Thursday, July 29, 2010


One of the reasons for the reform of the Mass at Vatican II was to get rid of all of the various extra things that crept into the Mass over the centuries. Post Vatican II it seems that we could not wait to plaster a whole bunch of things back in to the Mass – many under the guise of being in the Spirit of Vatican II (an extremely slippery term that nobody can quite define but is used as a catch all for allowing just about anything.)

It may not seem like such a big deal but there are consequences. Extra services and blessings, processions, added songs, extra ministers and ministries in various forms and in differenting amounts are added to the Liturgy. Pope Benedict describes this in his book, “The Spirit of the Liturgy” in this way, “Unfortunately, (active participation) was very quickly misunderstood to mean something external, entailing a need for general activity, as if as many people as possible, as often as possible, should visibly engage in action. . . The almost theatrical entrance of different players into the liturgy, which is so common today, especially during the Preparation of the Gifts, quite simply misses the point.”

And what is the point? All these ministries are quite secondary to the primary action and the more we pull people away to perform secondary actions the less, obviously, are there doing the primary – or at least the less important the primary seems. I wonder if this does not extend from the idea that we come to Mass to watch, to be entertained, as one would do passively say at the theater. But in actuality we are each of us priests, prophets, and kings. The priesthood of the people may be different from the ordained priesthood but is none-the-less and essential ministry to be carried out by each baptized person, the five your old (in their own way) as well as the 95 year old.

Continuing with Pope Benedicts words, “The real Liturgical action, the true liturgical act is the oratio, the great prayer that forms the core of the Eucharistic celebration. . . we must pray for it to become our sacrifice, that we ourselves, as we have said, may be transformed into the Logos, conformed to the Logos, and so be made the true Body of Christ. . .in this prayerful approach to participation, there is no difference between priest and laity. . . Of course, external actions – reading, singing, the bringing up of gifts – can be distributed in a sensible way. By the same token, participation in the Liturgy of the Word (reading, singing) is to be distinguished from the sacramental celebration proper. We should be clearly aware that external actions are quite secondary here.”

So we come to at least some of the consequences of adding things to the Mass. The first would be the fostering of the idea that we come to Mass to witness something and that those who “have something to do” are in some way “participating more or in a more important way than I am.” That is simply false. A second would be that in the removal of innovations that were never called for or were in fact banned by everything except this mysterious “spirit of Vatican II” will appear to those who have bought into this idea as a return to pre-Vatican II era of when in fact, it is a return to Vatican II – and this can be a cause of unnecessary dissention between clergy and lay people.

I fear that if Vatican II were a person instead of council, she would be depressed. Always misunderstood and misquoted, always trying to say who she is and often being ignored. Like a rock star everyone wants to claim to know her without really spending any time with her getting to know her. “If people really knew me,” I imagine her thinking, “would they still like me?” Fortunately she is maturing now and able to assert herself more confidently.


ck said...

"The almost theatrical entrance of different players into the liturgy, which is so common today, especially during the Preparation of the Gifts, quite simply misses the point."

What does he mean about the Preparation of the Gifts? What was done Pre-VatII?

Robert M Kraus Sr said...

I attend Mass to worship . . . . . my idea of worship is expressing my belief in God and Jesus Christ in my words and in the words of the Mass


missy said...

what a great personification of Vatican II! :)

Cracked Pot said...

Thank you, Father, for making more explicit what is meant by authentic "participation" at Mass.

Adoro said...

ck ~ In the Mass before Vatican II, people did not carry the gifts forward. If you attend a Mass in the Extraordinary Form, you'll notice a distinct lack of the parading of all sorts of types of people for all sorts of occasions (their Anniversary that falls on a particular Sunday, 1st communion Masses that have a parade of children bringing everything including the sink up to the altar), etc.

Instead, the Extraordinary Form makes more explicit what we should be doing no matter what form of the Mass we attend: offering ourselves upon the altar, our intentions, to be offered with the Holy Sacrifice.

That's another prayer that tends to be glossed over in the Ordinary Form: we miss the point that the priest is actually praying for OUR intentions as well!

but...if we have brought nothing and intended to bring nothing to the Mass to offer...

ck said...

Thanks Adoro!

Carol said...

I think "spirit of Vatican II" is a term that the anti-Spirit of Vatican II threw into the world, and hence, it's got only enough truth to make it seem justified, and is inaccurate enough to work against the unity of the Church. I've spent numerous years in RCIA over the years, and it's Catholicism, not catechism nor camps that attracts the enquirers. I no longer have elbow room at Mass even despite a priest I'd gladly send elsewhere and wait for another, and so I simply have to shut up and rejoice in what this abundance really says, because the world really IS filling up quickly with the black inky liquid of atheism (and the pale blue koolaid of megachurch) and all these young people and families and all but the elderly could find plenty else or elsewhere to do on Sunday morns. I guess I'm saying (and echoing Fr. V) that perspective is as needed as is some needed reform.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Fr. V's analysis of the "spirit of V II". One of the reasons I attend the Extraordinary form of the Mass on Sunday is the dramatic reminder that our lives are also part of the offertory when we stand to be incensed. What better participation could there be? I do not attend that Mass because of nostalgia - when I had houseful of little kids it would have been unthinkable to abstain from food and water until 11 am to attend the High Mass. So now I am learning more and making up for lost time.
Margaret Comstock

Kerri said...

I read with great interest "The Spirit of the Liturgy" and realized that there is much more going on than meets the eye in the current NO Mass. It's a deeply profound book and added much to my understanding of the liturgy. There are some parts that required reading a second and third time! I recommend it to all.

The NO Mass can be very nice if celebrated properly. My own parish priest is a very pious man for whom I have a great deal of respect. He avoids the innovations that border on liturgical abuse. I've never known anything other than the NO Mass but would love to attend a TLM. The Church as an institution is 'big' enough that it ought to be able to handle both forms if people desire both.

It's my perception that the spirit of Vatican II was to reform and renew. Unfortunately the spirit of reform was sort of hijacked and certain ideas about innovation have led to a watering down of the Mass. I think some people are in danger of no longer seeing Holy Mass as a celebration of the Paschal Mystery but more as a feel-good community meal.

Reform was an idea with good intentions. I suggest that we proceed with the new Roman Missal with a continued spirit of reform...a 'reform of the reform'. Sometimes a ship goes off course and needs to adjust in order to make it to it's destination. I think that's how we ought to look at Vatican II and how we proceed into the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

Kerry, you can attend a TLM every Sunday @ 1:00 pm at St Sebastian Church on Mull Ave., Akron, Ohio!

Anonymous said...

as a fairly recent convert, i must say sometimes i feel my head spinning, and more importantly, my faith slipping away---i sometimes fall prey to the ugly thought that all catholics are crazy---therefore to be catholic is to be crazy. i started to read this entry, and really, i just couldn't finish---iam tired of post vatican II "interpretations" i think i long for the praying of the pre vaticanII mass, accompanied by the spirit of the New Church---truly the light needed to move out of the shadows--but i immediately see a problem with my comment===I, I, I, where is GOD, or his CHURCH--in all these "I" statements--my greatest fear is HIS Will does not resonate loudly enough with his bishops, etc. i pray i am wrong---still waiting in hope--

Carol said...

The Lord asks for willing hearts, not Slaves of the Immaculate Rubrics. Only a disrespectful, proud person calls the new order of Mass given us by a holy Pope for the sake of the whole Church and her continued life (via a HOLY COUNCIL), a "NO Mass" -- especially in a priest's blog! Use the proper term, lest you find yourself with NO God. It is the SAME holy sacrifice, and your NO Mass bs is insulting beyond the boundary of earth. I am tired of converts being misled about that, as I imagine Jesus must also be. Learn some real humility. Real humility hangs in there with the Church just as St. Francis did.

Our parish has grown by thousands of people in the past few years --it is, I assure you all, not because we turned Trad. Far from it. Yet I do NOT think all these will shoot straight to hell upon their deaths --do you?

Last but not least, and this is why I avoid discussion about a Holy Council that is our CURRENT Council, we must never EVER confront the Bishops where THEY cannot answer it. These are our apostles. There's a chain of command in the US Military that folks observe/respect/bow before as if it is holy, but there is something truly holy here, the Bride of Christ, and I suggest all converts and reverts take THAT to heart. Your ultarTraditionalism is YOUR issue, not something for God.

Cracked Pot said...


Uh...I think Kerri meant to use NO as an abbreviation for Novus Ordo, not as an expression of disrespect for it. Text messaging has caused a lot of new abbreviations.

Her post was very respectful of the Novus Ordo Mass. For example,
" I read with great interest 'The Spirit of the Liturgy' and realized that there is much more going on than meets the eye in the current NO Mass. It's a deeply profound book and added much to my understanding of the liturgy. There are some parts that required reading a second and third time! I recommend it to all."

Kerri said...

Cracked Pot, yes I was using NO as an abbreviation for Novus Ordo. Thank you.

Carol, I have no problem with the NOVUS ORDO Mass. It's all I have known. Please see my original comment! I didn't realize that abbreviating might cause someone to take it as a pejorative. I hope you will accept my apology for that.

I truly meant no disrespect for the Novus Ordo Mass. I realize that there is a great deal of conflict among Catholics about this. I suspect you 'assumed' I was taking a jab at the Novus Ordo. I assure you that wasn't my intention. I only have a desire to attend a TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS. This is not to say I want the Novus Ordo to be abolished. I don't see why both can't exist at the same time.

Your response to my comment is filled with assumptions. I don't have any of the inclinations that you are assuming about me. I have no idea why you are assuming I think others are going to Hell because they go to a Novus Ordo Mass. I've heard that people have that erroneous opinion and consider the Novus Ordo to be illicit. I assure you I do not. If I did I would be eternally damned too because I have only ever gone to a Novus Ordo Mass.

Anonymous said...

I took Kerri to mean 'Novus Ordo' when she said NO Mass, but come to think of it, I think it is hysterical. Do you realize that members of the liturgy committee to iron out the merger of two very major Akron churches had never even heard the term 'novus ordo'? How is that for cluelessness beyond the real lack of catechesis in the New Order of the Church?