From the June 28, 1962 issue of Commonweal Magazine, a provocative call for liturgical reform by an organizer of the North American Liturgical Week recently held in Seattle in conjunction with the World’s Fair, imagining how liturgy might be celebrated 50 years from now.
By John B. Mannion
Of all the actions likely to be taken by the forthcoming Ecumenical Council, few will affect the Catholic people so directly and personally as the liturgical reforms. For most of us, our principal public contact with the Church is Sunday Mass. And indeed, this is as it should be, for the liturgy is “the chief duty and supreme dignity” of Christians, and takes precedence over any other religious activity—public or private, individual or corporate. For this reason the Mass should be our most meaningful Christian experience. That this is not the case is one of the several motive s which have prompted the liturgical reforms of recent decades. Pope Pius XI’s “outsiders and mute spectators” of 1928 have become Pope John’s “telegraph poles” of 1960.
Clearly the reforms instituted have not been adequate to the task of conveying to the people the true nature of liturgical worship and their role in it. Perhaps this is because the changes have been within the structure of the Roman liturgy as it was frozen in the sixteenth century.
To the man of the twentieth century, the Mass does not appear to be what it actually is: a formal proclamation of the Word of God, a sacrificial oblation re-presenting “in mystery” the redemptive work of Christ, and a community meal renewing the covenant—the pledge of eternal life and love—between the Father and His chosen sons. This threefold reality is not immediately and directly revealed by the words and actions of the Latin rite Mass, which fact has led to a growing realization of the need for further reform. Continue reading →
In recent months laymen have repeatedly been invited to voice their views and aspirations on the Ecumenical Council. Thus Francis Cardinal Koenig of Vienna, a member of the Central Preparatory Commission for the Council, said: “Do not wait for the Bishop or for a report from Rome, if you have something to say about the Council…. Urge, when you feel urging is necessary.”
In keeping with these invitations, The Commonweal is publishing a special series devoted to the layman’s hopes and desires in connection with the Council. Joseph E. Cunneen, author of this third article in the series, is managing editor of “Cross Currents.” —The Editors
By Joseph E. Cunneen
Let me strike a sour note at the outset, and suggest that the invitation for laymen to speak out on the coming Council first be considered in the dominant context of Catholic indifference and skepticism. It is true, of course, that in the last few years alumnae groups who wanted to be au courant have scheduled at least one speaker who could flavor his talk with words like “ecumenical” and “dialogue,” but any idea that the Council requires an involvement and commitment of the entire Church could hardly make much headway against our perennial absorption in building drives and rhetorical anti-Communism. To all outward appearances, the parish clergy and church-going laity possess a united response: the Council is a good idea, but no concern of ours.
And as for consulting laymen, what possibly can Cardinal Koenig, who voiced the explicit invitation, mean? Doubtless there are available amiable eccentrics who specialize in Byzantine liturgies or the history of canon law, but what response outside of downright hilarity would greet any wide-eyed “Catholic Actionist” who told the local Holy Name Society—to say nothing of that more representative group, the men who do not attend the meetings—that their views on the coming Council were being solicited? “I can’t get through to my pastor,” one might say, “on why I object to using envelopes in the collection, or why I want to keep my family together, and not ship the kids off to a separate children’s Mass; how can I have anything to say to theologians and cardinals?” Continue reading →
Laymen have repeatedly been invited to voice their views and aspirations on the Ecumenical Council. Thus Francis Cardinal Koenig of Vienna, a member of the Central Preparatory Commission for the Council, said: “Do not wait for the Bishop or for a report from Rome, if you have something to say about the Council… Urge, when you feel urging is necessary.”
In keeping with these invitations, The Commonweal last week began publication of a special series devoted to the layman’s hopes and desires in connection with the Council. Philip Scharper, author of this second article in the series, is chief editor of Sheed & Ward. —The Editors
By Philip Scharper
What every Catholic would hope for from the Council is that it succeed in realizing one of the major goals which Pope John set in convoking it: a renewal of the Church which will be so effective that the Church herself will become, by what she is, the most compelling argument for Christian unity.
But it would be a mistake to assume that such reform and renewal were important only to enable the Church to present a fairer face to our separated brothers. On point after point such reform is urgently needed to make the Catholic himself understand the Church more deeply, love her more devotedly, and live in her life more fully.
In what follows, I shall try to set forth what points of renewal seem to me most urgent. They may reflect a parochialism of experience and poverty of observation; but they have also whatever value may attach itself to the reflections of one who has no position to maintain and no interests to serve, except those of Christ in His Church. Continue reading →
As Catholics throughout the world expectantly await the opening of the Second Vatican Council, it has already become apparent that the preparation for the Council has, in itself, been a source of hope and vitality for the Church. For the layman, these preparations have been of special significance: they have been the source of considerable soul-searching on the part of laity and clergy alike concerning the role of the laity in the Church. Moreover, in many nations and in numerous dioceses, the laity have been invited to make known to the hierarchy their hopes, criticisms and aspirations.
The most specific call to the laity was, perhaps, that of Francis Cardinal Koenig of Vienna, a member of the Central Preparatory Commission for the Council. Speaking at a meeting of Austrian Catholic newsmen, Cardinal Koenig said: “Do not wait for the Bishop or for a report from Rome, if you have something to say about the Council. Sound a warning whenever you feel that you ought to. Urge, when you feel urging is necessary… Report everything that the people and the Catholics expect concerning the Council.”
With the coming Council in mind, The Commonweal begins in this issue a special series devoted to the layman’s hopes and desires in the contemporary Church. To begin the series, however, we have asked Father Robert Hovda of the Department of Religion at the Catholic University of America to comment, from the viewpoint of a theologian, on the theological problem of the layman’s role in the Church. In the weeks to come, a number of laymen will, in turn, address themselves to the question of the laity. It is our hope that their frank and open discussion will, in some measure, be a contribution to the work of those Bishops and theologians who will participate in the coming Ecumenical Council.