Monday, October 8, 2012

Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pt. 11

Picking up where we left off, we continue with the specific things that are actually brought up for revision by the liturgical constitution. Of course, none of these things call for a whole new Mass.

Both the rites for the baptism of adults are to be revised: not only the simpler rite, but also the more solemn one, which must take into account the restored catechumenate. A special Mass "for the conferring of baptism" is to be inserted into the Roman Missal.

Recall that the catechumenate was discussed here.

The rite for the baptism of infants is to be revised, and it should be adapted to the circumstance that those to be baptized are, in fact, infants. The roles of parents and godparents, and also their duties, should be brought out more clearly in the rite itself.

The baptismal rite should contain variants, to be used at the discretion of the local ordinary, for occasions when a very large number are to be baptized together. Moreover, a shorter rite is to be drawn up, especially for mission lands, to be used by catechists, but also by the faithful in general when there is danger of death, and neither priest nor deacon is available.

In place of the rite called the "Order of supplying what was omitted in the baptism of an infant," a new rite is to be drawn up. This should manifest more fittingly and clearly that the infant, baptized by the short rite, has already been received into the Church.

Notice that baptism is still considered a big deal, unlike today when you can go to an RCIA class and be told that baptism isn't really that big of a deal and that it's a shame that we still baptize babies. Even though Vatican II thought enough about it to mention explicitly a new rite for infants.

And a new rite is to be drawn up for converts who have already been validly baptized; it should indicate that they are now admitted to communion with the Church.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! What is this? Let me get this straight. There needs to be a new rite for folks already baptized. Why? To show that now they are admitted to Communion with the Church. Now, meaning, after they become Catholic, right? Which would mean that before they are Catholic, they excluded from communion with the Church. Right? Maybe someone should tell folks like Fr. McBrien about this, since he clearly thinks this is the sort of badness that Vatican II addressed (allegedly).

Except during Eastertide, baptismal water may be blessed within the rite of baptism itself by an approved shorter formula.

The rite of confirmation is to be revised and the intimate connection which this sacrament has with the whole of Christian initiation is to be more clearly set forth; for this reason it is fitting for candidates to renew their baptismal promises just before they are confirmed.

Confirmation may be given within the Mass when convenient; when it is given outside the Mass, the rite that is used should be introduced by a formula to be drawn up for this purpose.

I think it's pretty safe to say that if the new rite of Confirmation was help clarify what the sacrament is and does that it has been a colossal failure. How many times have you heard about Confirmation as the sacrament of "mature commitment" or some other such nonsense? I'm sure that would come as a surprise to Karl and our other Eastern brethren who confirm/chrismate infants. Either the rite failed miserably in its stated purpose or only about 1 in every 100 Catholics actually pay attention to what is going on, which would also, I think, be an indictment of the new rite.

The rite and formulas for the sacrament of penance are to be revised so that they more clearly express both the nature and effect of the sacrament.

Ditto what I wrote about Confirmation. If it were otherwise, one would expect the lines for confession to be much, much longer. Or just existent, for that matter.

"Extreme unction," which may also and more fittingly be called "anointing of the sick," is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as any one of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.

I know a lot of folks who really get in a twist about this part, but like with so many other things, I think they are usually thrown off by how it's been implemented rather than what the constitution actually says.

Note that it still requires that there be a danger of death, albeit not necessarily imminent. In other words, the wholesale provision of this sacrament to the masses isn't what was envisioned. If this wasn't the case, why would it indicate that the name "extreme unction" is still an appropriate name for the sacrament? True, "anointing of the sick" might be more fitting, but if it can also be called "extreme unction," doesn't that mean that there should be some, you know, extremeness going on?

In addition to the separate rites for anointing of the sick and for viaticum, a continuous rite shall be prepared according to which the sick man is anointed after he has made his confession and before he receives viaticum.

The number of the anointings is to be adapted to the occasion, and the prayers which belong to the rite of anointing are to be revised so as to correspond with the varying conditions of the sick who receive the sacrament.

This was just asking for trouble. Putting in the possibility of variation is a recipe for abuse, especially when left as vague as this. If someone might die, isn't that all you need? I'm reminded of a bit from A Few Good Men. Jack Nicholson is asked if the deceased Marine was in "grave danger." His response: Is there any other kind?

I will say this. At least they didn't mention that the new rite of anointing was supposed to clarify what was happening or the purpose of the sacrament. If they had, it would have been yet another epic fail, since the new rite de-emphasizes the principle goal of the sacrament, namely, to heal the soul from sin and prepare it for death.

Both the ceremonies and texts of the ordination rites are to be revised. The address given by the bishop at the beginning of each ordination or consecration may be in the mother tongue.

When a bishop is consecrated, the laying of hands may be done by all the bishops present.

By "revised," they must have meant "eviscerated" if you look at what actually happened. Let me be clear that I think the new rite of ordination is absolutely valid. Look at what it says, though, or perhaps doesn't say. Multiple references to the sacrificial aspect of the priesthood are gone, along with those relating to absolution of sins. I highly recommend Michael Davies's book The Order of Melchisedech on this point. The differences are quite shocking.

Next up: Marriage (to be cont.)


Titus said...

This whole segment is a train wreck. The results have been shockingly, scandalously bad. Honestly: have you heard the modern Rite of Baptism? It's insipid, maudlin, and confused. "This is our faith; we are proud to profess it." Well, I'm glad it's all about us now.

And what should we have expected? The guidance in S.C. is nonexistent: "The rite for the baptism of infants . . . should be adapted to the circumstance that those to be baptized are, in fact, infants." What on earth does this even mean?

Apparently, it means that we should no longer bless things, or exorcise them, or speak in plain terms about the effect of the sacrament, or have any abjurations.

We won't even get into "special Mass 'for the conferring of baptism.'" If there's one thing that's generated needless widespread confusion, it's the modern mania for interrupting Mass to do everything else.

The Holy Spirit makes you right: He doesn't make you smart or articulate.

Throwback said...

As far as the bit about the rite of baptism reflecting that infants are infants, my personal take was that they were looking for greater differentiation between what was done with babies vs what was done for adults. This could have been done well if there had been a focus on the whys of baptizing infants who have no sin in contrast to older folk who have done wrong. You could have had a marvelous reminder of original sin and the gratuitous nature of God's mercy.

Needless to say, we didn't get that.

Titus said...

Hmm, that's a possibility. I can't honestly say that I've ever looked at the old rite of baptism of adults. I guess maybe that would make for some different abjurations. Or perhaps asking the child a question at all would be maladapted to the circumstance of the person's infancy. That certainly seems to have been the conclusion.