3/4 November £1140.69
My dear friends in Christ,
THE MASS - before and after Vatican II
This week we’ll look at the four great Constitutions produced by VAT II Sacrosanctum Concilium ((SC) Sacred Council)) - Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. One of the main aims of Vatican II was to build on a slow process which had seen small but incremental changes to the Mass and thereby achieve greater lay participation in Church Liturgy as a whole. In its opening statement SC notes …. The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy….It goes on to say …. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Peter 2:9; cf. 2:4–5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.
Some of the most obvious examples of these changes were the use of the vernacular (native language), the Priest facing the people and a less ornate style of presenting the Liturgy whilst retaining and elevating the sublime nature of the actions. It later became recognised that, through the celebration of the various revised liturgies of Holy Week and the Vigil of Easter, VAT II had restored the centrality of the Paschal Mystery to the life of the Church and her children. These moves towards greater participation of the laity were not simply a post war development but had been called for by several previous Popes including Pius X, Pius XI and Pius XII.
Lumen Gentium ((LG) – Light of the Nations)) – Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. In its opening word LG states that from the beginning the purpose of the Father was to gather all things in the Universal Church. It goes on … "the sole Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as 'the pillar and mainstay of the truth.' LG can be summarised or précised under eight headings. It spoke of the Mystery of the Church. The role of the People of God. The structure of the Church and the role of her Bishops. The Laity as powerful witnesses to the Gospel. A Universal call to Holiness and service of one another. The call of some to a religious life. The Pilgrim Church on earth and its mysterious union with the Church Triumphant in Heaven. The special and central place of the Blessed Virgin in the life of the Church.
Dei Verbum ((DV – Word of God)) – an essential task of Mother Church is to ensure that Divine Revelation is handed on, intact, from generation to generation until Christ returns. She does this by reference to Sacred Scripture and Tradition. DV notes …. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. This work is often described as handing on the “Sacred Deposit of Faith”.
Gaudium et spes ((GS – Joys and Hopes)) – Unusually for something as necessarily organised and to some extent pre-planned as a Council meeting of over 2,500 Bishops GS arose as from the floor of the Council. We should recall that the vast majority of these Bishops had lived through two World Wars, the Holocaust, the coming of Nuclear weapons and the effects of the Great Depression. GS was designed to renew or re-state the teaching of the Church on Social Justice. It was also described as a lens through which the other 3 great Constitutions of Vatican II might be viewed. It opens with the words – “The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well.” One of the Cardinals who “championed” GS was Giovanni Montini. Shortly after the death of John XXIII Cardinal Montini was elected Pope and on the 21st June 1963 became Pope Paul VI. As Pope he also promulgated GS on the 7th December 1965 Pope Paul VI closed Vatican II on the 8th December 1965.
Wishing you well for the week.