Vatican II Verifications
The Sacred Liturgy: Celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
There has been quite a bit of consternation and rumblings over the recent instruction released by the Vatican this past November, signed by the heads of all eight Vatican congregations and councils and which we published completely via installments in late November and throughout December. The biggest bone of contention with many is over the "parish council" concept and role of Extraordinary Ministers. In so many parishes the exception became the rule and they are not prone to change something they've become comfortable with. However the Holy See has let it be known that it's not up to the parish level, but something that comes down from the top and there is no room for doing "their own thing." In other words, the universal (Catholic) Church is striving to be "universal" in regards the Sacred Liturgy and the role of the laity in respect to the priests. But it is nothing new as the Vatican II documents point out as we begin today a short series on the Communion of the Faithful and what the Instructions recently released conform and reinforce what was said at the Second Vatican Council. To prove this, we go to the source: the Vatican Council Postconciliar Documents, expertly compiled by the revered Dominican Austin P. Flannery in two volumes.
The following is taken from VATICAN COUNCIL II, VOLUME II, More Postconciliar Documents; General Editor Austin Flannery, O.P. Costello Publishing Company, Chapter II, pages 113-114 on the SACRED LITURGY, I. and II., THE CELEBRATION OF THE MEMORIAL OF THE LORD, Articles 16 and 17.
16. The Common Unity to Be Shown in the Celebration
Since through baptism "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave, nor free-man, male nor female," but all are one in Christ Jesus (cf. Galatians 3:28), the assembly which most fully portrays the nature of the Church and its role in the Eucharist is that which gathers together the faithful, men and women, of every age and walk of life.
The unity of this community, having its origin in the one bread in which all share (cf. 1 Corinthians 10: 17), is arranged in hierarchical order. For this reason it is necessary that "each person, performing his role as a minister or as one of the faithful, should do all that the nature of the action and the liturgical norms require of him, and only that.(66).
(66): Constitution on the Liturgy, n. 28: 106 AAS 56 (1964), p. 107
The outstanding example of this unity may be seen "in the full and active participation of the entire people of God...in the same Eucharist, in a single prayer, around the one altar where the bishop presides, accompanied by his priests and ministers." (67)
(67): Ibid., n. 41: AAS 56 (1964), p. 111; cf. Constitution on the Church, n. 26: AAS 57 (1964), pp. 31-32
17. The Community Should Not Be Disrupted, and the Faithful's Attention Diverted.
In liturgical celebrations, the community should not be disrupted or be distracted from its common purpose. Care then must be taken not to have two liturgical celebrations at the same time in the same church, since it distracts the people's attention.
This is above all true of the celebration of the Eucharist. That is why that disruption of the congregation is to be assidiously avoided, which, when Mass is celebrated with the people on Sundas and feast days, is caused by the simultaneous celebration of Masses in the same church.
As far as possible it should be avoided on other days as well. The best way of achieving this, is, in accordance with the law, for those priests to concelebrate who want to say Mass at the same time. (68)
(68): Cf. n. 47 of this Instruction.
Likewise, when Mass is being celebrated for the people, in accordance with the public timetable of the church, baptisms, marriage, exhortations and the common or choral recitation of the Divine Office are to be avoided.
[The above refer mostly to large European churches where numerous side chapels faced out into the main body of the church or where Religious Orders would chant the Divine Office in the church while another Mass was going on. We have been to Saint Peter's Basilica numerous times when various Masses were going on at the side altars, but never simultaneously with anything happening on the main altar. Therefore the distinction by the Council of the main altar where the majority of people focus their attention. Though they may cause a line, the quietude of Confessionals do not constitute a distraction and thus, when appropriate and when there is sufficient number of priests and the need mandates it, confessions can be heard during Mass.]
Next installment: we will focus on the ministers of the Word and the Canon of the Mass.
February 6-8, 1998 volume 9, no. 27   Vatican II Verifications
Textonly Visitors to date in 1998