Liturgy Reform Not About Change; It’s About Understanding Mass

The important thing in liturgical matters “is not to emphasize change, but rather to emphasize a deeper appreciation of liturgical values,” an American prelate said here.

“The goal of the liturgical movement in the U.S. is to get Catholics to rethink their whole life of worship,” Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan of Atlanta told a press conference. He is a member of the ecumenical council’s Commission on the Sacred Liturgy.

Archbishop Hallinan, who spoke on the status of the liturgical movement in the U.S., said the aim of the U.S. bishops is to help their people to understand better “that the Mass and the Sacraments are public, social and partake of the community.” He said this understanding would serve as an effective curb to what he called “the excessive individualism of our modern society.”

Asked if the use of the vernacular would promote this understanding, the Archbishop replied:

“I believe a wider use of the vernacular in the early part of the Mass will make for better participation of the people and will better prepare them for the Sacrifice that follows.”

He added that there is also room for more use of the vernacular in rites connected with the administration of sacraments.

Wider use of the vernacular in certain parts of the Mass and sacraments would be “a new avenue to our separated brethren,” who often regard the Latin language as an alien element, he continued.

Archbishop Hallinan traced the growth of the liturgical movement in the U.S. from the time 35 years ago when the late Father Virgil Michel, O.S.B., of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., “gathered around him a group of priests who by writings and pastoral work launched the movement.” Today, the Archbishop said, a majority of U.S. Sees have active liturgical commissions which sponsor clergy conferences, diocesan institutes, and liturgical days and weeks for priests and laymen.

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