The revolutionary Spirit of Vatican II (Part 2)-A A +A
The Living Spirit
Saturday, September 8, 2012
AFTER Vatican II, the People of God all over the world became the Catholic Church. That was the big change that the Council introduced. The process of self-awareness of the People of God had started.
Another revolutionary change took place in the liturgy of the Church. The Holy Mass became the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the Eucharist was not only seen as a remembrance of the sacrifice of the Cross but also as a remembrance of the Last Supper.
The Holy Mass is a community celebration of a meal. In celebrating the Mass, the officiating priest is instructed to face the congregation and to use the vernacular instead of Latin.
When I came to the Philippines 50 years ago, I was still trained as a priest to say the Mass in Latin and I was not facing the people but facing the wall. In the parish where I had my first assignment, we had an old Spanish church. Many people were sitting behind pillars and couldn’t see the priest on the altar. I was able to build a new church in the shape of a half moon so all the people were sitting around the altar and the Mass became a real community celebration. Everybody could understand in his own language what the priest was saying. We had to translate the text of the liturgy from Latin to Bisaya. That was not an easy job for us foreigners.
In many other places, the Mass was said in English but that was against the instruction of Rome for the Filipino, English is a foreign language, Bisaya is the vernacular. The vernacular expresses the culture of a people and that is important for the celebration of the sacraments. I remember somebody once telling me that he preferred to go to an English Mass because, he said, he didn’t feel at home with a Bisayan Mass. How could he say that? This only shows how much the people have become estranged from the real meaning of the liturgy. For a good participation of the people in the Mass, you have to use a language which they easily can understand.
Another renewal was introduced for the celebration of the sacrament of matrimony. It is not the priest who gives the sacrament to the couple but it is the couple themselves who give this sacrament to each other. The priest is only a witness like the sponsors are witnesses. The union between the bride and the groom is compared to the union that exists between Christ and his Church, a union of Love. The marital act is seen as an act of love through which procreation takes place and new human life is born. In this perspective it makes sense to speak of responsible parenthood but also of reproductive health. Man is soul and body, both are sacred and should be given due respect.
After the Vatican Council in 1968, Pope Paul VI promulgated the encyclical Humanae Vitae. These two words mean human life. The encyclical speaks about human life. This encyclical is highly controversial. The Pope had created a study commission composed of prominent theologians and lay people.
It is a known fact that this commission didn’t reach a consensus regarding the use of contraceptives, natural or artificial. In spite of this controversy, Paul VI issued an encyclical which said no to artificial birth control and the use of contraceptives.
Up to this day, it is still very much under discussion when exactly conception takes place and a human being is conceived. Clearly there is no consensus among the clergy on this issue. Again, the Church must listen with an open mind and ear to the People of God, who have many different opinions on this matter. After all, the encyclical is not a dogma.
I agree with our Archbishop, Tony Ledesma, who is strongly in favor of the natural method of family planning. I believe that it is still the best method, ideally speaking, but realistically speaking, this method cannot always be applied in all circumstances of life. (To be continued)
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 09, 2012.