Fruits of the obtuse “Spirit of Vatican II”


When St. Bonaventure writes in Itinerium Mentis ad Deum that only a man of desire (such as Daniel) can understand God, he means that a certain attitude of soul must be achieved in order to understand the world of God, into which He wants to lead us.

This counsel is especially applicable to the Church’s liturgy. The sursum corda the lifting up of our hearts is the first requirement for real participation in the mass. Nothing could better obstruct the confrontation of man with God than the notion that we “go unto the altar of God” as we would go to a pleasant, relaxing social gathering. This is why the Latin Mass with Gregorian chant, which raises us up to a sacred atmosphere, is vastly superior to a vernacular mass with popular songs, which leaves us in a profane, merely natural atmosphere.

The basic error of most of the innovations is to imagine that the new liturgy brings the holy sacrifice of the mass nearer to the faithful, that shorn of its old rituals the mass now enters into the substance of our lives. For the question is whether we better meet Christ in the mass by soaring up to Him, or by dragging Him down into our own pedestrian, workaday world. The innovators would replace holy intimacy with Christ by an unbecoming familiarity. The new liturgy actually threatens to frustrate the confrontation with Christ, for it discourages reverence in the face of mystery, precludes awe, and all but extinguishes a sense of sacredness. What really matters, surely, is not whether the faithful feel at home at mass, but whether they are drawn out of their ordinary lives into the world of Christ-whether their attitude is the response of ultimate reverence: whether they are imbued with the reality of Christ.

THOSE WHO RHAPSODIZE on the new liturgy make much of the point that over the years the mass had lost its communal character and had become an occasion for individualistic worship. The new vernacular mass, they insist, restores the sense of community by replacing private devotions with community participation. Yet they forget that there are different levels and kinds of communion with other persons. The level and nature of a community experience is determined by the theme of the communion, the name or cause in which men are gathered. The higher the good which the theme represents, and which binds men together, the more sublime and deeper is the communion. The ethos and nature of a community experience in the case of a great national emergency is obviously radically different from the community experience of a cocktail party. And of course the most striking differences in communities will be found between the community whose theme is supernatural and the one whose theme is merely natural. The actualization of men’s souls who are truly touched by Christ is the basis of a unique community, a sacred communion, one whose quality is incomparably more sublime than that of any natural community. The authentic we communion of the faithful, which the liturgy of Holy Thursday expresses so well in the words “congregavit nos in unum Christi amor”, is only possible as a fruit of the I-Thou communion with Christ Himself. Only a direct relation to the God- Man can actualize this sacred union among the faithful.

Read more by Dietrich von Hildebrand

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  1. […] Read more: Fruits of the obtuse “Spirit of Vatican II” […]


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