What an apt image! The seemingly unsinkable ship of the Church's great liturgical tradition did indeed hit the geat iceberg of 'Spirit of Vatican IIism' and all but sunk.
Fortunately, unlike the Titanic, the Church really is unsinkable, and so there were a few survivors from which to rebuild...
And in reality, perhaps the more accurate image would be one of a hijacking!
Celebrating Sacrosanctum Concilium?
Sr Carmel seems to feel that the bishops' plans for celebrating fifty years since Vatican II are rather underdone given its significance:
"So how is the church planning to commemorate the golden anniversary of this great event? We know that the Australian Catholic Bishops are about to declare a ‘Year of Grace’ beginning on Pentecost Sunday. We also know that in a few months the Pope will announce a ‘Year of Faith’.
Is a subtext for each of these themes the marking of 50 years since the beginning of the church’s most recent reform? Are plays to be written, a movie commissioned, forums set up so that stories can be told, celebrations to be held? How are our bishops suggesting ways to capture the excitement and keep the memory alive of this decisive moment in our church’s history?
Of course the Church is more than the bishops, as indeed the Council taught us...Parishes, schools and other organisations will no doubt celebrate with local initiatives."
How to celebrate SC?
So here is my suggestion for local initiatives: how about actually reading the document itself and putting on some Masses that reflect its actual provisions? You know, things like:
- respect for the hierarchical constitution of the Church in the roles ministers and laity respectively play in the Mass (SC 28);
- observance of the proper bodily gestures and attitudes - such as the striking of the breast at the mea culpa and bow in the Creed, more ignored than observed at most OF Masses I've attended of late (SC 30);
- joining in the (specified) words as appropriate, not some old and no longer approved version of the Mass translation or other ad libbing on the part of the priest (SC 30);
- observance of reverent silence when appropriate (SC 30);
- the preservation of the Latin language (SC34) and congregational singing of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin (SC 54);
- the cultivation of the great treasury of sacred music of the Church (SC 114); and
- giving pride of place to Gregorian chant in liturgical services (SC 116).
By teaching parishioners a little Latin, the official and normative language of our liturgy.
To implement or reassess?
A pretty good case can be made at this point, I think, that Sacrosanctum Concilium has never actually been properly implemented.
In fact rather than hitting an iceberg and sinking, the ship was hijacked.
Indeed the whole 'Reform of the Reform' movement arguably has the objective of freeing the liturgy from the hijackers.
All the same, at fifty years remove much of the anthropology and historical/liturgical scholarship that animated Sacrosanctum Concilium's purely pastoral prescriptions has been effectively demolished.
Some of the things it thought to be ancient traditions of the Church in the early 1960s today look like at best mere archeologism that certainly wouldn't pass Pope Benedict XVI's test of living, as opposed to fossilised, traditions; at worst they look like outright fabrications.
SC's distaste for 'repetition' in the liturgy arguably reflects a lack of understanding of the ritual process; the permission for the (very limited) use of the vernacular a failure to understand the purpose of hieratic and sacred languages; and its privileging of overt catechesis through the liturgy a lack of understanding of the subtle effects on our understanding of the implicit messages embedded in the ancient rubrics for our faith.
Thus, a case can equally be made that sufficient time has passed to allow a more fundamental reassessment of the usefulness of many of Sacrosanctum Concilium's pastoral provisions...