Vatican II (letter)

Vatican II (letter)

Denis O'Leary

I belong to that group of Catholics who came of age before Vatican II and continue as regular churchgoers. During that time many other Catholics have for a variety of reasons given up on religious practice or have found a spiritual haven elsewhere.

Why have people like me hung on? Well, I can only answer for myself and say that while regularly having to confront my failures to live out the Christian ideal I have to date been able to cling to and nourish the faith inherited from my forebears. For me it is still the Mass that matters!

Over the years we have experienced the various changes in liturgy, language, music and sanctuary layout imposed by priests, religious and activist members of the laity.

More often than not many of the changes for which Vatican II was cited as an authority, for example, the ousting of Gregorian Chant or the total abandonment of Latin, it would be found either that the claimed support was wholly lacking or at best questionable.

So we have had to somehow accept the reality that many educated in the post-Vatican II climate do not share our views about the banality of many modern hymns, the need for reverence for Our Lord present in the reserved Blessed Sacrament and after the Consecration, and the importance of fidelity to the approved language and rubrics of the liturgy.

Recently, however, I have sensed that the high water mark has been reached. Maybe the days when the purpose of the liturgy in some places seemed to be more about entertaining than edifying those in attendance are coming to an end and those now ministering in the name of the Church are coming to a better understanding of Vatican II.

Two recent experiences illustrate my point. A religious sister speaking to a parish group used the beautiful example of bringing along some Easter water when visiting the homes of those recently baptised for blessing the person as a reminder of the baptismal ceremony.

In another setting the next day I heard one of our younger priests talk about the priestly office. He spoke of the centrality of his role as representing Christ in the celebration of the Eucharist. He, too, referred to the need to revisit the Vatican II documents to better understand what they really say.

DENIS O'LEARY
Huntfield Heights, SA

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