Saturday, July 7


Sacrosanctum Concilium, para. 3-4

The Second Part of our 65-part series, "Better Know a Document"

Having established that there is a variance between the implementation of Vatican II and what the text of the documents demanded, we take advantage of the opportunity to re-consider the way we celebrate liturgy which Benedict XVI's motu proprio is meant to provide us.

Today's Text:

3. Wherefore the sacred Council judges that the following principles concerning the promotion and reform of the liturgy should be called to mind, and that practical norms should be established.

Among these principles and norms there are some which can and should be applied both to the Roman rite and also to all the other rites. The practical norms which follow, however, should be taken as applying only to the Roman rite, except for those which, in the very nature of things, affect other rites as well.

4. Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.

Brief Reflection

The Council Fathers faced the obvious dilemma of how an ecumenical council, representing all the Churches in communion with Rome (about 22), could issue a decree primarily addressing the liturgical practices of only the Roman Catholic Church, not the Greek, Byzantine, etc. Catholic Churches.

The answer was to talk enumerate general theologoical principles which are about to follow, and then give specifics only about the Roman rite. Indeed, the Eastern Patriarchs, after the Council, affirmed on various occasions that those principles were significant in their own revisions of their Divine Liturgies.

Article four reversed a much-criticized trend which had dominated Roman thinking for about two centuries: the Curia's tendency to encourage the Latinization of Eastern Catholic rites. One vehicle of Latinization, for example, was the Code of Canon Law: before the Council, there was only one Code; when it mandated that Stations of the Cross or confessionals, this often altered Eastern practice. The same tendency was evident in alterations made to the Eastern liturgies. By declaring all rites equal, the Council rejected any attempts to influence one liturgy to conform with another. (This also helped lead to the creation of a Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches.)

Very ironically, when the new order of Mass was composed after the Council, its authors borrowed freely from other rites, "Easternizing" many Latin practices. The post-Conciliar apostolic constutition Divinae Consortium Naturae, 1971, replaced the Roman formula for Confirmation ("I sign you with the cross and confirm you with the chrism of salvation") with a version of the Byzantine Catholic formula, now in use ("Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.") The second Eucharistic prayer is another such example. There is some tension between these aspects of the new rituals and the theological principles of the Council itself.

And here we discover the importance of Pope Benedict's insistence that the Tridentine order of Mass and the new order of Mass are two forms of the same Rite: if they are not, then one has no business influencing the other. But, if they are both expressions of the same Roman rite, than they can be compared, and the strengths of one can be used to bolster the other. If the two orders of Mass were not the same Rite, then there would be, for example, no grounds for intending that the wider celebration of the Tridentine order could affect the way the new order is celebrated, easing the perceived rupture between the "pre-" and "post-" Conciliar faith.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?