What US Catholics thought of Vatican II in 1967

Lots of theories and opinions about why Catholics leave their Church. Also lots of theories and opinion about what Catholics thought of the liturgical changes after Vatican II. Some people believe that the reforms were forced upon the laity against their will, and this caused many of them to leave. The interesting question is how large this group is or was.

Perhaps this hard data will provide some illumination. Pray Tell reader Jeff Rexhausen sends in this report on a 1967 Harris survey. Some interesting findings:

  • Asked of their opinion of the changes to simplify and modernize the Church, 66.7% of US Catholics thought it was for the better and 13.5% thought it was for the worse.
  • In an open-ended response explaining why they felt this way (yea or nay), 48.8% volunteered that Mass in English is easier to understand and follow, and 23.6% volunteered that people can participate more and it is more meaningful. These were the two most numerous responses. 5.7% volunteered that Latin Mass meant more to them, and 2% stated that much of the worship has been taken out or you can’t pray or meditate anymore.
  • 55% of respondents felt good and comfortable about the changes in the Church, but 31% thought it was watering down distinctiveness. Only 1.7% thought the changes weren’t going far enough.
  • Asked in an open-ended question what the most important thing to come out of Vatican II was, apart from those who said they don’t know, the responses most often volunteered were better understanding with other religions (24.9%) and Mass and its music in English (19.9%). How many thought the changes were destroying the Church and nothing good came out of Vatican II? 0.7%.

Read Jeff’s helpful summary here here.
Read the entire survey here.


  1. This pretty much reinforces what I always thought – that most people probably liked Mass in English and thought it was a good thing. This poll can’t really be used to judge the 1969/70 missal, I suppose.

    What was the Mass like in 1967 when this poll was taken? – it wasn’t the “Novus Ordo” yet or the current translation we now use, and I’ve heard communion was still given kneeling in the vast majority of places and not all churches had freestanding altars. The overwhelming positive response seems to be for allowing Mass in English, rather than any other changes.

    1. But that link is for a 1965 missal – keep in mind that things were changing very rapidly in this period. Permission for more and more vernacular was coming gradually, and by 1967 there was permission for a completely vernacular Mass. I don’t know how much of that was already out there and influencing the survey respondents – we’d almost have to know the exact month of 1967 they were surveyed.

      1. No Catholic would ever suggest that all Masses with the people should be in the vernacular in consideration of session 22, canon 9 of the Council of Trent, clearly reaffirmed in Vatican II’s Constitution on the Liturgy (36 & 54). This poll was taken years before the advent of the existing order of mass and before the existing ICEL translation of the Roman Canon. The bishops were only sent ICEL’s (2nd) draft of EP I in1968. Their approval & Roman recognitio came later. This is also before any alternative EP’s were approved. It wasn’t until June 14,1971, that the Congregation for Divine Worship sent notice that Episcopal Conferences could allow the use of the vernacular in all the texts of the Mass.

        Here is a brief video of a Mass celebrated during the Vietnam war in the field (Sept. 1965). We don’t see the whole celebration but I noticed the position of the priest’s fingers, stole under the chasuble, & the maniple, clearly following the traditional rubrics in a way that might horrify some progressive legalists today: http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675067582_1st-Cavalry-Division_catholic-chaplain_soldiers-pray_stand-near-a-vehicle

      2. Daniel, it is important to note that the suppression of the rubric to join the canonical digits after the consecration appeared in the second instruction of the Consilium, Tres Abhinc Annos (1967). The chaplain was not only being a loyal soldier, but also a loyal priest who followed the rubrics of that year. The joining of the canonical digits at the Consecration is a beautiful custom that perhaps should be permitted again as an option. Still, I would not use the canonical digits as a wedge against the peri-conciliar reforms.

      3. The joining of the canonical digits at the Consecration is a beautiful custom that perhaps should be permitted again as an option

        Surely it’s not forbidden, is it?

        After the Consecration, the celebrant need not join thumb and forefinger; should any particle of the host have remained on his fingers, he rubs his fingers together over the paten. (Tres Abhinc Annos 12)

        Whenever a fragment of the host adheres to his fingers, especially after the fraction or the Communion of the faithful, the priest is to wipe his fingers over the paten or, if necessary, wash them. (GIRM 278)

        And so after rubbing/wiping them over the paten, there’s no reason he cannot keep them joined together, is there?

  2. Yes;

    This is still (maybe) a bit misleading. In 1967 things were very different than they were just a few years later.

    That “transitional Mass” was very different, and in many places (not all, but still in many) yes, communion was still given in the traditional way, Mass was said ad orientem, etc…

    This is interesting data as it indicates that “the people” did indeed want change. But the question remains whether the change they eventually got was the the change that they were saying they “wanted”. In other words, this doesn’t really show support for what we now know as the “reforms of Vatican II” as much as it does for the changes that were present in 1967.

    I can’t speak for all, but I think you would get a pretty positive response from many of the “ROTR” supporters about the 1965 interim Missal as well. There is also the issue that, at the time the survey was taken, many of these “open ended” questions (that’s the survey’s term, not mine) were essentially hypothetical, and the responses were somewhat skewed as the most apparent change – the use of the vernacular – overshadowed everything else. This seems to be the “change” that most respondents are talking about and they responded accordingly positive as would be expected… most people (even many “Traditionalists”) today support the use of the vernacular in the Mass, although not necessarily to the total exclusion of Latin.

  3. Mass in English, although it was still the Tridentine Mass, and facing the people were almost immediate in my childhood parish and very well accepted between 1965 to about 1970. I think most people were happy when the sisters went to a modified habit and a more humane lifestyle, but not so much when they went completely secular in clothing.
    I think it was the crumbling of our pre-Vatican II culture of prayer, spirituality and authority that really emerged in the very late 1960’s and well into the 1970’s that caused a great deal of confusion and pitted children of my generation and slightly older against our parents’ generation of authority, patriotism and fidelity. The collapse of a good catechesis also contributed to Catholics liking Catholic “lite” and rather wishy washy about beliefs. Of course guilt-trip homilies moved away from sex and personal morality to the larger issues of war and peace, racism and segregation. I think as many people were turned off by that as they were by Humane Vitae.

  4. In several different dioceses in different regions of the country in 1965 and 1966, I observed Mass as indicated in the “1965 Missal” linked above. In other words, a sacral English translation of the Tridentine Mass—much like that found on the English side in a traditional Latin-English missal–with the preparatory prayers at the foot of the altar simplified (by deletion of the Judica me psalm) and the final gospel eliminated, but with the overall Order of Mass, the offertory rite, and the Roman Canon (only) unchanged, aside from being in the vernacular.

    It was my impression then that a majority of Catholics of all sorts readily approved of the vernacular in what they still recognized as the Mass they’d grown up with, and therefore would have responded positively in any such poll as this, prior to experiencing perceptible changes in the nature or structure of the Mass itself. I was a “liturgy leader” in a vanguard parish, and don’t recall disenchantment surfacing until we began informally to introduce further “novus ordo like” changes (including alternative canons and folk songs in place of hymns) in late 1968 or early 1969.

    1. I still get a kick out of “a sacral English translation” being applied to what was the real source of the English-language texts for:

      (1) the Roman Missal 1964: the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Domine, non sum dignus were from the National Conference of Bishops, whose principal advisor in these matters, was the wonderful but later-much-maligned-by-Traddies Monsignor Fred McManus. The Introit, Gradual/Tract, Offertory and Communion verses were lifted right out of the (equally-much-maligned-by-Traddies) Confraternity edition of the Bible. The Scripture readings themselves were from the as-yet-unpublished (and, in the end, never-published because they were so colloquial) first draft of what six years later (1970) the New American Bible. Sample:
      Second Sunday of Advent: As the messengers were setting off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to see in the desert – a reed swayed by the wind? Really, what did you go out to see – someone luxuriously clad? Remember, those who dress luxuriously are to be found in royal palaces. Then why did you go out – to see a prophet? Of course it was! – in fact something more than a prophet.”
      Good Friday (Passion according to John): “What accusation do you bring against this man? [Pilate] demanded. “If this fellow were not a criminal,” they retorted, “we would certainly not have handed him over to you” . . . Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, of have others been telling you about me?” “I’m no Jew, am I?” Pilate retorted.

      (2) English-Latin Sacramentary (approved February 1966): English, Prayers over the Gifts, Postcommunions, Prefaces: from “The Maryknoll Missal” – the least traditional translation available (compared to: New Roman Missal of Father Lasance, Benziger Brothers; The Missal in Latin and English, Sheed & Ward). Exsultet: Dennis Fitzpatrick of FEL, publisher of Ray Repp’s folk Mass!

  5. Father,

    To clarify, I have a copy of this missal sitting here at my elbow. The bottom of the frontispiece reads:

    “New English Canon text ‘Copyright 1967 International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.’

    C 1966-1967 by Catholic Book Publishing Co., N.Y.”

    In other words, this is the complete, approved vernacular text in use in 1967.

    1. My recollection about the changes in the Mass are a bit blurry after the 1965 missal came about and the vernacular for the laity, but Latin for the priest’s quiet prayer including the canon. I know there was a later insert for the 1965 missal that included the Roman Canon in English and much like what we currently have as well as the three “new” Eucharistic prayers. This insert also had the newer rubrics for the various canons.
      When the 1970 missal was introduced in Advent of 1969 our pastor had some comments on it well before the implementation, but I still remember thinking what all the changes were since it seemed identical to what we were already doing prior to this new missal, except for the “solemn blessings” that our pastor spoke a great deal about. Are you saying there is a 1967 missal?

    2. Fr. McDonald, I still have my personal copy of the 1966-1967 missal that Jon references. The title page (in part):

      New … Saint Joseph
      Daily Missal and Hymnal

      The Official Prayers of the Celebration of Daily Mass

      In accordance with the New Revised Liturgy
      as directed by Vatican Council II

      Catholic Book Publishing Co.
      New York, NY

      The following Nihil Obstat / Imprimatur (Card. Terence J. Cooke) page references 1966 copyrights and approval by the National Catholic Welfare Conference.

      This particular missal was published and distributed in large volume. Its introductory material gives the impression that it was the final definitive product of Vatican II, and it was accepted as such (albeit briefly, as it turned out).

      I think that many who grew up with the vernacular OF but now attend the EF Mass—accepting Latin as a price to be paid for the reverence and sacrality not found in the OF Mass—would be happy with the so-called “1965 missal”. (It should be clarified that the Vatican issued only a 1965 Ordo Missae, and not a complete typical edition of the Roman Missal.)

  6. Only 1.7% thought the changes weren’t going far enough.

    Yet it’s they who’ve had the upper hand these past 40+ years. It’s a funny old world.

      1. Fritz!

        I hope you’re not suggesting what I think you’re suggesting!

        Let’s just set the record straight: the received wisdom (by many people who haunt this blog anyway) is that thousands fell away from the practice of the faith because of (1) Vatican II; (2) rubrical changes; (3) vernacular texts; (4) the loss of the maniple and, more tragically, the cappa magna; (5) ICEL and (6) clown Masses.

        Humanae Vitae, clericalism, education, social changes and anything else that doesn’t fit the above agenda had nothing to do with it!

      2. Chris,

        The caricature you draw of those with whom you disagree is unfortunate and represents one reason why dialog with progressives is so difficult. Clericalism, poor religious education, and changes in the Catholic culture brought about by a new calender most certainly represent aspects of the pastoral disaster that followed the most recent ecumenical council. But, as V2 asserts, the liturgy is the “source & summit” of the Christian life. The more liturgical ones’ piety was before the introduction of the post conciliar missal the more one risked being disaffected by its poor implementation. To imagine otherwise is to misunderstand the role that the liturgy has in Christian living IMHO.

  7. I graduated from college in 1969. The new eucharistic prayers in the vernacular came out during my senior year. I find it fascinating that this has become history and so few remember it. The mythologizing of the pre-Vatican II worship is not something I could have anticipated.
    Novena attendance was already way down in high school. Forty Hours was neglected by the parishioners and our parish priests were scandalized. People left in droves at Holy Communion. The high Mass, sung rather well in my parish, was so resented that our pastor had to move the time of the Mass around so nobody would boycott it.
    The surveys cited indicated that the changes were welcome. Trying to chop up the exact reactions to an exact point when a particular change came through only means that something that was central to my life is now nearly unrecoverable. Very humbling. Am I that old?

  8. Fritz Bauerschmidt :I wonder what that figure looked like after Humanae Vitae?

    Trying to isolate the liturgical element among departed Catholics may be hopeless. We continue to encounter the “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” fallacy.

    There is Humanae Vitae.
    There is the increase in higher education among US RCs which leads to more questioning and less automatic deferral to authorities.
    This is not too long after Divinu Afflante Spiritu.
    Following the teen years of the Boomers there was a drop in numbers if not percentage of vocations.
    Then there is the destruction of neighborhoods by the automobile providing mobility and the highways providing demolition and dividers.
    There is the class warfare associated with the Civil Rights movement, followed and imitated and exacerbated by the VN protests.
    There were prominent assassinations.
    There was the movement from cities to suburbia.
    There was the energy and excitement of the space race.

    In the US these are nearly contemporaneous with V2 and the opening of the Tridentine fortress church. How many RCs left because they were inclined to go previously but were now no longer pounded with the idea that Protestants were damned?

    Trying to blame the exodus on some particular step in the evolution of the RM is like trying to blame a burst dam on a particular flushed toilet. There has just been too much going on in a church which previously gave the impression that nothing changed.

    If I were to pick the most important of many things which injured US Catholicism, it would be the failure of bishops to continually teach instead of legislate and administer institutions.

    1. I have always viewed this as an important context to keep in mind. I have often wondered what would have happened had the 1950s Catholic Church collided with the cultural change and revolution of the mid-late 1960s without the intervention of the Second Vatican Council. I believe that it would have disastrous. I believe that the Second Vatican Council was truly a move of the Holy Spirit, anticipating the vast changes that were on the horizon and allowed the Catholic Church to handle them more effectively.

    2. Tom,

      The “increased education” comment you made above runs contrary to one often heard objection to the new translation where opponents suggest that the words are too difficult – i.e. “consubstantial”.
      The non-liturgical elements you include focus on the USA including the assassinations, the space race, the highway building programs, and the civil rights movement. Some of these can be discounted as causes of the pastoral disaster following the implementation of the new RM in 1970 together with its ICEL translation because the pastoral problems also developed outside the USA in places without large-scale highway building, without a civil rights movement and with little interest in the space race. Again, it is in those places where the liturgical renewal was anticipated and implemented with the most zeal that we see the most rapid decline: e. g. certain religious communities and particular dioceses.

    3. Add to your list –

      a drop in the number of female religious just as the Woman’s Liberation Movement really hit and there were more economic opportunities for women

      a drop in enrollment in Catholic Schools in the US as anti-catholic sentiment waned.

      1. most definitely include these.

        The wider availability of other educational opportunities to Catholics is most important. It seems to have been fall out from the GI Bill.

        In the 1950s few women went to college.

        I have heard many women who were girls in that decade say that it seemed to them that they had only three choices: mommy, nurse, or nun. Once choices opened, the number of nuns dropped. Once nuns got better educations, they created more choices. Snowball effect set in even without individuals participating in liberation or feminist movements consciously.

      2. Oh, women’s opportunities were broader than that, Tom! They could be teachers, too. Not of math or science higher than elementary school, or technical courses, but they could be teachers.

    4. You forgot to include the destruction of neighbourly intercourse by the invention of the television.

      1. Yes, TV needs to accept its share of the blame.

        This raises a good question, “Has the change from in person entertainment to technically transferred entertainment changed anything important enough in human communication that the church needs to take the change into account in its liturgy?”

        Movies, Radio, TV, Internet, Cable, etc. included

    5. Tom P: “Trying to blame the exodus on some particular step in the evolution of the RM is like trying to blame a burst dam on a particular flushed toilet. There has just been too much going on in a church which previously gave the impression that nothing changed. ”

      Well put! And thank you for saying what I’ve been trying for a long time to figure out how to articulate.

  9. We traditional Catholics should be glad for this poll! As Halbert Weidner pointed out earlier, the peri-conciliar changes were welcomed by those who did not find fulfillment in the Tridentine rites. Sometimes it is said that the best thing that has ever happened to the Tridentine Mass is the Novus Ordo. The Extraordinary Form is now freed to be celebrated in solemnity and without haste by those who derive spiritual and aesthetic benefit from the older liturgy. Those who found Latin Mass incomprehensible or spiritually unedifying now have the option of the vernacular liturgy. There is no use, then, in forcing the EF on those for whom the OF has been a great blessing. Denigration of the OF is, in some respects, the denigration of those who are enlightened and filled with the grace of the Mass through the reformed liturgy of the Roman rite.

    Might I suggest that the cultivation of mutual respect between the OF and EF communities might coax traditional Catholics out of their instinctive mistrust of the post-conciliar liturgy. One would also hope that a traditional Catholic respect for the OF would engender OF tolerance of the EF.

      1. Yes, if every “traditional Catholic” wrote comments as sane and balanced as Jordan’s, the conversation would be far, far better.

        Thanks, Jordan. I appreciate your posts a lot.

    1. The obverse of this needs remembrance, however.

      Forcing the OF on those who find the EF a great blessing is also a great injustice and an occasion for deep suffering. The traditional lay-faithful who have been denied (and continue to be denied) the EF, often starve spiritually. Still, we must all keep in mind the socio-cultural circumstances in which we are placed. Sometimes, we do not get “what we want” liturgically for significant reasons that are well beyond our control.

      I now wander a Quebec which no longer esteems Catholicism. The often irreverent and perfunctory celebration of Mass here betrays the pain of a former political regime which used the (EF) Mass as a means of socio-political domination rather than sanctification. The suppression of the EF here relieves the memory of oppression.

      How glad this New Englander should be to not only have the privilege to worship in the joy of the more ancient rites when visiting my homeland, but also the continuous freedom for these rites to flourish! The suppression of the EF in Quebec speaks of deeper wounds. Throughout, I must remember that I worship the Lord and receive the grace of the sacrament even in the most indifferent and even hostile of circumstances.

      Still, I’d give anything to hear a devoutly said Low Mass.

      1. Still sounding sane.

        I would not give everything to participate in a devoutly prayed Low Mass, but I think I could get a lot of good out of it a few times a year. Note that I said participate, though, because if I just had to attend and not join in the prayers I once memorized as a server, I do not think I would be engaged. My best memories, maybe my only positive memories of Low Masses are as a server.

      2. Jordan wrote: “The often irreverent and perfunctory celebration of Mass here betrays the pain of a former political regime which used the (EF) Mass as a means of socio-political domination rather than sanctification. ”

        In my experience, perfunctory is the perfect description of preconciliar liturgy. This is why some referred to “service station” spirituality, but it was likely as prominent, if not more so, in clergy than in laity. Mass was something to be done, even if in assembly line fashion. This is opposed to the participation in current EF celebrations.

        More importantly, “socio-political domination” is the context for understanding Vatican II. The bishops at the Council had lived through WW2, and were dealing with the destruction and devastation that was left behind in Europe. The Church’s association with the Holy Roman Empire was problematic in a world that had just fought against the Third Reich. In the Third World, European Imperialism was the big bogeyman. The changes in the US that Tom listed in an earlier note are milder forms of that upheaval, eg the US highway system was built to unite a big country while Europeans were rebuilding a bombed out infrastructure.

      3. Which came first – the lost of esteem for Catholicism, the perfunctory celebration of Mass, did they feed off each other or were both tied to other factors?

      4. #31 by Brigid Rauch on April 16, 2011 – 12:49 pm

        Brigid, before the 1960’s Quebec was under an “elected dictatorship” (Maurice Duplessis) for a few decades. Duplessis’s government had very strong ties with the Church that were exploited for political gain (e.g. priests stumped for Duplessis’ party during sermons). Also, the Church dominated education and public services. The immense power of the Church in Quebecois life in part contributed to an secular revolution in the 1960’s, the Révolution tranquille (Quiet Revolution). The Quebecois rejection of the Duplessis regime and the election of secular governments resulted in a crisis of faith. Today, few Quebecois are observant Catholics. I suspect that this decline in practice directly reflects the legacy of the collusion between government and the clerical hierarchy. I do hope that a Canadian or Quebecois reader can correct this American ex-pat’s simple grasp of history.

        In my experience, post-Christian Quebec has divorced liturgy from the fabric of society. Catholic liturgy no longer occupies a unique position in everyday life. I suspect that many priests try to accommodate secularity by offering improv commentary or ad libitum prayer. The Mass has become secularized simply because there is no longer any concept of sacred time and space. No liturgy, OF or EF, can prosper in a society which cannot maintain a healthy integration of faith expression and mundane expression. If a community cannot distinguish the liturgical sphere from the secular sphere, then there is little chance for reverence.

    2. I agree with the comments here. Anyone who suggests that V2 in general and the Constitution on the Liturgy in particular, has not affected the EF is mistaken IMO. I also believe that many specific directives of V2’s liturgical constitution have been most regularly implemented in today’s EF but not in most celebrations of the OF. These include SC #22 (no one messes with the rubrics of the EF), #23 (rubrical and text changes have been made to the EF but extremely sparingly and only with the greatest care-recall the recent changes to the Good Friday prayers), #28 (in the EF we do not see the irregular blurring of roles that still takes place in the OF on occasion), #29 (decorum & sincere piety is normative with the EF), #30 (visible participation by the people is common in today’s EF celebrations-dialog Masses are widespread), #32 (implemented in the EF too), #34 (double confiteor already removed), #35 (sermons are quite common in EF celebrations today), #36 (Latin is widely used in the EF and places are allotted to the vernacular as well), #37 (we see particular customs implemented into the EF in the various countries), #38 (we see diversity from place to place in the EF), #39 (again – we see this diversity from place to place in the EF too), #48 (EF parishes and celebrations are largely made up of people who demonstrate sincere devotion), #52 (homilies are now typical in EF celebrations too), #54 Latin is (only regularly implemented in a large scale way in the EF in my experience), #56 (the people at the EF typically see the Mass as a unified whole and assist devoutly throughout), #112 (the musical tradition of the Church is highly valued by EF faithful), #113 (solemn worship with music and song & the Latin language is typical in many EF parishes/monasteries, #114 (the treasure of sacred music is certainly preserved in EF communities), #116 (Gregorian chant – enough said), #117 (ditto) #120 (the pipe organ is highly valued in the EF parishes)….

  10. If all was well with every change that made it into the new Missal of 1970, then why has our Holy Father authorized the use of only the 1962 Missal, Why not the interim Missals of 65 and 67 ? Maybe some of those changes in hindsight and their effects are being studied greatly. The Ordo Missae of 1965 in my printed book says The Mass of Vat II..How many times can the Mass of Vat II be changed, chopped, and pruned before people start to question with each new Missal they have to buy what the Mass of Vat II really is supposed to look like or be celebrated. Although I personally like the 65 I am starting to think the Pope may not or may think it is not the organic outgrowth of the 62 Missal. Obviously he thinks there is a wealth of organic growth that seems to have stopped any time after that. Otherwise why not allow the 65 or 67 interim Missals? Few could argue that they are closer to the Missal of 1970. Perhaps everything during that period is under intense scrutiny that few of us have knowledge of.

    1. I think one of the reasons is that the reforms of the 1962 missal were not completed in the ’65 and ’67 missals: they are/were interim, as you say. Another question is, WHICH interim missal should he have chosen, and why?

      (The same question is raised, in the other direction, by those who disapprove of pre-Vatican II reforms. Is 1961 “pure”? Must we go back to 1951? How about Pius X’s breviary reforms…?)

      I think Pope Benedict chose the 1962 Missal because that’s what the indults were for and that’s what the Vatican II reforms took as their starting point.

      1. 1962 was really the last totally Roman Missal, in the sense that after that, the various Conferences of Bishops (either regional, national or language groups) got to make a whole lot of decisions about what went in, what changed etc.

        And they were doing different things in different places (Australia, for instance, went totally vernacular – except for the Canon – a few years before the USA, which still had the Collect, Secret, Postcommunion and Preface in Latin.)

        So, I think it’s a question of control.

        Of course, there’s also the other side of the same coin, which is that the current Pope chose 1962 because that’s what the schismatic Lefebvrists asked him to choose.

    2. Right you are, Mitch! Those mystic geniuses that gave us the Vox Clara-Ward-Moroney-Pell Missal of 2011, and whose command of English puts us all in our place, are obviously so much smarter than everyone else and are working on new wonders even as we speak!

  11. I think the best solution is to have two forms of the same missal whether in Latin or the vernacular or a mixture of both languages. By that I mean, for example, the 2011 new English Missal with either the Ordinary Form (order) of the Mass or the Extraordinary form (order) of the Mass. That way you keep the revised calendar, lectionary, prefaces, and prayers. You could even keep the newer Eucharistic prayers just add the older rubrics.

  12. Daniel McKernan :

    “… Clericalism, poor religious education, and changes in the Catholic culture brought about by a new calender most certainly represent aspects of the pastoral disaster that followed the most recent ecumenical council.”

    “… The more liturgical ones’ piety was before the introduction of the post conciliar missal the more one risked being disaffected by its poor implementation. To imagine otherwise is to misunderstand the role that the liturgy has in Christian living IMHO.”

    1. Am I correct to infer that you are claiming that clericalism was one of the bad effects of V2?

    I doubt that the changes in the calendar brought about much change in Catholic culture, but I am open to reading a description of how this might be so.

    2. I am dubious that many people had a liturgical piety before V2. Many devout Catholics attended Mass regularly but their piety was devotional rather than liturgical, praying from their prayer books or saying their beads. Even these were less than or barely a majority, from my observations in numerous parishes. Many Catholics attending Mass under threat mortal sin were present in body but not in mind or spirit, they were daydreaming or otherwise distracted, or they were dozing.

    1. Yes, clericalism is rife after Vatican II and can be said to have grown more extensive. Clericalism posits an ecclesiastical caste system in which clerics, paid lay ministers, & other Church professionals comprise the dominant elite, with average lay people serving as a passive, inert mass of drones tasked with doing what they’re told. It was clericalism, both by those in holy orders and their lay confreres/bureaucrats who drove the implementation of the conciliar renewal, that renovated our churches, dabbled in iconoclasm, banished our traditional music (contrary to the letter of SC), and foisted upon us a banal ICEL translation. The majority of laity were not initiated into the new bureaucracy and were promptly corrected whenever they questioned/complained and many were labeled as “fundamentalists”.

      The changes in the calendar had a dramatic impact on the Catholic culture. Traditional saints and familiar name days were gone. Those who already lived the liturgy and knew its rhythms were most affected by this. The traditional twelve days of Christmas were complicated further when some jurisdictions moved the Epiphany to a Sunday. Now we even see Ascension Thursday Sunday.
      Tom – I think you paint with a broad brush when you presume what people’s piety was before 1965. In our religion there is much intersection between the devotional and liturgical anyway. Hand missals and dialog Masses were very popular before the advent of the new order of Mass. It is also possible to overstate the extent of truly liturgical piety today. The presumption that a pope with the mandate of an ecumenical council can go so far as to remake a received calendar or an order of Mass is a cause for concern. The present Holy Father has made note of this himself.

      1. To begin, I think you have listed effects of church bureaucracy which you experienced. However, it is an unusual definition of clericalism you have given with so many offenders not being clerics. It seems that you think the bureaucracy went wild, but I do not think that indicates that clericalism itself increased after V2.

        I sympathyze with your pain, but I disagree with that pain having been experienced by any but a tiny minority. In that sense, I think it is you who paints with a broad brush.

        I was conscious of hand missals and dialog Masses when I wrote, but note that this is the first time I have ever heard anyone who speaks fondly of the pre-Vatican II era even mention those positive foreshadowings of the changes to come. They had a good deal to do with why the changes were so well received by so many. One led to the vernacular and the other toward full, conscious, and active participation.

        My memory of the calendar changes is that most did not find them very bothersome. There was a lot of humor over displaced myths and some disappointment that previous devotions were no longer appropriate. You are the first person I have ever heard complain about it except for the Epiphany/12 Days of Christmas issue.

        I make no great claims for true liturgical piety today. You are the person who raised the topic, but only in the past tense.

        I have no idea what you are discussing in your last two sentences.

      2. I was conscious of hand missals and dialog Masses when I wrote, but note that this is the first time I have ever heard anyone who speaks fondly of the pre-Vatican II era even mention those positive foreshadowings of the changes to come. … You are the first person I have ever heard complain about it except for the Epiphany/12 Days of Christmas issue.

        This says something about the breadth of your experience and almost nothing about whether people did complain about the changes or favor hand missals or dialog Masses.

  13. “31% thought it was watering down distinctiveness”

    I found this an interesting little number. This is only a little less than one-third. It may be less than 50% (that number which democratic societies seem to seem to see as the threshold for “voting”), but this is a telling number.

    I’m a child of post-Vatican II, having graduated last year from college with a degree in theology, and so have known little else but the Novus Ordo. Thus I’m not able to discuss all of the varied sociological and cultural issues of the time from a experiential standpoint. What I can speak about is the effect of my generation.

    Most my age don’t see much difference between the Mass and what Joel Olsteen does besides chasubles and crucifixes. Any discussion about the differences inevitably leads to comments such as “If that works for you…” To experience Mass as something unique, as the something which brings about sanctification, is often a herculean effort of intense reflection or an emotional effect of Masses akin to the LifeTeen phenomena (where my own changes began). The intense reflection tend to turn off many and the emotional effects tend for a precarious faith, especially when one leaves one’s LifeTeen parish where those emotional bonds were formed.

    31% felt a watering down of distinctiveness. Vatican II needed to happen (to open up the fortress of theological manualism if nothing else), but one has to wonder if the Mass that come from the post-conciliar period did not develop out of but ruptured from the past.

    The fact that the Novus Ordo is almost unrecognizable compared to the Eastern Rites is also somewhat unsettling. Especially when Orthodox faithful have been known to shout at Bishops during Liturgy or storm their offices when they feel their faith is being “watered down.”

  14. Samuel J. Howard :

    This says something about the breadth of your experience and almost nothing about whether people did complain about the changes or favor hand missals or dialog Masses.

    If you have nothing nice to say you should say nothing at all.

    You know nothing about the breadth of my experience.

    You are drawing a conclusion based on an unproved assumption that you have broader experience.
    You have never demonstrated that, so your comment amounts to mere name calling. It is rude and irrelevant.

    1. You know nothing about the breadth of my experience.

      Actually, I do. You said:

      was conscious of hand missals and dialog Masses when I wrote, but note that this is the first time I have ever heard anyone who speaks fondly of the pre-Vatican II era even mention those positive foreshadowings of the changes to come.

      If this is true, you never heard anyone mention these things, you don’t have very much experience with people who speak positively about the pre-Vatican II era, because, there are lots of people who speak positively about these things.

      You wrote that Daniel was “the first person I have ever heard complain about [the calendar changes] except for the Epiphany/12 Days of Christmas issue.”

      Again, if this is true, if you’ve never heard people complain about e.g. the elimination of Septuagesima? You haven’t been listening to part of the ongoing conversation, which goes as far back as Bugnini and Paul VI.

      1. “Again, if this is true, if you’ve never heard people complain about e.g. the elimination of Septuagesima? ”

        The campaign to bring back Septuagesima will surely re-evangelise the world. Sounds more like obscurantism than anything else.

        It reminds me of those who tithed mint, dill and cumin while neglecting the weightier matters of the Torah, namely, justice, mercy and faithfulness.

        It’s a matter of priorities.

      2. How small is that part of the conversation?
        How few involved?
        How often do those few mention these two things?
        How often have they been mentioned on PT?

        I still think you dragged in an irrelevant insult.

        My honesty is being punished with your calumny.

    2. Tom, with all due respect, people are saying things that aren’t nice all day long on this blog, so telling Samuel to keep quiet if he doesn’t have something nice to say is to hold him to a standard to which we don’t hold others.

      Also, your description of his comment as “mere name calling” is just plain unfair. He never called you by any name. Also, I fail to detect any calumny against you in what he has said.

      Finally, is it not rude for someone to say that another person’s comment reflects a narrow experience. Nor is it, strictly speaking, an insult. It’s an assertion, like any other, that may be true or false. I am sure that Samuel is not desirous of offending you, because I know him. He tends to state his points strongly and rather bluntly, but then, so have you in the comment above. And I would be very surprised if you are doing so out of a desire to offend either.

      I would suggest that the discussion might best continue without further acrimony by regarding it as a discussion of issues. EVERYONE’S EXPERIENCE SHOULD BE HEARD. But rarely is anyone’s experience exhaustive. Thus we need to practice patience and tolerance.

      Samuel ought not to dismiss Tom’s experience, and neither should Tom dismiss Samuel’s.

      Thank you to both Tom and Sam, for hanging in there through a clash of perspectives. You both bring something valuable to the blog.

  15. Gerard Flynn :

    It reminds me of those who tithed mint, dill and cumin while neglecting the weightier matters of the Torah, namely, justice, mercy and faithfulness.
    It’s a matter of priorities.

    People can debate whether or not Septuagesima should be added back to the calendar while still paying attention to weightier issues. Most people have the ability to do more than one thing at one time.

    I think it should be added back as a liturgical season (After all, some liberal mainline Protestants still use it, and it aligns with the similar pre-Lent seasons of the Eastern Catholics and Orthodox), though perhaps not in the same manner as it existed prior to the calendar reforms. I guess that means I don’t care about Justice or any higher priorities.

  16. Jack Wayne, what considerations should be taken into account in any calendar reform?

    Is there any value in going back to original understandings of seasons rather than keeping them as they later evolved?

    We can probably agree that the terminology “ordinary time” has been a less than successful change.

  17. The Church of the 40s, 50s or 60s, in spite of any sentimental attachments we may have, was not sustainable. And I believe that our Good Lord gave us the intelligence to create change. I for one was thrilled by the changes. I was happy for the sisters in more modern habits, I was thrilled for the vernacular, I was too young to understand but I now know that the translations sought to reach me… and other young people like me. My father was the first “lector” at my church… We risk so much with this. The translation is highly inadequate enough on its own, but the backroom, top down, “my way or the highway” approach will surely drive yet more people away. It’s as much the culture of the Church’s leadership, as the translation per se, that is at issue … though both are really problematic.

    Let’s focus on good preaching. Let’s focus on giving kids in their 20s or 30s reason to come to church. Let’s be known for our warmth, not intimidation. I know too many young priests who are hawkish in their approach to their congregations… is this really what we want? I have seen too many prelates take a hard line on this topic after making such bad choices on others. Please understand… I am not a cranky complainer… i spent years defending the Church … and if I am fearful for the Church’s future, well we’re in a bad place… No… if need be, have one version of the missal for those who crave the old ways, but for those of us who don’t want grandiose, formal, formulaic (as someone said “costume drama”) language, it’s time to allow the retention of the current missal as an option… Mark Twain wrote that it takes two to tell the truth… one to speak it and one to hear it… I hope the bishops and priests are listening … I sincerely fear that they are not and will not… how did they become so indifferent to their people?

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