Saturday, March 9, 2013

Catechesis on Vatican II

Wyoming Catholic College
There is a short but intriguing article at the Corpus Christi Watershed website entitled, Vatican II and the Reform of the Mass”. The author is Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, who is a Professor at Wyoming Catholic College, a good, solid, orthodox Catholic school. (All emphases are mine.)

I appreciate the way Dr. Kwasniewski lays out the “bare bones” of Sacrosanctum Concilium; he notes that

…the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II makes nine proposals or mandates concerning the reform of the Mass, no more and no less:

(1) that the rites are to be simplified so that duplications or accretions would be taken away;

(2) that the readings from Scripture should be expanded in number and variety;

(3) that the homily be considered an integral part of the liturgy and that it be better prepared;

(4) that the common prayer, or general intercessions, be reintroduced;

(5) that the vernacular be used for the readings and the general intercessions, while the priest’s parts as well as the Ordinary remain in Latin;

(6) that the priest distribute to the people hosts consecrated at that Mass, rather than hosts reserved from another Mass;

(7) that communion under both species be allowed on special, rather rare, occasions;

(8) that the Mass is truly made up of two parts, which we now call the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and so the people should be taught to value both parts;

(9) that concelebration be permitted.

That’s it. The concrete reforms proposed were modest, although that first proposal about “simplification” was rather vague and became the cause of much controversy later on.

Dr. Kwasniewski asks how, given the limited scope of these changes, the current situation of the Church emerged – “where, in the name of reform, adaptation, and inculturation, many of the greatest treasures of our Catholic Tradition were forgotten or suppressed?” Indeed! Rather than answer that question, though, he makes a case for the need to allow post-Vatican II generations to discover the full traditions of the Church. He says:

I was born after the Council had already been closed. In my own life I distinctly remember the excitement, the wonder, of discovering amazing riches in the tradition of the Church, a treasure that had been seemingly deliberately buried and hidden: the noble beauty of plainchant, the dignified and resonant sound of Latin, the shimmering beauty of old vestments, the sprinkling rite (Asperges), even something as simple as the use of incense at the elevation of the consecrated gifts. But it was not only this feast of symbolism and beauty that answered to a burning need for reverence, it was also rediscovering the full social teaching of the Church, her ascetical and mystical theology, her scholastic wisdom, her saints and their stories.

I think that’s another way of saying “We’ve been robbed!” And I like his mention of the full social teaching of the Church – so often (as in practically always) we are subjected to a skewed version that emphasizes “human right” over divine and natural law.

This is the kind of catechesis I think we need in the “Year of Faith”. We’re supposed to be studying the documents of Vatican II, and Dr. Kwasniewski gives a wonderful overview of SC here. It’s important to know that what we’ve been told about the “spirit of Vaddican Too” has no basis in the documents themselves. The Mass was hijacked, and so was the phrase “justice and peace”.

Be sure to read the whole article here.


  1. Peter Kwasniewski came and gave a talk to my lay Dominican chapter a few years ago. He rocks. Wish I had a Wyoming Catholic College to go to in my day!

    Speaking of Corpus Christi Watershed, have you got your St. Edmund Campion missal and hymnal for the Extraordinary Form Mass? I got mine in my hot little hands just yesterday, and it is chock-full of all kinds of awesomeness -- all for less than 30 bux! It does need ribbons -- fortunately, those are easy enough to order.

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