LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Monday, 11 October 2010

The ‘Spirit of Vatican II’

One of my Commentors asked – in respect of yesterday’s Post about a recent Reading which seemed to me to be a useful observation to direct at those who are irritated with the Holy Father’s failure to promote ‘the Spirit of Vatican II’ – to give some examples of what ‘the Spirit of Vatican II’ actually implies : and I suppose I have to be honest and say that, in one way, I have no idea simply because to me it implies something in accordance with the teachings of that Council - which is exactly what it doesn’t mean to those people !

However; having looked at the sort of things that those people seem to have raised in the fairly recent past (either explicitly or implicitly), as a first glance at the subject – which I propose to consider in rather more detail in a little while, when I have had time to research it more carefully – I would suggest that the following ideas are presented as allegedly forming part of ‘the Spirit of Vatican II’, and thus are things which should not only be tolerated, but actually be enforced as (now) essential elements of Catholic life.

– the abolition of Latin and plainsong in the liturgy and the use of modern English and popular music; and, of course, it is essential that Priests have the right to make whatever modifications they please, regardless of whether or not they are in the Missal. Mass should include a ‘commentary’ if appropriate, which does not need to come from the Priest;

– the absolute necessity of using laity in the Sanctuary for as much as possible; so although you prefer concelebrations on every possible occasion rather than individual Masses, it is still better to have the concelebrants sit back during Holy Communion, and let lay Extraordinary Ministers administer Holy Communion, and also the ablutions afterwards – and also replacing the Sacrament in the Tabernacle;

– the abolition of Holy Communion onto the tongue, and insistence that it is received standing, and into the hand;

– the reduction in the use of vestments as far as possible; alb and stole is fine, and don’t bother about amices, or chasubles for concelebrants, if it is at all possible to avoid them; and use roomy polyester albs for servers, rather than proper cassock & cotta.
And the silly thing is that these are only a very few points, and only liturgical ones; and yet one has only to consider them for a moment to realize that their effect on the Church must have been to change what the people in the pews saw Sunday by Sunday; and thus must have changed how they understood the Church . . . and whilst I’m not denying that Vatican II did want to bring about some changes in people’s understanding of the Church and its role in the world, I’m very far from certain that these changes achieve any of those.

More in due course . . . but in the meantime, may I suggest that my readers may care to tell me what their favourite documents of Vatican II are, and why ? Be warned; you have to have read them !


  1. I previously did a post on how the "Spirit of Vatican II" crowd never actually seem to follow the teachings of Vatican II as stated in the documents...

  2. Indeed you did : in much more detail than this one . . . and very good it still is !

  3. Right, I started this so I should be brave and vote on a favourite passage from Vatican II documents. I could be obvious and go for something from Gaudium et Spes, but that does not seem right. I think I will choose Chapter IV of Lumen Gentium describing the particular role of the laity in the Church. From this passage many people have drawn odd conclusions about what the Church has called upon the laity to do, and perhaps some of the things you have mentioned DM come from that, although I think they are more to do with, dare I say it, 'fashions'.

  4. Best bits?

    31. What specifically characterizes the laity is their secular nature. It is true that those in holy orders can at times be engaged in secular activities, and even have a secular profession. But they are by reason of their particular vocation especially and professedly ordained to the sacred ministry. Similarly, by their state in life, religious give splendid and striking testimony that the world cannot be transformed and offered to God without the spirit of the beatitudes. But the laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity. Therefore, since they are tightly bound up in all types of temporal affairs it is their special task to order and to throw light upon these affairs in such a way that they may come into being and then continually increase according to Christ to the praise of the Creator and the Redeemer......

    32. If therefore in the Church everyone does not proceed by the same path, nevertheless all are called to sanctity and have received an equal privilege of faith through the justice of God.(194) And if by the will of Christ some are made teachers, pastors and dispensers of mysteries on behalf of others, yet all share a true equality with regard to the dignity and to the activity common to all the faithful for the building up of the Body of Christ. For the distinction which the Lord made between sacred ministers and the rest of the People of God bears within it a certain union, since pastors and the other faithful are bound to each other by a mutual need. Pastors of the Church, following the example of the Lord, should minister to one another and to the other faithful. These in their turn should enthusiastically lend their joint assistance to their pastors and teachers. Thus in their diversity all bear witness to the wonderful unity in the Body of Christ. This very diversity of graces, ministries and works gathers the children of God into one, because "all these things are the work of one and the same Spirit".(195)

    Therefore, from divine choice the laity have Christ for their brothers who though He is the Lord of all, came not to be served but to serve.(196) They also have for their brothers those in the sacred ministry who by teaching, by sanctifying and by ruling with the authority of Christ feed the family of God so that the new commandment of charity may be fulfilled by all. St. Augustine puts this very beautifully when he says: "What I am for you terrifies me; what I am with you consoles me. For you I am a bishop; but with you I am a Christian. The former is a duty; the latter a grace. The former is a danger; the latter, salvation" (1*).

  5. and lastly, 33. The lay apostolate, however, is a participation in the salvific mission of the Church itself. Through their baptism and confirmation all are commissioned to that apostolate by the Lord Himself. Moreover, by the sacraments, especially holy Eucharist, that charity toward God and man which is the soul of the apostolate is communicated and nourished. Now the laity are called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the earth (2*). Thus every layman, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself "according to the measure of Christ's bestowal".(197)

    I can unpack my liking for these passages at a later date, if you would like, perhaps in a FB note or something. I do not want to spam your wall too much!