Tuesday, March 22, 2016
TWO YEARS BEFORE SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, THIS KIND OF THING WAS STILL BEING TAUGHT IN CATHOLIC PUBLICATIONS
But I got sidetracked on my internet search when I found this 2005 article from Saint Anthony's Messenger by William H. Shannon. His headline says it all: Vatican II clarified the Church's sense of itself and its place in the world. So his focus is on everything but what the Mass is actually meant to accomplish. THIS AUTHOR IN A NUTSHELL TELLS US ABOUT HOW THE POST VATICAN II CHURCH AND THE DESCRIPTION OF THE MASS BECAME SO SELF-REFERENTIAL, SOMETHING THAT POPE FRANCIS HAS DECRIED SINCE DAY ONE OF HIS PAPACY!
It gives the apologetic of why the post-Vatican II Mass is so much better than the pre-Vatican II Mass. Of course it all hinges on externals that are stripped away from the pre-Vatican II Mass. Not a word about what the Mass is: "The One Sacrifice of Christ Renewed in an "Unbloody" Way for our Salvation." No what is touted are the sociological shifts only, silly sociological shifts elevated to dogma in other words, the ecclesiology of the Church!
Here is the 2005 article with my comments in red:
Forty years after the Second Vatican Council, we live in the light of its teachings. The Council opened a new—and extremely significant—page in the Church’s long history.
Ecumenical councils are rare in the life of the Church. In the last 400 years there have been only three: Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II. This article attempts to clarify how, through Vatican II, the Church came to a deeper understanding of its own identity and its relationship to the world.
I am well aware that this article will be read by three different groups of people. First, there will be those who were adults before the Second Vatican Council and who knew a very different Church from the one they now experience. Second, there will be those who, as adults and teenagers, lived during the Council and shared in the enthusiasm that it generated, as it offered a new and exciting vision of “Church.” Finally, there exists a whole generation of Catholics for whom the Second Vatican Council is just something they have heard about and who, therefore, never experienced the excitement and euphoria it engendered in the mid-1960s. (The first and second groups are aging and mostly dead except for those who are trying to maintain their place in history along with the drug-like induced euphoria of that period with a resurgence of 1960's thinking and ideologies, almost as a fad, for their benefit and the benefit of the third group.)
Let me illustrate with a brief story. A little girl and her mother were on their way to church one Sunday. The child was planning a valentine party for some of her little friends. She asked, “Mommy, could we stop and get the candy hearts for the party?” “We’ll do that after Mass,” the mother replied. At the preface the priest said the usual prayers. When he invited people to “Lift up your hearts,” the little girl cried out, “We can’t, Father, we didn’t get them yet!” (Here the author unwittingly tells the truth about the Mass, the complete misunderstanding that so many adults have about the Mass today and thanks to people like Mr. Shannon and the reverence that is demanded of those who participate in wonder and awe. We can excuse a little girl who is oblivious and takes things too literally, but not adults who think that this is cute. But read on:)
Active Engagement in Celebration
That story could not have happened in the all-Latin, pre-Vatican II liturgy. I tell it because it is probably true to say that what comes to mind for most people when they think of the Council is the dramatic effects it has had on what they do when they go to church on Sunday. This is especially true of Catholics who were adults before the Council and who therefore remember a Sunday Mass quite different from what they now experience.
The Mass of yesteryear took place on one side of the Communion rail, with parishioners on the other side. The removal of the Communion rail in most churches is a strong symbol that the Mass must no longer be thought of simply as something the priest does, with the laity as interested spectators. The Mass is the worship action of the whole community of God’s people. (I must say that I bought into this ideological think about altar railings and removing high altars, art, and the iconoclasm one normally thinks about which occurred as a result of what Vatican II actually taught, because Vatican II wanted the laity to be like priests at Mass. However, until we were told by those with iconoclastic desires that the altar railing was a symbol of separation of the priests who did the important stuff and laity who watched a priestly drama, most of us thought of the altar railing as a place to kneel and reverently receive the Body and Blood of Christ. We knew that the altar railing was the laity's altar since it was an extension of the altar of sacrifice. We knew we could touch it, kneel at it and pray kneeling there even after or before Mass. WE DID NOT SEE IT AS A BARRIER TO OUR PARTICIPATION IN THE MASS, NO IT WAS THE MEANS BY WHICH WE ACTIVELY RECEIVED THE BODY, BLOOD, SOUL AND DIVINITY OF CHRIST AT THE MASS IN WHICH WE WERE ENGAGED!
The priest presides at the liturgy, but it is the whole community that celebrates. It is the priest’s responsibility, as the leader of the Eucharistic community, to see to it that people understand clearly their role in liturgy. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stresses this when it tells pastors that it is their duty to “ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite and enriched by it” (#11). (Here we go, the sociological aspect of the Mass is lifted to a dogma and the shift of language concerning the priest as a sacramental sign of the High Priest Jesus Christ is muted by making the sacramental sign of the human priest into a presider, a leader, a conductor, whose role it to wave his music stick at them to manipulate them into the so-called active participation so necessary for their salvation. Enrichment brought about by the Mass is like all the self-help, feel-good movements of the last half of the last century. What about the Mass showing forth the means by which we are saved from eternal damnation, regardless of the quality of our lives and how enriched we are by the product that the post-Vatican II Mass is meant to give a consumer oriented congregation for their enrichment?
Lest there be any doubt as to the full meaning of this charge given to those who preside at the liturgy, they are told, “It is very much the wish of the Church that all the faithful should be led to take that full, conscious, and active part in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy...” (#14). (Now you know why the Mass devolved in its authentic meaning when such drivel is elevated as the most important thing a priest can do at Mass! It's breathtaking to read this time capsule prior to Pope Benedict's vision of the Liturgy sidetracking so much of this, thanks be to God!)
In the 40 years since the Council, we have seen how, in varying degrees, this call to participation has been achieved. What needs to be stressed is that the differences we experience are not just changes in what we do, but changes in the way we think about ourselves and about Church. (Yes, the really important thing about the Vatican II Mass is HOW WE THINK ABOUT OURSELVES AND THE CHURCH! Breathtaking in its stupidity, no? Self-referential anyone?)
For so long a time, the word church had two meanings for most people. It was either the building where they went “to attend” Mass or the world (or universal) Church headquartered in Rome of which they were somehow members. (Yawn!)
Vatican II, in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and also in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, offers a new and more fundamental meaning of “Church.” It affirms that, for the laity, the most immediately pertinent meaning of “Church” is the local community: the ordinary Tom, Dick and Mary, their friends and neighbors who gather to celebrate their parish Eucharist together. This is what the word “Church” meant originally: God’s people gathered together in one place called there by God. Both the Greek and the Latin words for “Church” mean neither a building nor an organization, but rather “a calling together” of people by God. (Here we go, this is ecclesiology elevated to dogma as the essential aspect of the pre-Vatican II Church, the horizontal, human element of people circled around the altar singing kumbaya as they hold hands. There is nothing here about the "Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross" for our salvation or our need to worthily partake in this Sacrifice. Thus we see why ideologues changed the Latin Credo, "I believe" to the English "We believe" as though the collective "we"could absolve the need to the singular "I" to believe. Being called together into the "We Are the Church" is theology by sociologists, not serious minded theologians.)
It is at the level of the local Church that we experience the reality of “Church.” It is in the local Church that the saving activities of Church take place. It is in the local Church that the Gospel is proclaimed and Baptism and Eucharist celebrated. It is in the local Church that the presence of Christ and his love are experienced, that we gather to remember his death and resurrection. (This is really what triumphalism and self-reverence as well as self-referentialism is all about and what Pope Francis decries. The Church becomes what is adored! The Church becomes what is most important. The Church becomes the ends rather than the means. It is a dead end. No wonder only 11 percent of Catholics in Europe attend Mass and slightly more in the USA.)
I remember years ago catechizing a group of third-graders. After class, one boy asked, “Hey, Father, what time is church?” I chided him for not putting the question correctly. I told that he should ask, “What time is Mass?” Now many years later I am still searching for that lad. I have come to realize that I owe him an apology. His question was good theology. (Here we have some hope that the author of this article can see his arrogant ways about denigrating pre-Vatican II experiences of the Mass and parish life that had 90% of Catholics actually participating in the Mass because they went to Church!)
“What time is church?” While the Church exists at all times, it achieves its highest actuality when God’s people gather, at God’s call, to celebrate in the Eucharist the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. That is why the liturgy document also says: “...[T]he liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the source from which all its power flows” (#10).
This document makes it very clear that the Mass is made up of two parts (the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharistic Liturgy), “so closely connected with each other that they form but one single act of worship” (#56). Gone for good is the old-time division of the Mass (that some readers may remember) into three principal parts: the offertory, the consecration and the Communion. It was a division that accorded no place at all to the Scripture readings. How things have changed!(His arrogance is breathtaking! I wonder if he is still alive. How I would love to "search for this lad" and find out what he thinks about 2016 when we now have two forms of the one Latin Rite, the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form. It seems he wrote too soon to think that Gone for good doesn't speak of today's reality at all. But neither the stereotype. Maybe we had a significant number of nominal Catholics coming to Mass in time for the Gospel, as it should of been included in his list of requirements for fulfilling one's Sunday obligation, along with the offertory, consecration and communion. Yes, many came in time for the Gospel, timing it just right and left as Communion started. But remember, we had 90% of Catholics at least participating in a nominal way. Is it better that they don't come at all now so that we only have 11% or less attending in Europe and slightly more in the USA?
MR. SHANNON HAVE THINGS HAVE CHANGED BY 2016!
His hermeneutic is one of rupture. But worse it is one of self referential, kumbaya sociology with the priest being a conductor or a band of people who come together for enrichment. This is post-Vatican II drivel and it is to be blamed in a huge way for the loss of Catholics who no longer go to Church because they don't find it ENRICHING!!!! They find other ways to be enriched!