Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hilarity Ensues at Vatican II

I thought this was an interesting story. Cardinal Stickler is one of the greatest liturgical scholars of the last half-century. John Paul II acknowledged this by appointing him to the original committee in charge of investigating the status of the Traditional Latin Mass. He was also present as a peritus (theological expert) at the Second Vatican Council. This article (thanks to the Latin Mass Magazine) is a great take on the changes wrought by the post-conciliar liturgical reform.

While the whole thing is awesome, the best part is this snippet when he talks about the Council's discussion of the vernacular being used for the whole Mass.

As an expert on the commission for the seminaries, I was entrusted with the question of the Latin language. It proved to be brief and concise and after lengthy discussion was brought to a form which complied with the wishes of all members and was ready for presentation in the Council hall. Then, in an unexpected solemnity, Pope John XXIII signed the Apostolic Letter Veterum Sapientia on the altar of St. Peter. According to the opinion of the commission, that made superfluous the Council's declaration on Latin in the Church. (In the document not only the relationship of the Latin language to the liturgy, but also all its other functions in the life of the Church, were pronounced upon.)

As the subject of the language of worship was discussed in the Council hall over the course of several days, I followed the process with great attention, as well as later the various wordings of the Liturgy Constitution until the final vote. I still remember very well how after several radical proposals a Sicilian bishop rose and implored the fathers to allow caution and reason to reign on this point, because otherwise there would be the danger that the entire Mass might be held in the language of the people-whereupon the entire hall burst into uproarious laughter.

I could therefore never understand how Archbishop Bugnini could write, regarding the radical and complete transition from the prescribed Latin to the exclusively vulgar language of worship, that the Council had practically said that the vernacular in the entire Mass was a pastoral necessity (op. cit., pp. 108-121; I am quoting from the original Italian edition).

Wild, huh? The Council Fathers thought the very idea of vernacular for the Latin Rite to be a big joke. Somehow, though, we wound up with just that. Keep that in mind the next time someone mentions how Vatican II's discussion of "full and active participation" equates to an abolition of Latin in the liturgy.


Alexander said...

It’s a crafted “time-bomb” in the document on the liturgy that allowed Bugnini and his pals to push through an all vernacular liturgy. That and Pope Paul VI was a bit weak sometimes.

Bugnini’s commission also wanted to remove the Roman Canon (Eucharistic prayer number 1), the Orate Fratres, and a few other things I cannot recall right now. Paul VI intervened and had them retain a some of it thankfully but not without cost (the Orate Fratres, for example, was reworded from saying “my sacrifice and yours” to “our sacrifice” – this can blur the line between layperson and priest).

Figulus said...

The Orate Fratres was not re-worded in the Latin, "Orate, fratres, ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem omnipotentem."

Our current mistranslation into English makes it sound as if it changed. The new translation currently in progress shall remedy this error.