I was born in 1965, so I consider myself a Vatican II baby. I’ve never known or experienced the pre-Vatican II Church. That is, until recently.
Did that confuse you? Yeah, it confuses me, too. There seems to be a trend toward liturgical practices that are more reflective of the pre-Vatican II Church than of the Church in which I was formed and which I embrace. And even more puzzling to me is that this effort, at least in my experience, has been the work of priests who are younger than me. If I have no lived experience of that Church, they definitely don’t.
Is this trend rooted in a desire to bring back their idea of the Church’s “good ol’ days”? But wasn’t Vatican II called because there was a need for the Church to get with the times? So, even when Vatican II was called, some of those old ways were seen as outdated and no longer effective in promoting the Church’s mission of bringing people into relationship with Christ.
Are these priests trying to promote a greater respect for the Eucharist? Funny, but the Vatican II Church has fostered in me a profound and deep respect for the Eucharist. My faith—a faith formed in the days of posters-and-butterfly religion classes and guitar Masses—was nurtured so well by that Church that I’ve devoted my professional life to sharing it.
Here’s my big question: Are people being invited into personal relationship with Jesus through the return to aspects of pre-Vatican II liturgy? Respect is one thing. Love is another. They’re not mutually exclusive, but they don’t always come together either. Might these priests be going overboard on the respect and not fostering in their people a love relationship with our Lord?
I recently accompanied my teen daughter and her classmates to a retreat that was part of their Confirmation preparation. The retreat emphasized Eucharistic Adoration. These 16-year-olds spent hours on their knees on a hard gym floor that weekend. Now, I’m not knocking Eucharistic Adoration at all. But shouldn’t we first work to help these young people develop personal relationships with Jesus before asking them to adore him in the Eucharist?
I can get used to the changes each priest brings to my parish. I try not to get hung up on the actions, dress, language or bells. I do wonder about the messages these outside symbols send to the people—and whether they’re really effective as invitations to know Jesus in the Eucharist. If I’m confused, others must be as well.
What about you? Are you experiencing this same trend in your local Church? What should be our response?
Feature photo: ©Pavel Losevsky\photoXpress