Last week we discussed the preparation that occurred prior to the beginning of the Second Vatican Council. This week we are going to take a look at some of the reasons why it was believed that there was a need to reform or revise the way the Catholic Church worshipped. To do this we are going back in time to the Protestant Reformation and shortly thereafter. The Protestant Reformation began in the mid 1500s. Shortly after that, the Catholic church began its response which in turn, led us to the liturgy which was celebrated for the next 400 years. The question is, why?
Martin Luther attacked the Church in many ways but taking issue with the way in which the Vatican preached the Gospels and the rest of Scripture. His belief was that all people could interpret the Scriptures for themselves. This was not an opinion that the Vatican shared. Indeed it was believed that only bishops and priests were learned enough to take on this task. The more the Church was attacked by Luther and the other reformers that began to spring up, the more the Church began to turn inward and more suspicious of anyone not a part of the Catholic Hierarchy. The Eucharistic Liturgy over time became concentrated on the priest. As this became more and more prominent, church architecture reflected this form. The altar began to be further and further removed from the nave or where the congregation gathered. Altar rails became a true division between the priest and the congregation. The laity began to no longer receive communion, so that the Elevation of the Host became the high point of the liturgy. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th Century that reception of the Eucharist began to return to its prominence.
This was the liturgy that the bishops of Vatican II set out to reform to bring the church into modern times, and to bring the laity into a full, active, conscious participation in the Liturgy, the source and summit of the Catholic Life.

Holy Family Church Skip to content