Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pt. 5

And we're back, and we're heading straight back to the Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy:

In order that the Christian people may more certainly derive an abundance of graces from the sacred liturgy, holy Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself.

Ok, let's notice that the first thing here is that what is supposed to happen is a "restoration." I don't think it's out of bounds to say that this would have a frame of reference to something that came before. Creating something completely new is not restoring it.

For the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These not only may but ought to be changed with the passage of time if they have suffered from the intrusion of anything out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy or have become unsuited to it.

Sure, but might it not be a dangerous thing to just change something that was as venerable as the Mass? Something that had gone basically unchanged since the time of Gregory the Great doesn't seem a very ripe field for things that might be unsuitable. This reminds me of something Aquinas said in the First Part of the Second Part, Question 97, Article 2 of the Summa. He basically says that crappy laws might be best left alone, since changing the law all the time diminishes the power of the law in question. It habituates people to change, rather than to stability. Isn't that what happened with the Mass?

Cardinal Ottaviani warned of this very thing at the Council, per The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber:

Are we seeking to stir up wonder, or perhaps scandal, among the Christian people, by introducing changes in so venerable a rite, that has been approved for so many centuries and is now so familiar? The rite of Holy Mass should not be treated as if it were a piece of cloth to be refashioned according to the whim of each generation...

Anyways, onward we go.

In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community.

Aha!, someone says. There's the impetus for ditching Latin and all that other stuff! Not really. If you recall, active participation in the Mass has already been described as a contemplative thing. Moreover, the rest of the Constitution goes into some detail as to what we're supposed to do to understand this stuff better. Just bear with us.

Wherefore the sacred Council establishes the following general norms:

A) General norms

22. 1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.

Of course.

2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.

Ugh. The good part is the bit about "certain defined limits." The bad part is that is brings up bishop conferences and ignores that unless the "limits" are defined and then enforced, bad things will happen. This phrasing might have been unwise.

3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.

Here's one of those limits right here, yet how many priests and bishops do this very thing? Without enforcement, this is a functionally worthless statement.

23. That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress careful investigation is always to be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised. This investigation should be theological, historical, and pastoral. Also the general laws governing the structure and meaning of the liturgy must be studied in conjunction with the experience derived from recent liturgical reforms and from the indults conceded to various places. Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing. As far as possible, notable differences between the rites used in adjacent regions must be carefully avoided.

First, we're retaining sound tradition. Does that sound like it suggests creating an entirely new Mass?

Careful investigation. Why bother if you are just going to make something new?

Third, and please consider this carefully, no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them. What in this remotely suggests that an entire new Mass is needed? Did the good of the Church require such a thing? The Traditional Mass had nurtured the spirituality of the Latin Church for centuries. It was an instrument for converting the world. Why did it have to be shelved? What good was damaged by its continued presence?

Finally, organic development from the forms already existing. This by itself demonstrates that a Novus Ordo wasn't in the works. We also know from his comments on the current liturgy being a "banal fabrication" that the Holy Father sees it as not springing from organic development at all.

24. Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from scripture that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung; the prayers, collects, and liturgical songs are scriptural in their inspiration and their force, and it is from the scriptures that actions and signs derive their meaning. Thus to achieve the restoration, progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy, it is essential to promote that warm and living love for scripture to which the venerable tradition of both eastern and western rites gives testimony.

Nothing really to see here, I think.

25. The liturgical books are to be revised as soon as possible; experts are to be employed on the task, and bishops are to be consulted, from various parts of the world.

Yeah, this was probably a bad idea, too. Consider that the lead expert in all this was Archbishop Bugnini, who was later suspected of being a Freemason. Check this comment he made back in 1965:

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 Protestants.

Does this sound like a guy interested in restoration, organic development, or the maintenance of tradition?

B) Norms drawn from the hierarchic and communal nature of the Liturgy

26. Liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of the Church, which is the "sacrament of unity," namely, the holy people united and ordered under their bishops.[33]

The footnote here is to St. Cyprian's treatise on the Unity of the Church, as well as to his 66th Epistle.

The former item insists that the Church cannot be other than one:

That coat (Christ's garment at the Crucifixion) bore with it an unity that came down from the top, that is, that came from heaven and the Father, which was not to be at all rent by the receiver and the possessor, but without separation we obtain a whole and substantial entireness. He cannot possess the garment of Christ who parts and divides the Church of Christ.He cannot possess the garment of Christ who parts and divides the Church of Christ.

The latter item is a about excomming a schismatic and replacing him with another bishop.

Therefore liturgical services pertain to the whole body of the Church; they manifest it and have effects upon it; but they concern the individual members of the Church in different ways, according to their differing rank, office, and actual participation.

In other words, there are things some people can do that you can't. Like the priest. You can't do the things he does.

27. It is to be stressed that whenever rites, according to their specific nature, make provision for communal celebration involving the presence and active participation of the faithful, this way of celebrating them is to be preferred, so far as possible, to a celebration that is individual and quasi-private. This applies with especial force to the celebration of Mass and the administration of the sacraments, even though every Mass has of itself a public and social nature.

This is a reference to private Masses, which I've been told by some who deny the Mass as Sacrifice instead of a "communal supper." Clearly, though, this isn't the suppression that some folks claim. All it says is that other folks should be there if possible.

The "according to their specific nature" part makes this more likely about other things, too. It might be talking about the Divine Office.

28. In liturgical celebrations each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy.

Again, stick to what you are supposed to be doing. If you aren't a priest, don't pretend to be one. Otherwise, you're out of your element, Donny.

29. Servers, lectors commentators, and members of the choir also exercise a genuine liturgical function. They ought, therefore, to discharge their office with the sincere piety and decorum demanded by so exalted a ministry and rightly expected of them by God's people. Consequently they must all be deeply imbued with the spirit of the liturgy, each in his own measure, and they must be trained to perform their functions in a correct and orderly manner.

Training? For the choir? Why would a choir need training? Don't you just get up there and sing a song? That doesn't take any training.

More on that in a bit. For now, just consider the part about piety and decorum and whether or not this fits the bill:

30. To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.

So there are times to sing, say things, and do things. Then there are times to be quiet. In spite of what you might have heard, these are not items exclusive to the Pauline Mass, especially if we're talking about Dialogue Masses in the Extraordinary Form. Do not forget, though, that the Council has already said that the contemplative aspect of worship is the superior.

31. The revision of the liturgical books must carefully attend to the provision of rubrics also for the people's parts.

This is good. The Traditional Mass, so far as I know, never had rubrics for the people.

32. The liturgy makes distinctions between persons according to their liturgical function and sacred Orders, and there are liturgical laws providing for due honors to be given to civil authorities. Apart from these instances, no special honors are to be paid in the liturgy to any private persons or classes of persons, whether in the ceremonies or by external display.

This is noteworthy. It not only reiterates that the Mass itself emphasizes the distinction between priest and laity, but it also makes it clear that you don't change the liturgy because a Kennedy or other such person is involved.

By my reckoning, this puts us about 20% of the way through the Constitution. I will do better on this. I promise. Hopefully, this entry will get me back on track.


Anonymous said...

You lost me when you integrated a 40 year old quote from Card. Ottavianni without dating it.

Throwback said...

Sorry about that. The quote was from the actual deliberations on the Council floor re: the schema on the liturgy.

The actual date was October 30, 1962. If you'd like the remaining context of the speech, it's discussed in this post:

Mark of the Vineyard said...

Where'd part 4 go?