Saturday, 9 January 2010

Stand Up For Vatican II...?

I spotted a few references to this group during the day, on Twitter first, and then a few bloggers kicked it around a bit... Kate from At Home in My Father's House hit the nail squarely on the head when she quoted:

"It is not unreasonable to assert that many of the decrees emanating from the Vatican in recent times have sought to put a brake on the developments that grew out of the discussions at the Council."

A number of priests some anonymously, are supporting this campaign which appears to be highly critical of 'The Vatican' and of the Holy Father.

Oh dear, oh dear... where to begin?

How about, with one of the group's own statements? Adrian Smith writes:

For those of us who lived at the time of the Council, we will never forget what an exciting time it was for us.

The changes in our Sunday worship were only part of the sense of renewal that was sweeping through our church. Pope John XXIII had asked for 'aggiornamento' the bringing up to date of our church and we felt that this was really beginning to happen. As the windows of the Church gradually opened the Spirit blew in, giving the People of God worship in the vernacular, breaking down post Reformation sectarianism, endorsing the work of biblical scholars, affirming the primacy of conscience, acknowledging the need to learn from the secular sciences, breathing Joy and Hope into the Church.

Quite apart from pointing out that the changes in Sunday worship appear, over the past forty years, to have so emptied the pews that one suspects that it wasn't just the windows of the Church that were opened, there is so much that is wrong with this statement that I hardly know where to begin.

The implication is that, pre-Vatican II, none of the laity knew anything, and it wasn't until Mass was said in the vernacular that your average Joe was able to worship. Codswallop (I was tempted to write something stronger, but I don't want to scandalise any clergy reading this...) One glance at my Saint Andrew's Missal is sufficient to put paid to that hoary old chestnut. The writings of great saints, such as St. Francis of Sales, designed to help the faithful participate fully in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, also show that participation was very much "active" on the part of the laity. Active participation does not mean we-all-have-to-have-jobs-on-the-Sanctuary-or-we're-not-taking-part-fully.

Because, if active participation does mean "we have to do something, preferably on the Sanctuary, but whatever it is, call it a collaborative ministry anyway" then, frankly, the majority of the People of God are not participating, and the circle of "active participants" or "ministers" has merely been changed from "the priest" to "the priest and the few people he has chosen to help."

Obviously, this is a false interpretation of active participation, as was made clear by Mgr. Guido Marini, Pontifical Master of Liturgical Ceremonies, in a talk given to a conference for the Year of the Priest a few days ago. He said:

It was really the saints who have celebrated and lived the liturgical act by participating actively. Holiness, as the result of their lives, is the most beautiful testimony of a participation truthfully active in the liturgy of the Church.

Rightly, then, and by divine providence did the second Vatican Council insist so much on the necessity of promoting an authentic participation on the part of the faithful during the celebration of the holy mysteries, at the same time when it reminded the Church of the universal call to holiness. This authoritative direction from the council has been confirmed and proposed again and again by so many successive documents of the magisterium down to the present day.

Nevertheless, there has not always been a correct understanding of the concept of "active participation", according to how the Church teaches it and exhorts the faithful to live it. To be sure, there is active participation when, during the course of the liturgical celebration, one fulfills his proper service; there is active participation too when one has a better comprehension of God’s word when it is heard or of the prayers when they are said; there is also active participation when one unites his own voice to that of the others in song....All this, however, would not signify a participation truthfully active if it did not lead to adoration of the mystery of salvation in Christ Jesus, who for our sake died and is risen. This is because only he who adores the mystery, welcoming it into his life, demonstrates that he has comprehended what is being celebrated, and so is truly participating in the grace of the liturgical act.

Mgr. Marini then went on to quote the Holy Father's words from his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, written as Cardinal Ratzinger:

"What does this active participation come down to? What does it mean that we have to do? Unfortunately the word was very quickly misunderstood to mean something external, entailing a need for general activity, as if as many people as possible, as often as possible, should be visibly engaged in action. However, the word 'part-icipation' refers to a principal action in which everyone has a 'part'...By the actio of the liturgy the sources mean the Eucharistic prayer. The real liturgical action, the true liturgical act, is the oratio....This oratio - the Eucharistic Prayer, the "Canon" - is really more than speech; it is actio in the highest sense of the word." (pp. 171-2)

Mgr. Marini then added:

Christ is made present in all of his salvific work, and for this reason the human actio becomes secondary and makes room for the divine actio, to God’s work. Thus the true action which is carried out in the liturgy is the action of God Himself, his saving work in Christ, in which we participate... God Himself acts and accomplishes that which is essential, whilst man is called to open himself to the activity of God, in order to be left transformed.

Going back to the first quote I took from the website, I see that the affirmation "of the primacy of conscience" is mentioned as one of the fruits of this outpouring of the Spirit. In fact, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote about the primacy of conscience. Dignitatis Humanae, the Declaration on Religious Freedom, re-stated this primacy of conscience, within the context of religious freedom and the search for the Truth. However, it also noted that the Christian's conscience must be informed by the Truth:

"In the formation of their consciences, the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church. For the Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of the truth. It is her duty to give utterance to, and authoritatively to teach, that truth which is Christ Himself, and also to declare and confirm by her authority those principles of the moral order which have their origins in human nature itself." (n.14)

That last little bit is all too easily glossed over by groups such as Stand Up for Vatican II. Bernard Wynne writes:

Stand up for Vatican II is a campaign designed to involve the whole Church, Catholic organisations and individuals, who recognise the benefits the Second Vatican Council brought to the Church to stand together to celebrate the forty fifth anniversary of the closure of the Council.

However, his list of speakers demonstrates that the group is actually not interested in recognising what the Second Vatican Council actually promulgated (on conscience, for example) but only in what the liberal agenda has interpreted the Council to have said, the so-called "spirit" of Vatican II. The fruits of that spirit are indeed clear to see - the speakers mentioned include Myra Poole, a campaigner for women priests and Michael Winter, an ex-priest who campaigns for married clergy.

By the way, there's a petition as well, which makes for very amusing reading, calling on the Bishops of England & Wales to hold celebrations marking the closing of the Council... It might also be of interest to note that Bernard Wynne was one of those responsible for speaking to The Suppository to complain about Fr. Finigan's implementation of Summorum Pontificum.


Londiniensis said...

Mac, This is superbly put and deserves to be read widely. The mendacious hijacking of Vatican II by "ageing hippies", as Damian Thompson calls them, has gone on too long and has to stop.

Fr said...

Ahh, the poor dears, so backward looking!

Patricius said...

Thanks for this excellent piece. I agree with Londiniensis. Such people should not be allowed to hijack the Council. It must be seen that relly standing up for Vatican 2 lies in standing together with Pope Benedict XVI !

Joe said...

A mischievous thought:

When I looked at the wording of the petition itself, I couldn't find anything objectionable about it. I was probably interpreting it a bit differently than some of those who are promoting the petition ...

But, should we perhaps all go over and sign up? ..

Hippolytus said...

Excellent posting - Thank you.

George said...

'giving the People of God worship in the vernacular, breaking down post Reformation sectarianism, endorsing the work of biblical scholars, affirming the primacy of conscience, acknowledging the need to learn from the secular sciences'..... yada yada yada...oh yuk! Reads like a Protestant litany... painful!

Paul said...

I didn't get further than, "As the windows of the Church gradually opened the Spirit blew in".

Anybody that thinks the Spirit had to come in from *outside* the Church of Fr Damien, Katharine Drexel, Edith Stein, Maximilian Kolbe, Titus Brandsma, ....

Zephyrinus said...

Let them go to Worms.

St Malachy said...

Thank you for this great commentary.

I had a look at the website this morning and see the most recent article is by failed priest Nicholas Lash. That he is involved tells you all you need to know really.

Make no mistake the Tabletistas are going to become more and more vocal and more and more emotional in their attempts to resist the Benedictine renewal.

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