Monday, December 9, 2013
SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM IS NOT THE PROBLEM! ITS FLAWED IMPLEMENTATION IS!
FOR A "REFORM OF THE REFORM"
by Nicola Bux
Fifty years after December 4, 1963, when the liturgical constitution of Vatican II was promulgated, the statement of a scholar of that Council comes back to mind: "The fathers did not want a liturgical 'revolution.'"
How can this be proven? A brand-new website is making available the documentary sources concerning the preparation, drafting, and composition of "Sacrosanctum Concilium."
The objective is to make the documents known for the sake of an impartial history of the liturgical reform and therefore also for an authentic understanding of Vatican II, in continuity with the other councils of the Church, in the route of navigation marked out by Agostino Marchetto:
"In recent decades, the question of the correct celebration of the liturgy has become more and more one of the central points of the controversy surrounding Vatican Council II, or how it should be evaluated and received in the life of the Church."
The new website, free and easy to access, finally makes a very valuable resource available to all.
One must simply get one's bearings a bit in consulting it. The home page of the website, which is still under construction, says the following:
"In the next few weeks transcriptions will be presented of the documentation necessary for understanding how before the Council the liturgical commission came to draft the schema of the constitution on the liturgy proposed at the ecumenical Council Vatican II and how, during the two conciliar sessions, this schema was modified according to the wishes expressed by the fathers."
The liturgical commission held three conferences during which were organized, presented, and discussed the work done by the subcommissions. To present the material this division has been maintained on the website:
> I Conventus
> II Conventus
> III Conventus
After which the Council began and the work passed to the Commissio Centralis. The conciliar liturgical commission met during the first and second session, in 1962 and 1963, and also in the intermediate period. In this case as well the original division has been maintained on the website:
> Sessio I
> Sessio II
Almost all of the documentary material has now been collected in the Vatican Secret Archives and from there has been taken and made public on the website. While a search is underway for other documents that are known to exist but are not found in the Archives, so that complete documentation can finally be offered to the general public.
The texts are presented in the original language, which for the most part is Latin.
"Sacrosanctum Concilium" presents the liturgy as the continuation of Christ's work of salvation in every place and every time. The mystery of Christ is present in it, making it the source and summit of ecclesial life.
Pamela E.J. Jackson is right to identify the key to interpreting the document in paragraph 7, which ends as follows:
"From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree."
She has also noted that the sources of the theology of the liturgy, in the constitution, are Sacred Scripture and the liturgical, patristic, and theological tradition, interpreted by the magisterium, especially with the encyclicals "Mystici Corporis" and "Mediator Dei," to such an extent that one can say that in the liturgical field Vatican Council II "completed the work begun by Pius XII."
This corresponds to what Benedict XVI stated at the audience of October 10, 2012: "Sacrosanctum Concilium points out to us . . . the centrality of the mystery of Christ’s presence." As also in the speech of February 18, 2013 to the Roman clergy and in the preface to his writings on liturgical subjects:
"The first, initial, simple – or apparently simple – intention was the reform of the liturgy, which had begun with Pius XII, who had already reformed the Holy Week liturgy. [. . .] I find now, looking back, that it was a very good idea to begin with the liturgy, because in this way the primacy of God could appear, the primacy of adoration. 'Operi Dei nihil praeponatur': this phrase from the Rule of Saint Benedict thus emerges as the supreme rule of the Council."
If one does not want to agree with Benedict XVI, there is Henri De Lubac. For this great theologian as well the constitution on the sacred liturgy has been "often misunderstood and sometimes misrepresented in a sacrilegious way." Because after the Council the conviction took hold that the liturgical constitution postulated a reform in the sense of a rupture with the tradition of the Catholic liturgy. In at least four areas: the Eucharist as supper instead of as sacrifice; the assembly as subject of the liturgy instead of the priest; participation as an alternative to adoration; the central importance of the community in the place of the cosmic breadth of the Eucharistic sacrifice.
For this reason as well it is important to go back to the sources. The preparatory documents permit one to look at "Sacrosanctum Concilium" with more objectivity and allow the evaluation of its postconciliar execution.Also in the light of the statements of the fathers in the assembly, the constitution was intended to be a normative framework but did not imply a fundamental transformation of the Catholic liturgy. In this - Joseph Ratzinger has written - it is necessary to "see in what area, so to speak, too much was pruned away, so that the connection with the whole history may become clearer and more alive again. I myself have talked in this sense of a 'reform of the reform.' But in my opinion this ought in the first place to be above all an educative process, which would put a stop to this trampling all over the liturgy with one's own inventions."