Letter from Fr. David
Dear Friends in Christ,
I now resume my articles on the Mass, focusing the next several weeks on the following question:
Q. What did the Second Vatican Council teach us about the Mass?
- It is no secret that major reforms of the Mass were undertaken in the wake of this most recent Ecumenical Council of the Church. Many of you lived through these changes, some of which were implemented seemingly overnight. Many people were upset, many were overjoyed, and many more were confused. These changes beg the question of what the Council Fathers really taught about the Mass. It is my intention these several weeks to highlight some major points of what is truthfully a treasure trove of teaching and reflection from Vatican II on the Mass (or what the Council Fathers generally referred to as the Sacred Liturgy.) All of the following quotes are taken from the Council’s foundational document on the Liturgy “Sacrosanctum Concilium” (hereafter referenced as SC.) Today’s quotes reflect some of the Council’s fundamental principles on the Mass.
“While the liturgy daily builds up those who are within into a holy temple of the Lord, into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ, at the same time it marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together, until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd.” – SC #2
“To accomplish so great a work [of salvation], Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross”, but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).” – SC #7
“From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.” – SC #8
“The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper.” – SC #10
“Popular devotions of the Christian people are to be highly commended…. But these devotions should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some fashion derived from it, and lead the people to it, since, in fact, the liturgy by its very nature far surpasses any of them.” – SC #13
“Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.” – SC #14
To be continued…