Father Jan Larson of the Archdiocese of Seattle writes in an article called “Is Vatican II over?”.
In addressing liturgical issues, some people mistakenly assume that Vatican II means the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. The constitution was, indeed, the document that formally began so much liturgical reform and renewal. The document never pretends to list all the changes that the bishops of the world had in mind at the council, but it does present the fundamental principles of good liturgy, mandates that the rites of the church be thoroughly studied from every perspective, and outlines the norms and procedures for the renewal of the liturgy. In other words, the constitution is not as much a list of permissible changes as it is a blueprint for future reform.
But the constitution was just the beginning of Vatican II. Hundreds of other reform documents would follow, and are still being published today. Thus the formal meetings of Vatican II may be officially concluded, but the reform and renewal begun by those meeting still goes on. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, like the Constitution of the United States, is a living document, so in this sense Vatican II is by no means over. We continue today to make changes and adaptations to the liturgy in the spirit of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. The constitution insists that full, conscious and active participation by all is the aim to be considered before all else in the reform and promotion of the liturgy. Some changes in the liturgy, e.g., the inclusion of the laity, and in particular women, in liturgical ministries, may not have been mentioned in the constitution, but years later would be understood as absolutely essential if we are to take “full participation” seriously.
I really wish that the words “active participation” had never been used since it can be interpreted in so many ways. Especially since what was meant was full prayerful participation. With the word active people keep thinking only about the physical meaning of active and try to make it look like every person at the Mass must be in the sanctuary imitating the priest’s outward movements at every point or they are not actively participating. Next they will be proposing Mass aerobics to make sure everybody is good and active and that their heart rate is at its targeted potential to achieve that full sin-burning ability. Maybe it really doesn’t matter what words the council said since some will take anything and misconstrue it their own perceptions.
And that line about living documents which is a code word meaning a document that magically transforms itself in to the beliefs of the modern reader. If I was walking around and saw a living document, I would grab a stapler, three hole punch, or anything else handy and immediately kill it. Or maybe I would give it a baptism in white-out so that it wouldn’t go around being such a nuisance. That living constitution that was walking around that liberals keep appealing to is worse and more difficult to kill then one hundred Freddy Krugers. Modern day liberals are alchemists that have there own Philosophers Stone and any document that does not say what they want it to say they transmute it into a living document that surprise-surprise agrees with their viewpoint.
The constitution is now 40 years old, and many other documents have since supplied for the inadequacies of that original document. All of these reform documents, as well as the various customs and cultures of peoples, continue to give shape to the reforms envisioned by the Vatican II bishops. Language is one example of this gradual evolution of liturgical forms. The constitution appeared to only reluctantly allow for Latin to be replaced by the language of the people. The reality was that the liturgy celebrated in the language of the people was so instantly and universally popular that Latin would quickly loose its venerable status, in spite of vain attempts to preserve it as a prominent part of the liturgy. Thus Pope Paul VI observed in 1965, just two years after the promulgation of the constitution, that “The church has sacrificed its native tongue, Latin….The church has made the sacrifice of an age-old tradition and above all of unity in language among diverse peoples to bow to a higher universality, an outreach to all peoples.” The principal of full and conscious participation would dominate in the end.
Actually I am still waiting for the Mass to be translated into the vernacular. My Latin vocabulary is very small, but a Mass in Latin is more comprehendable to me than the majority of ICEL’s translations into what is supposed to be English.
The other day David Ancel blogged the following:
Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
Well, the diocese decided to use the ICEL translation as a responsorial psalm, which goes like this:
Lord, send out your Spirit, and make the face of the earth come alive
Between living documents and the face of the earth coming alive I am going out to buy a suit and equipment similar to those used in The Ghostbusters and blast any of these things that come within shooting distance.