"A big applause for Fidel, our father who art in Havana!"
The Second Vatican Council, wishing to pass on the pure and integral doctrine on the Church, matured over the course of two thousand years, gave it "a more meditated definition", illustrating mostly its mysterious nature, that is, as "a reality imbued with the divine presence, and for this always capable of new and deeper explorations" (Paul VI, Opening Address to the Second Session, September 29, 1963).That is, the Church, which has her origin in the trinitarian God, is a mystery of communion. As a communion, the Church is not a solely spiritual reality, but lives in history, that is to say, in flesh and blood. The Second Vatican Council describes her "as a sacrament, or sign and instrument of the intimate union with God and of unity with the entire human race" (Lumen Gentium, 1). And the essence of the sacrament is exactly that [in it] the invisible is touched in the visible, that the touchable visible opens the door unto God himself. The Church, we said, is a communion, a communion of people who, through the action of the Holy Ghost, form the People of God that is, at the same time, the Body of Christ.Let us reflect a little on these two key concepts. The concept of the "People of God" originated and developed in the Old Testament: to enter in the reality of human history, God elected a particular people, the people of Israel, so that it could be his people. The intent of this particular choice is to reach, through the few, the many, and through the many, all. The intent, in other words, of the particular election is universality. Through this People, God truly enters history in a concrete manner. And this opening to universality is effected on the Cross and by the resurrection of Christ. On the Cross, thus says Saint Paul, Christ destroyed the wall of separation. Giving us his Body, He reunites us in this his Body to make us one single thing. In the communion of the "Body of Christ", all become one single people, the People of God, where - to quote Saint Paul anew - all are one single thing, and there is no longer a distinction, a difference, between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, Hebrew, but Christ is all things in all. He destroyed the wall of distinction of peoples, of races, of cultures: we are all united in Christ. Thus, we see that both concepts - "People of God" and "Body of Christ" - complete each other and jointly form the concept of Church of the New Testament.And, while "People of God" expresses the continuity in the history of the Church, "Body of Christ" expresses the universality established on the Cross and in the resurrection of the Lord. For us Christians, therefore, "Body of Christ" is not only an image, but a true concept, because Christ gives us the gift of his real Body, not only of an image. Risen, Christ united us all in the Sacrament to make us one single body. Therefore, the concepts of "People of God" and of "Body of Christ" complete each other: in Christ we truly become the People of God. And "People of God" means, therefore, "all": from the Pope to the last baptized infant.The first Eucharistic Prayer, called the Roman Canon, written in the Fourth Century, distinguishes between the servants - "we Thy servants" - and "plebs tua sancta" ["Thy holy people"]; therefore, it wills a distinction, it speaks of servants and of plebs sancta, and the expression "People of God" expresses all together in their being the Church in common.Following the Council, this ecclesiological doctrine was widely welcomed and, thanks to God, many good fruits matured in the Christian community. We must also recall, however, that the reception of this doctrine in the praxis and, therefore, its assimilation by the tapestry of the ecclesial conscience did not take place always and everywhere without difficulty and according to a just interpretation.As I had the occasion to clarify in the address to the Roman Curia of December 22, 2005, an interpretive current, appealing to a supposed "spirit of the Council", intended to establish a discontinuity and even a contraposition between the Church before and the Church after the Council, at times confusing the very objectively existing boundaries between the hierarchical ministry and the responsibility of the lay faithful in the Church.The notion of the "People of God", in particular, was interpreted by some according to a purely sociological vision, with an almost exclusively horizontal severance, which excluded the vertical reference to God. This position was in open contrast with the word and the spirit of the Council, which did not will a rupture, another Church, but a true and deep renewal, in continuity with the one subject, the Church, which grows in time and develops herself, yet remaining always the same, the one subject of the People of God, on a pilgrimage.
"The Council was not a rupture which brought a new church into life, but a true and deep renewal of a single subject who develops."According to the Pope, the Council "yielded good fruits", but was distorted by "an interpretive current which, referring to a supposed 'spirit of the Council', intended instead to establish a discontinuity with the Tradition of the Church, confusing, for instance, the objetively existing boundaries between the hierarchy and the lay faithful, observing the Church accordinng to a horizontal cut which excluded the vertical reference to God, in open contrast with Catholic doctrine."
The diocese of Syracuse, New York splits the state in two, from the snowbound shore of Lake Ontario southward to the Pennsylvania border. Within its borders live 300,000 Catholics, organized in four deaneries, currently comprising 142 parishes served by 158 priests.
At the time of the papal indult, Quattuor Abhinc Annos (1984), the traditional Latin Mass was offered only in the cellar of the home of a retired priest in Homer. Petitions for the Mass began spontaneously in 1985. Bishop Frank Harrison permitted an experimental weekday evening Mass that year in each deanery, but when over 1,800 people attended the first week, he banned further celebrations. At that point, the Society of St. Pius X established a flourishing mission in Syracuse. Five years later, in the wake of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, Bishop Joseph O'Keefe reversed his predecessor's ban, authorizing a Sunday Mass in each deanery. For a time, the diocese had more indult Latin Masses (four each Sunday) than any other in North America.
Bishop James Moynihan succeeded Bishop O'Keefe in 1995. At present (May 2009), the Extraordinary Form Mass is offered each Sunday in Syracuse (Sacred Heart Basilica, 4:00 p.m.); Oswego (St. Mary's Church, 1:00 p.m.); Vestal (St. Vincent de Paul, 8:00 a.m.); and Utica (Our Lady of Lourdes, 9:00 a.m.) Approximately 400 Catholics regularly attend these Masses. In addition to these locations, Sacraments and Requiem Masses according to the 1962 Missal have been freely available in any parish with the permission of the pastor.
Over the years, relations between the chancery and the traditional Catholic laity have generally been positive. Una Voce-Syracuse, an apostolate incorporated in 1991, has attempted to represent the needs of the indult communities. Its goal is to make the Extraordinary Form visible in as many parishes as possible in accordance with Pope Benedict XVI's wishes recently expressed in Summorum Pontificum, while assisting the bishop in addressing the spiritual needs of the communities.
Syracuse has been afflicted by a severe shortage of priests, currently finding itself 16th from the bottom of all U.S. dioceses in comparing seminarians to Catholics. In 2007, the diocese announced that as many as 40 worship sites in the central New York area would close. This situation has affected the traditional Mass, as few trained new priests are available to fill the ranks left by the departure of older celebrants. To relieve the problem, Bishop Moynihan invited priests from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, in neighboring Scranton PA, to commute to Oswego and Utica in order to maintain the Mass venues. Another casualty of the priestshortage was St. Stephen's Church in Syracuse, which for 17 years hosted the indult Mass and which many hoped would become a traditional rite parish. Although that community migrated to the magnificent Sacred Heart Basilica, its Mass time was changed from morning to afternoon.
People of all ages attend the EF Masses, but particularly noticeable are large, homeschooling families. One of them has formed a schola to accompany the ancient liturgy in Oswego. It is edifying to newcomers to hear children render Gregorian chant and polyphony, under the direction of their musically-trained parents, even for a Low Mass.
Large families, have in turn, been formative vineyards for future priests. Although vocations have been scarce in the diocese, the four tiny Latin communities have been fruitful beyond their size. In 1993, a student attending Oswego State University discerned a vocation to Carmel after attending the traditional Mass; she took her final vows as a cloistered nun in 1999. In 2002, Carl Gismondi, who had begun serving the Latin Mass while a student at LeMoyne College in the 1990's, was ordained a priest of the Fraternity of St. Peter. Another seminarian in the diocese has been a regular attendee at the Syracuse and Utica indult locations. Like green shoots in the desert, vocations continue to spring from the reverent quiet of the ancient liturgy to nourish the Church.
To relieve the celebrant difficulties in Syracuse and across the nation, Una Voce America has launched a program aimed at teaching diocesan priests how to offer the traditional Latin Mass. UVA has partnered with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter: the Fraternity provides the training while the lay association (which now comprises over 65 chapters nationwide) provides financial assistance.
On May 26, 2009, Syracuse will receive its tenth Ordinary, Robert J. Cunningham. Speaking at a press conference on April 21 in Syracuse, he emphasized that he comes to his new flock primarily as a "shepherd of souls... sent by Pope Benedict XVI, I come to teach and preach the Word of God; to love you with wholehearted affection and to serve your needs especially as a minister of the Eucharist and reconciliation." Tradition-minded Catholics join their brethren in welcoming their new Ordinary, and pledge to collaborate with him in his mission of sanctifying the faithful through the liturgy.
Reverend Father Pedro Muñoz Iranzo
the founder of the contemplative
Sisters of the Oasis in Spain.
Father Muñoz is in a critical condition following serious internal haemorrhaging.
But this is not all. Christ reigns not only by natural right as the Son of God, but also by a right that He has acquired. For He it was who snatched us "from the power of darkness" (Colossians i., 13), and "gave Himself for the redemption of all" (I Timothy ii., 6). Therefore not only Catholics, and those who have duly received Christian baptism, but also all men, individually and collectively, have become to Him "a purchased people" (I Peter ii., 9). St. Augustine's words are therefore to the point when he says: "You ask what price He paid? See what He gave and you will understand how much He paid. The price was the blood of Christ. What could cost so much but the whole world, and all its people? The great price He paid was paid for all" (T. 120 on St. John).
How it comes about that infidels themselves are subject to the power and dominion of Jesus Christ is clearly shown by St. Thomas, who gives us the reason and its explanation. For having put the question whether His judicial power extends to all men, and having stated that judicial authority flows naturally from royal authority, he concludes decisively as follows: "All things are subject to Christ as far as His power is concerned, although they are not all subject to Him in the exercise of that power" (3a., p., q. 59, a. 4). This sovereign power of Christ over men is exercised by truth, justice, and above all, by charity.
To this twofold ground of His power and domination He graciously allows us, if we think fit, to add voluntary consecration. Jesus Christ, our God and our Redeemer, is rich in the fullest and perfect possession of all things: we, on the other hand, are so poor and needy that we have nothing of our own to offer Him as a gift. But yet, in His infinite goodness and love, He in no way objects to our giving and consecrating to Him what is already His, as if it were really our own; nay, far from refusing such an offering, He positively desires it and asks for it: "My son, give me thy heart." We are, therefore, able to be pleasing to Him by the good will and the affection of our soul. For by consecrating ourselves to Him we not only declare our open and free acknowledgment and acceptance of His authority over us, but we also testify that if what we offer as a gift were really our own, we would still offer it with our whole heart. We also beg of Him that He would vouchsafe to receive it from us, though clearly His own. Such is the efficacy of the act of which We speak, such is the meaning underlying Our words.
Excerpts from Annum Sacrum
May 25, 1899
Image sourced from this webpage.
Among these heresies belongs that foul contrivance of the sophists of this age who do not admit any difference among the different professions of faith and who think that the portal of eternal salvation opens for all from any religion. They, therefore, label with the stigma of levity and stupidity those who, having abandoned the religion which they learned, embrace another of any kind, even Catholicism. This is certainly a monstrous impiety which assigns the same praise and the mark of the just and upright man to truth and to error, to virtue and to vice, to goodness and to turpitude. Indeed this deadly idea concerning the lack of difference among religions is refuted even by the light of natural reason. We are assured of this because the various religions do not often agree among themselves. If one is true, the other must be false; there can be no society of darkness with light. Against these experienced sophists the people must be taught that the profession of the Catholic faith is uniquely true, as the apostle proclaims: one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Jerome used to say it this way: he who eats the lamb outside this house will perish as did those during the flood who were not with Noah in the ark. Indeed, no other name than the name of Jesus is given to men, by which they may be saved. He who believes shall be saved; he who does not believe shall be condemned.
ASIA Forum on Eucharist and community sends message to bishops
May 22, 2009
The two groups held the forum ahead of the ninth plenary assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), scheduled to take place in Manila Aug. 10-16 under the theme of "Living the Eucharist in Asia."
At the end of their gathering they issued a declaration saying they were committed to developing a more comprehensive catechesis on the Eucharist, showing its relevance to daily life. They also said they are committed to using the power of the Eucharist for a more effective appreciation of the FABC's triple dialogue with Asia's peoples, cultures and religions.
The keynote speaker, Jesuit Father Michael Amaladoss, had pointed out that the Eucharist is basically a "community meal," a symbolic action that he said has ritual, social and mystic levels.
"The symbolic action to be real and authentic should celebrate life. But if the community does not actively strive for it, then the community should not celebrate. That is why reconciliation involving mutual forgiveness may have to precede the celebration," said the director of the Institute for Dialogue with Cultures and Religion in Chennai, southern India.
The basic principle of the Eucharist is the full, conscious and active participation of the people, he stressed. "The community as the Body of Christ is the celebrant, while the priest is a 'minister' and thus a servant of the community," he added.
Lawrencia Kwark Eun-kyung, ICMICA secretary general, told UCA News on May 20 that the forum was an attempt by the laity to communicate with Church leaders in Asia ahead of the FABC plenary. "Another aim was to build and strengthen networks among theologians and Church activists," the Korean woman added.
Participants also included Bishop Johannes Pujasumarta of Bandung, Indonesia; Protestant Bishop Dhirendra Kumar Sahu, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India; and Maryknoll Father William LaRousse, ecumenical secretary of the FABC Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
Taking "the five loaves and two fish program" that Bishop Pujasumarta described as an example, their declaration also pledged to develop a variety of "sharing plans and projects" at the local community level.
The Indonesian bishop told UCA News he initiated the movement for the poor in 1992, while serving as vicar general of Semarang archdiocese. He said the sharing program was aimed at students in Catholic schools, who saved and collected money for poor students and their families. "Since I've learned about reality and the Eucharist in various countries, this meeting seems to me a 'living catechism' on the Eucharist," he said.
Father LaRousse, also a presenter at the forum, told UCA News it was a good experience of how Christians from diverse countries reflect on living the Eucharist in Asia.
"From my experience in Davao, Philippines, I expect bishops will hear the good result of this forum," he said.
Monsignor Marini, originally of the Archdiocese of Ravenna-Cervia, was, until March 2007, undersecretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He had previously worked in the Secretariat of State and was office head of the Congregation for the Clergy. He was also a canon of the chapter of the Vatican Basilica.
2. We can see that the Holy Father is talking about a spiritual reconciliation, which can and must take place now, even before a structural merger of official and unofficial Catholic communities takes place. As a matter of fact, the Holy Father seems to make a distinction between “a spiritual reconciliation” and “a structural merger”. He recognizes that the reconciliation is like a journey that “cannot be accomplished overnight” (6.6): however, he emphasizes that the steps to be taken on the way are necessary and urgent, and cannot therefore be postponed because - or on the pretext that - they are difficult since they require the overcoming of personal positions or views. Times and ways may vary according to local situations, but the commitment to reconciliation cannot be abandoned. This path of reconciliation, furthermore, cannot be limited to the spiritual realm of prayer alone but must also be expressed through practical steps of effective ecclesial communion (exchange of experiences, sharing of pastoral projects, common initiatives, etc.). Finally, it should not be forgotten that all without exception are invited to engage in these steps: Bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful. It is by means of practical steps that spiritual reconciliation, including visible reconciliation, will gradually occur, which will culminate one day in the complete structural unity of every diocesan community around its one Bishop and of every diocesan community with each other and with the universal Church. In this context, it is licit and fitting to encourage clergy and lay faithful to make gestures of forgiveness and reconciliation in this direction.
6. With regard to participation in the Mass and in the other sacraments in an officially registered church, the Holy Father distinguishes two cases. If the Bishop or the priest celebrant is in communion with the Pope, the faithful “should not hesitate” to receive the sacraments from him. If, on the contrary, the Bishop or priest celebrant is not in communion with the Pope, the faithful “may” receive communion and the other sacraments from him on two conditions: when they do not succeed in finding legitimate Pastors “without grave inconvenience to themselves”, and yet they feel the need of the sacraments for their own spiritual good. In the second case, the final decision will be taken by the individual Catholic, taking into serious consideration the possibility indicated by the Holy Father.
-What prospects do you see for the Fraternity of Saint Pius X in the future? An agreement with Rome? A canonical recognition?-[Galarreta:] No, absolutely not, whether in the immediate or in the mediate future. We specifically exclude this possibility. We know that while there is no return to Tradition on the part of Rome, any practical or canonical agreement is incompatible with the public confession and defense of the faith, and would mean our death. In the best of cases, humanly speaking, we will have several years of discussions.
Such, Venerable Brethren, are the teachings and exhortations which We have seen good to utter, in order to stimulate devotion to the Holy Ghost. We have no doubt that, chiefly by means of your zeal and earnestness, they will bear abundant fruit among Christian peoples. We Ourselves shall never in the future fail to labour towards so important an end; and it is even Our intention, in whatever ways may appear suitable, to further cultivate and extend this admirable work of piety. Meanwhile, as two years ago, in Our Letter Provida Matris, We recommended to Catholics special prayers at the Feast of Pentecost, for the Re-union of Christendom, so now We desire to make certain further decrees on the same subject.
Wherefore, We decree and command that throughout the whole Catholic Church, this year and in every subsequent year, a Novena shall take place before Whit-Sunday, in all parish churches, and also, if the local Ordinaries think fit, in other churches and oratories. To all who take part in this Novena and duly pray for Our intention, We grant for each day an Indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines; moreover, a Plenary Indulgence on any one of the days of the Novena, or on Whit-Sunday itself, or on any day during the Octave; provided they shall have received the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, and devoutly prayed for Our intention. We will that those who are legitimately prevented from attending the Novena, or who are in places where the devotions cannot, in the judgment of the Ordinary, be conveniently carried out in church, shall equally enjoy the same benefits, provided they make the Novena privately and observe the other conditions. Moreover We are pleased to grant, in perpetuity, from the Treasury of the Church, that whosoever, daily during the Octave of Pentecost up to Trinity Sunday inclusive, offer again publicly or privately any prayers, according to their devotion, to the Holy Ghost, and satisfy the above conditions, shall a second time gain each of the same Indulgences. All these Indulgences We also permit to be applied to the suffrage of the souls in Purgatory.
And now Our mind and heart turn back to those hopes with which We began, and for the accomplishment of which We earnestly pray, and will continue to pray, to the Holy Ghost. Unite, then, Venerable Brethren, your prayers with Ours, and at your exhortation let all Christian peoples add their prayers also, invoking the powerful and ever-acceptable intercession of the Blessed Virgin. You know well the intimate and wonderful relations existing between her and the Holy Ghost, so that she is justly called His Spouse. The intercession of the Blessed Virgin was of great avail both in the mystery of the Incarnation and in the coming of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles. May she continue to strengthen our prayers with her suffrages, that, in the midst of all the stress and trouble of the nations, those divine prodigies may be happily revived by the Holy Ghost, which were foretold in the words of David: "Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth" (Ps. ciii., 30).
The next 'approved' Traditional Latin Mass will be on May 31 (Pentecost), but usually it is offered every 1st Sunday of the month, at 1700 H (5:00 P.M.) in the basement chapel of the Cathedral (of the Immaculate Conception, Moscow).
The priest who offers the Mass is Fr. Augustyn Dziedziel SDB (pronounced Dzendzel and written in Polish with a special mark under the first e, ę in HTML). Catholic guests of Moscow are most welcome. (Father also speaks some English in addition to Polish and Russian, so confessions are possible before Mass.)
Br Dacian [fictional name of a member of the Christian Brothers] was the subject of a complaint of sexual abuse in the early 1960s in Salthill. He was transferred from Galway to a day school in Dublin and was later sent to serve in Letterfrack [Industrial School] in the 1970s.In a letter to the Superior General, the Provincial in Salthill elaborated on the allegation. A child awoke to find someone with his hand inside his pyjamas. Although it was dark the boy identified the person as Br Dacian by his voice and size. Br Dacian admitted doing this, but offered the defence that he was checking to see if the child, who was a known bed-wetter, had wet his bed. The Provincial continued, ‘It is apparent that this does not explain everything’. A letter sent three days later to the Superior of the School noted that he was sorry for the lapse of Br Dacian and that all the members of the Council thought that a change was necessary for him, as ‘no doubt some of the boys know of this lapse’.Br Dacian was moved to a school in Dublin less than five months later. He stayed there for nearly 10 years before being moved to Letterfrack.He spent a year in Letterfrack before moving to another day school in Dublin where he taught for over 10 years. Br Dacian admitted sexually assaulting a boy in this day school and he had to be transferred out of it in the early 1980s. Although it did not emerge until some five years later, another allegation that abuse had occurred at the same time was made by a pupil in an Irish College where Br Dacian was working during that summer....Br Dacian was appointed Principal of a rural school in 1984 less than a year after his removal from the Dublin school but, once again, he had to be removed from his position because of his sexual abuse of a young boy in 1987.
– What do you think was the reason behind Vatican II’s radicalism?
– We need to understand the situation of the Catholic Church by early 1960s, as well as the general situation in the world. It was the time when people both in Western Europe and, to a certain degree, in the Americas were abandoning regular participation in church life in mass. It was the era of the starting sexual revolution, of considerable parts of the society, especially the young, showing extreme sympathy towards radical left ideas, both pro-Soviet and Maoist. It was since then that Che Guevara started to be perceived as a kind of a self-sacrificing symbol, one perhaps even greater than that of Christianity. It was the time of a profound spiritual crisis, churches were deserted, and under these circumstances the Catholic Church had to react to the situation, try to find new possibilities of dialoguing with the society as it was then – perhaps, even at the price of errors. Vatican II became an attempt at the Church’s answer to the world’s secularism, like once upon a time the Catholics’ Trent answered to the Lutheran Reformation. This move itself, requiring courage and resolution, can definitely be praised.
– Which of the reforms of Vatican II do you think to be positive?
– Among the most positive turnabouts I would number the understanding, in a new way declared and, to a considerable degree, experienced by the Catholic Church, of all-Christian unity in the face of danger, of which Alexander Solzhenitsyn was writing during the same period: there are considerable powers in the world that would like no Christians to exist at all. Facing the challenges of modern era, in spite of all our doctrinal differences and their indisputable importance, there is something that unites the Christians. This is a new approach to, let me utter some terrible words, the ecumenical problem, and it was expressed by the Catholic Church and should, of course, be welcomed: at Vatican II, the Catholic Church has renounced equating herself and the Universal Church. Before the Council, Catholics have been stating: Catholic Church is the Universal Church, and now the Catholic Church describes herself as a ‘part of the Universal Church’, recognizing also the way of Orthodox East. The Orthodox are no longer schismatics (heretics) for the Catholics. The direct consequence of this is that the Catholics now recognize the validity of Sacraments celebrated in the Eastern Churches (both Orthodox and Oriental), i. e., in the Churches that retain historical episcopate. An Eastern Church Christian can receive the Sacraments in the Catholic Church without first accepting her teaching as it has been before. Of course this does not mean that we should take a similar approach to recognizing all the sacraments of the Catholic Church. Orthodox theology goes not currently provide an unequivocal answer to the question of the existence of Eucharist in Christian Churches that retain historical episcopacy but are outside of Universal Orthodoxy, such as the Catholics and the Monophysites.
As far as the changes in Vatican’s internal ‘policies’ are concerned, here I would mention a move to overcome Rome’s centuries-old clericalism as a very important issue. I mean a very stern division of the Catholic Church into two unequal parts, the teaching Church, which is the clergy, and the taught Church, which is the laity, framed already in Trent. Vatican II has repeatedly emphasized the importance of lay people, who were now able to take a more active part in the Church. The status of lay organizations has been increased, the ecclesiastic communities were recognized as an important component of the Church. This penetrates the life of Catholic Church considerably. For example, in the town of Rimini, Italy, there are annual conventions of Christians with about a million participating every year. These includes exhibitions and lectures on the Bible, there was, by the way, a large section dedicated to Solzhenitsyn this year. These conventions are initiated and conducted by lay volunteers only, the priests are not an organizing force there. Priests can be invited, take part, etc., but the lay people are the main organizers and inspirers.
As something positive, I would also mention Vatican II’s new approach to liturgical worship. Before the Council, Catholic mass was celebrated in Latin, which even among the Europeans few could understand by the middle of 20th century. And after the Catholic Church’s mission to Latin America, Africa, Asia – countries with obviously connection to Romance culture – it became clear that Latin liturgy has come into obvious conflict with the pious needs of many millions of Catholics. This [caused] switching into national languages, which, by the way, was carried out in the spirit of Eastern Christian tradition, that supposes liturgy to be celebrated in the national language of the faithful.
But the methods by which these, reforms, per se right, were carried out, were of diverse value, and the implementation of the reforms itself can not be numbered among the Council’s positive results.
When reforms are declared, there often appears a certain managerial ardor, and at times it’s not the most wise people who find themselves in the lead of the process. In practice, alas, it was not simply permitted to celebrate in national languages, but pre-reform Latin mass virtually prohibited, for it was required to get very many permissions virtually from Vatican itself in order to celebrate it. People who wanted to pray in the old way, especially the clergy, appeared so disloyal and suspicious in the eyes of the predominating trend that Latin worship has virtually ceased to exist.
From the very beginning already, the Council’s reforms have invoked criticism from two directions. The ‘left’ majority were unhappy with lack of radicalism. People who lived in the Western secular society with its priority of human rights as a humanist secular value, and still identifying themselves as Catholics, wondered why has not the Council permitted female priests, abolished celibacy, granted even more rights (like those enjoyed by the priests) to the laity, or allowed divorce and abortions.
The ‘right’ criticism is connected with the name of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991). He and his followers criticized Vatican II in a number of aspects: for its excessive ecumenism, for the liturgical reforms that have, in their view, caused the loss of sacral language of worship as well as the secularization of liturgical awareness. Indeed, the secularized understanding of liturgy was one of the reforms’ negative consequences. This manifested in excessive emphasis on the ‘horizontal’ component, i. e. the fellowship of the faithful, to the prejudice of ‘vertical component’, which is the congregation’s aspiration for Heaven. The altars were taken out of the sanctuary into the middle of the churches, the priests were now celebrating facing the people and not what we would call the synthronon, as it was before, there were unrestrained and numerous variants of translations and ordos for celebrating mass. There was a rupture, loss of the liturgy’s identity and sameness. Before, for example, a Catholic could everywhere, from Africa to Polynesia, come to a service and realize that he was attending a mass, but this is not so now.
Lefebvre is absolutely correct in his criticism of the progress ideology, adopted by the Catholic Church, where ‘progress’ as progressive motion of the society is considered as a religious value regardless of this society’s religious status. This means that growth of material benefits, gentler morals, tolerance towards different value systems, human rights – regardless of their connection with Christianity are taken as a positive value. The society is estimated more by the presence or growth of these categories of progress than by the grade and quality of its piety. This is something which the Orthodox Church, of course, can not agree with.
The idea of progress is associated with the notion of ‘anonymous Christianity’, developed at Vatican II. It means that not only people who visibly belong to the Church, but also those who do not openly run counter to her, to her spirit, are recognized as those not alien to her. This can perhaps be true for non-Christian countries, for communities that have not encountered the Gospel. But this is absolutely inapplicable to European and American society that is, step by step, turning away from Christianity. This is not anonymous Christianity but rather apostasy from God and the Church.
The Catholic Church’s experience after the reforms shows: in spite of the Church’s coming to meet the society trying to become more modern, intelligible, and close to this society, the society did not come to meet the Church. This is to be realized and admitted, practically, historiosophically, and eschatologically: to expect that the society in its majority will be willing to reaccept Christian values not as declarations but as norms implemented in real life means to live in an illusion.
Another important lesson that we can learn from the experience of Vatican II is how cautiously should we approach the centuries-old Church Tradition, first of all in the field of liturgy. It is important to recognize that we are on the same side with the Catholics, also suffering from certain impenitence among a considerable part of churchgoing folk, a view that service is something not to be understood but rather to incite a kind of pious mood. On the other hand, it is important to realize that the way to modifying the liturgy should not be through its adaptation to the society’s simplistic conceptions formed by the mass media and simply by the very low level of education in the humanities. Christianity as such is something complicated. But understanding Church Slavonic it is not the most complicated thing in Christianity. Rather we should put the question, and look for the answer, on how to bring the beauty and significance of this liturgy to the people.
A dear reader asks us to announce the following event:
Sat, June 6th - Pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC
Priests and seminarians of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter will be performing the 14th annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC this Saturday, June 6th. This pilgrimage is to make reparation for the sins of our nation. Those who would like to accompany the Fraternity for the last day of the walk can meet them as they reach the cathedral of St. Matthew around 1 pm. The pilgrimage will end with a Solemn High Mass at 6 pm in the traditional Roman rite in the crypt chapel of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. For further details, please contact Mr. Gregory Bartholomew, FSSP, at email@example.com.[Image: last year's pilgrimage Mass, celebrated by Fr. Jonathan Romanoski, FSSP.]