Someone sent me a PDF of a flyer from the Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida promoting a series of talks on Sacrosanctum Concilium.
Hopefully the talks will be great.
The flyer, however, isn’t so great. There are a series of statements which perpetuate goofy notions that have been circulated for a long time. Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments:
- Did you know that before the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy we did not always have Old and New Testament readings at Mass? (Chapter 2, #51) [This is a false statement. There are Old Testament readings in Extraordinary Form. Furthermore, every Mass includes texts from the Psalms. The Antiphon are mostly Old Testament.]
- Did you know that reception of the Eucharist under both kinds for the people came into practice after the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy? Before the document, people did not receive the Eucharist at every Mass and did not receive the blood of Christ at all. (Chapter 2, #55) [This is a misleading statement. Frequent Communion was strongly promoted by St. Pope Pius X. However, people still understood before the depredations that took place in the wake of and name of the Council that if you are not in the state of grace, you shouldn't go to Communion. Furthermore, this statement makes it seem that if people are not receiving the Precious Blood, they are somehow being deprived of receiving the Eucharist.]
- Did you know that before the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Mass was only offered in Latin – not in the multiple languages allowed today? (Chapter 1, #36) [This is a manipulative statement that also hides the truth of what the Council commanded. First, it is not entirely desirable that multiple languages be used, because the multiplication of languages has fractured our unity, both across borders and across centuries. The illicit elimination of Latin also slammed the doors of our treasury of Sacred Music. Moreover, the Fathers of the Council commanded that Latin be retained! They allowed for some limited use of the vernacular on occasions.]
- Did you know that the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy reestablished the adult catechumenate? The RCIA process was developed to bring adults (and children age 7 and above) into the Church. (Chapter 3, #64) [This statement is much ado about nothing. Adult converts and children above 7 were constantly being brought into the Church before the Council, and not in a one-sized mainstreams all method. Additionally, I can't tell you how many people I have spoken to who wished they had had the opportunity of private instruction rather than the silly RCIA stuff they had to endure.]
- Did you know that prior to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, people were not expected to actively participate in Mass by responding, praying, or singing – people were there just to “hear” the Mass? (Chapter 2, #48) [This is a falsehood. Of course people were expected to participate actively at Mass, but actively in its most authentic sense of interiorly receptive activity. Furthermore, Popes throughout the 20th century urged people to make responses during Mass and clarified which parts they could participate in also with outward, vocal participation.]
- Did you know that the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy calls for conscious and active participation in Mass and affairs of the Church by all the faithful by reason of our baptism? It set in motion the ability for lay people, including women, who were previously not even allowed in the sanctuary, to be lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, [No!] altar servers, [altar girls were promoted contrary to the law] and hold leadership positions. (Chapter 2, #14) [This is incorrect. Before the Council began, during the Pontificate of Pius XII there was an important document on Sacred Music which promoted congregational singing and gave a clear, strong definition of "active participation". Also, lay people cannot be "Eucharistic Ministers". They can be ministers of "Holy Communion". Only the ordained are truly Eucharistic Ministers.]
These statements are misleading. They reflect an attitude of, “Before the Council, bad. After the Council, good.” It is not uncommon among people of a certain age to find a view that the Church really began with Vatican II. They want you simply to accept their premises (e.g., women being allowed into the sanctuary is a good thing).
Keep in mind that Vatican II’s importance is mainly in their own imaginations. It occurred in living memory, which makes it seems more important that it was. Vatican II was one Council among many, in the Church’s history. Furthermore, it wasn’t even among the more important Councils. Nicea… Chalcedon… Trent… Those were truly important Councils.
Look. The Council had its effects. But let’s look at the Council with some sobriety for a change.