Thursday, November 7, 2013


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.


Anonymous said...

Calling Sacrosanctum Concilium a rush job is an understatement.

It is well-known (and little discussed) that Pope John had a schema in place for the constitution on the liturgy and he was effectively hijacked by the bishops in attendance, especially the "progressives" from Germany. Instead of doing his pastoral duty to keep them in line, he did nothing. John was probably a very holy man, but he could have been a better pope.

Monsignor Klaus Gamber went so far at to opine that the Roman Rite, which for more than one thousand years was destroyed by Vatican II.

When Cardinal Michael Browne expressed concern that the ambiguous permissions for use of the vernacular would lead to the elimination of Latin from the liturgy, THE OTHER CARDINALS LAUGHED OUT LOUD.

Then comes the Consilium, which, instead of using organic development for the renewal of the liturgy, just created a New Mass out of thin air.

Michael Davies wrote that the Council failed to explain how a rite can be revised "in light of tradition" when ALL TRADITION IS AGAINST THE REVISION OF THE MASS.

Yet here we are, almost 50 years later, insisting that renewal is coming when the Church is at its lowest point since the Arian heresy. And we're still sending priests and bishops off to expensive conferences about how to implement some sort of "New Evangelization" when no one can tell us what the "New Evangelization" is.

Previous Councils in the Church needed to be corrected or discarded. Vatican II begs for correction like no Council in history. A rush job by man's standards, but right on time by the Devil's.

Anonymous said...

I think Anonymous 1:09 is really Sen. Rand Paul, without the Johnny-come-lately footnotes.

John Nolan said...

The opening of Vatican II coincided with that defining moment of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yet the Council proceeded on its way, seemingly oblivious to the crucial concerns of the moment. The reason? Because the movers and shakers of the Council were fighting another war, the European and global conflict which had ended seventeen years previously. A large and influential number of bishops from northern Europe were determined to punish the Curia for its perceived actions or inactions during the War.

Attacking the Roman Rite and the way it was regulated by the Sacred Congregation of Rites was the obvious way of attacking the Curia and bringing it down to size. All the prepared schemata were rejected bar one - the "Bugnini draft" on the liturgy which survived almost intact into the first session, despite the fact that its main author had been removed by John XXIII (he was of course reinstated by Paul VI). It was this which with only minor modifications was passed as Sacrosanctum Concilium.

It was far from being a "rushed job". It's an ambiguous and thoroughly dishonest document, but its framers knew exactly what they wanted, and once they had the pope (Paul VI) on their side nothing was going to stand in their way.

By the way, the ruling by the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) that the faithful fulfil their obligation by being present from the Offertory to the priest's Communion has never been rescinded. And the idea that the "homily" is integral is simply an example of post-V2 clericalism. In the EF the priest removes the maniple after the Gospel and places it on the missal, thus indicating that the Mass is interrupted for the homily. And if we're talking about two forms of the same Roman Rite, there can't be a contradiction at this point.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

On the homily:
the homily is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself; in fact, at those Masses which are celebrated with the assistance of the peopole on Sundays and Feasts of obligation it should not be omitted except for a serious reason--SC #52

Anonymous said...

I was of the impression that the "progressives" had been working on transforming the liturgy for many years prior to Vatican II and were, in effect, ready to quickly put together a document when Vatican II was announced.

Contrary to the more orthodox bishops, who prepared a document on divine revelation that was eventually rejected, the progressive bishops concentrated on the liturgy. The progressive bishops understood that if you first transform how we worship, you can then transform what we believe.

Gene said...

"…if you first transform how we worship, you can then transform how we believe." Yes! Anonymous has it! Why can people not see this? If you act a certain way long enough, it changes your thinking. These people knew exactly what they were doing and I hope they already have the fires lit for them down below.

Charles G said...

From my reading about Vat. II and Bugnini's book on the liturgical reform, the impression given is that the liturgy constitution was chosen first precisely because it was in much more mature shape than the others -- Bugnini and the reformers on the Prep Commission knew what they wanted and had it all pretty well laid out. So your view is a bit revisionist. I suppose it could be considered a "rush job" depending on one's point of view. If one thinks the reformers should have been more careful and respectful of the liturgical tradition handed down in proposing changes, then yeah, the document coud have been more carefully thought through to incorporate that point of view.

Joseph Johnson said...

'Waitin' for the New Liturgical Movement to expand in the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia outside of Macon and Savannah . . .

We need the EF Mass spread into the less populated areas so that Catholic people in these parishes who do not follow blogs like this one will get clued in to the existence of such a movement to reform the OF in the larger Church.

Just doing these things in the metropolitan areas is not enough--unless one thinks it is OK for the small--town parishes to remain stuck in the era of "Gather Us In" and "Eagle's Wings." Aren't all souls of equal value before God?

Henry said...

Whatever you may think of SC, it was the furthest thing from a rush job. A full account is now available in Msgr. Gherardini's recent book on the notes of Card. Ferdinando Antonelli who was the secretary of the Council's committee that prepared this document.

The preparatory schema was prepared by a pre-conciliar commission whose secretary was Bugnini, but he was now out of the picture (exiled by John XXIII, only to be brought back later by Paul VI). It is sometimes suggested that the Council pretty much rubber-stamped Bugnini’s schema, but this is not so.

This liturgical Commission held 51 lengthy meetings to work methodically through 662 “interventions” submitted by Council Fathers (totaling 1200 printed pages of suggested amendments). There was much debate, available now for the first time in English (so far as I have seen) in the minutes of these meetings presented in this book. These minutes give the impression that the deliberations were detailed and careful, based on the finest scholarship available in a Church having then a much finer historical memory than is generally apparent now.

The Council Fathers as a whole voted on some 85 different amendments brought to the floor by the Commission, and finally approved Sacrosanctum Concilium on Dec. 4, 1963 by a vote of 2,147 to 4. On Dec. 8, Antonelli concluded an Observatore Romano article with the words

”When St. Peter’s Basilica resounded with these great words [of Sacrosanctum Concilium], the bones of St. Pius X exulted. The Constitution on the Liturgy is nothing but the precious fruit of a small seed sown by him [in his 1903 instruction with its emphasis on actuosa participation]. It is also the beginning of a new era in the liturgical life of the Church.”

Amazingly, the book gives the impression that all three of the sentences seem reasonable. It is possible to see continuity from Pius X through Pius XII to Sacrosanctum Concilium.

But what the remainder of the book reveals is the almost unbelievable (except for those of us who lived through it) discontinuity that followed. An entirely new Consilium was appointed to implement the constitution on the liturgy, and who but Bugnini reappeared from nowhere to serve as its General Secretary.

Henry said...

"the slow recovery of Ad Orientem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist."

Q. Why slow? How long does it take to turn around?

A. Because so many priests and bishops are not believers (in the Mass as a Sacrifice). Only when they are gone can the Church re-orient itself.

Gene said...

Henry, Delete all after "believers."

John Nolan said...

Where does it say that the faithful, in order to fulfil their obligation, have to be present from the opening chords of 'Gather Us In' to the closing cadence of 'On Eagles' Wings'? Nowhere.

The Introductory Rites of the Novus Ordo are a dialogue between priest and people. The PATFOTA in the Roman Rite are not such a dialogue, were never intended to be, and attempts to make them so were not surprisingly a failure.

I have heard good sermons, bad sermons, short sermons and long sermons. SC and the GIRM notwithstanding, they are not part of the liturgy, and preaching at a weekday Mass should be positively discouraged. This is a great attraction of the EF Low Mass - no-one lectures you.

Pater Ignotus said...

Henry - Those of us who celebrate mass versus populum also believe that mass is a true sacrifice.

It is true that SC was not rushed or hurried into the Council's agenda. The liturgical movement began in 1909. There were opponents, of course, but the movement was affirmed in Mystici Corporis in 1943 and then again in Mediator Dei in 1947.

Even earlier, especially in Germany and France, there had been a renewed interest in the Patristic Era as regards the liturgy. "Ressourcement" was not invented by Bugnini, but had been percolating for well over a hundred years before 1962.

Joseph Johnson said...

For at least some open-minded priests and bishops, the EF can help them realize in a more complete way their role as priest. For those who are willing to learn and try the EF, this can aid in speeding up how long it takes to "turn around" or re-orient the Church.

Sadly, for many others who are unwilling to try this, you are correct--only when they are gone can the Church re-orient itself.

John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus,

What you say is right up to a point. But the 20th century liturgical movement was not a monolithic ideology. In his "Spirit of the Liturgy" Cardinal Ratzinger pays homage to Guardini, but also claims that the ideals of the moderate liturgical movement were betrayed. Similarly, when does "ressourcement" become the "archaeologism" condemned by Pius XII? And what about the many innovations in the NO which cannot be justified as a return to first millennium practice?

Even before the First World War some liturgists were focussing their attention on the alleged deficiencies of the Roman Canon. Yet it is unthinkable that any pope before Paul VI would have sanctioned the removal of this ancient anaphora from the rite, and even he would not allow it to disappear altogether (remember that in 1969 the idea of continuing with the 1962 missal was not regarded as an option). I happen to think that EP III is a fine prayer (and Pope Benedict used it frequently) but it was written in the 1960s by Fr Cipriano Vaggagini.

Celebration versus populum, however dubious historically, is a permitted option. However, it, like the new rite itself, should not become a shibboleth, still less a statement that what is being celebrated is intrinsically different from what was understood as the Mass for the previous 1500 years, and defined by Trent and Vatican II.