3 Things Vatican II Did Not Teach


January 8, 2014 by mattfradd

The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

In my experience, when someone ends a sentence with, “which is, after all, the spirit of Vatican II” or, “the spirit of Pope John XXIII”, they almost never know what they mean.

In fact the “spirit” they speak of is usually in direct conflict with with both Vatican II and John XXIII.

Sacrosanctum Concilium is the Vatican II document that dealt specifically with the reform of the liturgy.

In this post I thought I would (ridiculously briefly) look at three things the constitution did not say.

Ready? Let’s go!

1. Abolish Latin in the liturgy

In paragraph 54, it states: “In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. 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 that we say every Sunday, such as the creed, the Gloria and the Lord’s Prayer) “which pertain to them.”

2. Give contemporary music pride of place in the liturgy

In paragraph 116, the document states: “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.”

3. Have the priest face the people during the liturgy

Nowhere in the document does it say that Mass should be celebrated facing the people. Check for yourself. Founder and President of Ignatius Press, Fr. Joseph Fessio, says “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.”

A Caveat

In pointing to these facts, I am not insinuating that a Mass celebrated entirely in the vernacular with contemporary music and a priest facing the congregation is wrong, sinful, or not permitted.

These things are permitted. They’re just not mandated by Vatican II – or any subsequent council for that matter.

So the next time someone tells you there Mass has really “embraced the spirit of Vatican II,” you should ask them, “oh terrific, so you have gregorian chant? The parishioners know how to say the order of the Mass in Latin? . . . ”

If they look at you strange and say ‘no,’ then you might (with a look of confusion) respond with, “then what is it you mean in saying that your liturgy has embraced the spirit of Vatican II.”

6 thoughts on “3 Things Vatican II Did Not Teach

  1. Larry White says:

    “… I am not insinuating that a Mass celebrated entirely in the vernacular with contemporary music and a priest facing the congregation is wrong, sinful, or not permitted.

    “These things are permitted. They’re just not mandated by Vatican II – or any subsequent council for that matter.”

    This reminds me of recent changes in liturgy to bring American Catholics in line with the rest of the world. Apparently that liturgy language was “permitted” too. Can we expect the same for contemporary music, priest facing the congregation and entirely in the vernacular?

    • David Wood says:

      The changes to the language of the liturgy was needed to bring a unity to the English speaking world, apparently here in America we were not saying the same thing as the rest of the English speaking world or even what the world was saying during Mass. JP II noticed this and ordered a revision of the English texts through-out the world, so it wasn’t just something here in America. Also they came out with a new list of music suitable for Mass before we even got the new text for the Mass. If you also do not remember Benedict XVI said that the preferable orientation for the priest saying the Mass was Ad Orientem and that we should be using Latin more in the Mass. We here in America just chose to ignore Rome’s requests.
      Here we have a priest who is from Africa, and he told me that in his country they say the entire NO Mass in Latin. He said he would love to start saying Mass that way here but we have an dis-like for Latin, and he is correct. The majority of Mass attendees have a distain for Latin, only a small minority have a love for this. I think it’s nonsense and I want to encourage him to bring back some Latin in the Mass. I say give it time with more people encouraging traditional means at Mass one day we can have the true spirit of Vatican II prevailing instead of this nonsense we have now.

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  3. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for this. I would go one step further though: To be informed on the intent and teaching of Vatican II on the sacred Liturgy, and *not* conform to it, is also to be in direct tension with the Magisterium that preceded it. Read *anything* written on the Mass by Pope John XXIII or any Pontiff prior. They apparently believed that the art of celebration was important enough to warrant the invocation of suitability or unsuitability in sacred worship, in the presence of the Divine Majesty, regarding details like sacred music, Latin, and praying to the East.

  4. Ce Gzz says:

    Those are exactly the 3 things I would like to have back in ANY Mass celebration, and I’m only 36.

  5. Steveo says:

    Great post. More people need to know how the Mass was hijacked and stolen from us by progressives in the church. VII never said to allow communion in the hand or get rid of communion rails or have 4-8 extraordinary ministers at every Mass either.

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