Father's Sunday Talks

Talk 3 – What changes were made to the Catholic Mass and why were they made

posted Jan 18, 2021, 11:44 AM by Church Office   [ updated Jan 18, 2021, 11:46 AM ]

What is the role and responsibility of the Catholic Church is in today’s society?


Talk 3 – What changes were made to the Catholic Mass and why were they made


Before we can discuss the changes to the sacred Liturgy, the mass, we need to understand why the council at Vatican II felt the mass needed to be changed.  Here are some of the most important goals or objectives in making the changes.

 

1)               The word Liturgy means work of the people so the Liturgy or the mass should allow the people to give proper worship and praise to God.  The Mass is the source and summit of our Catholic Faith and is the font from which all grace from God flows. It is also our greatest path to holiness. However, to fully receive these graces and blessings, we the people must be full and active participants at the mass.  Prior to Vatican II, we were more observers than participants.

 

2)               To further the desire for us to be more fully active, the language of the mass was changed from Latin to the native language of the people attending the mass. The council wanted us to pray with our hearts and not our minds.  They wanted us to pour out our emotions and feelings to God throughout the mass.

 

3)               The mass needed to be more clear and focused on the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  Over time, the Latin Ritual strayed from the true focus of these two main parts of the mass.  Also, these needed to be enhanced, especially the Liturgy of the Word.  To accomplish this, a third reading from the Old Testament was added to the Lectionary for Sunday and feast days.  Further, a homily was required that focused on explaining the readings to the congregation.  Previously, it was a sermon on any topic chosen by the priest or Bishop.  Also, the Prayers of the Faithful were added to the liturgy to allow the people to raise their petitions to God.

 

4)               Some other changes involved the laity and women. With the shortage of priests and deacons, the church recognized that it needed the assistance of the laity during the mass.  Now you have men and women proclaiming the word of God and distributing the Holy Eucharist.  This was especially needed since the council insisted that both species of the Eucharist should be served at all masses.  This change doubled the number of Eucharistic Ministers needed.

 

The following are a list and explanation of some of the changes that came about from Vatican II;

 

  1. The priest faces the people while saying mass.  Before, the priest faced the same direction as the people.  This was so that his prayers and the prayers of the people would flow together in unison.  Now, the prayer style at mass is called “call and response”, stemming from the Jewish Shabbat service that Jesus celebrated during his time here on earth.

 

 

  1. Eliminate the communion rail and altar servers using a paten to catch any of the Eucharist.  Also, lay people were now permitted to serve communion along with the clergy.  You have the option to receive communion in the hand or on the tongue. These changes were made primarily to reduce the time it took to serve communion during the mass.  At large churches, it took 15-20 minutes to serve communion and that took away from the flow of the mass.  Also, with large congregations and the fasting requirement before mass, there were many complaints about how long it took to distribute communion.  Plus now that you could receive both species, the communion rail was very impractical.

 

  1. Additional readings, homilies and prayers of the faithful were added to the liturgy of the Word.  Before Vatican II, there were only two reading from Scripture, a New Testament reading and a passage from one of the Gospels.  A reading from the Old Testament that had a similar theme as the Gospel was added.  Also, the priest was required to give a homily that explained the readings to the people.  This was difficult for some priests since they had little training in Scripture interpretation.  That is why protestant Biblical scholars helped to teach Catholic clergy how to study the meaning of biblical passages as a way of preparing their homilies.  The Prayers of the Faithful were added so that the specific prayer intentions of the people could be raised to God.  It made the last part of the Liturgy of the Word the most personal part to the people.

 

  1. After Vatican II, priests were allowed to use microphones while saying mass.  Can you hear me now??

 

  1. Vatican II recognized that Sunday actually started at sundown on Saturday so they allowed Saturday vigil masses.  They also changed the rules for fasting to only one hour before the reception of communion.  The hour is so that the stomach can clear away any food and drink so the Eucharist can be received into an empty stomach.

 

  1. Other musical instruments can be used at mass.  The pipe organ is still to be the main instrument for music but other instruments such as guitars, pianos, drums, trumpets and other instruments can be used.

 

  1. Other forms of culture can be instituted at mass if they are native to the people.  For example, some cultures start the mass with a liturgical dance in lieu of the opening procession.  Just a word, don’t look for this to be implemented here at Ss. Peter and Paul.  I have enough trouble just walking down the aisle, let alone dancing!!

Talk 2 – The goals and objectives of Vatican II

posted Jan 11, 2021, 9:09 AM by Church Office   [ updated Jan 11, 2021, 9:11 AM ]

What is the role and responsibility of the Catholic Church is in today’s society?

Talk 2 – The goals and objectives of Vatican II

One of the primary goals of Vatican II was to bring the church up to the present times in society.  Many felt that the church had not adapted to the many changes that the world had undergone in the past few hundred years. The world was getting smaller and the world’s issues needed to become the church’s issues.  Pope John XXIII made a statement during the opening ceremonies that the church was IN the world and needed to have a greater impact on how the world dealt with many problems.  Some of these concerns were poverty in third world countries, full and active participation in the mass, the conflict between different religions throughout the world, how do we live out our call to be a disciple of Christ, and many others. 


Some bishops felt the church needed to be overhauled to meet these objectives.  However, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the leaders of Vatican II believed in two concepts.  The first is Aggiornamento and the second is Ressourcement.  Aggiornamento is an Italian word the means to bring up to date or to bring up to the modern standards.  However the word Ressourcement means getting back to the basics; to get back to the fundamentals as a way of getting the Church caught up to modern times. 


At first, these two words or concepts may seem contradictory. However, when put together, Pope John felt that the church had drifted away from the ideals set forth by Christ when He established the Catholic Church.  The pope believed that the way to bring the church into more modern times was to focus on the basic teachings of Christ here on earth.


For example, the church needed to recognize and be more accepting of other Christian denominations, be more forgiving towards the Jews, and respect the beliefs of the Muslims and other non-Christian faiths.  Before Vatican II, the church condemned the Jews for killing Jesus on Good Friday.  In actuality, it is our sinfulness as a human race that killed Jesus, not the Jews.  Other Christian denominations have more in common with us than our differences and we need to learn from each other on how to love Jesus. One way that the Protestants were involved in Vatican II was in the ways to study the Bible.  Many biblical scholars helped the bishops to learn different ways to interpret passages in the bible and then how to teach seminarians to do the same.


So what are the basic teachings of Christ that the council wanted to focus upon?

Christ held the first mass at the Last Supper.  Vatican II wanted to bring back more full and active participation during the mass.  As a result, they decided that we needed to change the language of the mass from Latin to the native language spoken by the people of that parish.  In this way, they could respond to the priest when called upon during the mass.  Rather than coming to mass to listen to the priest, the people could fully participate in the mass.  Also, a third reading was added to bring more Scripture passages into the mass.  Another change was allowing women and girls to serve so that the mass was more inclusive of both genders.  Women were now permitted to serve as lectors and Eucharistic ministers.  Girls as well as boys could be altar servers.


Another change was that pastors and priests were to live a life of service to the people in their parish, rather than having the attitude that the people were there to serve them.  Christ came to serve others and the clergy needed to adopt the same attitude.  This concept was not well received by many pastors and priests.  Unfortunately, many left the priesthood as a result of this change.  In an effort to help the priests in a parish, more emphasis was put on the permanent diaconate ministry.  Up to Vatican II, the only deacons were transitional deacons that would one day be ordained as priests.  Laity were also given more responsibility by the forming of parish councils to handle the running of the parish and the finance council to help in the monetary decisions of the parish.  The pastor must obey the decisions of the finance council.  It is the parish’s money, not the pastors!!


Many of you attended Catholic Schools like I did.  If so, you are familiar with the concept of Catholic Guilt! The nuns and priests taught us that God was a punishing God, ready to mark down all our sins in his huge ledger and that we would spend eternity in hell as a result of these sins.  Sure, we could go to confession but God was just waiting for us to sin again so He could punish us.  Jesus taught us to love and not to condemn. St. John teaches us that God is love in his first letter.  Vatican II wanted to embrace this view of Jesus and God.  Sure, we acknowledge that sin exists and that we need to repent of our sins.  However, God in more loving and merciful and we need to do more to accept God’s love rather than worrying about the punishment for our sins.  This was a major change in the perspective the Church had towards God.  Some people may feel that the church has minimized sin and focused too much on God’s love.  My belief is that we need to be more in the middle and try to avoid sin and to ask for God’s forgiveness, yet to truly be a disciple of Christ, we can’t be burdened with guilt.


The next area that the Council addressed is called the preferential option for the poor.  Christ embraced the poor and marginalized and the Catholic Church did not have a focus or programs in place to help the poor.  Vatican II called on all Catholics to donate time, talent, and treasure to help those in need.  But how much should we give?  The council suggested that each household donate 5% of their gross income to the local parish and 5% to charities of your choice.  In this way, each family can donate 10% of their income to those in need.  It is from this idea that we tithe 10% of each Sunday collection to the poor and needy in our community.


Two issues that the Council felt strongly about was the universal call to holiness and the dignity of the human person.  These two go hand-in-hand.  We are created in the image and likeness of God and given the gift of free will.  However, because of religious oppression in many countries, people are unable to live freely and make choices that allow them to love God and love others.  The dignity of the human person is the idea that we need to live in a society where we have the ability to choose to love God or not.  We need the freedom to make our own choices in how we want to live out our vocation as a disciple of Christ.  The Council felt this oppression had to be stopped. 


I hope this helps you to understand more about what topics the Council felt to be important.  In the next few weeks, I will expand my discussion on these topics and try to show how the church has come up to the standards of the world by going back to the basics, the teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Talk #1 – Major Events in World and Church History

posted Jan 5, 2021, 10:42 AM by Church Office   [ updated Jan 11, 2021, 9:12 AM ]

What is the role and responsibility of the Catholic Church is in today’s society?

 

Talk #1 – Major Events in World and Church History

 

I.                 Pentecost- The birthday of the Catholic Church is Pentecost Sunday so I am going to start on this date for my review of World and Church History.  Once the Holy Spirit filled the Apostles, they went out into the world to spread the message of Jesus Christ.  They could not stay in and around Jerusalem because the Romans still occupied this area and would put to death any follower of Jesus.  They went to places such as Eastern Europe, Turkey, Greece, Asia Minor, Northern Africa, Spain, Syria, Persia, Ethiopia, Egypt, and even Great Britain.  St. Paul traveled predominately around the port cities of the Mediterranean Sea.  St. Paul and all the Apostles, except St. John, were martyred.  St John died on the island of Patmos, off the coast of Greece.  As a result of the wide reach of the Roman Empire, the early church had to grow and develop in secret.  Masses were said in a person’s home or in the Catacombs under Rome.  Therefore, the early church grew very slowly. However, one of the primary missions of the early church was to take care of widows, the crippled, and the poor.  To ensure that this took place, the church established the position of Deacon to serve.  This position still exists today and the main role of Deacons is to serve others.

 

II.               325            Constantine become Emperor of Rome and declares the Catholic Church to be the one true church throughout the Roman Empire.  At this point, the Roman Empire stretches throughout much of the developed world.  When he made his declaration, people came forth in very large numbers to join the church.  It also started the movement to build churches, cathedrals etc., throughout the world.  Latin, the native language of Rome, became the universal language of the church.

 

III.             500            St. Benedict establishes the Rules for Monastic Life; work and pray. As a result, monasteries were constructed throughout Europe. The monasteries were built just outside a town and the monks would grow crops, raise livestock, milk cows, weave clothing etc.  They would then take the goods to the marketplace and sell them or give them away to those that couldn’t afford to pay full market price.  As a result, many men would join the monasteries to participate in these ministries.  This increase in vocations allowed more churches to be built and the church continued to grow at a very fast pace.  Most of the emperors and kings throughout the civilized world were Catholic and the pope, the head of the Catholic Church, had a great influence on how each country was run, or to discourage wars etc. If a country was being invaded by the Muslims or Turks, the Pope would send his army to help the country under siege to repel the attack. 

 

IV.             1054          The Great Schism between the Western Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church took place.  The division occurred because of the Filioque Clause in the Nicene Creed.  The Roman Catholic Church states that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.  However, the Eastern Orthodox Church follows the Gospel of St. John that states the Holy Spirit proceeded from only the Father and not the Son.  Seems to me like this issue can be resolved in the coming years.  Pope Francis and the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church are in discussions to bring the churches back together. However, as a result of the schism, the pope lost much of his authority and influence throughout the Eastern part of Europe and Northern Africa.

 

V.              1455          John Gutenberg invented the printing press and the first book ever printed was the Bible.  Before the invention of the printing press, Bibles were copied by hand, mostly by the monks. Each Catholic Church received a very large Bible and chained them to a podium or stand so that they couldn’t be stolen.  The people in the parish did not have access to a bible so their only exposure to the Scriptures was during mass.  Once the printing press was invented, Bibles went into circulation for the churches and parishioners.  They were printed in various languages, predominantly in Latin and English.  As the Bible became more available, the church continued to grow.  Many more cathedrals and churches were built throughout Western Europe.

 

VI              1517          The Protestant Reformation is the most important date in Catholic Church History since its birthday on Pentecost.  Fr. Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of his Bishops rectory.  As a result, the Catholic Church was divided into many different Christian denominations.   At first, each denomination was primarily associated with a country.  For example, Germany was Lutheran, England was Anglican, Spain was Catholic, etc.  This became known as nationalism.  The king or emperor of a country had the ability to determine the denomination of his/her country and was often the head of both the church and the country.  This greatly reduced the power and influence of the Pope.  The Catholic Church started the Counter Reformation and changed many of the items that Luther objected to in his 95 theses.  Had Luther just been patient and met with his bishop and the pope, many of the issues would have been resolved and the reformation would not have occurred.

 

VII.            1700’s       Some countries like France, Spain, Portugal, and England started to explore the Western Hemisphere.  Spain, by Christopher Columbus discovered America.  The French landed in Canada, the Portuguese ended up in Brazil and the Spanish also landed in South America.  Although a Catholic discovered America, the Spanish spent most of their time developing the Caribbean and Florida.  The English landed in the Northern part of America and these were mostly Quakers.  They wanted independence from the governing bodies of the country so the doctrine of separation of church and state was ratified.  What this document states is that a religious leader cannot hold public office and public official can’t run a religious institution.  However, all agreed that God was an integral part of America. “In God We Trust” became the motto of the country.  Other European countries began to explore Africa and Asia.  Why?  They needed more natural resources to fuel their growth. 

 

VIII.        1800-1900’s in American Church History          As America became more settled, each religious denomination starting building churches throughout America.  Since many different countries were Catholic and the people from these countries wanted to pray in their native language, each ethnic group built their own Catholic Church in the community where they lived.  Once the church was built, the people would send a letter requesting priests to reside at the church.  That is why there were so many ethnic churches throughout the Northeastern part of America.  These remained in existence until Vatican II when all churches were asked to use English as the language for the mass instead of Latin or the native language of the parishioners.

 

IX.            1900-1962              The first part of this century was consumed in world wars.  However, the Catholic Church grew substantially and vocations were at an all time high.  Parishes would have 4-5 priests, Catholic families were large and most families wanted one son or daughter to enter the clergy or religious life.  The family still had other children to carry on the family tradition and/or family business.  Although the Pope was against both world wars, his power had diminished so much that world leaders would not listen to his objection.  Also, unlike in previous centuries, his army was too small to make a difference.  Now, it was only used for the protection of Vatican City.

 

X.             1955           The Television started to become available to the average family.  Families still received a daily newspaper, but TV brought the news to life.  Now, instead of reading about the starving children in Africa, you could see them on TV.  Charitable organizations such as UNICEF and Feed the Children were running ads on TV, asking for donations.  Catholic Relief Services started during this time to help those in need.  Other organizations such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army also grew in influence to help the poor and needy. As a result, people were being asked to donate to help others throughout the world.  The World was getting smaller and the world’s problems were on full display for everyone to see in their living room.

 

XI.            1950-1984              The cold war and the nuclear arms race. As the division between the free world and communism grew, the nuclear arms race took center stage throughout the world.  Massive amounts of money and resources went into building of nuclear arms to protect the respective countries.  This money would have been used to feed the hungry, social programs to cut unemployment, job training to develop trades and other programs.  How many of you remember air raid drills and bomb drills?  Climbing under our desks when the alarm would go off or how many had bomb shelters at your home? The pope was openly against this buildup of nuclear weapons but his comments fell on deaf ears. Even though the Berlin wall came down in 1984, countries today still spend trillions of dollars on their respective militaries.

 

XII.           1962           Pope John XXIII oversees the opening of Vatican II on October 11.  He called it the New Pentecost. Why? Because he knew that the Catholic Church needed a rebirth to change its role as a major world entity.  Although the power and influence of the papacy had decreased over time, there were more Catholics throughout the world than any other denomination.  However, the people were being torn to being loyal to their national government or to the Catholic Church.  Issues such as birth control, giving to the poor, vocations, ethnic churches, the mass, the role of the laity in the church, the dignity of human life and many other issues needed to be addressed. So Pope John XIII convened Vatican II to address these and many other issues.

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