The Council in Action: Theological Reflections on the Second Vatican Council

By Hans Kung; Cecily Hastings | Go to book overview

7 Liturgical Reform in the Light of History

present-day reform of the Mass

ONE OF THE TASKS before the Second Vatican Council is that of the renewal of worship and the liturgy. This is a task of great moment in the history of the Church. What the present council has to decide in this respect will be no less important for the Church and for Christianity as a whole than the decisions regarding liturgical reform which faced the Council of Trent after the decline of the late Middle Ages. It is precisely for this reason that it is extremely important for us to examine the historical background, since it is only when they are viewed in this perspective that the decisions confronting the present council can be properly understood and evaluated. All the same, it is quite likely that the opinion may be voiced, both in the Council and perhaps afterwards, too, in many dioceses and parishes, that the Council's proposed liturgical renewal is in fact no more than a series of innovations which are in direct contradiction to the good old Catholic tradition. There are, alas, far too many people who, because of a basic lack of knowledge, see the "old tradition" as one and the same thing as what happened in their younger days, although, in comparison with the 2000-year-old history of the Church and her liturgy, those younger days are young indeed! Such people, however, proceed very easily from this assumption to make those three odd-sounding statements by which -- once again, because of lack of knowledge and sometimes even for

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