Well, friends: here we are. Today begins our look at the last of the Big Four documents of Vatican II, the constitution on the sacred liturgy. They say that Dei Verbum is in its ascendancy and Gaudium et Spes is fading, but we St Bloggers know that liturgy always lights a fire under the discussion. So let’s not kid ourselves about which document has “pride of place” in the bile, if not the hearts and minds of Catholics today.
Brigid has been pestering me to organize this site a bit better, especially some organized links to the Vatican II series. And that upgrade may yet come some day. Meanwhile, you’ll need to suffer through my one or two-a-day posts and trust me when I say we’re a bit beyond 50% of the way through the Vatican II documents.
Sacrosanctum concilium has 130 sections, a bit more than 12,000 words, and not nearly as many footnotes as Lumen Gentium. We’ll take this at about two a day, which should bring us to a completion sometime in Advent.
The first four sections are an “INTRODUCTION,” and the first of them reads:
This sacred Council has several aims in view: it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.
With all the infighting on SC 14 versus 116, people miss this simple introduction in which the bishops put their cards on the table:
1. The Christian life of the post-WWII period was in need of more vigor.
2. Times do change, and adaptation to accommodate the pastoral reality of the modern world was the target of Vatican II.
3. Christian unity.
4. A stronger and more potent evangelization.
These four factors led the council bishops to do two things with the Roman Rite:
A) Reform it.
B) Promote it.
As we read through the constitution in the coming weeks, let’s not lose focus on that fourfold intent: vigor, adaptation, unity, and evangelization. It is in this context, not so much the reform2 attitudes of retrenchment and recovery, that this document should be considered.