Sacrosanctum Concilium 50

Liturgical reform wasn’t so much about bringing a modern tone to the Mass so much as better facilitating the understanding and aprticipation of the laity:

The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.

1962 Missal indult notwithstanding, Catholic traditionalists will probably need to come to terms with the liturgical teachings of the Council, such as this one:

For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary.

Simplification need not impact what many Catholics hold dear, namely beauty, awe, and a sense of sacrifice in the liturgy. Through the 1970 Missal, the first steps toward this restoration of vigor were taken. If the implementation has been faulty at times and in places, it is neither the fault of the Council, nor a shortcoming of these documents, so much as human error. The same error led to liturgical abuses and ennui before Vatican II, and there’s no guarantee that more attention to rubricism will cure our liturgical problems.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Sacrosanctum Concilium 50

  1. John Heavrin says:

    “Simplification need not impact what many Catholics hold dear, namely beauty, awe, and a sense of sacrifice in the liturgy.”

    Perhaps it “need not,” but clearly the “simplification” wreaked upon the Mass has had a devastating impact on these very attributes, and, unavoidably, on the priesthood as well.

    As for the “coming to terms” you counsel…this document calls for “the rites to be simplified,” but not for the previous rite to be abolished, let alone forcibly suppressed. Yet suppressed it was. And as bleak as it seemed during those dark years, it retrospect it is clear that such a lawless and arbitrary state of affairs could not stand; even so, I am astonished (and grateful to Almighty God) for the progress made and being made by the traditionalist cause since ’84.

    If you wish to see the “vigor” this passage seems to call for, and which the novus ordo seems so often stubbornly to lack, I invite you to attend a traditional Latin Mass, Todd. There are more than one in your general area, every day.

    God works in mysterious ways, The Spirit blows where He will…the Mass is being reinvigorated, just not in the way the creators of the 1970 Mass, or perhaps you, would have thought.

  2. Todd says:


    It’s clear you and I have very different experirences of the aftermath of Vatican II.

    First, it’s a matter of interpretation that “the” or “any” Roman Rite was abolished. I would say that it was not. The 1570/1962 Rite was reformed. Nobody would deny it was reformed in a substantial, if not wrenching way. But to use the terms “lawless” or “arbitrary” seems to overstate your case to the extreme. Many of my preogressive colleagues and most priests would turn off such rhetoric like most bishops would dismiss a vocal women’s ordination proponent.

    If you want to confine the discussion to the objective, namely a sense that liturgical reform was poorly implemented in particular or in a general way, and give concrete examples, you might find a more receptive ear.

    As for attending a traditional Latin Mass … would I find the people and the experience like TLM advocates in the blogosphere? If so, no thanks. If I want some Latin and lots of chant, I prefer Conception or another monastery. I think I’d have a pretty vigorous liturgical ministry if I had one Mass a week to worry about rather than twenty or more. People worshipping because they were committed: priest, choir, families, small core community. Vigor comes easy to folks in those situations.

    I have no doubt as to the Spirit’s movement in unexpected places.

  3. John Heavrin says:

    Go, and go again; and see what you will find.

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