Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stages Leading up to Dei Verbum

The title Dei Verbum means "The Word of God" in Latin. On November 18th, 1965 Dei Verbum received 2,344/2350 votes. This was a peaceful end to what had been a three year long debate on the floor of the council. The schema Dei Verbum went through a series of editorial changes before finally receiving a positive endorsement by the bishops of the council. The versions of schema have been labeled Texts A through G.

Stage One –preparatory (Text A, B –original schema + some revision)

The preparatory Theological Commission under the leadership of Cardinal Ottaviani (Prefect of the Holy Office) worked to prepare a schema which unfortunately was heavily influenced by the views of the "Roman School" of scholastic theology typified by the theological colleges in Rome at this time. The schema was likely authored by Sebastian Tromp SJ.

At the same time a massive and open ended consultation with the world's bishops was taking place. Bishops where consulting theologians on current issues and invited many of them to the council as periti (experts). These experts included Yves Congar, Karl Rahner, Joseph Ratzinger, Marie-Dominique Chenu, Henri de Lubac; Edward Schillebeeckx, Hans Küng, Luis Alonso Schökel, and Barnabas Ahem.

Stage Two –the presentation of the draft schema (Text C) at the council

Much to the surprise of Cardinal Otavianii, the schema met with immediate opposition from prominent Cardinals. Cardinal Achille Liénart of Lille France delivered a strong rejection of the schema, and he was followed by Cardinals Joseph Frings (Cologne); Paul Léger (Montreal), Franz König (Vienna); Bernard Alfrink (Utrecht), Leo Suesens (Brussels), Joseph Ritter (St. Louis) finally Cardinal Bea. Objections were made both to the tone of the document and to its content.

Father Joseph Komonchak has outlined three major points of disagreement.[1]

The draft schema favored the view that Scripture and Tradition were two separate sources, and that "tradition handed on revealed truths not found in the Scriptures". Questions were raised concerning the correspondence of the two source notion with previous dogmatic understanding.

Second issue involved the legitimacy of the use of historical-critical methods in biblical interpretation. The draft schema was very restrictive and suspicious of the new Biblical scholarship which had emerged after Pope Pius XII issued his encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu.

The third issue revolved around "the question of what it meant for the council to be pastoral." Bishops who were critical of this term "argued that this ran contrary to the whole tradition of ecumenical councils, whose main purpose had always been stating and defending the faith; after the council bishops and priests could worry about communicating it to the faithful." Those who argued in favor of this term argued for the legitimacy of "reappropriating the tradition" for the modern world since "fidelity to the doctrinal heritage and effective communication were inseparable tasks."

The interventions by Cardinal Bea were most significant since he was the President of Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity which the Pope was about to declare was a councilor commission of equal rank with the others.[2]

Looking back Joseph Ratzinger comments;[3]

The text was, if one may use the label, utterly a product of the "anti-modernist" mentality that had taken shape bout the turn of the century. . . The same cramped thinking, once so necessary as a line of defense, impregnated the text and informed it with a theology of negations and prohibitions; although in themselves they might well have been valid, they certainly could not produce that positive note which was now to be expected of the Council.

A poorly worded and confusing vote was taken and 61% of the bishops rejected the schema but this was short of the two thirds needs to carry the motion. Eventually the Pope intervened and ordered the original schema set aside and a new shorter schema to be written jointly chaired by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bea. Pope John XXIII created a mix commission of the two opposing camps and forced them to work it out. This commission prepared Text D

Stage Three –a lengthy time at the second and third sessions (1963, 1964)

At the second session there were no plenary discussions of the schema but written recommendations were presented. Pope Paul VI influenced the completion of the schema now renamed "On Divine Revelation," and then later "Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation." The initial reception by the bishops was quite positive. Questions were raised about the language used to describe the material sufficiency of Scripture and its relation to Tradition and concerning the nature of inspiration and its relation to inerrancy. Text D was revised into Text E. After discussion in the 1964 third session this text was revised into Text F.

Stage Four—Text F was presented and revised into Text G

In the midst of the council the Pontifical Biblical Commission issued a document entitled, "Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels" (April, 1964). Although warning about possible exaggerated uses of the historical-critical method, the text affirms the use of form-criticism and redaction-criticism. These affirmations in turn had an impact on the wording of Dei Verbum articles 12, and 19. On November 18th, 1965 the text of Dei Verbum received a more than 99% endorsement from the bishops and was immediately promulgated by Pope Paul VI.


[1] Father Joseph Komonchak, "Is Christ Divided: Insights from Vatican II for Dealing with Diversity and Disagreement" Origins 33.9 –accessed online.

[2] History of Vatican II ed. by Giuseppe Alberigo, Vol 2. 243.

[3] Theological Highlights of Vatican II (1966) p 20-21.

Events prior to the Council

In our previous discussion of Sacrosanctum Concilium I noted a series of developments which lead up to the Constitution. A similar situation existed in the time period before the discussion of Dei Verbum by the Council. In 1893 Pope Leo XIII wrote the encyclical, Providentissimus Deus which reaffirmed traditional views on doctrinal issues relating to Scripture but encouraged a new emphasis on Biblical studies. The advents of new methods of historical-critical study, however, lead to clarifications or "Responses" by the Pontifical Biblical Commission (1905-1915). Many Catholic scholars were disciplined for their use of these new methods. When viewed from our current perspective, the reactions by the PBC appear extreme.[1]

In 1941 Pope Pius XII, who was himself a scholar and student of languages, set up a special committee of the Pontifical Biblical Commission "which rendered a favorable report in regard to critical Biblical scholarship." [2] Fr. Augustine Bea was a member of this special committee and personal confessor to the Pope. Bea assisted Pius XII in drafting the 1943 encyclical, Divino Afflante Spiritu. This encyclical opened the door for Catholic scholars to pursue historical-critical studies of Scripture in a responsible manner. There were still cautions and problems but Catholic scholars began to conduct genuine historical-critical research. In the first half of the Twentieth Century there was a "Biblical Movement" just like the Liturgical movement. Because this was such a new movement, many questions were still being asked about it.

Even at the time of the council Catholic Biblical scholars were still coming under suspicion for their methods. Many Catholic scholars and cardinals were spit over the validity of these new methods, particularly in light of past cautions and occasional excesses.

After Pope John XXIII announced the council the Cardinals in Rome and their assistants were charged with preparing the various schemata. A preparatory Theological Commission was set up under the leadership of Cardinal Ottaviani of prefect of the Holy Office (pictured above). A commission composed of numerous bishops and expert theologians prepared a draft schema which was expected to be passed quickly during the first session of the council (Oct 11-December 2, 1962). The schema was heavily influenced by the views of the "Roman School" of scholastic theology and was likely authored by Sebastian Tromp SJ. This school of theology was hostile to the new methods of the Biblical studies movement.

1 For the PBC texts see Dean P. Béchard, trans. and ed. The Scripture Documents: An Anthology of Official Catholic Teachings. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2002) esp p. 187-211; for a contemporary reaction see Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's, Erasmus lecture [Quaestio 117 Herder: 1989], "Biblical Interpretation in Conflict", reprinted in God's Word, (San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2008).

2Jerome-Michael Verb, C.P. "Because he was a German!" Cardinal Bea and the Origins of Roman Catholic Engagement in the Ecumenical Movement. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006) p. 123.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Pastoral Nature of the Council

Rival interpretations of this opening speech of Pope John XXIII (Gaudet Mater Ecclesia) where put forward at the council. There were those who wished to see the council as a means to further codify very specific and scholastic interpretations of doctrine. There are segments of the address which appear to touch on this theme. The Pope talks of the duty "to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion." Pope John XXIII admonishes that "it is necessary first of all that the Church should never depart from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers." He continues, however, with the balancing statement, "But at the same time she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and new forms of life introduced into the modern world, which have opened new avenues to the Catholic apostolate." He notes,

The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.

Without implying, in any way that the Church was departing from the doctrines once taught, there is a desire to find new ways of presenting these truths to the modern world. The comment about "pastoral character" refers to style. This was the second interpretation of the speech by the council and I think the one that is more accurate. Pope John XXIII remarks, "The Church has always opposed these errors. Frequently she has condemned them with the greatest severity. Nowadays however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity." This question is especially important to the cause of healing divisions within the Church. Again there was no question of giving up truth or giving in to the lowest common denominator, or making truth into a subjective feeling. But is it possible to have dialogue without using the language of battle and controversy? Can we talk about the faith without attacking? Pope John XXIII notes, "That being so, the Catholic Church, raising the torch of religious truth by means of this Ecumenical Council, desires to show herself to be the loving mother of all, benign, patient, full of mercy and goodness toward the brethren who are separated from her." I think the Pope was saying that the council should speak the truth, but do so in love and in a language that could be understood by people other than theologians.

Read it yourself, just watch out for those Cod! J

The Kingdom of Cod?

Recently I read Pope John XXIII's Opening Speech to Vatican Council II,in 1962. Imagine my surprise when the Pope quoted Matthew's Gospel as, "Seek first the kingdom of Cod and his justice" (Mt. 6:33). Do you think maybe this is a typo?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Gospel Reflection: Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

This Sunday’s reading touches on the central themes of what it means to be human. The overall theme of the readings is ‘friendship.’ The first reading highlights God’s own desire to be our friend. This relationship is impeded by our sinfulness. The prophet Isaiah promises us that God has taken the initiative and “wiped out” our offenses and remembered our sins no more. Friendship also requires our response as St. James reminds us, “‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’; and he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23). The responsorial is a penitential psalm which acknowledges our sinfulness and cries out for restoration to friendship with God. “Lord, heal my soul, for I have sinned against you.” In the second reading we are told that the integrity of our relationships should be founded on the truthfulness of Jesus Christ who shares his own character with us through the Holy Spirit in the Sacraments.

The Gospel reading shows these truths in action. Jesus was preaching at his home in Capernaum and a huge crowd had gathered so that there was “no longer room for them, not even around the door.” Four friends of a paralytic wish to bring him to Jesus but are held back by the crowds. The friends are determined and climb up to the roof. They “opened up the roof” above Jesus and “let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying” (Mark 2:4). Jesus’ response seems to focus on the heart rather than man’s infirmity. St. Mark tells us, “Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven’” (Mark 2:5). Notice that this man’s friends care enough about him to literally carry him to Jesus in order to have his sins forgiven. This also results in a dramatic physical healing.

How many of us would be afraid to bring up the subject of confession with a friend who we know is in need of this Sacrament. Would we be afraid to interfere? We may wrongly feel that a person’s faith life should be private and is none of our business. The book of Proverbs notes, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). As we read in the second reading our words of friendship should not be vacillating “not ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ but ‘yes’” in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:19). A friend who lacks integrity is not a friend at all. Of course we must always act with love. Lying to a friend is clearly not a loving act, nor would it be loving to leave him alone in a paralyzed state unable to come to Jesus in his time of need. Again the writer of Proverbs notes; “There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Notice how St. Mark reports that upon seeing the four friends, “Jesus saw their faith.” Does our faith bring our friends closer to Jesus?

Friendship is a natural part of being human. In relation to our faith, friendships can be either negative or positive. Christian tradition has displayed some ambivalence regarding human friendships. Many of the most profound teachers in the ascetical tradition warn about the inherent dangers of certain kinds of friendships. St. Theresa of Avila (The Way of Perfection 4), St John of the Cross (The Dark Night of the Soul, I.4); St Francis de Sales (Introduction to the Devout Life, III, 20-21) all warn about the spiritual dangers of friendships in which the supernatural element does not dominate. Our friendship can be a distraction, or false consolation which leads us away from God. In other cases the closeness of friendship can lead to infidelity and inappropriate physical intimacy.

While these warnings are real they do not represent the whole picture. In St Augustine’s Confessions the theme of friendship is present throughout the work. Much of the beginning of Confessions concerns the failure of his earlier friendships. Although he observes that friendship can be an occasion of sin when pursued for the wrong ends, he does not focus purely on the negative. St Augustine notes, ‘Human friendship is also a nest of love and gentleness because of the unity it brings about between many souls’ (2.5.10). St Augustine is able to delight in the natural aspects of friendship we all enjoy (Confessions, 4.8.3). St. Augustine’s notion of friendship is purified through his conversion (Confessions, 8). Friendship with Christ leads to the proper ordering of all human relationships. Matthew Levering has pointed out that for St Augustine, “the ascent of the soul to friendship with the divine Trinity occurs through the friendship in and with Jesus Christ by the action of the Holy Spirit. This friendship takes effective shape in the community of believers, the church as the mystical Body of Christ united by her sacramental participation through the Holy Spirit in Christ’s saving work” (IJST,9.1,2007, p. 10).

As Jesus reminded his disciples;
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father (John 15:13-15).

St Augustine Quote

amicitia quoque hominum caro nodo dulcis est propter unitatem de multis animis.

Likewise human friendship is a precious, delightful knot on account of the unity it brings to many souls. (Confessions, 2.5.10)

Henry Chadwick translates;
"‘Human friendship is also a nest of love and gentleness because of the unity it brings about between many souls."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Final Note on Latin in the Liturgy

I would like to finish this topic with one final blog. First, I would like to note that I have not approached this topic with an agenda. I have been seeking to understand what Vatican Council II says on this issue. I am not advocating a return to Latin in the liturgy by those who are currently using the vernacular (English, Spanish, Vietnamese, etc.). I worship in a parish that uses English with occasional responses in Latin. On the other hand I support those who wish to worship using the extraordinary form of the Liturgy. Why should either group be allowed to limit the other's freedom? Entering deeply into the Spirit of the Liturgy is what really matters.

I remember an incident while I was teaching University in which a local Pastor began to introduce some Latin in his Mass. He cautiously introduced a few small parts of the Mass in Latin, such as the "Agnus Dei." This was not an attempt to turn back the clock. In response, however, some older people actually left the Parish complaining that these changes would drive away all the youth. I asked a room full of college age Catholic students what they thought of all this, and their response was surprising. Their general response was, "Cool! We should go there!" I think we quickly assume that our supposedly 'modern' way is best. It is far more likely that the youth have been driven away by the banal and theologically squishy 70's music that is still being sung in many parishes. One might add the music in the same 70's style written (often by the same artists) in the 80's and even 90's. I doubt if any of this music would get a response of, "Cool! We should go there!" from a room full of college students, or young families. On the other hand I have noticed examples of truly contemporary worship, such as that promoted by Life Teen, which has attracted large numbers of youth. Of course this can raise other pastoral and liturgical issues relating to legitimate inculturation.

What did Sacrosanctum Concilium intend? I think it is clear that the majority of Council Fathers both respected the Latin heritage of the Church and supported the possibility of individual and territorial groups of Bishops having the right to introduce the vernacular where pastorally appropriate. The response to SC by the bishops after the council was overwhelmingly in favor of the vernacular. Sacrosanctum Concilium allows for regional diversity and the possibility for legitimate inculturation into the vernacular. The intension of the Council Fathers was to make the Paschal Mystery present in the worship of the entire Body of Christ. "Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy." (Sacrosanctum Concilium 14) Whether we worship in English, Spanish or Latin, we must seek to promote a fully conscious and active participation which both interior as well as exterior and which understands the very nature of the liturgy. Legitimate inculturation implies that this can be accomplished in different ways. The external form must aid the interior disposition. As St. Pius X pointed out already in 1903, the external form "must possess holiness, beauty of form, and universality." Worship that manifests these qualities is inherently attractive.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Debate on the Schema


In the previous blog I discussed the background to the writing of the preparatory schema which was to be debated by the Council Fathers. The Commission on Liturgy was chaired by the Spanish Cardinal Arcadio Larraona, prefect of the Congregation for Rites (pictured here with Miles Jesu members). Larraona replace A. Bugnini with the Franciscan Ferdinando Antonelli. Apparently Bugnini was considered too progressive. Antonelli outlined five fundamental principles as the necessary guidelines for the renewal;

  1. Avoiding unclarity in the development of the rites
  2. Balancing respect for liturgical tradition with legitimate progress
  3. Adapting the liturgy to the needs of the time (especially in mission territories)
  4. Accommodating the structure of the rites to the intellectual capacity of the faithful (pastoral and catechetical concerns)
  5. Promoting active participation on the part of the faithful while respecting the hierarchical and communal nature of the liturgy (History of Vatican II, Vol. 2.110).


Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro of the commission pointed out that the schema was intended to give a summa of the spirit of the liturgy, that is the theological principles in a manner similar to Mediator Dei. The general norms in (# 16-31) were the logical outcome of these principles (HV II, 2.114). (Note: the numbering of the schema does not match the numbering of the Constitution) The adaptation of the liturgy to the national character and traditions of the peoples would flow out of this foundation.

A debate occurred concerning the changes between the official schema which was now being debated and the original text discussed at the Central Preparatory Commission. Mathijs Lamberigts notes, "It was pointed out, for example by Frings, that the passages relating to liturgical language, which had been approved by the Central Commission, the right had been reserved to the local episcopal conferences, in agreement with bishops from neighboring regions, to determine how and within what limits the vernacular would be introduced, with the Holy See simply reviewing the decisions already made" (HV II, 2.115). This language, which became part of the final document, was not in the official schema. This is also the point brought up by Patriarch Maximos IV.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Background on Latin at the Council

Further research on the background of the Latin language question reveals that the question was especially important to the Catholic Melkite rite who wanted permission to use vernacular in its liturgies in the United States in 1960. Maximos IV appealed directly to the Pope and received permission to use vernacular except for the Anaphora (March 31, 1960). Because a debate was taking place regarding the wider use of vernacular, some of the Fathers were nervous about affirming the biblical and legitimate traditional affirmations of the use of the vernacular in the Eastern churches.

The pre-conciliar Commission on the Missions proposed to the Central Prepatory Commission (CPC) in its schema De sacramentis ac de s. liturgica, the following principle; "From Scripture we know that all languages are ordered towards the praise of Christ. Such praise is expressed especially in the liturgy, where the law of intelligibility of liturgical language for all gathered was stated by the Apostle. A diversity of customs and of rites has always existed in the Church, showing most clearly the riches of the Church's unity." (History of Vatican II, Vol. 1, Alberigo and Komonchuck, p. 217).

The pre-conciliar Commission on Liturgy established a subcommission De lingua latina which was to consider three questions:

  1. Whether Latin was to be fully retained
  2. whether the use of the vernacular was to be allowed
  3. and how clerics could be trained in Latin in order that they might understand and use it effectively (History, 1.218)


Their original proposal proved very controversial and the report was withdrawn from the agenda. A compromise text was prepared by Vagaggini which instead proposed vernacular in the didactic parts of the liturgy, but retained Latin in the remainder. Other commissions where then asked to submit proposals. The Secretariat for Christian Unity proposed "the widest possible use of the vernacular" in the Mass and Sacraments. (History, 1.220). Cardinal Bea, the head of the commission responded vigorously to the CPC discussion of the schema, "We must strongly oppose the idea that Latin is a sign of unity. It is more a sign of uniformity than a sign of unity." (History, 1.220)

In December 1961, Pope John XXIII entered the debate by writing an apostolic letter in praise of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music and its defense of Latin in solemn liturgies. In February of 1962 the Pope signed the Apostolic Constitution Veterum sapientia which encouraged the teaching of Latin in clerical studies. While emphasizing the treasure of Latin in the Church VS also affirmed the dignity of Greek and other ancient languages. Clerical students should receive a good knowledge of Latin in their early studies. Bishops are also urged to ensure there is a good knowledge of Greek.

Many thought this settled the question and the schema De sacra liturgica brought to the CPC in its # 24 read, "The use of Latin in western liturgy is absolutely to be preserved" but this was accompanied by continued calls for vernacular in the Mass, in the rituals, and in the Breviary. This especially reopened in relation to the use of the vernacular in the Divine Office, as it was widely recognized that there was a nearly universal decline in the knowledge of Latin among the clergy.

Patriarch Maximos IV and Sacrosanctum concilium

Here is a quote from the Melkite Catholic Patriarch, His Beatitude Maximos IV Saigh's address to the Council on the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium;

The almost absolute value assigned to Latin in the Liturgy, in teaching, and in the administration of the Latin church strikes us from the Eastern church as strange[assez anormal]. Christ after all spoke the language of his contemporaries. . . . [In the East]there has never been a problem about the proper liturgical language. All languages are liturgical, as the Psalmist says, "Praise the Lord, all ye people." . . . The Latin language is dead. But the Church is living, and its language, the vehicle of grace of the Holy Spirit, must also be living because it is intended for us human beings not for angels."

(as quoted in John W. O'Mally, What Happened at Vatican II, p. 136).

I'm not sure I would agree with Patriarch Maximos assessment that Latin is a dead language. Can a language really die? Witness the revival of the Hebrew language by the nation Israel. BTW, this is not a blanklet endorsement of O'Mally's book.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What about the use of vernacular in the Mass?

Where Angels
Fear to Tread

This is obviously a hot button topic and I invite you respond under the comments.

One person has quoted the following section of the Vatican II Constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium, in support of the idea that only very, very limited vernacular (English in our case) was ever intended by the council Fathers.

"The use of the Latin tongue is to be maintained
in the Latin rites, except where some special law obtains" (SC 36 §1).

If this was the entire comment the constitution made on the subject of Latin and if we assumed the intended 'style' of the Constitution matched that of Trent, then it might be a straight forward case. This is not the case. The Second Vatican council does not adopt the forceful juridical style of Trent which demands universal conformity on pain of excommunication. Instead the council adopts a 'pastoral' style and seeks to persuade through the force of its argument.

The move to the vernacular is one of the most striking results of the council, was it a mistake? At the council the use of the use of the vernacular was a very contentious issue with 81/328 interventions from the floor on this issue. The Bishops appear to have had three options;

1. Retain Latin only universally (following Trent),
2. Continue Latin with some limited vernacular,
3. Allow a complete move to the use vernacular.

On the surface the Bishops appear to have voted for the second option. Isn't that what SC 36.1 seems to imply?

In fact there is more to the story than a surface reading might suggest and a closer reading of the Constitution leads to other conclusions. First there is one interesting intervention that took place on this issue. During the debate the Melikite Patriarch Maximos IV Saigh addressed the Council. Patriarch Maximos rose and spoke to the council in eloquent French. He was apparently a good speaker. He suggested the absolute value assigned to Latin in the liturgy was strange [assez anormal] to the Eastern Church. He recommended changing the wording of the schema so that it would read that Latin was "the original and official language of the Roman rite" and that instead of Episcopal conferences should "propose" to the Holy See the use of vernacular, instead they should "decide, subject to approval of the Holy See." This speech was greeted very favorably. When the final text was approved they passed over the first request with very little change to the schema but included the second request. Again on a surface reading the council Fathers appear to have voted for the second choice above to continue the Latin tradition with only limited vernacular, but the second change made the it possible for local bishops and Episcopal conferences to choose to implement much wider use of the vernacular at their discretion. In order to understand the intension of the restriction; "The use of the Latin tongue is to be maintained in the Latin rites, except where some special law obtains" (SC 36 §1), one must also consider what is written next in the text. If we keep reading in the text after 36.1, there are three places which affirm the authority of bishops and bishop's conferences to make decisions in adapting the use of Latin. Unlike Trent which required uniformity Sacrosanctum Concilium allows for regional diversity and the possibility for legitimate inculturation into the vernacular.

Having said this all of this, it is quite clear that the Bishops could not have predicted the sweeping changes that would occur as a result. The idea that the whole church would move to the vernacular rapidly and so completely was not imagined. For example in SC 54 the council Fathers noted, "Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Being a Liturgist in the Midst of the World

The English word liturgy comes from the Greek word leitourgia. This word is compound of: leitos + ergon. The Greek leitos is an adjective meaning pertaining to the people (laos) and ergon is a noun meaning "work." So perhaps originally the compound meant, "the peoples' work." In the ancient Greek world, the word signified a service done for the common welfare of the people. Liturgy represented any service rendered to the community at personal expense or without remuneration. This service could be either secular or religious. The word could be translated into English as 'worship,' 'ministry,' or more generally as simply 'service.' In the Greek world this really reminds me of the modern idea of a 'volunteer.'

This Greek word enters the biblical tradition through the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. The word is used over 100 times for the worship of the LORD by the Jewish people. The most frequent use is specifically of the work of the priestly ministry in the Temple sacrifices and only rarely does it apply to a secular setting. Since the New Testament was composed in Greek we would expect to find this word there as well. The word is quite rare, however, due to the disappearance of the OT priesthood and sacrifices in Christian worship. The verb occurs three times and is used both of congregational "worship" and of "service" in the sense of sharing financially with others in the Church. While the noun leitourgia is used only six times in the New Testament.

In Acts 13:2, we read;

2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off. NAB

St Paul notes in Romans 15:26-27;

26For Macedonia and Achaia have decided to make some contribution for the poor among the holy ones in Jerusalem; 27 they decided to do it, and in fact they are indebted to them, for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to serve them in material blessings. NAB

Using the noun St Paul also refers to "the ministry of service" in 2 Corinthians 9:12; and Philippians 2:30. The writer of Hebrews refers back to the Old Testament usage in order to show that Jesus' new ministry supersedes the Old.

Hebrews 8:6

6 Now he has obtained so much more excellent a ministry as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises.

Hebrews 9:21

21 In the same way, he sprinkled also the tabernacle and all the vessels of worship with blood.

Hebrews 10:11;

11 Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; NAB

Zechariah's priestly service in the Temple in Jerusalem is described by St. Luke as "the days of his liturgy (leitourgias)." St Luke notes, "Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home. (Luke 1:23, NAB) The RSVCE, and NJB translate "service" while the NAB translates, "ministry."

St Paul uses the term in a very interesting manner in Romans 15:15-16. he notes;

"15 But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the holy Spirit" NAB.

This could just as easily be translated "the grace given me by God to be a liturgist of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles. " In this usage St. Paul has spiritualized the normal manner of OT worship. The priestly sacrifice remains but now it is a spiritual sacrifice. He is offering up the Gospel and the Gentiles as a priestly service. There is a parallel here to St Paul's usage earlier in Romans 12:1 where he writes;

I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. 2 Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. NAB

We can see from this passage that we are all called to make our lives holy sacrifices to God. Every aspect of our life is affected. The "Temple" of our sacrifice is now the world around us. These are the three principle insights of Second Vatican Council.

1. The Universal call to holiness and apostolic witness.

2. The "Unity of Life."

3. Secularity of the Lay vocation or the idea that we live "in the midst of the world"

There is a universal call to holiness based on our baptism which results in an apostolic outlook toward the world around us (Lumen Gentium 30-36). This is a big idea in this council document, it is the chapter heading. There is also a natural unity to the Christian life which informs every aspect of our existence. Finally the lay person has a special mission to be "secular" or to live in the midst of the world interacting with secular affairs and influencing them in the light of Christ.

How this idea of the council to be 'lived out' through the Liturgy? In 1947 Pope Pius XII wrote Mediator Dei, The Church's first encyclical on liturgy. Pope Pius XII reminds us that; "The worship rendered by the Church to God must be, in its entirety, both interior as well as exterior." (Mediator Dei, 23). Earlier Pope St. Pius X in his Motu Proprio, On the Restoration of Sacred Music (1903) commented that in order to acquire the Christian spirit the "first and most indispensible source" is "active participation in the sacred mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church". Pope Pius XII continues; "It is unquestionably the fundamental duty of man to orientate his person and his life towards God" MD 13. He defines liturgy as;

"The sacred liturgy is, consequently, the public worship which our Redeemer as Head of the Church renders to the Father, as well as the worship which the community of the faithful renders to its Founder, and through Him to the heavenly Father. It is, in short, the worship rendered by the Mystical Body of Christ in the entirety of its Head and members."

Pope Pius XII connects this idea to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ;

The Church prolongs the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ mainly by means of the sacred liturgy. She does this in the first place at the altar, where constantly the sacrifice of the cross is represented, and with a single difference in the manner of its offering, renewed. She does this next by means of the sacraments, those special channels through which men are made partakers in the supernatural life. She does this it, finally, by offering to God, all Good and Great, the daily tribute of her prayer of praise. " (MD 3)

The Church prolongs the priestly ministry of Jesus

1. By means of the sacred liturgy.

2. By means of the sacraments.

3. By offering to God, "the daily tribute of her prayer of praise." (MD 3)

The liturgy includes public worship, the sacraments, and the tribute of our daily prayers. Our lives should be centered on the Eucharist, enriched by the other sacraments and over flowing with prayer and contemplation in the midst of the world. As the Father of Second Vatican Council later repeat; "Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy." (Sacrosanctum Concilium 14) In our daily lives we must strive to promote fully conscious and active participation which both interior as well as exterior.

Legionaries Finally Admit the Truth

Catholic Order Jolted by Reports That Its Founder Led a Double Life - 9:08pm

My Comment:

There are many fine people in the Legionaries and in their lay movement Regnum Christi. This movement has also established many fine apostolic works. I'm not sure how the members will feel after they learn that they have been decieved and lied to not only by their founder but by the leadership of movement itself who deliberately tried to cover it up.

Personally I would be completely disallusioned by such fraud. At this point they need some serious transparency about what really happened. They need to become an open book and abandon all forms of secrecy, codes of silence, and private scheming. This is precisely the concern of Archbishop Edmund O'Brien of Baltimore who "has asked the Legionaries of Christ for a full, detailed report of all their activities within the Archdiocese of Baltimore"

See the full story. . .

This Is No Time for Happy-Face Stickers

This Is No Time for Happy-Face Stickers

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A Catholic Exchange on the Long Dropping of the Other Shoe: Foundational Shift for the Legionaries of Christ — Part One

A Catholic Exchange on the Long Dropping of the Other Shoe: Foundational Shift for the Legionaries of Christ — Part One

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Monday, February 2, 2009

"Primus" as first or primary

I have heard two versions of an idea: parents are either the primary educators of their children or the first educators of their children. I have often wondered which is correct (or both?). The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the of the Church appears to be taking the second view rather strongly?

CSDC 240. Parents are the first educators, not the only educators, of their children. It belongs to them, therefore, to exercise with responsibility their educational activity in close and vigilant cooperation with civil and ecclesial agencies.

See below from the Vatican Website two different translations of the same quote. Apparently both translations are possible (rightly understood), but the compendium quote agrees with only a weaken sense of “primary” which cannot be interpreted as “sole.” It also requires translating the same word primus two different ways in the same paragraph?

Familiaris Consortio

36. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among the children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs."(Gravissimum Educationis, 3)

Gravissimum Educationis, 3

The Authors of Education
Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.(11) This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs.

11. Cf. Pius XI's encyclical letter Divini Illius Magistri, 1, p. 59 ff., encyclical letter Mit Brennender Sorge, March 14, 1937: A.A.S. 29; Pius XII's allocution to the first national congress of the Italian Catholic Teachers' Association, Sept. 8, 1946: Discourses and Radio Messages, vol. 8, p. 218.
I checked Pius XI's encyclical letter Divini Illius Magistri, 1 and it does not say either first or primary. My German is a bit rusty … Litt. Encycl. Mit brennender Sorge, 14 martii 1937: AAS 29 (1937), p. 164 the rest is hard to track down.

Geekish footnote:

Latin Text Gravissimum Educationis, 3

3. Parentes, cum vitam filiis contulerint, prolem educandi gravissima obligatione tenentur et ideo primi et praecipui eorum educatores agnoscendi sunt.[11]

Quod munus educationis tanti ponderis est ut, ubi desit, aegre suppleri possit. Parentum enim est talem familiae ambitum amore, pietate erga Deum et homines animatum creare qui integrae filiorum educationi personali et sociali faveat. Familia proinde est prima schola virtutum socialium quibus indigent omnes societates. Maxime vero in christiana familia, matrimonii sacramenti gratia et officio ditata, filii iam a prima aetate secundum fidem in baptismo receptam Deum percipere et colere atque proximum diligere doceantur oportet; ibidem primam inveniunt experientiam et sanae societatis humanae et Ecclesiae; per familiam denique in civilem hominum consortionem et in populum Dei sensim introducuntur. Persentiant igitur parentes quanti momenti sit familia vere christiana pro vita et progressu ipsius populi Dei.[12]