The Order of Mass

After a brief hiatus, I am delighted to post the next post on this blog, courtesy of Ttony, of The Muniment Room blog.

This is a short extract from Mgr Anibale Bugnini’s “The Reform of the Liturgy 1948—1975”. While short, I believe it conveys the mindset of those involved in creating the New Order of Mass. As Bugnini comments on what Cardinal Heenan said, I have added his comments as an Appendix at the end. 

This extract is not offered as an opportunity for competitive fisking: rather it is an opportunity to explore what the “experts” had come to believe by 1965 was wrong with the Mass and how the wrongs could be righted. There are a few clues along the way about what constituted the intellectual foundation on which reform was to be built, but we can also see the arbitrary exercise of papal privilege as well (it is ironic that Paul VI was the last to be able to exercise it so arbitrarily). The pace the reformers imposed on their project is also worthy of note.

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The Order of Mass

i) THE “NORMATIVE MASS”

The programme for the revision of the Roman Missal provided for seven study groups, of which group 10 was assigned to study the Order of Mass. It thus became the group from which the others took their lead.

The following directives were issued to this group:

1  The group is to implement article 50 of the liturgical Constitution: “the Order of Mass is to be revised in a way that will bring out more clearly the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, and more readily achieve the devout, active participation of the faithful. For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements that, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated or were added with but little advantage are now to be discarded; other elements that have suffered injury through accident of history are now, as may seem useful or necessary, to be restored to the vigour they had in the tradition of the Fathers”.

2  The problems connected with the Order of Mass are among the most complicated and difficult of the entire liturgy; one reason for this is that they have to do with the rite that is at the centre of worship and that is the supremely important pastoral standpoint. For this reason an effort has been made to have the two areas of history and pastoral care represented in the study group.

3  Although the Mass is a sensitive and complicated subject, it also has the advantage of being the most fully studied of all the liturgical rites. The literature on the subject is very extensive; the group will have to be fully cognizant of it. In any case, the individuals called to work in the group are for the most part writers internationally famous for their solid works on the Mass. It is enough to mention Father Jungmann and Monsignor Righetti.

4  As part of the work done by the preparatory commission, the scholars in charge of this area produced complete plans for simplification and renewal. At the time, these were set aside because it was decided to include only guidelines of a general kind in the liturgical Constitution. All that material is now to be utilised.

5  Another valuable source that did not exist a few years ago is the critical editions of the sacramentaries and Ordines; with the aid of these it is possible to follow the present-day rites, and especially the Mass, from their birth to their manifold developments. Nowadays nothing eludes the historian and critic. Therefore every change proposed is to be exhaustively documented.

6  Since the pastoral aspect of the rite of Mass is regarded as exceptionally important in the present reform, it seems appropriate that once the work of the “technicians” is complete, the “critical” pastoral sense of a sizeable group of parish priests should have its say. These men are to be chosen from various countries and various types of parishes. Room is also to be made for some experiments (on the basis of article 40), these being limited to some “circles”, churches, or parishes.

  1. First phase of the work (April 1964 – October 1965)

The group set to work in a decisive manner and in accordance with rigorous methods of research. The first meeting was held at Rome in April 1964. As a result of it, on April 17, at the second general meeting of the Consilium, Monsignor Wagner was able to present a report on the work that needed to be done. He asked for a reply to 5 questions; the answers adopted would indicate clearly the basis on which the schema of the reformed Mass was to be constructed. 

The questions had to do with the norms governing the work; article 50 of the liturgical Constitution; the readings and Mass; the prayer of the faithful; communion under two kinds; and concelebration. I shall deal with the first two hear and take up the others at their proper places.

1)                  Norms governing the work

The group was to base its activity primarily on the mandate given by the Council, while also taking into account the reports made by the conciliar commission in the Council hall. In addition the group was to have before them:

a) the minutes of the preparatory commission, especially the declarationes on each article; although these possessed no juridical authority, they were greatly valued for an understanding of the text on which the Fathers voted;

b) the views of the bishops as contained in the acts of the antepreparatory commission of the Council;

c) the work of the commission established by Pius XII for the reform of the liturgy;

d) the works of the most qualified authors on the subject.

In principle, no door was to be closed to the investigators; their purpose, after all, was not to essay an archaeological restoration but to see to it that “any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (SC 23).

The fathers approved these norms. 

2) Problems connected with SC 50 

Article 50 of the constitution on the Liturgy sets down six requirements: (1) that the distinctive character of each part, as well as their interconnections, appear clearly; (2) that a devout and active participation of the faithful be made easier; (3) that the rites be simplified; (4) that doublets and less useful additions be eliminated; (5) that worthwhile elements lost in the course of time be restored; and (6) that the substance of the rites be faithfully maintained. 

The preparatory commission had drawn up a detailed explanation (declaratio) of this article. It began by recalling the need for a clear distinction between the liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist. It then went on to say that the parts of the Order of Mass that seemed in need of careful revision were the opening rites, the offertory, the communion, and the dismissal, all of which had acquired new elements when the Roman Rite was accepted in Gaul. There was need, for example, of:

a) reducing the number of signs of the Cross, kissings of the altar, genuflections, bows, and other such gestures;

b) shortening and simplifying the prayers at the foot of the altar;

c) facing the congregation while proclaiming the readings;

d) allowing the participation of the congregation or its representatives in the offertory rite, at least on more solemn days (as in the Ambrosian Rite); the prayers that accompanied the offering of the gifts should bring out the aspect of oblation, and the prayer over the gifts should be said aloud;

e) increasing the number of prefaces and reciting the Canon aloud;

f) also saying aloud the embolism of the Our Father, as at the Good Friday liturgy;

g) improving the organisation of the fraction;

h) removing the restrictions on communion of the faithful at some Masses;

i) shortening the communion formula to, for example, “The Body of Christ.—Amen”, as in the writings of St Ambrose;

j) ending Mass with the blessing and the dismissal, “Go, the Mass is ended”.

While accepting the suggestions, the group formulated other worthwhile observations:

  1. The point of departure for the reform should not be “Private” Mass but “Mass with a congregation”; not Mass as read but Mass with singing. But which Mass with song— the pontifical, the solemn, or the simple sung Mass?

 a) Given the concrete situation in the churches, the answer can only be: Mass celebrated by a priest, with a reader, servers, a choir or Cantor, and the congregation. All other forms, such as pontifical Mass, solemn Mass, Mass with a Deacon, will be amplifications of further simplifications of this basic Mass, which is therefore called “normative”.

b) There must be a substantial sameness among all the forms of Mass with a congregation, with or without singing. For if, in fact, Mass without singing were made the model because, for example, of the vernacular, sung Mass would gradually fall into disuse.

c) A sharper differentiation can be made between Mass with the congregation and Mass without a congregation (“Private” Mass). Mass with a congregation requires several areas (for the altar, for the lectern, for the presidential chair) and perhaps fewer formulas, since by its nature is celebration will take more time. Mass without a congregation, on the other hand, does not require the several areas and can have longer or more numerous formulas that may augment the devotion of the celebrant.

  1. The number and length of the readings calls for special attention. Is it appropriate that they usually be three: prophet, apostle, and gospel?
  1. The Canon raises many problems

a) Should the number of signs of the cross be reduced?

b) Should the “amens” be omitted, except the final one of the congregation?

c) Should the entire Canon or the principal prayers or at least the final doxology be said aloud?

d) Should there not be acclamations of the congregation during the Canon, as in the other liturgies of the Church? Ought not the lists of the saints be revised to make them accord better with historical truth? Should not the other formulas be revised so that the faithful may more easily grasp their meaning?

  1. The final part of the Mass should also be radically revised. Should the “last gospel” be eliminated? Should there be psalms and songs for the period of thanksgiving after communion? Should there be a variety of formulas for the blessing of the congregation?

Monsignor Wagner ended his report by saying that in this first phase of the work, the group has simply listed in summary fashion the problems that seem to call for closer study. There are doubtless other problems that ought to be faced by the study groups in charge of the various parts of Mass.

 The Consilium accepted in principle the general approach taken to the work on revision of the Order of Mass.

 On April 17 1964 as sturdy, powerful machinery was set in motion that in five years’ time would bring the “new” Mass.

  1. Continuation of the Work

… 

On October 4 and 5 1964 the work thus far accomplished was again described to the Consilium at its fourth general meeting. Some norms were approved that the group was to follow in establishing the definitive Order of Mass:

  1. The description of the rite of Mass was to be based on Mass with singing, a reader, at least one server, a choir or cantor, and a congregation.
  2. The proper place for the liturgy of the Word is the lectern; the proper place for the liturgy of the Eucharist is the altar.
  3. There is to be a single collect, a single prayer over the gifts, and a single prayer after communion.
  4. There are to be three readings on Sundays and feast days.
  5. In some circumstances and some situations the Apostles’ Creed may replace the Nicene-Constantinopolitan. It may be either sung or recited.
  6. The final blessing may be sung.
  7. The dismissal “Ite, missa est” is to be kept in the Latin text, but it may be translated in ways better adapted to the various vernaculars.
  8. At the beginning of Mass, during the offertory, and during communion, songs adapted to the season and the particular sacred action may be sung.

 Other questions had to do with the opening rites, The Kyrie and Gloria, the song between the readings, the prayers and rites of the offertory, the Canon, the reorganisation of the communion rites, and the formulas for the dismissal.

Meanwhile, some of the points studied by group 10 and approved by the Consilium would be given practical application for the entire Church in the first instruction (Inter Oecumenici) and in the introduction, on March 7 1965, of the new rites of concelebration and communion under two kinds.

 …

The sixth meeting of the group was held at Le Saulchoir (near Paris), June 8-23 1965; also present were group 15 and some other experts individually invited. The purpose was to carry on discussions and experiments (behind closed doors) that would aid in improving the schema drawn up for the Order of Mass. It was clear that there was no further room for studies and theoretical discussions; the need now was for practical decisions, and these in turn required experimentation.

  1. First Schema of the “Normative” Mass

The complete schema of the new Order of Mass was presented to the Consilium at its sixth general meeting. It was discussed for five days, during which two experimental celebrations were also held. The schema in question was “the first schema of the normative Order of Mass”, which was accompanied by a lengthy explanation that ended with eight sets of questions on which the views of the fathers were requested.

 The Mass was called “normative” because, while there would always be several forms of celebration, this was the one that was to serve as the norm or standard for the others. According to the schema, the celebration begins with the singing of the congregation. The ministers make the sign of the cross in silence; this is followed by the celebrant’s greeting and the penitential act, the Kyrie, Gloria, and collects. A point on which there was disagreement was the succession of three songs: opening song, Kyrie, and Gloria, which could make the early part of Mass somewhat slow and heavy. It was suggested that the singing of the Kyrie might be optional.

Next comes the liturgy of the Word with the three (optional) readings, homily, the Creed on holy days of obligation, and the prayer of the faithful. This last was declared to be a structural permanent element of the celebration, not to be omitted “from any celebration, even on weekdays and in private Masses, though in the latter the form is to be appropriately adapted”.

The offertory begins with the washing of hands; it continues with the preparation of the gifts, which are brought to the altar, where the celebrant places them on the altar to the accompaniment of short formulas.

After the prayer “In a spirit of humility …”, the celebrant immediately says aloud the prayer over the gifts; he then enters into the Eucharistic Prayer by beginning the dialogue before the preface.

The Roman Canon was the most sensitive and complex problem of all. On the one hand, respect for this prayer made the group hesitate to touch it; on the other, there were suggestions from experts and requests from pastors for a different and more logical organisation of the Eucharistic Prayer. In order to achieve a resolution of the difficulties, it was proposed to experiment with three revised forms of the Roman Canon.

Schema A

This consisted of the traditional Canon, including all the elements added to it over the centuries and not excluding even the most recent change— the addition of Saint Joseph’s name as ordered by Pope John XXIII. Some formulas, however, were to be corrected in accordance with the critical edition of Bernard Botte, that is, by omitting the so-called “Addition of Alcuin” (“for whom we offer to you or”) in the memento of the living and the Amens which are scattered throughout the text but which, as the manuscript tradition shows, were inserted only during the Middle Ages.

 Study group 10 was of the opinion that this traditional canon, including the entire series of saints names— despite the doubts of historians about some of them— could do good service in the future as it had in the past. 

Schema B

 This schema attempts to reduce, at least to some extent, the massive interpolations that have been made in the original Roman Canon. In fact, the two mementos are shortened slightly; the series of saints’ names are not completely omitted, but the two sets (one in the “Communicantes”, the other in the “Nobis quoque”) are combined into one, and only the names of biblical saints are kept. This was done out of a desire to adopt the suggestions long since made by experts in this area.

The group had not felt up to accepting suggestions that new lists of saints be drawn up that would exclude the local saints of the city of Rome and include others from all times and places.

Schema C

 The content here is exactly the same as in Schema B, except that the two mementos and the “Nobis quoque” are combined into a single complex prayer. This new prayer is placed after the consecration, between the “Supplices” and the final doxology. [1]

For the rite of communion the following sequence of actions was proposed: Our Father with its opening exhortation, the embolism, and the acclamation “Yours is the Kingdom …” (In the form that would be kept in the definitive rite), the greeting an exchange of peace, the fraction during the singing of “Lamb of God”. The priest then says quietly a single prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God”, and then immediately says “Behold, the Lamb of God …” and receives communion. His reception of the chalice is accompanied by the prayer, “What shall I give to the Lord …”.

Conclusion of the mass: silence or singing after communion, prayer after Communion, announcements, blessing, dismissal[2].

The study groups asked for the views of the bishops on each point, and the latter gave substantial approval. This does not mean the bishops did not have their doubts. Their intention in approving was that the group should conduct experiments and then bring the subject up for discussion again. In some of the votes this point was expressly made: “Yes, for experiments”. The Fathers were in agreement that the schema of the Rite of Mass proposed to them should be the subject of experiment in suitable, controlled centres. These experiments were rendered impossible, however, by leaks to the press and the fright of bishops, faithful, and other experts. The Secretariat of State intervened several times, saying that no further steps were to be taken before informing the Holy Father of them in detail; such in fact had always been the procedure and intention of the Consilium. 

It was agreed, however, that some time should be allowed to pass. Meanwhile the secretariat and those in charge of group 10 prepared a presentation to the Pope of the situation with regard to work on the Order of Mass; this report was submitted to the Consilium in October.

At an audience granted to Cardinal Lercaro on June 20, 1966, the Pope expressed his mind on two points:

  1. [Penitential act:] The Kyrie, duly adapted, is to be used when there is no Gloria in the Mass; in order to avoid three songs in a row (Introit, Kyrie, and Gloria), the Kyrie is replaced in this case by another penitential formula; this formula is to be of a kind in which the congregation can participate (unlike the present prayers at the foot of the altar, in which only the celebrant and the servers have a part).
  2. [Canon:] the present anaphora is to be left unchanged, and two or three others are to be composed of found for use at special limited times.

The way was thus opened to further studies on a basis authoritatively provided by the Pope himself.

The study group immediately began to put the Pope’s regulations into effect. Contacts were maintained chiefly through correspondence during the summer of 1966. Meanwhile another stage was being anticipated— consultation with the bishops, for which advantage was to be taken of the Synod.

ii THE NORMATIVE MASS AT THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

At an audience on September 22, 1966, the Holy Father suggested that the liturgical schemas already prepared should be sent to the 1967 Synod of Bishops, and asked the Consilium to contact the Secretariat of the Synod in good time so that the texts might be forwarded to the conferences.

He made the same point of the members of the Consilium when he received in a special audience on October 13, 1966:

A second issue, worthy of your most intent consideration, is the Ordo Missae. We are aware of the work done and of how much learned and thoughtful discussion has taken place with regard to composing both the new missal and the liturgical calendar. The issue is of such serious and universal import that we cannot do otherwise than consult with the bishops on any proposals before approving them by our own authority.

The vague wording of this announcement gave some credence to the idea that the Pope was intending to hold a special session, or “Extraordinary Synod”, at the Synod of Bishops in 1968, solely for the purpose of discussing liturgical problems. This prospect was in fact a welcome one, so much so that at the end of the seventh general meeting of the Consilium (October 1966), the Cardinal President wrote as follows to the Pope:

Given the point that the work has now reached after the general meeting held October 6-14 of this year, if the intention is confirmed of having a special meeting of the Synod of Bishops to deal with questions of the liturgical reform, I can anticipate that we will have some schemas ready for sending to the parties concerned for the requisite prior study; specifically, the schemas on: 1) the Ordo Missae; 2) the general structure of the Office; 3) the Ordo lectionum for Mass on feast days and weekdays; 4) the rites of ordination (bishops, priests, deacons); and 5) some sacraments (baptism of adults, baptism of children, marriage) and sacramentals (funerals).

Some information on this point is needed so that we can decide on the order in which various parts of the work are to be done; it must also be kept in mind that the printing and sending of the pertinent texts will likewise require no small amount of time.

On November 15, 1966, the Secretariat of State communicated the Pope’s decision that the most important schemas of the reform should be presented to the Synod of 1967.

The material was prepared and sent to the members of the Consilium, who discussed it at length their eighth general meeting (April 10-19 1967). It was decided to compile a lengthy report on the work of the Consilium and then to explain to the Fathers only the key sensitive points in the reform of the principal rites, namely, the Mass and the Office. As for the sacraments, it was not possible to do more than give a general description of the state of the work, since each sacramental rite was a special case, and it was therefore necessary to present either all or none of them. The material prepared was sent to the bishops, along with the other matters to be taken up at the Synod, so that the episcopal conferences might discuss them and their delegates might then report on their thinking.

On October 21 9067 Cardinal Lercaro opened synodal discussion of the liturgical schemas with a vigorous report. Immediately following this, a “Supplemental Report on the Liturgy” was read, explaining the four new Eucharistic Prayers, the variance in the formulas of consecration, and the introduction of the Apostles’ Creed into the Mass. These further liturgical matters were described as “Papal Queries”. The Pope had decided to bring them up at the Synod after the booklet containing the subjects the discussion had been sent to the bishops; he did not wish to pass up the opportunity of having a least the personal views of the Fathers on these important matters.

That same day saw the first interventions on both the report and the supplement: nine Fathers spoke; on October 23, 21 more; on October 24, 16; on October 25, 17; 63 in all. 19 Fathers expressed their views only in writing.

On Monday, October 24 the normative Mass was experimentally celebrated in the Sistine Chapel. The Fathers were given a booklet containing the chants prayers of the Mass and of Eucharistic Prayer III, which was here used for the first time with the permission, and at the wish, of the Pope (letter of the Secretariat of State, October 17, 1967).

The mass [in Italian] was to be thought of as a Sunday Mass in a parish church, with the participation of a congregation, a small choir, a lector, Cantor, and two servers.

The readings were taken from the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Schema B) in the Ordo lectionum; in the new organisation of the liturgical year, the Nineteenth Sunday would fall in approximately the second half of October. The chants were taken from the Graduale simplex, Schema IV, but the time after Pentecost. The entire mass was prepared solely for this celebration.

 It must be said flatly that the experiment was not a success and even that it had an effect contrary to the one intended and played a part in the negative vote that followed. Few of the Fathers were disposed and ready for the experiment; this was even more true of those who had grasped the value and essential character of the normative Mass. The majority of the Fathers entered the Sistine Chapel with their minds made up and ill-disposed to the new Mass.

The ceremonies and chants had been worked out in the smallest detail, and as far as these were concerned the celebration went very smoothly. The setting, however, was completely unsuitable. In the first place, the Sistine Chapel lent itself to elitist, not popular, celebrations. Most important of all, the congregation was in a false position. The Fathers of the Synod had to imagine a fine assembly of ordinary people present in the hall, for it was with such a congregation in mind that the songs, rites, language, and tone of the homily had been chosen. Instead, the father saw around them a gathering of illustrious church dignitaries. The Italian language and the many sung parts were a further obstacle to participation.

The celebration must therefore have left many of the Fathers with the impression of something artificial, overly pedantic, and quite un-parochial[3]. Some of them thought that such a mass could not possibly be celebrated in a parish. The very term “normative” suggested, incorrectly, that all the parts sung in the Sistine Chapel would have to be sung always and in all circumstances in every parish. Other Fathers, accustomed to individual celebration, found this Mass to be impoverished by omission of the priest’s private prayers. Still others, incited by the dogma of the real presence, looked with concern on any reduction in gestures and genuflections and on the lengthening of the liturgy of the Word. In short, the changes in the Mass seemed too radical[4]

 

Appendix

What Cardinal Heenan actually said:

 “Like all the bishops I offer my sincere thanks to the Consilium. Its members have worked well and have done their best. I cannot help wondering, however, if the Consilium as at present constituted can meet the needs of our times. For the liturgy is not primarily an academic or cultural question. It is above all a pastoral matter, for it concerns the spiritual lives of our faithful. I do not know the names of the members of the Consilium or, even more important, the names of their consultors. But after studying the so called Normative Mass it was clear to me that few of them can have been parish priests. I cannot think that anyone with pastoral experience would have regarded the sung Mass as being of first importance.

At home it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday in the Sistine Chapel [a demonstration of the Normative Mass] we would soon be left with a congregation mostly of women and children. Our people love the Mass, but it is Low Mass without psalm-singing and other musical embellishments to which they are chiefly attached. I humbly suggest that the Consilium look at its members and advisers to make sure that the number of those who live in seminaries and religious communities does not exceed the numbers of those with pastoral experience among the people in ordinary parishes.

Here are a few points which solely for the sake of time – since only five minutes are allowed for comments – must be put so shortly as to sound brusque. 

  1. The rule of prayer is the rule of faith. If there is to be more emphasis in the Mass on Bible readings than on Eucharistic prayer, the faith of both clergy and people will be weakened.
  1. There is more need than ever today to stress the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. No change in the Mass should be made which might seem to throw doubt on this doctrine.
  1. Many bishops in this Synod have spoken of the need of coming to the rescue of the faithful grown restless and disturbed on account of too frequent changes in the Mass. I must therefore ask what attitude the Consilium will take to these warnings from the pastors of the Church? I confess in all seriousness that I am uneasy lest the liturgists say “These bishops know nothing about liturgy.” It would be tragic if after the bishops have gone home no notice were to be taken of their opinions.
  1. In my diocese of Westminster – and in several English dioceses – the rule is that at least one Mass each Sunday must be celebrated in Latin. It would be a great help if the Consilium were to tell the whole Church how the Latin tongue can be preserved. If the Church is to remain truly the Catholic Church it is essential to keep a universal tongue.”

Footnotes 

[1] The purpose of these revisions was to smooth the transition from the Sanctus to the consecration, in an attempt to recover, at least in this first part, the original grandeur and sublimity of the Eucharistic Prayer. The resultant union, in the “Te igitur”, of “in primis quae tibi offerimus” and the “Communicantes” (which contains the list of —biblical— saints) is certainly an advantage, because it is the joining of two groups: those who “in terries offerrunt” and the triumphant Church (Jungmann); this was something that Cardinal Schuster had long ago thought perfectly in harmony with the present Roman Canon. 

These three schemas were discussed at great length. No one denied the difficulties presented by the Roman Canon. Some, however, closed ranks against even the slightest revision or development of the Roman Canon (with the exception of the critical restoration of the text to the form it had before Alcuin tampered with it); their motives were historical and literary. On the other hand, all without exception urgently asked for the addition of a new Canon to the existing Roman canon.

The fathers of the Consilium did not vote on the request for the introduction of a second canon, but limited themselves, in a secret vote requiring a two-thirds majority, to consenting to an experimental use of the three schemas.

[2]In order to make the rites of preparation for communion less cumbersome, the other two prayers (one for the peace and unity of the church, the other in preparation for communion) was suppressed. The part of the Mass that follows upon communion was discussed at length. Some regretted that the Roman Mass ended almost abruptly, with no pause for meditative prayer and praise and thanksgiving for the gift received. It was suggested that the Gloria be moved to this point, but the group did not think this opportune. Others saw in the rapid conclusion of the Roman Mass a characteristic of the Roman rite that ought to be preserved. The group found a compromise: “after communion and an optional exhortation depending on circumstances, a hymn or psalm or other prayer of praise is sung or recited”.

[3] On October 26, Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, took the podium and accused the commission of technicism, intellectualism, and a lack of pastoral sense. Cardinal Lercaro immediately replied that 47 Fathers, almost all of them pastors of dioceses, and 18 parish priests belong to the Consilium.

[4] The chief spokesmen for these objections were the representatives of the English-speaking hierarchies, who gathered at the English College on October 25 to agree on a common attitude that would be expressed in the voting. The attitude adopted was a negative one and displayed an obsession with singing in particular; it was claimed that people in the English-speaking world do not sing in church (the reference seems to have been solely to Catholic churches) and that the normative Mass should therefore be the read Mass. Another concern was to defend the Church’s faith in the real presence.

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,900 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 48 trips to carry that many people.

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Evangelii Gaudium

By Popular Demand, we have decided to discuss Evangelii Gaudium next (after a brief break).

So get reading: the English text may be found here.

I suggest we read the Introduction and Chapter One, then make some interim comments, then proceed etc.

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Gravissimum educationis

After a bit of a break, let us resume with Gravissimum educationis: Vatican ll’s text on religious education.  I am suggesting this as there has been a lot of discussion (cf Mark Lambert’s, Ttony’s and my blogs, inter alia) and I thought this might be relevant.  I haven’t read it yet, so don’t know what to expect.

The English text can be found here, and the Latin here.

If anyone would like to suggest questions or themes to discuss, feel free!

It looks rather shorter than some of the other texts we have read, which I find comforting…

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

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Next text

Having looked back at our poll, I would like to propose that we read Veritatis Splendor. The English text can be found here, and the Latin, here.

However, based on the discussions following our reading of Gaudiem et Spes, I also propose that we read it one section at a time, have a discussion on each section, and then, when we get to the end, see if we can pull the threads together.

Therefore I propose we read the Introduction and Chapter One (say by next weekend?); then the rather longer Chapter 2 (over the following fortnight – to allow some time for discussion of Ch 1) and so on. We should be able to read the whole letter in this way in 3 chunks, over, say 6 weeks, and (maybe) not be too overwhelmed.

If anyone wants to post a few questions to start the discussion, either now or as they read it, that would help. I shall try to remember to do so.

If anyone thinks this a bad idea, feel free to say so – but you will need a counter-suggestion!

Ben T.

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Gaudium et Spes

1. Fundamental Moral Theology.

The Second Vatican Council called for moral theology to be renewed by “a more vivid contact with the mystery of Christ” (Optatum totius, n. 16). The last of the Council documents, Gaudium et Spes, so important for moral theology, has a structure in part 1 which is Christocentric.

Looking at the human person, human society, man in relation to the world the Council examines the moral questions about each which people see as central and offers to people of good will throughout the world an answer which in every case is centred on Jesus Christ.

Thus, “it is only in the light of the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear” (GS. 22), the communitarian dimension of man “is perfected and fulfilled in the work of Jesus Christ” (GS. 32), the transformation of the world will enter its perfection “when the Lord comes” (GS. 32), since the Church proclaims that “the key, the centre and the purpose of the whole of human history is to be found in its Lord and Master” (GS. 10). We will never adequately understand any of the critical issues of our time except “in the light of revelation” (GS. 33), “in the light of the Gospel” (GS. 43) of Christ.
Question 1. Read Gaudium et Spes, nn. 11-22 or 22-32 or 33-39. How is the Council open to all people of good will and yet truly Christocentric?
Question 2. Read Gaudium et Spes nn. 13, 27, 37, 39. List the ways in which sin affects us as persons, in society and in our work, both internally and externally.
Question 3. Read Gaudium et Spes, nn. 14, 35 with a view to understanding of ‘nature’ and ‘natural law’. What comprises ‘human nature’ according to these passages of Gaudium et Spes? How does this compare to Sollicitudo rei socialis, nn.15, 30, and Humanae Vitae, n. 14? How can revelation give us a deeper and clearer understanding of the moral demand: How is our social dimension as human beings deepened by considering us as “the only creatures God wanted for His own sake” (GS. 24)? Does this affect the view of man as being “by his innermost nature a social being” (GS. 28)? How does it affect our view of the role of work (GS. 34)? How are our efforts on this earth related to the realisation of the Kingdom of God in its fullness (GS. 38-39)?

Question 4. What specific moral absolutes are given in Gaudium et Spes n. 27?

Question 5. Read Gaudium et Spes, nn. 16-17, 51 (if you want, you can cross reference Dignitatis humanae, nn. 2-3). When does acting wrongly through ignorance or error excuse and when does it not? On what basis is this? When someone acts contrary to God’s will through invincible ignorance, does he commit sin? Does his conscience lose its dignity? Does he have a right to follow an invincibly erroneous conscience? If so, are there any limits to that right?

(Introduction and questions courtesy of Mark Lambert @sitsio)

Gaudium et spes in English can be found here  The Latin text may be found here.

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Next text… by popular demand!

It seems clear from the poll that Gaudium et Spes should be our next text. So I propose that we read this over the next week or so, and that someone (ideally not me) should undertake to post some discussion questions towards the end of that period. Gaudium et Spes may be found here. The Latin text is here

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Poll – what shall we read next?

Since I posted what next?, we have had a number of suggestions.  I have added to these thing that were mentioned earlier on the blog, to create this entertaining and useful poll…

What should we read next?

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What next?

Thanks for all the comments in response to the Review and Reflection post.

What come through clearly is that people would like to continue with this reading group, but nobody has a strong sense of what we should read next.

I liked Lazarus’ suggestion of listing a few things to read over the coming months, as well as Hugh’s that we could look at earlier Church documents and other genres.

I think in many reading groups, people take it in turns to suggest a book to read, which is good as it leads one to read things one might otherwise not have read.  So I would like to suggest that as a Modus Operandi.

So I propose we all suggest one thing we’d like to get everyone to read and discuss, and then we agree a sequence for them (it may be when all the suggestions are in that there is some logical sequence which suggests itself).

To set the ball rolling, I am going to suggest Gaudium et Spes, simply because I am sure I’ve read it, but really can’t remember any of it, so think it would repay further attention.

Please pitch in with your suggestions – ideally before Thursday when I’m off to Chartres, so we can agree where we are going next before I leave.

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