Friday, November 08, 2013

10 things that speak mighty well of Vatican II

Louis Verrechio, in an article entitled "Vatican II and Living the Catholic Faith" (CNA, March 4, 2010), pointed out something that we all know (or should know), which we would do well to remind ourselves of once in a while. Nowhere in the documents and decrees of Vatican II is any of the following changes even remotely suggested. None of the following were ever mandated by Vatican II:
  • Removing the altar rails and kneelers from so many of our churches
  • Stripping our sacred places of sacred statues, sacred art and other ornamentation
  • Getting rid of Gregorian Chant
  • Introducing the Folk Mass, and instruments like tambourines and drums
  • Inviting parishioners to receive the Most Holy Eucharist in their hands
  • Turning the priest around to face the people
  • Building new churches to resemble theatres in the round
  • Moving the tabernacle from the high altar to places of relative obscurity
  • Stripping the Liturgy of the Latin language
Yet these are the very sorts of things that most Catholics in their experience identify with the changes introduced into their Church by Vatican II.

So what happened?


Jimmy Akin said...

Annibale Bugnini. Among others.

JFM said...

I think removing altar rails and receiving communion standing versus kneeling, assembly line fashion, has had a much bigger impact than the orientation of the priest, the switch to tables, or temples in the round. It completely changes the dynamic to "my turn" versus "my worship." I grew up in a MEthodist Church that had communion around a rail. I visited two weeks ago, and the modern minister now has Catholic-style receiving lines, one manned by him and his wife, one by a another couple, and one by two teenage girls. And of course the thrust of his sermon was the primacy of communion and the fact we are all ministers. Ironically, I am not at all sure much time is saved in the more utilitarian approach either. But the flattening effect is undeniable. I think it all goes back to someone I pasted here from someone else in an earlier comment: different idea of God are at play. One God is modern, loving, understanding, and pleased with us. "It's all good." The other God is ancient, holy, all-knowing, and wants to save us. Different ideas of sin as well, one seeing sin as negative energy in social relationships, the other as an offense against holiness. And the list goes on. But kneeling or not kneeling seems very clearly the most fundamental codified expression of the two antagonistic theisms.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Did V2 create Novus Ordo? No.

Who did?

Those most inebriated by the Spirit of Self-Congratulation that swept over the assembled fathers like a tsunami empowered the future Papal Nuncio of Teheran to gather his elves around a conference table and reinvent the Mass.

So tell me Louie: what's the bleedin' difference ?

Sheldon said...


You wrote: "... much bigger impact than the orientation of the priest ..."

I would have agreed, maybe, several years ago.

While Pope Benedict VI insisted his Communicants receive only kneeling and on the tongue, in his books he repeatedly stressed the detrimental effects that the versus populum dis-orientation can have (even though he never insisted on changing his own practice in this regard). He warned about the gathered congregation becoming the focus, among other things.

The effects of the priest facing the people and other "secondary" things you mention are more subtle, I think, but just as dis-orienting as the more immediate details of reception standing and in the hand, etc.

This was hammered home to me when I recently assisted at a Latin Mass in the Novus Ordo form with the priest celebrating the liturgy ad orientem. The priest, who was not wearing a microphone, practically shouted out the words of his Missal from the Offertory through the Consecration.

Suddenly the difference of this Mass hit me: the words are meant to be heard by the congregation and effectively being addressed as much to the congregation as they are to God.

This forcibly drove home the massive difference between the Masses. In the traditional Latin Mass, those in the congregation may follow along in their Missals, but the priest isn't addressing them. In fact, the choir may be chanting (singing) the Propers while the priest is addressing his words to God. The focus is remarkably different.

This also explains why, in the new Mass, there are so many "asides" by the priest, in which he breaks out of the rubrics to tell the congregation to stand or sit or to briefly chat with everyone or explain (outside of the homily) the theme of the lectionary readings. The feeling is remarkably like that of a Protestant service, where the minister welcomes you, asks if there are any visitors, mentions the weather, and so on. Even where God is directly addressed in a Protestant service, the words are as much for the ears in the congregation as for the ears of God. This is exactly the same in the Novus Ordo.