Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A History of a True Blue Conciliar Kid

shrine to Blessed John XXIII at my parish

Today is the memorial day of Blessed John XXIII; and it is also the forty-fourth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, of which I have only positive memories. I guess you could call me a true blue conciliar kid!

I am just old enough to remember the pre-conciliar days: the very first liturgical change happened the Sunday following my first communion, so we had to learn how to receive communion both ways, the way it would be on first communion day and the way it would be for the rest of our lives. The Latin Mass I remember and love is that "radical innovation" called the dialogue Mass, where the entire congregation answered and sang back in Latin. In preparation for a trip to see relatives in another diocese, my grandmother told me about the "old Mass," the one where the priest and the altar boy had Mass in the sanctuary and the congregation had rosary and devotions in the pews at the same time; as a kindergartener I thought that was really wierd, but Grandma assured me that it was ok, that their bishop hadn't taught them about praying the Mass yet the way our bishop had.

The Council was happening around me as I grew up. The various documents would come out, they would be read and preached on, Latin changed to English, the language got plainer and simpler, both for the good and for the bad. (Bring back the bees, the autumn and the spring rains, and the joy of our youth, but we can do without going all the way back to "the sublime words falling from the Holy Father's august lips" for "the Pope said.")

Most of my classmates dropped out of religious education after fifth grade (and Confirmation), as seemed to be the perpetual tradition, but those of us who stayed had a steady stream of fresh Church documents to ponder as the Council continued and then was implemented. I found it great fun, but then I was a nerd. By high school, there were only 5 or 6 of us in my religious education class, when there should have been at least 5 or 6 dozen, if all the 15-year-old Catholics were in religious ed.

My parish gave up on formal religious ed classes when we turned sixteen; the half-dozen of us who were still there were welcomed into adult study groups and put to work instead. By the rules then used in Cleveland Diocese, 16 years old + confirmed = adult. I ended up on the parish liturgy committee, learning about rubrics and appropriate music and illuminating my first manuscript (a scroll of the Christmas proclamation from the Roman Martyrology for the creche display). I also got my own paperback copy of the complete Documents of Vatican II as a present from my confessor! Of course I've worn it out and replaced it several times since 1973......

So, I'm a 100% true blue Conciliar Kid --- too old to fall for romantic tales of the good old days, too young to regret the passing of the good old days; remembering the excitement as each document of the Council and each post-conciliar encyclical and apostolic letter would be issued in those skinny little stapled booklets with the discussion questions at the end of each chapter, and how we would read them over and over again, and set out to live them.

And it all started 44 years ago today.

,

13 comments:

Terrence Berres said...

Forty-four years of the attrition of people and accumulation of documents sounds pretty dismal.

Karen Marie said...

The attrition of people was highly traditional well before the Council; attendance at religious ed after confirmation or most forms of adult continuing formation has been abysmal since at least the early 1900's (the earliest my grandparents knew about) and probably long before that. And there were plenty of homilies I've heard --- before, during, and since the Council --- trying to convince those Catholics who _were_ showing up for Mass that they were supposed to be praying the Mass and not just warming the pew seat to stay out of hell.

So it has been a lot longer than 44 years!

Terrence Berres said...

"And there were plenty of homilies I've heard --- before, during, and since the Council --- trying to convince those Catholics who _were_ showing up for Mass that they were supposed to be praying the Mass and not just warming the pew seat to stay out of hell."

Apparently convincing ever larger percentages to not show up at all.

It's all quite a contrast to the Good Shepherd, who thinks even 1% attrition deserves his full attention.

Karen Marie said...

OK, Terrence, you asked for it. New post in composition, maybe even a rant. Stay tuned. kmk

Bego said...

nevertheless, your post a refreshing contrast to psychos who think all things pre vii are automatically better--not to mention a crazed desire to have the mas in latin because that's more authentic. evidently they misssed the meaning of "vulgate."

looking forward to the new changes in the hopes that they are, indeed, more authentic translations, and especially looking forward to your rant.

Terrence Berres said...

"looking forward to the new changes"

How about "Look not on our sins, nor on the faith of Your Church, but on all these Documents."

Tony said...

I am just old enough to remember the pre-conciliar days: the very first liturgical change happened the Sunday following my first communion, so we had to learn how to receive communion both ways, the way it would be on first communion day and the way it would be for the rest of our lives.

This is the kind of bad catechesis that was prevalent at the implementation of the Novus Ordo.

Receiving on the tongue was never eliminated, I still receive that way. Also, you are still allowed to kneel for communion (regardless of what Bp. Tod Brown might think).

Terrence Berres said...

"... the way it would be for the rest of our lives."

Reminds me a bit of the thank you I got for my donation to the Cathedral Preservation Foundation.

Karen Marie said...

Tony, you're just not old enough, I guess.

The very first of the liturgical changes had to do with receiving communion, but had nothing to do with posture or hands. Before, you stuck your tongue out and waited for the priest to (usually unintelligibly even if you knew Latin) recite 1/2 of a long latin prayer and give you the host, the other half of the prayer was for the next person. [Officially, every person was supposed to have the whole prayer, but I never saw that happen unless there was only one communicant.]

After, the priest announced "The Body of Christ" (in Latin, of course) and the communicant replied in faith "Amen" then stuck the tongue out.

Clearer, Tony?

Huw Raphael said...

recite 1/2 of a long latin prayer and give you the host, the other half of the prayer was for the next person.

HAHA! ECUSA was that way, too, in the old prayer book as well as in the more-traditional Rite One of the 1979 book:

We were to hear:

"The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving." And then reply "Amen."

In practice this becomes 4 communions, with four Amens:

1 The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee,
2 preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.
3 Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee,
4 and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving.

Although on busy feast days, 7:

1 The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 which was given for thee,
3 preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.
4 Take and eat this in remembrance that
5 Christ died for thee, and
6 feed on him in thy heart by faith,
7 with thanksgiving.

The new Rite: "The Body of Christ"

Tony said...

Tony, you're just not old enough, I guess.

Must be. Even in latin, it was "Corpus Christi", "Amen".

So how old are you anyway? I heard something about the mode of communion you describe in St. Jerome's time :)

Karen Marie said...

Tony, I'm 50 years old.

The change to "Corpus Christi"/"Amen" happened in the Spring of 1964, as I mentioned, the Sunday following my first communion. There was a little glitch for the grownups as they had to get used to responding in prayer to receive communion, when before one only had to stick out one's tongue, and not speak anything.

The hard part for us kids was the sticking the tongue out, because sticking out one's tongue to anyone but Jesus was the top prime insult.

Tom Knapp said...

Karen-

Wasn't it in "A Stranger In A Strange Land" that Jubal said to Duke that in the area Duke was from, everyone was of either Duke's church, or one that could only be distinguished by the sign on the door?

The comment by HUW Raphael mentioning the 1979 ECUSA Missal prayers, just brought to mind that the new American Missal is supposed to be coming soon, addressing the very poor translations of the current English language Missal used in the United States. Makes me wish I had noted the date of that Anglican Missal you had in your library a few trips ago...

ca 1970 ...I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed. Through my Fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault....

now ...I have sinned by my own fault. In my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do...

It's been a long way from Latin to American English.