Monday, September 6, 2010

Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pt. 6

Continuing on with the Constitution on the Liturgy:

Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the faithful [34]. For in the liturgy God speaks to His people and Christ is still proclaiming His gospel. And the people reply to God both by song and prayer.

A couple of things here. First, this is something lost in the Pauline Mass. I remember when my wife was first looking to convert to Orthodoxy, I had a lot of good conversations with our contributor Karl about the best resources for learning about it. He was absolutely correct when he told me to focus on the liturgy. With the exception of the Roman Canon, I really don't think the current Eucharistic Prayers in the West are very good at laying out the Church's beliefs. This is especially true with Prayer #2, which we all know is the most popular because it's the shortest. That should tell you something right there.

Second, the Mass is presented as God speaking to the people and the people responding to God. The number of Catholics who think the Mass is a dialogue with the priest is huge.

Third, the footnote is a Cf. to Session XXII, Chapter 8, of the Council of Trent on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To begin, how many "spirit of Vatican" types would freak out if they knew Trent was cited at VII about the liturgy.

More significant, though, is what Chapter 8 actually says about the instruction given to the laity:

Although the mass contains great instruction for the faithful people, nevertheless, it has not seemed expedient to the Fathers, that it should be every where celebrated in the vulgar tongue. Wherefore, the ancient usage of each church, and the rite approved of by the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all churches, being in each place retained; and, that the sheep of Christ may not suffer hunger, nor the little ones ask for bread, and there be none to break it unto them, the holy Synod charges pastors, and all who have the cure of souls, that they frequently, during the celebration of mass, expound either by themselves, or others, some portion of those things which are read at mass, and that, amongst the rest, they explain some mystery of this most holy sacrifice, especially on the Lord's days and festivals.

In other words, the Mass is all in Latin and is going to stay that way, so you priests had best be explaining what's going on. This will be an even bigger deal later, but I think it's interesting to check where the citation leads us on this. It certainly isn't to the cliche of "Vatican II said that we needed to understand stuff better so it switched the Mass to the vernacular."

Moving on:

Moreover, the prayers addressed to God by the priest who presides over the assembly in the person of Christ are said in the name of the entire holy people and of all present. And the visible signs used by the liturgy to signify invisible divine things have been chosen by Christ or the Church. Thus not only when things are read "which were written for our instruction" (Rom. 15:4), but also when the Church prays or sings or acts, the faith of those taking part is nourished and their minds are raised to God, so that they may offer Him their rational service and more abundantly receive His grace.

The best thing to take away from this is the bit about nourished faith and minds being raised to God. Somebody needs to explain how liturgical experimentation raises minds to God, rather than keeping them in the room with the committee.

Wherefore, in the revision of the liturgy, the following general norms should be observed:

Ok, this should give us specifics on what liturgical reform should look like, right?

The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.

And right out of the gate, the ambiguity shows itself. First, you've got the stuff about noble simplicity. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this, but check these articles from the New Liturgical Movement and Nova et Vera for the explanations on why noble simplicity doesn't mean iconoclasm. I will interject the question of how most of the Disco Liturgy that we see on YouTube and such can in any way qualify as noble or simple. Most of the abuses that we encounter are the opposite of this. Moreover, is this really something that wasn't already present? The TLM is very noble and simple, even at High Mass. As the NLM article shows, the exuberant liturgies are all in the East.

Second, I don't think anyone can gripe about the TLM not being short, clear, and non-repetitive. You have a second Confiteor, but outside of that, all the repeated stuff is just as repetitive in the Pauline Mass. So the question becomes what exactly are they talking about here?

Third, stuff is supposed to be comprehensible and without need for explanation. Didn't we just read a citation that said the opposite? The Mass is useful for instruction. Isn't it typical that people who need instruction aren't going to comprehend something and instead need it explained to them? This part is just plain weird, but you see it relied upon a lot by folks who have well-nigh Jansenist ideas on liturgy (see this article for a description of such ideas).

That the intimate connection between words and rites may be apparent in the liturgy:

In sacred celebrations there is to be more reading from holy scripture, and it is to be more varied and suitable.

So here we have the new cycle of readings. I get the intent here. I'm just not sure it worked out that way. Sometimes, it seems like having to work in more readings has made for less suitable selections for the occasion.

Because the sermon is part of the liturgical service, the best place for it is to be indicated even in the rubrics, as far as the nature of the rite will allow; the ministry of preaching is to be fulfilled with exactitude and fidelity. The sermon, moreover, should draw its content mainly from scriptural and liturgical sources, and its character should be that of a proclamation of God's wonderful works in the history of salvation, the mystery of Christ, ever made present and active within us, especially in the celebration of the liturgy.

Nothing wrong with this. I'm just not sure how much it's actually done.

Instruction which is more explicitly liturgical should also be given in a variety of ways; if necessary, short directives to be spoken by the priest or proper minister should be provided within the rites themselves. But they should occur only at the more suitable moments, and be in prescribed or similar words.

This is basically a repetition of what we quoted from Trent above. Again, though, the weirdness is palpable since we are having to explain stuff again when it's already been said that you shouldn't have to explain anything.

Bible services should be encouraged, especially on the vigils of the more solemn feasts, on some weekdays in Advent and Lent, and on Sundays and feast days. They are particularly to be commended in places where no priest is available; when this is so, a deacon or some other person authorized by the bishop should preside over the celebration.

I'm not sure what is meant by Bible services. It is noteworthy that the Constitution again demands that whoever is leading must be someone authorized by the bishop.

Which brings us to:

Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

Boom. Vatican II actually says that Latin is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

Let's look at the rest of the section:

But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

Note the language. "May be of great advantage." "May be extended." Start with readings and directives, then "some of the prayers and chants." In what measure of this do we find the impetus for an abolition of Latin?

These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.

We've talked about the Art. 22 section before. This is a big part of where our troubles come from.

Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

We're seeing this happen now with the new ICEL translation.

I'm going to stop here because the whole Latin business is usually what most people think of when VII liturgical reform is discussed. It's also the reason given for many as to why they don't like the TLM, even if they've never been to one before. There's a lot of info I think we need to go over for this to make it clear that, even with the ambiguity inserted into these passages, it's a huge stretch to claim that the Council was remotely contemplating an all-vernacular liturgy, and even more off-case to say that the vernacular was mandated. Our suggestion here is that the thing most cited as the defining characteristic of the Pauline Mass is actually nothing like the proposed conciliar reform.


Alexander said...

I had a plan once to go over this document in detail some day. I guess you beat me to it.

Note the language. "May be of great advantage." "May be extended." Start with readings and directives, then "some of the prayers and chants." In what measure of this do we find the impetus for an abolition of Latin?

And this is one way to get the conservatives to vote in approval of the document. Not only do you use ambiguity which later can be exploited if the conditions are right (and they were) you also use a traditional explanation followed by a non-traditional one explaining it in a way that makes it seem like the novelty will be used in a limited fashion and only when necessary.

This was the gateway to get all vernacular liturgies. Yes, it doesn't say to do that but it was a stepping stone towards it. The neo-modernists then will call this a "development" going from non-vernacular to bits of vernacular here and there when "necessary" to full vernacular. Trads call this a novelty that departs from proper development. Neo-modernistis will claim it is legitimate development of Vatican II because the Church is "always evolving and must represent its doctrine and its liturgy in a new way to conform to the modern world.

Notice too the talk of more Scripture and "Bible services" without a priest. Was Bugnini writing this part? This sounds very strange, almost protestant. What better ecumenical endeavor is there than to create protestant-like services at your Catholic Church without the need of a priest. Why not have a full Catholic teaching service that includes not only the Bible but council writings, Doctors of the Church and writings of varies Popes?

Throwback said...

Have you seen this older post re: Cardinal Stickler's testimony?

Cardinal Heenan said much the same thing in his autobiography Crown of Thorns. We're going to pull more such stuff from our select group of commentators before it's over with.

Stay tuned.

Mark of the Vineyard said...

Not really related, but is Part 4 the "parenthesis" post?

Throwback said...

Part 4 is here:

Mark of the Vineyard said...