Vatican II and the Liturgy

The Second Vatican Council document, Sacrosanctum Concilium (This Sacred Council), was the pastoral document from the council that helped to reform and promote the liturgy. The council wanted to “(1)impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; (2)to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; (3)to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; (4)to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church.”

This document enacted what were perhaps the most notable changes of the council, the changes to the liturgy. This document allowed for the Mass to be said in the vernacular, allowed laypeople to participate in the liturgy in new ways and placed an emphasis on Christ’s presence in the liturgy. Unfortunately, some of these changes were enacted through misinterpretation of the document and resulted in abuses. Over the last 50+ years, we have seen great pains taken to reform some of these abuses which often resulted from the so-called, “spirit of the council”.

Sacrosanctum Concilium helps us to see the liturgy’s origins in the Old Testament and the divine action that takes place through it because Christ is present in it. It is in the great mystery of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist that we have an opportunity to experience a personal encounter with God at every Mass.

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