The Liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a fundamental
structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries
down to our own day. (CCC, #1346)
There is a tendency during our times, both in society generally but also (and perhaps especially) by some in the Church, to act as if anything of value has to have been created within the last generation, as if what came before was some kind of antique or out-of-date throw-back which should be discarded for the sake of modernity. This trend can be observed in how many folks deal with the Second Vatican Council and the changes it brought about in the Church. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, (i.e. the Pope and the Bishops who attended that Council) on the other hand, were very careful to nuance how they approached different changes, always giving honor to the past and insisting on the on-going continuity with the past that marks the teachings of the Church's Magisterium as well as her liturgical life. Many folks failed to take their cue from the Council Fathers, however, and began to approach Catholic teaching as if sometime after 33 AD things went very wrong and were made 'all better' in the early 1960's. Nowhere is this highly erroneous trend more visible then in the approach many take to the liturgical life of the Church. Many contemporary liturgists seem to be in favor of eradicating everything that happened in the development of the liturgical life of the Church and simply starting over with the Last Supper. The Catechism, however, makes a point of insisting on the historical development aspect of the Church's liturgical life, as cited in the paragraph above. The Church invites us to reflect on and immerse ourselves in how present the Lord Jesus and His Spirit have been in the Church throughout the ages, and to learn from what the Spirit has been teaching her for the last two millennia. We are seeing an increasing response, on the part of the Holy Father and the Bishops, to what is seen as liturgical abuses that occurred when folks took the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and extrapolated them well beyond what the Council Fathers intended. Cardinal Ratzinger, the Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in particular has been increasingly vocal about the need to correct liturgical abuses stemming from an inappropriate application of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. One of the areas perceived as being an abuse has to do with the total elimination of the use of the Latin language in the Mass. Increasingly stronger statements have been issued from Rome that this was clearly not the intent of the Council, as demonstrated in its directive on Latin in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: "the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites But since the use of the mother tongue may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #36.) This statement by the Council Fathers gives permission to extend the use of the vernacular, but clearly does not intend the total elimination of the use of the Latin language during the Mass. On the contrary, they insist that it is to be preserved!