Professors and friars discuss Vatican II, true importance of liturgy

Theresa Balick

Staff Writer

Professors and friars presented at a panel discussion about the different forms of the liturgy and Vatican II Wednesday in Finnegan Fieldhouse, highlighting that the Eucharist is more important than the form.

Alan Schreck, who holds a doctorate in theology; Michael Sirilla, who holds a doctorate in systematic theology; and Susan Waldstein, who holds a doctorate in theology, presented alongside the Rev. Shawn Roberson, TOR, and the Rev. Patrick Whittle, TOR, who holds master’s degrees in divinity and history.

Around 75 students and faculty as well as students joining on a livestream were in attendance.

Whittle said, “When we study the liturgy, or when we talk about it, I think it’s very important that … we can build the unity that the liturgy promotes and guides us to. Then all of this and the liturgy itself is aimed for the glorification of God … and the sanctification of his people.”

Whittle gave the historical side of the evolution of the liturgy and said the liturgy was not fully defined until the Council of Trent.

Schreck followed Whittle with different aspects of Vatican II, including its authority and its goals. He quoted from “Sacrosanctum Concilium” and other documents from the council.

Waldstein read a passage from C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” to demonstrate how the devil seeks to divide the Church over the liturgy. To combat this disunity, Waldstein said that the people should not be overly critical of the priest’s words or actions.

“Our fundamental attitude toward the Mass and the sacraments should be one of immense gratitude and humble awe,” Waldstein said.

Schreck said, “The sacredness of the liturgy is ultimately not in what language it’s in, not in what particular liturgical form it’s in, not what type of music is played. The essence of the sacredness of the liturgy is the presence of Christ.”

Roberson agreed with Schreck and said, “We’ve come to a place where we need to refocus where the beauty is at the heart of the celebration of the Mass … and to recognize that we have some glorious things happening in our midst.”

After brief presentations from Whittle, Schreck and Waldstein, the panel opened itself to student questions. Questions ranged from clarification of Church documents concerning the liturgy to questions about specific aspects of the liturgy.

Reactions to the panel varied, as some students were confused about the points made in the panel while others were opposed to some of the things the professors discussed.

“I think we were expecting something more debate form,” said Jack Thornton, the president of the club Juventutem Franciscana. “I feel like most people wanted to make points but putting them into the form of a question was kind of weird. … Most people were dissatisfied.”

The panel was sponsored by Franciscan Life.