Thursday, September 25, 2008

reading through the archives...

I spent some time today going through the archives of St. P, including old bulletins from 1964-1968.
A most interesting time in the history of the Church.
Those of us who weren’t around for that time always wonder, “How exactly were the changes of Vatican II put in place? Those intended and those not? How did they go from reading in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy that the Latin language was to be preserved, and then 4 years later it appeared to be abolished?”
I found a few answers, at least those that were given at St. P (which was, notably, at the time in the Diocese of Detroit.)

I have chosen some pertinent excerpts from the bulletins of the time period, and included my notes on how the announcements or explanations have proved to be interesting.

I wasn’t able to do as full and detailed an examination as I wanted, but there was mention of the council occurring. The first notable bit from it was the inclusion of the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” included on one side of the bulletin, beginning on April 4, 1964 and continuing. (The last bulletin I found was from May 31, 1964, but it only went to paragraph 82. I don’t know if the following bulletins were lost, or if there was a change in the format.) I made particular note of paragraph 36 in the May 3, 1964 edition, as saying Latin is to be preserved.

Continuing on…
Excerpt from 6/13/1965
“Liturgical Explanation: According to a recent letter from the Archdiocese, after the priest has said the prayers at the foot of the altar at the beginning of the Mass, “he should now go to the chair where he presides over the liturgy of the Word. The chair faces the congregation. He may however remain at the altar if circumstances so dictate.” Since circumstances are not dictating very much, the priest has been doing just this in recent weeks. The purpose of facing the people is to show that the priest is presiding over the entire ceremony, not just enduring it. Some priests have been known to claim that they do not enjoy staring at all those people. No doubt the people could claim much the same thing…and maybe with greater justification. Still—it brings priest and people closer together and shows more clearly that the priest is the presiding officer, the leader, or Master of Ceremonies, of all the goes on. This new way of doing things is not a hard and fast rule, so don’t be surprised if some priests do not do this.”
(that's it? and so it just happened?)

“Our church is operated on a hierarchical system, which means that direction is from above. Bishops are directed by the Pope; priests by their bishops; and finally, the people, by their pastors. For centuries this system has prevailed. The reactions have been varied. Some have welcomed direction and have always presumed that Mother Church knew best. Others have taken the defeatist attitude and said or implied that you can’t fight City Hall, so why try. Still others have been in silent rebellion.
Thanks to this present Vatican Council, this attitude is fast changing. If there is one startling result that is most evident coming from Vatican II, it is the fact that this is the ‘Era of the Layman.’ This does not mean that the old governing structure of the Church is going to be replaced by a Trusteeship in each Parish. But it DOES mean that in this era of a more educated Laity, there are certain areas where the know-how and the experience of the competent Layman can be of great service to the Church and the individual Parish.”
(note however, that we will still listen to our archbishop/archdiocese even when they contradict the council… as evidenced above and below.)

“For the first time since the days of the Apostles, our Church has seen fit to mitigate her regulations concerning the Lenten fast. This shows her existential outlook as a living organization. Just as customs, educational horizons, and personal conveniences have changed since those early days, so too, the Church tries to keep pace with the era in which She finds herself. What was considered as a standard penitential practice for a first century Christian would be looked upon as barbaric by a Catholic of today. Conversely, Lent of 1966 might well be considered as a mockery in the times of Sts. Paul and Timothy. Regardless of personal taste, the Lenten Season still retains the overall characteristics of PENANCE and ATONEMENT. The sincere Catholic welcomes Lent because it gives him an official time, with constant reminders, to make amends for his past excesses, and a period in which he can renew his fervor for things spiritual.”
(then goes on to describe the necessary Ash Wednesday and Good Friday fasting, almsgiving, and some prayer.)
(For the first time since the days of the Apostles??!!)

“Our Next Liturgical Change”
(describes the introduction of the bringing of the Elements for the Sacrifice to the Altar, at the same time as the offerings are brought to the Sanctuary. Apparently the Offertory Procession had recently been introduced.)
“Please try to enter into the spirit of this latest modification of our worship-pattern. The other changes have gone smoothly and you have accommodated yourselves to the Church’s wishes in an exemplary fashion. It is our hope that this latest revision will serve to make the Mass more meaningful and a new experience in the overall ideal of proper participation.”

(a survey had been taken with various questions. Some of the results are below, and answers to less interesting questions were included in later bulletins. I do not know how the views expressed at St. P reflected those of the general population—Was this particular church even in 1966 considered more “liberal” or “progressive” than other churches? I do not know. I suspect at least slightly.)
“Survey Results: (39 returned)
1. What do you think of the Vatican Council?
Waste of time…2
Other comments…2
No comment…2
2. What do you think of the New Liturgy?
Like it…32
Dislike it…3
No comment…1
3. Which action of the Council interested you most?
Relations with other religions…23
Revision of fasting laws…11
New rules about Mixed Marriages…17
Liturgical changes…9
Proposed changes on Birth Control…14
Greater role of the Layman…15”

“The History of the Mass:
The appearance of lay lectors and commentators in the sanctuary was one of the major reforms in the Mass that went into effect on Nov. 29, 1964, the First Sunday of Advent.
Each played a role recommended by the fathers of Vatican II and spelled out by the American bishops. The lector was assigned to read the scriptural parts of the Mass with the exception of the Gospel. The commentator supplied instruction and explained the Mass as it progressed, thus helping the faithful in their praying and singing. Another layman who assumed a role at this time was the leader of song, who developed and encouraged congregational singing, again in response to directives of Vatican II.
These laymen were all cautioned, however, that their function was a subordinate on and that the presiding officer at the Mass was the celebrant.”
(I do not know if certain excerpts such as this one—it appears to have been a column called “The History of the Mass,” were specific to this parish, or were included in a large number of bulletins.)

“The History of the Mass:
The final change-over to English for the Canon of the Mass came with relative suddenness on Oct. 22, 1967. The development, of course, had been foreshadowed by the instructions from Vatican II and by action of the American bishops five months earlier when they ordered several other changes and simplifications in the Mass.
But most speculation had been that for such far-reaching change the First Sunday of Advent would be chosen, just as it had been earlier for the 1964 changes in the Mass. But then the leader of the American bishops, in Rome for the Synod last September, received final Vatican approval for the English text of the Canon—and the change was ordered for Sunday, Oct. 22.
Bishop John F. Dearden made the announcement that from that date on it would be mandatory to say the entire Mass in English, adding that only missal inserts would be necessary to accommodate the change.”
(emphasis added) (so, we do listen to our bishop, wrong as he may be…)

“The History of the Mass:
‘Religious singing by the people is to be skillfully fostered, so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out according to the norms and requirements of the rubrics.’
That was one of the things Vatican II had to say about music in the Mass. And then, in March, 1967, Pope Paul issued an ‘Instruction on Music in the Liturgy,’ to become effective on Pentecost Sunday that year. It urged more singing in services, authorized singing of ancient Latin hymns in modern languages and recommended use of instruments native to different countries and cultures.
While cautioning that ‘Anything done in churches, even if only for experimental purposes, which is unbecoming to the holiness of the place, the dignity of the liturgy and the devotion of the faithful must be avoided,’ the document did not specifically prohibit the use of blues, spirituals and even jazz.”
(so therefore anything that wasn’t specifically prohibited can be done?
And it was just downhill from there, folks…)

I am not necessarily condemning all of this, my primary purpose in putting it up here is to give examples of how changes in the Mass were conveyed to the people, and their response.

I would LOVE to go through the bulletins typing up a thorough examination, and quoting everything that was said about the liturgical changes, even bulletins from other churches!
They thought they were so...innovative.
but now it's just...ancient history.
I wonder what they'll think of it in another 40 years? a blip on the liturgical radar screen?


totustuusmaria said...

Wow. That is one of the most fascinating posts I have read. It's heart wrending seeing how easily bishops, by abuse of power, and the priests and faithful by ambivolence, ignorance, or even attachment to novelty, ushered out so many things that I, born 20 years later, have some to love. Thank you for posting this. I never even thought of reading through bulletin archives. Now I want to go do that at every parish I know of!

BONIFACE said...

Wonderful work Mara. Just excellent. Somebody should write a book about the history of OSP, from the institution of the New Mass until the first celebration of a TLM, which has unfortunately not occured yet.