Sacrosanctum Concilium 34

Today, we’ll look at these “didactic and pastoral” norms mentioned in SC 33 which “should be observed” in liturgical revision.

The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.

“Noble simplicity” is the historical hallmark of Roman Rite liturgy. It would also be one of the positive thrusts of the 1970 Missal. “Unencumbered by useless repetitions” can be a tough one. The Tridentine offertory prayers are often cited as an example of something beautiful that shouldn’t have gone away. I would disagree with that assessment.

One core value of the Mass is the Eucharistic Prayer, in which the elements are consecrated and Jesus’ Last Supper is recalled. But the old offertory is a preparation rite. It sets the table, so to speak, for what is to come later, and what is more significant theologically and ritually. Any examination of the 1570/1962 Mass must include such considerations.

The other value described here is comprehensibility without “much explanation.” I still hear of occasional requests to have a “Teaching” Mass, in which liturgical items are explained bit by bit as we progress through the liturgy. I confess I wish there were a better way, but perhaps it’s indicative that if the 1970 Missal still requires occasional clarification, perhaps the liturgical reform has at least put us on the right track.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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