Besides being the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s promulgation of its historic Constituion on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, today is also the 450th anniversary of the close of the Council of Trent. Our Sunday Visitor has just published a new article I’ve written to mark the date.
It would be a shame if all our Vatican II commemorations left the Trent anniversary completely overlooked, because Trent’s consequences on Catholic faith and life were every bit as epochal as those of Vatican II. As I note in the sidebar that accompanies the article:
The Council of Trent affected the life of the Church in many ways:
◗ It made the education of children and laypeople a much higher priority in parish life.
◗ It called for a catechism of Church teaching, which was later published as The Roman Catechism, a central resource for 400 years and important forerunner to today’s Catechism of the Catholic Church.
◗ It established that sacramental marriages had to be witnessed by a priest for validity.
◗ It brought the Sacrament of Penance to a more central place in the lives of ordinary Catholics. In the wake of the council, a new piece of church furniture, the confessional, was introduced and became common.
◗ In terms of practice rather than doctrine, it insisted that the Mass should be offered in Latin and that Communion should not be offered to the faithful via the cup (both contrary to positions that Luther had taken and that had already become aspects of Protestant church practice).
And there’s lots more; indeed, none of that could even be said to be the central work of the council!