Over the last few days I have become quite weary of discussing the new Motu Proprio of Pope Francis and why I believe there should not be suppression of the pre-conciliar Mass. People routinely come back at me with prejudiced Vatican II Mass superiority statements. However, this is where we begin comparing apples to zucchini.
If you as a novus ordo attendee believe that the novus ordo Mass you attend is the Mass of Vatican II, you are greatly mistaken. It is something that has morphed and was never the intention of Vatican II. If you believe that Latin should not be allowed in novus ordo Masses because we are post-Vatican II, again you are greatly mistaken.
In a well done article, Fr. Joseph Fessio unpacks what the Vatican II Mass was supposed to look like. Unfortunately, there are but a handful of parishes offering these true Vatican II Masses, one of which in the San Francisco Bay Area is in jeopardy of sudden demise.
Here are some highlights of Fr. Fessio’s article, but it is worthwhile to take the time to read the whole article. May God bless you and enrich your understanding
NOTE: Everything that follows except for bracketed subtitle info are directly quoted from Fr. Fessio’s article.
QUOTE RE: VERNACULAR
[Was to be limited, not made the norm throughout]
Paragraph 54 is a key paragraph: In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. What did the Council have in mind? Lets continue: This is to apply in the first place, to the readings and to the Common Prayer. But also as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people. Yet it goes on to say, Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass (that is, the unchanging parts, the parts that are there every day) which pertain to them.
So, the Council did not abolish Latin in the liturgy. The Council permitted the vernacular in certain limited ways, but clearly understood that the fixed parts of the Mass would remain in Latin. Again, I am just telling you what the Council said.
QUOTE ON BOTH SPECIES [Only rarely to be allowed]
Paragraph 55 discusses receiving Communion, if possible, from hosts consecrated at the Mass in which you participate. That is often done or attempted in many parishes today, but it is difficult to do in a precise way. Its hard to calculate the exact number of hosts you will need. Also, you have to keep some hosts in the Tabernacle for the sick and for adoration. The Council also permits Communion under both species here, but under very limited circumstances. For example, to the newly ordained in the Mass of the Sacred Ordination, or the newly professed in the Mass of Profession, and the newly baptized in the Mass which follows baptism. The Council itself did not call for offering both species to all the faithful all the time, but it did grant limited permission for it.
QUOTE ON MUSIC [Gregorian Chant was given preference, and hymns were not. Instead the Kyrie, Agnus Dei, Sanctus…in Latin]
Notice, however, that the Council implies what many Church documents have said explicitly that the most perfect form of music at Mass is not the hymns, the so-called Gathering hymn and its antithesis I guess you would call it the Scattering hymn at the end. The most appropriate use of music at Mass, as seen by Church tradition and reaffirmed by the Council, is singing the Mass itself: the Kyrie, the Agnus Dei, the Sanctus, the Acclamations, the Alleluias and so on. Again, this isnt Father Fessio’s pet theory; this is what the Council actually says. Paragraph 112 adds, Sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is the more closely connected with the liturgical action itself. This reinforces my point.
Paragraph 114 adds: The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Then in paragraph 116 we find another shocker: The Church acknowledges Gregorian Chant as specially suited to the Roman Liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. Thats what the Council actually said. If you are in a parish which prides itself on living the spirit of Vatican II, then you should be singing Gregorian chant at your parish. And if youre not singing the Gregorian Chant, youre not following the specific mandate of the Second Vatican Council.
QUOTE ON SHAPE & STRUCTURE OF BUILDINGS [Most current modern churches fall far short…if you want specifics, go to the document]
The last thing I want to quote from the Council is paragraph 128, which talks about sacred art and sacred furnishings: Along with the revisions of liturgical books . . . there is to be an earlier revision of the canons and ecclesiastical statutes which govern the provisions of material things involved in sacred worship. These laws refer especially to the worthy and well-planned construction of sacred buildings, the shape and construction of altars, the nobility, placing and safety of the Eucharistic tabernacle, the dignity and suitability of the baptistery . . . and so on.
What the Council Didnt Say
That’s essentially what the Second Vatican Council actually said about the renewal of the liturgy. Let me tell you what it did not say. The Council did not say that tabernacles should be moved from their central location to some other location. In fact, it specifically said we should be concerned about the worthy and dignified placing of the tabernacle. The Council did not say that Mass should be celebrated facing the people. That is not in Vatican II; it is not mentioned. It is not even raised in the documents that record the formation of the Constitution on the Liturgy; it didnt come up. Mass facing the people is a not requirement of Vatican II; it is not in the spirit of Vatican II; it is definitely not in the letter of Vatican II. It is something introduced in 1969.
And, by the way, never in the history of the Church, East or West, was there a tradition of celebrating Mass facing the people. Never, ever, until 1969.