The Mass in the vernacular, especially when faithfully translated to the words, theology and spirituality of the Latin text are marvelous. We've only had this now for 2 years in English 50 years after the Council.
2. Full, conscious and actual participation is laudable and we have come a long way. We need to make more inroads so that priests and laity internalize the mysteries of the Mass and sacraments and receive them with awe and wonder.
3. The two distinct parts that comprise the one Mass, the Liturgy of the Word and The Liturgy of the Eucharist and clear that the entire Mass must be experienced. No longer do we say to people that their Sunday obligation is fulfilled if they make it to Mass prior to the "Offertory" as though the Liturgy of the Word is completely unimportant. Word and Sacrament are emphasized constituting the complete Sacrifice offered.
4. Within the context of the Liturgy of the Word, the homily well preached is integral and not adjunct. It is a part of the Mass, not just a supplement to it.
What needs to be recovered that was lost in the last nearly 50 years?
1. The Anglican Ordinariate Mass is showing us the way to this new liturgical movement and maturity. The options of recovering the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the previous Offertory Prayers, the more specific and complicated rubrics for the Roman Canon and the Last Gospel are a huge step in the right direction of this New Liturgical Movement. Mark my words, this will be given to the mainstream Latin Rite within the next five years. or maybe not.
2. The revision of the revised Roman Calendar along the Anglican Ordinariate's revision of the Roman Calendar that allows for the Season of Septuagesima (three Sundays preceding Lent), Ember Days and the Octave of Pentecost among other smaller things.
3. The recovery of Gregorian Chants and its derivatives in the Vernacular for the prescribed Entrance, Offertory and Communion Antiphons and the ongoing awareness that the hymns or music of the Catholic Mass are not hymns out of a hymnbook, but the Mass parts themselves, such as the Antiphons, Kyrie, Gloria, Collect, readings, Responsorial Psalm/Gradual, Alleluia, Gospel, Credo, Intercessions, Preface, Eucharistic Prayer, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei. Why in the name of God and all that is holy would one sing four hymns that are not a part of the Mass but supplement it and omit singing the actual parts of the Mass? It makes no sense and is a throw back to the pre-Vatican II Low Mass that allowed for four hymns.
4. The wise realization of keeping the personality of the particular priest or bishop who celebrates the Mass by eliminating the temptation to editorialize or preach at times during the Mass other than the homily or manipulating the words of the Mass according to his own sense of superiority.
5. Tied into reducing the influence of the priest's demeanor during Mass is the slow recovery of Ad Orientem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
6. The recovery of awe and wonder in receiving Holy Communion in a state of grace by kneeling to do so is also occurring in many places and will continue to grow and develop as the Anglican Ordinariate leads the way in a mustard seed sort of fashion.
7. The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar will help reduce the need of the priest to banter and give an additional homily during the Introductory Rites and to banalize and secularized the beginning of Mass, the same with the Last Gospel.
These are just some trends toward the ongoing maturity of the New Liturgical Movement that will recover what was good prior to Vatican II, adjust any rushed elements placed into SC and instill a good Catholic identity in all our worshipping communities.