ASK THE LITURGIST (31) – What did the Council say?

– Don Enrico Finotti

I had many parish priests and they all agreed on the Council, but each then did the opposite of his predecessor. What did the Council really say?

It is a fact that everyone agrees with the Council, but then everyone disagrees with what the Council would have said. The Pope, in this regard, speaks of a vague spirit of the Council unrelated to the letter of his documents. In fact, he affirms: “In a word:  it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.” (Address to the Roman Curia of 22 December 2005).

It is certainly true that everyone talks about the Council, but how many have read his documents in full?

And, if you have read the documents, which interpreters have you given credit to?

“Theologians, in fact, instead of exercising their ecclesial vocation through a sincere and motivated ‘Sentire cum Ecclesia,’ do not rarely prefer to manifest a cordial ‘dissentire ab Ecclesia.’ (A. AMATO, OR, November 16, 2006, p. 7).

A renewed listening to what the Council actually said is needed: “Not what we would like the Council to have said must determine our life, but what it really said” (J. Ratzinger, The Salt of the Earth, p. 294, our translation).

A careful reading of the conciliar documents reveals how some of the Council’s themes were passed over in silence and several of its provisions remained a dead letter, to the point of arousing the idea that the Council either had not spoken about it, or had yet to tolerate some questions for a compromise between the disputed parties. As an example we can remember:

– the recognition and promotion of Gregorian chant (SC 116) and of the organ (SC 120);

– the use of the Latin language (SC 36);

– the sacred character of the liturgy (SC 7);

– the competent authority to regulate the liturgy (SC 22);

– the need for perennial philosophy and the study of St. Thomas Aquinas (GE 10; OT 16);

– the hierarchical nature of the Church (LG III);

– the primacy and infallibility of the Supreme Pontiff (LG 18);

– the uniqueness of the Catholic Church (LG 8);

– the hierarchical character of the ecclesial communion ‘hierarchica communio‘ (LG 22);

– the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation (LG 14); etc.

Whoever reaffirms these and other themes in a minimal way ends up being considered anti-conciliar, while those who realize a creativity detached from every norm, open to every surprise, receive a consideration and a total benevolence. In other words, to be a conciliar would mean indulging in whimsy and not having any subjection to traditional doctrine and the current juridical legislation, in the name of the “pastoral.” The Council would then inaugurate a season of wide “freedom,” which however soon undergoes the inevitable conditioning of the emerging ideology in the environment in which we live. But in this way one is immediately overwhelmed by a substitution dictatorship, that of relativism and the subjectivism of those who in turn exercise “power,” strictly called “service.”

J. Ratzinger writes: “The ease with which the Council is almost invoked to justify personal preferences betrays the great mandate left to us by the assembly of the Fathers” (Opera omnia, XI, p. 771, our translation).

What really have happened?

“What happened after the Second Vatican Council could almost be called a ‘cultural revolution,’ if we consider the false excess of zeal with which the churches were stripped and with which the clergy, like religious orders, changed their appearance. Today many repent of this precipitation” (J. Ratzinger, Opera omnia, XI, p. 289, our translation).

It is therefore extremely urgent to overcome an even too widespread ideological vision of the Council, as R. Pane expresses it well: “The fact is that today the term ‘preconciliar’ ‘has taken on a new meaning, which everyone accepts without question: if I wear a chasuble in polyester, I celebrate Mass with wooden chalice, I interrupt the liturgy with frequent captions, I avoid as much as possible make the sign of the cross and I am pleased to let the faithful participate with the last melody I heard at the Sanremo festival, so I am a perfect son of the council. Since, on the other hand, I insist on preferring the organ to the guitar, the Roman canon to the Eucharistic Prayer I dare even from time to time to sing the preface, in which case I am just a deleterious example of a preconciliar misfit!” (Liturga creativa, p.13, our translation).

(From Il mio e il vostro sacrificio. Il liturgista risponde.”, 2018©Chorabooks. Translated by Aurelio Porfiri. Used with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved)