Father Joseph's Weekly Reflection
Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This year the wider Church has been celebrating the 50 year anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. As one born almost twenty years after the council, I’ve always had kind of an onlooker’s view in that I don’t know what life was like before the council, and I didn’t live through the time of transition immediately following the council’s conclusion. I speak mainly about the differences in the Mass called for in the first document put out by the council, SacroSanctum Concilium. Growing up, and even to this day, the liturgical changes of the 60’s and 70’s has been a topic of heated discussion in which I have no dog in the race, as for me the Mass I have now is the only Mass I have ever known. 

It makes sense that people are so passionate about the subject, as it does speak to the most intimate of all relationships and is the religious equivalent of PDA (Public Displays of Affection), but I can’t quite figure out where either side is coming from. It is clear from reading the documents of the council that some change is called for, so life couldn’t have been perfect— “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. It seems though, that some may have gone a little overboard. I still can’t figure out how clowns ever found a place in the sacrifice of the Mass. (You think I jest but I have experienced a Mass in which a clown played a starring role, I was five and it didn’t make sense then either). I figured the best way to get to the root of the issue was to look at the documents themselves. 

In my teens I read through the documents of the council as a spiritual endeavor but I can’t say I thought much about it at the time. It wasn’t as dull as reading the Code of Canon Law, (someone told me it was riveting; they were wrong), but it wasn’t as exciting as my book on the Roman Martyrs. 

Throughout my time in the Seminary and into today I have since read through the documents of the council a number of times and have come to a few conclusions. 1) Change is hard and some people will resist it regardless of consequences. 2) Some have used the council as an excuse to do whatever they want. 3) The council Fathers never intended to change all that much.  It seems to be a case of the Holy Spirit coming into contact with the brokenness of our humanity. I don’t have any answers as to what should be done to close the debate, but think that we would all benefit from reading over the documents as we come to the end of this Year of Jubilee. 

Prayers Always, Fr. Joseph