Behandlingen av Sacrosanctum concilium – del 2

Videre kan vi lese i Fr. O’Malleys bok om behandlingen av Vatikankonsilets dokument om liturgien (se første del her):

… Fr. Antonelli went on to present the eight chapters of the text, which covered every aspect of liturgical celebration: 1) General Principles; 2) the Eucharistic Mystery (the Mass); 3) Sacraments and Sacramentals; 4) the Divine Office (the liturgical hours like Vespers); 5) the Liturgical Year; 6) Liturgical Furnishings; 7) Sacred Music; and 8) Sacred Art. In presenting them he underscored how the five criteria were operative throughout the text. He made no mention of what had been a burning issue in the commission and would be the most time-consuming aspect of the discussion in St. Peter’s, the use of vernacular languages in the Mass.

The text about which he spoke had 105 sections, running without the notes to about 25 pages of ordinary print. The notes to the text covered a wide variety of sources but with a generous sprinkling from the encyclical Mediator Dei, The «Preface» stated that the purpose of the council was to foster a more vigorous Christian life among the faithful, to promote union with the «Separated brethren» (fratres separati), and to call all into the church. Therefore, the council would make changes in those things subject to change, so as, in this case, to adapt the liturgy better to the conditions of modern life and to foster Christian unity – two themes from John’s opening address, Gaudet Mater Ecclesia. … …

Chapter one was especially important for its insistence on active participation by everyone in the congregation. Such participation was the right and duty of every Christian. It was demanded by the very nature of the liturgy and was conferred upon the faithful by virtue of their baptism. This principle was the most fundamental in the whole schema. It was a counterpoint to the long historical development that bit by bit had located all the action in the priest-celebrant.

The chapter was also important for enunciating other principles. Whatever obscured or distracted from the essential meaning of the liturgical celebrations was to be eliminated. Intelligibility and simplicity were thus to be norms in whatever changes were implemented. Christ was present in the Word of Scripture as well as in the Eucharist, and therefore the significance of that part of the liturgy-the «Liturgy of the Word»-was to be made more effective. This highlighting of «the Word» in Sacrosanctum presaged a new centrality of Scripture in Catholic preaching and piety, which would become another major theme of the council. While the essential structure of the Roman Rite was to be maintained, local adaptation, especially in mission territories, was legitimate and encouraged. Greater autonomy was to be granted to bishops in making adaptations appropriate to their cultures, which was a clear call for some decentralization.

About liturgical languages, the chapter said: Latin is to be retained in the liturgies of the Western church. Since, however, «in some rites it is clear that the vernacular has proved very useful for the people» [a quotation from Mediator Dei], it should be given a wider role in liturgy, especially in readings, announcements, certain prayers, and music. Let it be left to episcopal conferences in different parts of the world, in consultation if need be with bishops of nearby regions speaking the same language, to propose to the Holy See the degree and the modes for admitting vernacular languages into the liturgy. …

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