II and the Traditionalist Mass
I am confused. What was Vatican II all about? Why all
the changes? Were they made by the pope or just the American bishops? Is the Latin traditional
Mass still acceptable? Did the pope give his blessing for traditional Catholics to attend
the traditional Mass? What is the Society of St. Pius X?
For starters, I can offer a few short articles that explain the meaning and impact of
the Second Vatican Council. The Catholic Update, Vatican II: The Vision
Lives On, and Youth Update, Vatican II: Whats It To You? are
available from here at St. Anthony Messenger Press for $1.00 each. The reasons for the
Council should be clear in those Updates. The Council consisted of bishops from
all over the world acting together with the pope. Therefore, Vatican IIs decisions
were decisions of the worldwide Church.
When Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre would not accept the decisions of the Council, he finally
led a group of like-minded followers into schism. He founded the Society of St. Pius
X. Those who continued in the Society of St. Pius X separated themselves from Rome.
Whatever rationalizations or convoluted reasoning they used, they are not in union with
Rome and the Holy Father. Pope John Paul II has made that abundantly clear.
Some followers of Lefebvre were unwilling to follow him into schism. They established
the Priestly Society of St. Peter. They are conservative in matters of liturgy and religious
practice. They are, however, in union with Rome and accept the authority of the pope.
Part of the Lefebvre conflict has been over the use of the Roman Missal, approved and
published by Pope Pius V after the 16th-century Council of Trent. That missal was, of
course, in Latin. With some changes and modifications that missal continued in use until
after Vatican II. The rite in that missal is often called the Tridentine Mass.
After Vatican II came permission for the use of the vernacular (in our case English)
in celebrating the liturgy. In 1970 the new Sacramentary and Novus Ordo (New Order
of Mass), based on the decisions of Vatican II regarding the Mass, were put into use.
To identify the Latin Mass with the Tridentine Mass, though, is not quite correct. Latin
may be used in celebrating Mass according to the New Order, and a Latin text for the
ordinary prayers and eucharistic prayers can be found in Appendix IV of our English Sacramentary.
As I understand it, the Society of St. Pius X and those of the Lefebvrite school insist
on the celebration of Mass according to the pre-Vatican II Tridentine Missal, in Latin.
The literature of one of these groups suggests that the use of the New Order may result
in invalid Masses.
For the sake of some people attached to the Tridentine Mass, near the end of the 1980s
the Holy See allowed the bishops to permit the use of the Tridentine Rite under certain
conditions. Among those conditions were that celebrants would follow the latest edition
of the old Roman Missal published in 1962.
Also, those who petition for this permission must have no ties with groups that call
into doubt the lawfulness and doctrinal soundness of the form of Mass approved by Pope
Paul VI in 1969.
Regarding your question about Catholic beliefs, the basic doctrines of the Church cannot
and do not change. But surely the Church and papacy have seen any number of changes over
the centuries. Any good history of the Church will show that.
After all, even the Tridentine Mass differs in language and rites from the way the Eucharist
was celebrated in New Testament times before the fourth-century introduction of church
buildings. The appearance of the first Code of Canon Law in 1917 and the revised Code
in 1983 testify to changing laws as changes in society and cultures take place.
Should I Provide for Burial?
Being the last survivors of our small family, my sister
and I have decided to donate our bodies to science. That means cremation.
When bodies are donated to science, it may be some time before they are cremated. What
should follow the use of our bodies and cremation?
I think you could say that the policies and procedures for Church burial or entombment
of cremation remains have been evolving since 1962, when the Church began allowing cremation
under certain conditions.
The U.S. bishops recently received permission from Rome to permit a funeral Mass to
be celebrated in the presence of cremated remains. It will be up to individual bishops
whether or not to permit the practice in their dioceses.
Until new ritual prayers are approved and distributedpossibly by the end of this
yearthe expectation in all dioceses is that the body of a deceased be brought to
Church for a funeral Mass before cremation takes place. Or, if that is not possible,
a memorial Mass be celebrated with no remains present.
There is also a clear expectation that after cremation takes place the remains will
be buried in consecrated ground or entombed in a Catholic cemetery. In the case of cremation
some dioceses have their own rules and procedures that are to be followed. I would therefore
suggest you contact the chancery office of your diocese about what is to be done in the
case of donating your body to science and the cremation to follow.
In the Guidelines for Christian Burial in the Catholic Church, prepared by the
Liturgy Advisory Committee of the National Catholic Cemetery Conference, there is consideration
of cremation and special cases. In the case of donating a body to science the guidelines
say: In keeping with Christian respect for the body when it is possible and practical
there should be reasonable assurance that the remains will be disposed of in a proper,
reverent and dignified manner upon completion of scientific research. Under these circumstances
when the body is not embalmed, a vigil or a funeral Mass is usually impossible. The family
should be urged to schedule the celebration of a Mass for the dead as soon after death
as practical. The Mass texts should be those of the funeral Mass. The rite of committal
is celebrated whenever interment takes place.
In the absence of any directives from your diocese, then, I would suggest: 1) An agreement
with the scientific institution to which you wish to will your body that your remains
will be treated with proper respect and after cremation will be delivered to an executor
or undertaker of your choice for burial or entombment. 2) An arrangement beforehand with
your estate executor or a funeral director that a funeral Mass or memorial Mass be celebrated
soon after your death. 3) An agreement with your executor or a funeral director to take
possession of your remains and see to their burial or entombment in consecrated ground
or a structure for cremation remains in a Catholic cemetery. At that time a committal
ceremony could take place.
Is an Agnus Dei?
Recently an older member of our congregation presented my wife and me with an Agnus
Dei locket as a token of appreciation for the wonderful music we provided at the Christmas
liturgy. The locket is about the size of a dime, heart-shaped and opens to reveal a
spatter of wax.
Inscribed on the front are the words Agnus Dei, and on the back is a cross
with rays radiating from its center. He indicated there was quite a story associated
with the locket that included the pope and a candle which is lighted once every seven
years. Do you know what the story is, and the significance behind this locket?
You can find information concerning the Agnus Dei in A Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals,
by Ann Ball (Our Sunday Visitor Press).
According to Ms. Ball, Agnus Deis are small discs of wax taken from the Paschal Candle
and blessed by the pope on the Wednesday of Holy Week in the first year of his pontificate
and every seventh year following.
On one side of the disc is stamped the figure of a lamb representing Christ the paschal
lamb sacrificed for our redemption.
The Agnus Dei is frequently encased in leather or silk and sometimes surrounded by lace
and fancy embroidery.
The ceremony of blessing takes place after the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) of the Mass.
In the ceremony the pope dips the wax discs in a mixture of water, balsam and chrism.
When the pope blesses the Agnus Dei, he prays for protection from fire, flood, storms
and plagues and for safety in childbirth.
Ms. Ball further tells us that packets of Agnus Deis are placed in the miters of cardinals
and bishops who come for them the Saturday of Easter Week.
and the Snake
During an illness I was gifted with two statues of the Blessed Virgin (Our Lady of
the Miraculous Medal?). They portray Mary stepping on a snake. Why is she stepping
on a snake and what does it mean?
Around 1830 St. Catherine Labouré received a vision of the Blessed Virgin and
was told to have a medal struck. On the front of the medal was to be the figure of Mary
standing atop a globe representing the earth. And she was to be shown crushing the head
of a serpent with her feet.
From Marys hands were to appear rays of light representing grace. Around the rim
of the medal were to be the words, O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who
have recourse to thee. On the reverse side of the medal would be a cross surmounting
the letter M and the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary. The medal was made and because
of the miracles associated with it has come to be known as the Miraculous Medal.
I do not know of a statue that is called the Miraculous Medal statue. But in the catalogs
of religious articles, you will find statues called Our Lady of Grace. They picture Mary
standing on a globe with a serpent beneath her feet.
These statues (and the Miraculous Medal) associate Mary with the woman in Chapter 3
of Genesis and the woman clothed with the sun in Chapter 12 of Revelation. Genesis 3:14-16
contains the words of God condemning the serpent for leading Eve and Adam into sin. There
God pronounces he will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring
and hers. He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.
Chapter 12 of Revelation speaks of the woman clothed with the sun whose son the dragon
seeks to devour. In both instances the serpent or snake represents the devil and evil.
Both passages are applied to Mary as the woman whose offspring will conquer Satan.
About a St. Monica Novena
Thanks to all of you who flooded the Wise Man with novena prayers to St. Monica! I finally
gave up trying to thank you all with personal letters.
A St. Monica novena leaflet is published by Franciscan Mission Associates, 274-280 West
Lincoln Avenue, P.O. Box 598, Mount Vernon, NY 10551-0589.
See also Women of Faith, a 72-page booklet from Augustinian Press, P.O. Box 476,
Villanova, PA 19085.
The Wise Man welcomes your questions. If you have a question, please submit it here.
Include your street address for personal replies enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, please. Some answer material must be
mailed since it is not available in digital form. You can still send questions to: Wise Man, 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202.