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 →
The recent decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites authorizing baptism of adults in seven stages, instead of all at once, underlined many significant facts. As Fr. Frederick R. McManus, president of the Liturgical Conference, pointed out, the change stresses the sacrament’s social nature. It is a sign that the Church is anxious to demonstrate that this is a public rite, not simply a private affair.
The Congregation of Rites itself acknowledged that certain baptismal details—touching the forehead, the use of salt and oil—might be considered indelicate or superstitious in certain countries. The bishops may now eliminate them. This goes far toward settling an old controversy in the Church. Continue reading →
From the very first announcement, Orthodox and Protestants have looked with great interest on the forthcoming Second Vatican Council. After some early enthusiasm, however, most ecumenicists have taken a more cautious view of the results that may be expected from the Council. In a recent talk given at the Jesuit Seminary in Toronto, Canada, Father Gregory Baum, O.S.A., discussed some of the misgivings now felt by non-Catholics. The text of Fr. Baum’s talk, reprinted here from the weekly The Catholic Messenger(407 Brady St., Davenport, Iowa, $5.), follows:
In the year after the convocation of the ecumenical council by Pope John in 1959, the ecumenical climate surrounding the Catholic Church reached a level of unprecedented friendliness. The Pope had declared that the purpose of the council was the reunion of Christians. It was explained immediately, it is true, that the council would be an affair of the Catholic Church alone, but the aim of the endeavor to renew and adapt Catholic life to the needs of the modern world was to prepare the way for Christian unity. Continue reading →