• Rev. Noah Carter

Vatican II and Liturgy - Part 1

“For the liturgy, ‘through which the work of our redemption is accomplished’ (Secret, Ninth Sunday after Pentecost) most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek (Heb. 13-14). 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 (Eph. 2:21-22), to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13), 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 (Is. 11:12) under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together (John 11:52), until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd (John 10:16).

“…[I]n faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times” (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, para. 2 and 4)

The first quotation refers to the “Secret” of the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost. This refers to the Roman Missal of 1962, sometimes called the Traditional Latin Mass or the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The Secret is a quiet prayer prayed by the celebrant before the Preface. Now, the prayer is prayed aloud and is called the Prayer over the Offerings.

The now-called Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is the Mass that all priests and bishops were celebrating daily during the Second Vatican Council. It is crucial to understand and love the Mass that they celebrated in order to properly understand the Council's reforms. They called for a revising of the existing rites, not the drawing up of new rites.

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