Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pt. 1

Kicking it off on the liturgy, we begin with the introduction. Please keep in mind that for some of this, I may not provide commentary. Even so, I think this is a worthwhile exercise in just presenting the material from Vatican II for people to read and digest in small bits. Also, please keep in mind that the point here is to show that the stuff in Vatican II is being manipulated by folks with agendas contrary to God's. Or, as Amerio quotes Fr. Schillebeeckx as saying:

We have used ambiguous terms during the Council, and we know how we shall interpret them afterwards.

And away we go.

This sacred Council has several aims in view:

Let's keep these in mind as we go through.

it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful

Nothing huge there.

to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change

And what are these elements? Not sure. Yet.

to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ

Here's the first bit that might make you go, "Hmmmm." Why? Because this principle gets spun out by those charged with the implementation of the ensuing liturgical form as giving them license to do anything they wanted. Consider this comment from Archbishop Bugnini (who we'll talk more about later):

We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren that is for the Prostestants.

That's a bold statement, but it expresses a sentiment that is rife amongst folks who look at Vatican II through the innovators' glasses.

to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church.

Amen! But notice how this contrasts with what the picture of unity might be for the innovator might be from the prior comment. Unity here = conversion. It does not mean a shift, convergence, or whatever whereby Catholicism becomes Protestantized.

The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.

I don't think anyone really denies there was a need for some kind of liturgical reform.

For the liturgy, "through which the work of our redemption is accomplished," [Secret of the ninth Sunday after Pentecost] most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church.

Considering the liturgy is perhaps the most palpable refutation of the evangelical "Jesus and Me" concept, this is good stuff, I think.

It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek [Hebrews 13:14].

There is a good deal of awesomeness packed into that emphasized part there. In fact, you might be able to trace 90%+ of the Church's current problems to the modern parishioner, priest, bishop, or whoever to accept this very basic principle, especially when it comes to the liturgy.

Think about it. What elevates the human above God, visible above invisible, and so forth than your average Disco Mass. What parish "liturgical committee" doesn't spend the bulk of its time trying to find newer and better ways of increasing action over contemplation? Hell, the entire notion of participation at Mass these days is about putting exterior what-not above interior reflection.

While the liturgy daily builds up those who are within into a holy temple of the Lord, into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit [Eph. 2:21-22], to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ [Eph. 4:13], at the same time it marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations [Is. 11:12] under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together [John 11:52], until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd [John 10:16].

I take time now to point out another item relating to the liturgy as something for those who are outside the Church to take note of. One would think this suggests a liturgy that would be expressly Catholic, as opposed to modified to meet Protestant ideas.

Wherefore the sacred Council judges that the following principles concerning the promotion and reform of the liturgy should be called to mind, and that practical norms should be established.

Among these principles and norms there are some which can and should be applied both to the Roman rite and also to all the other rites. The practical norms which follow, however, should be taken as applying only to the Roman rite, except for those which, in the very nature of things, affect other rites as well.

I've tried really hard to make sense of that second paragraph. There's stuff that applies to all rites, but there will be some that apply only to the Roman rite, except for what affects other rites. It might help if I had a better idea of what was meant by "practical norms." Regardless of what the rest of the constitution says, I see this thrown around a lot by folks who want to "reform" the Eastern rites or the other Western rites.

Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.

In retrospect, this seems weird. All the rites are great and awesome. The Council wants to preserve and foster them. Reform should be done "carefully" and "in the light of sound tradition." Yet they are supposed to meet the needs of modern times.

Here's what I don't get. The times for Gregory the Great and John Chrysostom were modern for them when they lived in them. As time went on, any given Catholic going to Mass was going in their own modern time. Were these liturgies not meeting the needs and circumstances of those times for those Catholics? Or were the 60s just a new kind of times that meant new stuff needed to be done?

And that whole deal about preserving all the rites? Until the motu proprio came out, did anybody seriously think that efforts had been made to preserve the Traditional Latin Mass? Where was the Roman rite in all these efforts for preservation?

It was annihilated, per Msgr. Klaus Gamber in his book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy:

At this critical juncture, the traditional Roman rite, more than one thousand years old, has been destroyed.

It doesn't make any sense.

Let me know what you all think


kbyrnes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kbyrnes said...

I agree that the baby was thrown out with the bathwater. I was 10 years old, going on 11, in December 1965, when the new liturgy in English was rolled out. All that memorization of the Latin parts (altar boy stuff) for nothing (or so I thought at the time). Introibo ad altare Dei...

The next thing you knew, it was "Allelu, Allelu, ev'rybody sing Allelu," and all the other Friends of the English Liturgy style of simple songs. Gone were the Latin chants, the organ playing mysteriously (as it struck us back then), the incense, the fasting on Fridays.

Andrew Greeley wrote once that even though they may not have been doctrinally central, all of these sensuous elements were dear to generations of American Catholics, and helped them in the formation of their spiritual lives. They were jettisoned with fairly little explanation to the congregants, and there was a lot of grumbling. For years, despite new songs ("Sing a New Song" by Dan Schutte was actually new when we sang it in the Chapel Choir at ND in 1973!) in a gradually widening and maturing variety of styles, many in the pews would just stand there and watch as the song went on around them.

Since then, new generations have grown up who are used to the "new" liturgy, and good music directors know that they can bring a tear to the eyes of baby boomers on May 1 by scheduling the old May Crowning hymn, or use some of the more familiar of the old chants along with newer things.

I was the music director for the Catholic student center at the U of Chicago back in the 80's, and noted with interest the different liturgical (musical) constituencies: the Saturday mass at 5, said by Father David Tracy, was attended by a group that really wanted to hear his homily, and otherwise cared not for a note of music.

Sunday morning, I used hymns, chant, medieval and Renaissance polyphony, American folk hymns, D.C. Isele (who was at ND when I was there), St. Louis Jesuits, Haugen, Joncas, et al., the key being to have lyrics that were appropriate for the lectionary selections or the liturgical action. I'd have instrumentalists who changed every year (like football players graduating!) and so had the happy task of arranging, say, a violin with two clarinets and a French horn, or guitar with flute and cello.

Sunday at 5 was more like, all folkie stuff, all the time.

I did that for 11 years, even after I was no longer a grad student, and never had people at the Saturday mass say, I wish we had music like the Sunday 11 a.m. mass; no one from 11 a.m. ever said there was too much music (though they gave their opinions on what shouldn't be used, or what should be used more often), and the Sunday 5-ers never complained about the music being unremittingly bouncy or strummy.

One thing I take from the text you were analyzing is that the Catholic bishops thought we had to broaden the liturgy in order to appeal to external constituencies (Protestant denominations), when they never suspected that there were various internal constituencies (at least with respect to the styles of liturgy) waiting to bloom.

Throwback said...

More or less, yes, as to your last point.

Thanks for the history lesson by the way. Most folks in my parish just recall the implementation of the new missal as a blur. It was pretty traumatic for a lot and we did lose several members to sedevacantism. Very sad.