Tuesday, June 10, 2008

An Anti Latin Tirade

Last Sunday, mass was said, to my surprise, by our retired pastor, our regular one being on vacation this week. Now allow me to say that I absolutely love this man. He is the one who brought me back into the faith, and his homiletics and loving, caring, strong pastoral care are almost beyond belief. To borrow a line from a Dan Fogelberg song - "a thundering velvet hand" - is the best way to describe him. When he hobbled down the aisle, tears came to my eyes.

THEN..... The Homily.... First, he reflected on the readings, telling how the Mass doesn't belong to the people, but to the Church, and it must be respected as such. Then, after a pause, he stated how there are "some young priests" in the diocese who want to bring back the Latin Mass. And added that you don't see any of us "old timers" wanting to go back to that!! This is all young people! (emphasis mine) This led into a long speech about how much better it was since "Vatican II clearly stated - Mass in the vernacular!!! (emphasis his) Then, after a bit of critique of the old mass, he pointed out, correctly, that a priest - any priest - can say the mass we use today, that is the mass of Paul VI, in Latin, whenever they want to. He even explained that it was in the sacramentary. Gradually, this progressed into a sort of admission that there had been a lot of abuses, "priests doing crazy things", but the solution wasn't Latin.

The whole thing was, while not a surprise, a sort of complete non-sequitur with the rest of his personality and attitude. I find myself amazed at how a priest with that amazing depth of knowledge and reverence could be so absolutely foursquare against both Latin and the old mass.

And I wonder...

Is he just that totally sold on the infallibility of the reforms he lived through and implemented?

Or is he right?


Anonymous said...

A couple of thoughts come to mind:
Fr. S has devoted most of his priestly career to the Mass in English, and doesn't see much support for Latin even among priests his age. HIS Masses in English were never deviant or irreverent in intent nor in practice as far as rubrics were concerned. I think the nub of what he's perhaps not expressing all that carefully comes down to two things: the Mass was origianlly in Latin because is was the language of the day--it had been Greek before that for the same reason. (And a touch of Greek was preserved in the Latin version--Kyrie)(just as a touch of Hebrew was preserved even there-Amen and alleluia). So in our day... . But I believe he is mainly saying that despite problems with the new Mass, going back to 1957 isn't the answer. The year, more than the language. Despite (and with the preparation of) a century of small modifications to the Latin Mass, by (say) 1957 many, many, many bishops realized something more was needed. Despite the training of altar boys and Latin in the schools, etc. there were too many people saying the rosary during the Mass...etc. Check out Fr. Zulsdorph's reaction to the Cardinal's recent talk in England saying that EVERY parish will (every!) provide the Latin Mass--and we are headed toward some tertium quid.

All the best, Jim McCullough

Tom S. said...

Jim, Thanks for your wonderful comment. I thank you for your input, and your perspective.

You seem to be saying that Monsignor's point is that trying to rewind everything to 1957 is misguided, not just because of the Latin, but because some view it as a wrong-headed panacea for all they think is wrong with the church and the liturgy as it is today. I can see that as a very valid point. The problems that we see today go far deeper than the liturgy itself.

Yet just as any sacrament is a outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace, the mass is an outward and visible sign of what and who we are. And if it is approached as, or celebrated as a casual, no-big-deal affair, it inevitably leads to a casual, no-big-deal approach to one's spiritual life itself.

It appears to me that the new mass, while beautiful, and valid, was designed with a sort of least common denominator mentality which not only does not foster reverence and piety, but actively discourages both. It isn't just the Latin, or even mostly the Latin, it is the structure of the mass itself. There's too much us, and not enough Him.

That is why I have been hoping for Father Z's tertium quid for some time now. A "Benedictine" mass which takes the basic structure and rubrics of the old mass, but integrates more of the vernacular for the prayers of the people, and more updated prayers and feast days, and some sort of integrated calendar.

deb said...

I am a convert of only three years. Becoming Catholic means learning a whole new culture. So, the whole Latin Mass leaves me confused. I can understand giving more people the opportunity to choose which Mass they wish to attend. I don't understand though the strong dislike that some feel for the Latin Mass though.