Liturgy between 1965 and 1975


I have often wondered what the Mass looked right after the Second Vatican Council had finished, and how it changed/morphed to what it looked like in 1975.

Were the changes gradual?

When did altars become free-standing in the U.S.

When were Sacraments celebrated completely in the local vernacular?

When was the rite of ordination first celebrated in the local vernacular?

Peace and thanks,

All I can speak of is how it was handled in Oklahoma which I attended from 1951 until 1980 . After Vat 2 ended, I remember the priest talking in his sermons for several weeks that there were changes in the air. Most of us didn’t give it much thought—after all, how could they actually really change the Mass, a litany we all knew by heart in Latin or church traditions? Then, I went to Sunday Mass and suddenly a second altar stood in front of the old altar where the priest had always stood. The tabernacle stayed on the old altar-- no tabernacle was on the new one. I remember thinking the new altar was an eyesore. A week later, they introduced a new English liturgy. Suddenly, organ music was replaced by guitar liturgical songs–all unfamiliar. Also, the communion rail where people knelt and received the host on your tongue was replaced by a priest handing you the host. Everyone drank from the same chalice. Before Vat2, you received communion under 1 species. Altar boys wore cassocks-not street clothes. The liturgy was different too–words to many previous Mass prayers were absent or different. In their place were a"Cliff Notes" version–all in English! They changed this back now, but pre V2 the priest said “Dominus vobiscum” ( Lord be with you). The reply was “Et cum Spiritutuo” (And with your spirit). Post V2 all answered “And with you also.” Post Vat 2 they added the protestant version of the Lord’s prayer–“For the kingdom, the glory are yours now and forever”–to the Catholic one. People were hauling baskets of donations up front at the offertory and instead of a hymn, a dance troop up front, swayed to a Christian-rock hymn. Before, if a female entered the church without a hat, a nun would slap a kleenex on your head where the hat belonged. All at once, rules stopped. People were okay coming to Mass in cut-off shorts or whatever they wanted to. Once we fasted 2 hours from solid food, 1 hour from liquids before communion. After V2 you didn’t have to fast. My daughter received 1st Communion after V2. Before we spent months of catechism before our 1st confession and communion. It was a big deal. Little girls wore white dresses and veils. Boys wore white suits. Most girls were got a “1st Communion purse” containing a new rosary and Missal–and we were very proud of them. 1st Communion was a BIG deal-- candidates marched in together with pomp and set in the front pews. Older kids–were angels–escorting candidates a row at a time to the communion rail to kneel. You got it that something very important was happening. We couldn’t chew the consecrated host or let it touch our teeth. When my girl made her 1st, there was no classes. Parents decided when your kid was ready. You took your child to confession when you decided to.Suddenly, kids made 1st Communion by walking up front with their parents whenever they chose. I was told “No white dresses”–only street attire. It was a difficult time for many of us who loved the “old way”. Suddenly we barely recognized church anymore. Many people loved the change but just as many hated it and felt that the Church had traded something solemn, beautiful and mysterious for a Mass resembling a protestant service. My husband–a convert–loved the new songs and English Mass. I hated it and felt a bit like my Church sold out, Changes in the liturgy, nuns wearing street clothes and everyone coming to church casually dressed with bare heads, was a real turn-off to me. I “fell away” for 30+ years. I have been “home” i for about 2 1/2 years now. I place no blame on V 2, these days. I don’t resent the priests, Pope or anyone who decided on changing things. I now only blame me for my falling away. I regret it deeply. None of my children are Catholic now. Most of my grandkids haven’t even been baptized. By falling away I failed my children. Personally, I don’t feel that all the changes made all at once were an improvement. Before V 2, everyone treated Mass and the sacraments with a deep respect. Now , not so much. Everything today is PC and casual–not dignified and special I am an old lady and that contributes to my personal preference for most everything pre-V2! At the time of the changes I was in my late 20’s. The changes sort of scandalized me… I felt that if they could change the heart of Catholicism–Holy Mass–that nothing was sacred anymore. I began to doubt my entire faith. Many may disagree with me–my own hubby would–but I think when and if the Church changes things again, they should REALLY think about it for a longer period, introduce change slowly bringing parishoners aboard over extended time so nobody is shocked or offended by upheaval. Now I have adjusted and accepted “new” and am sorry I wasn’t adult enough back then to see past changes and realize it was the same Mass. Jesus was in the Eucharist and it was the same Catholic faith which superceded humans beings dreaming up up changes. I paid a heavy price for blindness as a younger woman.:frowning:

The changes at that time were sort of haphazard. I started Catholic school in 1960 and I remember the dialogue Mass. It was the Tridintine but we said parts of it aloud first in Latin then in English. We used a regular Latin/English Missal for the Mass parts, I would say up until 1966. After that I remember the parts of the mass being printed on mimeograph paper (purple print that smelled like alcohol) to keep up with the changes and everything was in English.

I know the altar didn’t get switched around until maybe the late 60’s, early 70’s, I think before I graduated HS in '72. I remember them keeping the main altar and erecting a second altar that was sort of awkwardly placed in our parish because of lack of room in the sanctuary.

It was around "67 or "68 when we started a folk group in the parish.

Here’s some history.

I lived and taught CCD during that time, and while it was bad enough in my area, it was not quite that bad. God Bless, Memaw

Thank you so much for sharing your story, I am surprised by how sudden and quick the changes were made.

Again, thanks, and much peace,

I can identify with most of the experiences related by Starrsmother. Many of the changes did indeed occur too rapidly and many went too far. One Sunday I found we were singing a Simon & Garfunkel song during Mass.

When I learned that the Mass was to be in English, I thought it would be a good thing. I thought it would simply be the English that I had been reading from the Missal for years. That language was majestic and ordered toward worship. But when the actual new translation came out, it did seem rather like a Cliff’s Notes version, with sparse, plain, language unsuited to worship. Fortunately, the new translation has improved that.

(The odd thing is that the vast majority of those changes were NOT ordered by Vatican II, but put in place by subsequent committees.)

I don’t want to say that this post is completely made up, but I will say that it is a compression of faulty memories, exaggerations and things that never happened.

The earliest mass I can remember dates back to about 1972. By then in my area, everything was in English. But servers did not (and never have - anywhere) worn “street clothing”.

“Not chewing the host” is and always was incorrect teaching. Sorry.

Communion in the hand and communion under both species did not come in until at least the late 1970’s.

I have asked older folks what they remember about the older form of mass. None - none! - looked back on it with any fondness, or wished that it would return. No one regretted that Latin has been done away with, since no one understood it anyway and nobody paid attention to a mass they didn’t understand. By the late 1950’s, women had stopped wearing hats and veils. No one said “a nun slapped a kleenex on my head”. No one had issues about “barely recognizing Mass”.

I’m just so tired of these old rants and exaggerations.

Sorry–it’s neither faulty or made up. MANY people loved the Latin Mass–and kids in my day had to learn it to sing the responses–just like our parents sang them. I agree we couldn’t speak Latin–but it was taught in at least many Catholic schools–one of which I attended in Okla! I even belonged to a children’s choir in (I think) 6th grade that volunteered to sing the old Latin Requiem Masses at funerals. I agree that many people prefer the English Mass. My own husband does and can’t understand what I loved about the old version. As I said–I have adjusted to the new–though at my current parish, the priest re-introduced singing certain prayers:the Gloria, the Credo, the Agnus Dei, in Latin–not always–but frequently. The Mass is the Mass. For me and many others, the post V2 period was tumultuous and upsetting–far more than it needed to be had change been introduced slowly and explained.

I can’t say that I want to return to Latin universally as the language of the Mass. But it is not true to say that nobody understood the Latin, either. Altar boys had to memorize the Latin responses. Heck, they come back to me even now. Does no one understand the Pater Noster in Latin? The Ave Maria? Dominus Vobiscum? Et cum spirtu tuo?

The current retranslation of the “Lord I am Not Worthy” is an exact translation of the way I learned it in Latin: “Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea.” “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof; but speak only the word, and my soul shall be healed.” It is just as it appeared in the English translation of pre-1962 missals. No one should have been surprised by it at all.

I discussed with a co-worker once the fact that before the Mass revision, one could go to Mass anywhere in the world, and it was always the same. You might not have understood all the Latin, but the Mass was always the same. Now, Mass is always different, at least in language, since it is always in the vernacular, whether English, Italian, Spanish, or Japanese.

Still, I’m not complaining about the current Mass, just the fact that liturgists took us through a number of silly and capricious liturgical detours to get to where we are now.

Not to be too nitpicky but isn’t dic verbo “say/speak with a word”, verbo being in the ablative? The handmissals got that one wrong; I know my Latin teacher would have taken points off for that. We should have stuck with the Latin. The translation war games will go on forever.

Hey, I’m not that good at Latin! I’ll defer to your translation. The phrase, of course, refers back to the story of the centurion who told Jesus he was not worthy to have him come to his house, he only need to speak a word to work a cure.

Probably better than you think. :slight_smile:

Remember: Spaced repetition is the mother of learning.

The phrase, of course, refers back to the story of the centurion who told Jesus he was not worthy to have him come to his house, he only need to speak a word to work a cure.

No doubt he spoke in Greek. :D:D

YMMV but - so does mine!

altar boys do not serve in street clothes

the words “For the kingdom the power and the glory…” come from one of the oldest CATHOLIC works - the Didache.

the priest doesn’t “hand out” the host

I have NEVER in 52 years seen a dance troop “swaying” to Christian Rock during the offertory procession (and for many of those 53 years I have been to mass daily!)

you still have to fast before communion

First Communion is still a big deal - white dresses and veils included


You’ve gotten *some *good info.

The changes were gradual. There were changes taking place even before VII but the most significant were afterward.

The first English Masses started taking place in late 1964. The translation used was somewhat similar to that which is used today. (That would have been about five years or so before the first ICEL translation was implemented.) The translation of prayers such as the Eucharistic Prayers continued to be updated.

Many of the changes, such as free standing altars, were implemented diocese by diocese over time.

I don’t know about all the sacraments but I imagine they were celebrated in the vernacular when translations because available in the local languages. (My First Communion Mass in the spring of 1966 was an English language Mass; I have no idea when other sacrament liturgies were changed and or translated into the vernacular.)

In our parish the major changes took place in 1965 and it seemed that every couple of months after that there was another change. I was in grade 6 and remember spending my winter lunchtimes with the grade 7 Sister, learning these new French responses – I lived in a Francophone parish in Canada.

Contrary to some here, we never experienced dialog Masses in our area prior to going to the vernacular. The idea of the person in the pew speaking in church was foreign to us so it took a long time before you heard much more than a mumble from the congregation. On that first Sunday, finding that people were not responding loudly enough, I made it my mission to lead them, much to my mother’s mortification. She kept grabbing at my sleeve and repeating “Pas si fort!” (Not so loudly!)

For what it’s worth, the Kleenex on the head was very much part of my life and that continued until the late 60s. It’s not true that women stopped wearing hats & veils in the 50s – heck, in North America veils only started appearing after Jackie Kennedy wore one to the Vatican in 1962. Hats were ubiquitous at Mass pretty much until hats ceased to be part of a woman’s wardrobe for other occasions – mid 60s? Oh if you couldn’t afford a hat there was always a kerchief or a beret but even my mother wore a hat even if most of her other clothes were hand-me-downs from her sisters. At some point in the mis 60s small triangular scarves with ties like these, became very popular and we generally had one in our school bag for visits to the church for Mass or Confession.

I should say that to this day in the parish where I grew up nobody but the choir sings. It’s simply not encouraged. We have never had a hymnal in the pews and they change what they sing so often that nobody really has a chance to learn by repetition. The odd time that a visitor comes and sings along because they happen to be singing something he/she knows it will be commented about positively if the person had a great voice, but they aren’t so kindly if it’s an average voice or, like mine, the voice of someone who just likes to sing but to whom pitch and key are foreign words.

I must say that as a tween I was thrilled with the changes, but by the time I was in my twenties I’d come to realize just what we’d lost when they took sledgehammers & saws to the high altar and altar rails.

There a things I can’t blame on Vat. II. Before it started I was noticing my older cousins and their friends no longer going to Mass. Where their dads and uncles had only gone out on the steps during the sermon for a smoke, they just didn’t bother to go to Mass at all. The world was changing so quickly and The Church was starting to be irrelevant to them.

I’ve been told by family members and friends who lived through it that the changes around here came in quite rapidly. That being said, I remember our parish in the mid-70s having posters up offering classes explaining the V2 changes, as well as whatever current changes we were going through. I can’t recall what any of those changes were since I was only 4-5 years old, but when we moved to another parish a few years later I remember being upset by the fact that the priest there didn’t come down and shake everyone’s hands at the sign of peace. I think some parishes were a bit more progressive than others. Oddly enough, the progressive parish we belonged to in the 70s, with its guitar Masses and 15-minute sign of peace, is now one of the more traditional, conservative parishes in the area.

It depended on where you lived. Many countries were much more gradual (than say the U.S.) with implementing the changes. For example, countries in Asia and in Africa took a several years to fully implement all the changes. I believe there was a famous meeting of bishops in Medellin, Colombia to discuss methods of implementation that would be better suited (read: culturally sensitive) to their local churches.

I heard that in France attendance began dropping in the late 50’s. In the U.S. attendance reached its height in 1964, according to CARA.

The first time I had an inkling major changes were in the works was when my younger brother, studying to be a server, told me they didn’t need to memorize the Psalm 42 prayers. (That was about a month’s worth of work right there.) Seems like interest in altar serving declined along with it.

Spring 1977 (my first communion) - at my parish the mass had been changed to the OF, but communion was received on tongue only.

Fall 1977 (start of 2nd grade) - we had lesson after lesson on how to receive in the hand.

Not sure how long it took to catch on to the parish in general, but I remember holding the patent(?) as a server and that it was a 50/50 chance of whether you had to reach it up or lower it down (depending on method of reception) through 1983 at least.

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