By Ryan Seybold
A great number of Catholics are under the impression that Vatican II "did away" with many traditional elements of the liturgy. Certain people have worked hard to drill that idea into our heads, but the Council did not support them or their agenda. Furthermore, the Council documents strongly opposed many of the changes that were imposed on the faithful in the name of the Council.
The norms established by Vatican II specifically ordered every traditional element of the liturgy to be preserved, and strongly discouraged needless innovations. Advocates of man-centered liturgy and opponents of authentic Catholicism used Vatican II as a bludgeon to keep the faithful quiet and accepting of changes they knew were for the worse. But because Vatican II didn't support their cause, they just moved fast and hoped no one would read the documents.
The destruction of the last 50 years has been so demoralizing that today, instead of a full return to tradition, efforts to repair the liturgy often result in a synthesis of tradition and modernism. But it doesn't have to be that way. Protestantized, man-centered liturgy was introduced — and then enforced — without a shred of text from the Council documents to support it. Why not use Vatican II to push back? The documents of Vatican II are on our side, not theirs, and the documents should be used to our advantage rather than avoided.
The following quotations from "Sacrosanctum Concilium" are taken from the sections wherein the Council prescribes norms for the liturgy. These rules were supposed to be obeyed, but have instead been ignored or defied.
36. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
28.In liturgical celebrations each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy.
116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.
120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things.
But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority [Did anyone from your parish ask the Bishop's permission before they started using guitars at Mass?], as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37 and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.
3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.
23. Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.
32. The liturgy makes distinctions between persons according to their liturgical function and sacred Orders, and there are liturgical laws providing for due honors to be given to civil authorities. Apart from these instances, no special honors are to be paid in the liturgy to any private persons or classes of persons, whether in the ceremonies or by external display.
The actual text of Vatican II fully supports authentic Catholicism. Good Catholics need to be familiar with it, so that whenever it is invoked to justify needless innovations, we can turn it back on them. Although some good priests are already working in their parishes to restore an authentic understanding and implementation of Vatican II, they need the help and support of the laity.