Page 10, 12th November 1965

12th November 1965
Page 10
Page 10, 12th November 1965 — Bishops ask more liturgy changes

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People: Dwyer
Locations: Rome, New York City


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Bishops ask more liturgy changes

interest only to specialists, but the pages do contain many things of wider interest.

Most generally interesting are the reports sent in by the chairmen or secretaries of the National F.piscopal Conferences. They show that in every country, from Anglia to Zambia (in Latin we come at the top of the alphabetical list!) a great deal has been done to implement the recent liturgical reforms; they have made a real impact on the entire Church.

Many countries were very thorough in their preparations. Liturgical commissions were set up in every diocese. Vernacular texts acre worked out by experts with meticulous care and published in good time. Many articles and booklets were written and widely diffused among clergy and faithful. Experts mere appointed to give courses of lectures and demonstrations to clergy and laity.

Joyful expectancy

Where all these things were done. an atmosphere of joyful expectancy was created, and the change-over to the "new liturgy" was effected with resounding success. But even when the preparation was less good, the clergy and laity everywhere seem to have welcomed the changes, especially the introduction of the vernacular.

Typical is a remark of Bishop Pinchler of Jugoslavia: Nowhere has there been any serious opposition. A small minority of the faithful were displeased at the abolition of certain ceremonies to which they were attached, but through loyalty to the Holy Father and good ecclesiastical discipline they are making efforts to understand.

As regards active organised opposition I have not been able to find, in all these reports. more than two instan&s. Bishop Boudon, for France, writes that there is some opposition, hut it is more spectacular and noisy than widespread and representative; it is motivated chiefly by political and sociological considerations.

And Archbishop Dwyer reports about Britain that the clergy and faithful as a WhOle have received the liturgical renewal with gratitude, though a few strenuously oppose it.

Wide praise

In almost every report there is praise for the reforms. The reception accorded to these changes, especially to the use of the vernacular in the Mass. has been excellent. They are acclaimed by the people as with one voice (Cardinal Conway, for Ireland).

Introduction of the changes took place with almost complete success. Among both priests and laity by far the majority are well content with the use of the vernacular (Archbishop Gray for Scotland).

On television and radio and in the newspapers many of the laity have praised the introduction of the vernacular into the Mass (Bishop Marlin, for Canada).

It should be emphasised that the introduction of verncaular and the celebration of Mass versus populum have been received enthusiastically (Cardinal Ritter. for the United States).

The great majority of clerer and laity have rejoiced exceedingly at these changes . . . it has been remarkable that priests, religious and laity who are advanced in years have accepted the changes so willingly. Old priests are frequently heard to say how much they regret that the liturgical renewal was delayed until the final years of their priesthood (Archbishop Young, for Australia).

It would be possible to fill pages with quotattons from other countries wherein the writers are almost lyrical in describing the reception given to the liturgical reforms.

But this does not mean there have been no difficulties. Everywhere there have been some. Archbishop Dwyer gives as the very first one among us the outlook of those who regard the liturgical renewal (IS a mere change in the rubrics, and have not yet grasped the intrinsic nature of the Mass as a communal celebration.

Much lacking

From the other reports one gathers the following difficulties are practically universal: lack of time for adequate preparation, lack of Biblical culture, lack of suitable vernacular texts, lack of suitable music, lack of liturgical experts, lack of money for publishing new texts.

A great number of missionary countries complain that Article 57 of the Instruction leads to crippling expense: Missals for liturgical use must contain the Latin text as well as the vernacular translations. And they experience special difficulties through multiplicity of languages required. Again and again the reports speak of discontent with Latin for the preface. Typical is this sentence by Archbishop Young, for Australia: There is an almost universa) grumbling about the prohibition of the vernacular for the Preface; everyone is acutely conscious of the incongruity of the Latin language in the Preface. It is not surprising, therefore. that among the proposals submitted by the various hierarchies, vernacular for the Preface (and also for the Doxology at the end of the Canon) occurs most frequently.

Since these proposals were sent in, the Commission has, indeed, been giving permission for vernacular Preface to those hierarchies who apply for it; if I mistake not, they already have English Preface in Australia, United States and Canada, though I do not know if the permission has included the Doxology. Two frequently occurring proposals are for a better and wider selection of scripture readings, and for the revision of the funeral rites to express more clearly the paschal character of Christian death,

On this point Archbishop Gray proposes the omission of the Dies irae and the Libera nos. It is quite certain that these things will happen before long, since they are already envisaged in Articles 51 and 81 of the Constitution.

Another proposal which occurs frequently is that the Introit, Gradual, Offertory and Communion should be replaceable by suitable vernacular hymns. Some bishops want the Apostles' Creed instead of the Nicene; many want a new Preface for "ordinary" Sundays to replace the present Preface of the Trinity.

Not a few make proposals about the end of Mass in terms resembling the suggestion by Archbishop Gray: The conclusion of the Mass should he simplified so that, after saving the Placeat, the celebrant should both dismiss and bless the faithful in a single formula such as: "Go in peace with the blessing of the Father. Son and Holy Ghost."

For changes like these, if they are adopted, we may have to wait till the Commission has finished the revision of the Missal. When they have issued a new one, there will inevitably be further delay el-rile it is translated into the various vernaculars.

But there is every prospect that we shall end up with an extremely satisfactory liturgy, really well suited for use in worship by God's Holy People of the 20th century.

M IC II EL a4 N G EL0'5' masterpiece, the Pieta, sealed in a white metal container, is viewed through a lifebelt as it is placed aboard the Italian liner Cristoforo Colombo in New York City on November 2 for return to St. Peter's, Rome. The Pieta was on display for two years at the World's Fair which closed month.

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