I saw the headline to an article in the St. Louis Review earlier this week on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, with this title:
My first reaction was to think, "Well, it sure did a bang-up job of it." But I initially let it go.
Today, however, I read the article more closely and was struck by one quote which really gets to me, as it is the kind of mantra that is repeated as fact without any empirical evidence. It is just assumed as a "duh" point-- namely, that the vernacular language of the new Mass made it easy for ordinary Catholics to understand and led to greater participation in the Mass.
Here is the relevant paragraph:
Sister Catherine Vincie, RSHM, of Aquinas Institute gave a detailed
report on the work of the council document. She noted that the landslide
vote in favor of the document was a surprise to many. The liturgical
movement had its roots in the late 19th century, she said, benefiting
from the discovery of liturgical tests of the early centuries and the
role played by monasteries. It led to the active participation of the
faithful and greater understanding of the rites, Sister Catherine said.
Now, the first thing with which I would quibble is Sr. Catherine's linkage of the Conciliar document on the Mass with the Liturgical Movement of the Nineteenth Century. Probably the most well-known figure in the Liturgical Movement was Dom Prosper Gueranger, author of The Liturgical Year. Yes, the Liturgical Movement sought to increase the "comprehension" and "participation" of the laity at Mass. But merely using these terms does not mean that the movers in the Liturgical Movement would have agreed with the Mass that arose by committee after the Council was long finished. I can't see Dom Gueranger beaming down from Heaven over the promulgation of the New Mass as the capstone of all his efforts.
Moreover, the conciliar document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, did not call for many of the novelties that appeared in the Novus Ordo Missae of 1969.
Yet all of this is always assumed. Just assumed. So, of course the Mass in English will cause English speakers to understand "what's going on" and thus will cause them to better "participate" in it. And yet, it really hasn't. Has it?
So, though I try not to comment on articles online, in the end I couldn't resist. It's probably a mistake, and maybe the Review won't even run it. But here it is:
"It led to the active participation of the faithful and greater understanding of the rites, Sister Catherine said."