I have recently been attending a traditional Latin mass in my diocese and purchased the Latin/English missal. I am enjoying the prayers and meanings behind all the rituals. I was wondering why when Vatican II changed the mass to the vernacular we ended up also changing how mass was prayed. Why didn’t they just keep the form and change the language?
No one really knows but Pope Benedict did approve of the Anglican Ordinariate for those wanting the prayers of the older Mass in English.
You’ve opened up a door I’m not sure you’re ready to walk through, but I’ll bite anyway. Vatican II did not actually make any changes to the Mass, but rather made some suggestions for reform, most of which were heavily exaggerated on the one hand, or flat out ignored on the other, when the new missal came out in 1970. Only portions of the liturgy were meant to permitted in the vernacular, and in fact the retention of Latin was specifically mandated. The so-called “1965 missal”, a somewhat simplified version of the TLM which granted more opportunity for the faithful to respond, retained most of the same prayers and was still partially in Latin, was probably a lot closer to what was actually called for in SC, though I’m not sure it was ever in widespread use.
As for why the more extreme changes were later implemented, there are a few theories. Some believe it was a well-intentioned (though poorly executed) attempt to simplify Catholic worship so as to make it more attractive to non-Catholics. Others believe that it was a deliberate attempt to destroy the Church from the inside (I won’t get into that line of thinking, as nearly 50 years of ink has already been spilled on that topic). Suffice it to say that had they just done what you suggest in your post, perhaps with a sprinkling of Latin chant here and there, we would likely have much less division and animosity within the Church, at least with regard to liturgy.
Pope Pius VI in Auctorem Fidei (1794) actually condemned having the Mass (I.e. the TLM/EF) in the vernacular.
In the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, we’ve had the Liturgy in the vernacular even prior to Vatican II. I have at home English translations of the Liturgy from the 40s, 1954, 1961, 1965, 1976 (all these have Slavonic too), 1988, 2003 and 2004.
When I was little, the entire Liturgy was in Slavonic except for the Epistle, Gospel and the homily. Two gentlemen took turns reading the Epistle in Slavonic/Ukrainian and my late father plus another gentleman (all now deceased) read the Epistle in English.
Again, when I was little, I wanted the Liturgy to be in English. When the 1988 Synosal translation came out, it changed our liturgical language from Slavonic to Ukrainian. Pascha 1989 was probably the worst one in my entire life because everyone knew Christ is Risen (Khristos Voskrese) in Slavonic and it had been decreed that we should do it in Ukrainian. To make a long story short, we sing Christ is Risen, The Angel cried out, To Your Cross and Gal. 3: 27 in Slavonic at certain times during the year. Otherwise, the Liturgy is in English on Saturdays and Sundays the Liturgy is in Ukrainian and English.
Thank you all for that bit of history. I don’t want to open any cans of worms. It is such a beautiful glimpse of heaven here on earth to see the priest offer the sacrifice so beautifully. I can see a reason for praying the mass in the vernacular, however there seems to be much lost in the fact that so much was changed that wasn’t meant to be changed. Again thanks for the history lesson.
Overall, the Eastern Catholics handled the change to English better than the RC.
Rather than “Presto! a new Mass, and it’s all in English,” it was generally done gradually, with first a prayer repeated in each language, with the prayer changing from week to week, and gradually increasing the English.
The Christian East has always used the vernacular, or something close. Church Slavonic was invented specifically to be mutually intelligible among the slavs (I think that it’s closest to old Bulgarian, but I’m not sure).
Somewhat similar to Kyrie Eleison and Sabaoth in the Latin Rite. The Latin Mass retained the Greek but the all-vernacularists changed everything to English, contrary to Trent’s directives. (See Session 22)
The need to move to the vernacular is obvious given the point that even in the TLM the readings and homily are delivered in the vernacular.
As for the form, there are reasons mentioned here.
Because the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council decided that change was needed .
In Sacrosanctum Concilium , among other things , the Fathers ordered " The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.
" For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigour which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary."
The simplification and change was more than accomplished with the initial revision. The 1970 missal was reported to be a total shock to most of the bishops who signed SC. I’m no OF hater, but the belief that the current missal went way beyond what was intended is certainly not limited to ultra traditional circles.
Where is this report and who are all these bishops totally shocked ?
There was a ‘transition Mass’ while the Council was ongoing which (I believe) was just the EF in the vernacular
I read somewhere, but it was just a comment on the internet, that Slavonic was inspired and kept certain prononciations of the religion terms in Hebrew. This makes sense sometimes. For example the names or angels are closer in Slavonic to the Hebrew prononciation. Gabriel is read Gavriil in Slavonic and Gavriel in Hebrew. But anyway the Archangel comes if you call Him with the right intent. Slavonic fans can get pretty obsessed with the form which is good for maintaining tradition but it is a deal breaker for a discussion in which spirit preceeds form. I was criticised in church for saying Gabriel instead of Gavriil right in front of his icon. I still think the icon and my need for him should have surpassed the form of address which came out wrong because of the dire need of help from him. But I do wonder if the man correcting me was speaking for the Archangel. I wonder…
A key purpose of Vatican II was “aggiornamento”, or “bringing up to date” the Catholic Church. Pope St. John XXIII was a primary proponent of this spiritual objective.
The traditional Mass, with its “ossified” ancient postures and practices, stands as a contradiction against the goals of aggiornamento. Solely introducing the vernacular language was not sufficient, because the “old Mass” would still be too starkly Catholic, and thus a bane to ecumenism. Could you imagine the controversial Los Angeles Religious Education Congress celebrating Holy Mass with Gregorian chant and Latin responses?
The 1962 missal was the followed for daily Mass during the council. The transitional Mass came after, roughly from 1965 more or less with continuous revision until 1970.
I’ll have to do some searching for individual accounts. This is pretty common knowledge so I don’t have anything specific saved. You’ll have to give me some time though. I got injured at work shortly after my first post in this thread and I’m not up to research at the moment.
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