Vatican II Verifications


The Sacred Liturgy: Celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

part two

     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. Too often people accept the excuse that the homily can be on anything and should be entertaining. Wrong! It must follow some form of thread on the Word for that day and it should be informing. But we do not attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be entertained, but rather to be nourished through the Word and the Eucharist. This is nothing new as the Vatican II documents point out as we continue our 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, page 115 on the SACRED LITURGY, I. and II., THE CELEBRATION OF THE MEMORIAL OF THE LORD, Articles 20 and 21.

20. The Care to Be Taken by Ministers in Celebrating the Liturgy

     To encourage the active participation of the people and to ensure that the celebrations are carried out as they should be, it is not sufficient for the ministers to content themselves with the exact fulfillment of their role according to the liturgical laws. It is also necessary that they should so celibrate the liturgy that by this very fact they convey an awareness of the meaning of the sacred actions.

     The people have the right to be nourished by the proclamation of the Word of God, and by the minister's explanation of it. Priests, then, will not only give a homily whenever it is prescribed or seems suitable, but will ensure that whatever they or the ministers say or sing will be so clear that the faithful will be able to hear it easily and grasp its meaning; and they will in fact be spontaneously drawn to respond and participate.(71)

The ministers should undergo a careful preparation for this, above all in seminaries and religious houses.

21. The Canon of the Mass

     a.   In Masses celebrated with the people, even when not concelebrated, it is permissible for the celebrant, if it seems opportune, to say the Canon aloud. In sung Masses (Missae in cantu) it is permissable for him to sing those parts of the Canon which are at pre present allowed to be sung in a concelebrated Mass (Ritus servandus in concelebratione Missae, nn. 39, 42) in accordance with the Instruction Tres abhinc annos of 4 May 1967, no. 10

     b.  In printing the words of consecration the custom of printing them in a way different from the rest of the text should be maintained, in order that they may stand out more clearly.

Next installment: we will focus on the importance of the arrangement of churches for well-ordered celebrations which opens a whole new discussion about the problems inherent today with "multi-purpose churches."


February 27 - March 1, 1998 volume 9, no. 42          Vatican II Verifications