We have now drawn to the end of our series on the Novus Ordo liturgy, that is the New Liturgy as established by Vatican II. There is often much confusion surrounding our current liturgy, its meaning and elements. Therefore we went straight to the horse’s mouth, as it were. We examined the fundamental document from Vatican II that established the foundation for our current liturgical practice.
What is surprising to most is that the New Liturgy that we celebrate today was never an attempt to throw the baby out with the bath water, but an organic development of our 2000 year old practice of worship. This organic development is expressed In several key areas:
- At one and the same time, we embrace a greater use of modern languages like English and Spanish, without fully replacing the use of Latin and Greek.
- We have a call for greater active participation of the liturgy through the dialogue parts of the Mass and some musical texts, yet still hold an important role for silence and meditative listening.
- There is an openness to authentic development of musical traditions, especially within their cultural contexts, while maintain a special place for our uniquely Catholic worship music, Gregorian chant.
- Vatican II invites us to have a deeper reverence for Christ in the Word of God, without detracting for the Eucharistic Sacrament as “the source and summit of the Christian life.”
Following his late life conversion, the great St. Augustine wrote the following lines in prayer to God: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new!” These words attributed to God are just as truly attributable to the principal way we in which we worship Him—through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, a liturgy which is ever ancient, ever new.
One of the greatest difficulties we have as Catholics and as parishioners is that we are not an either/or Church. Rather, as the fullness of Christianity established by Christ we are always a both/and Church. We acknowledge both mercy and justice, truth and charity, doctrine and diversity, antiquity and development, service and contemplation, a high moral standard and a wellspring of forgiving healing, the call to be saints and the acknowledgement that we are still sinners.
This is the fullness of the Faith. This is Catholic Christianity. Though it is often hard for us as a Church and individuals to fully embrace, it is, nonetheless, the goal for which we strive as we long to be united to God—Beauty ever ancient, ever new.