Skip to comments.Restoring a Church tradition
Posted on 07/10/2007 3:57:50 AM PDT by Clive
It's seldom the case that Christian liturgy makes the front pages of the international press. But the idea of Pope Benedict XVI allowing the Mass to be said more freely in Latin provoked all sorts of interest last week. Including the fantasy that Catholics might now pray for the conversion of "the perfidious Jews."
When the Papal statement was actually issued over the weekend all it said was that, "In parishes where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their request to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962."
No nasty comments about the Jewish people, no heretics burning in the town square. In fact the announcement stresses that there are certain areas where the public liturgy has to follow the more modern form, including when it speaks of the Jews. The Good Friday service did once use the word perfidious, an ugly translation from "perfideles" or half-believer. In earlier times the congregation prayed first for the "fideles", meaning believers or church, then for the Jewish people and then for the "infidels" or unbelievers. Pope John XXIII removed the deeply troubling word more than 40 years ago.
Roman Catholics do, however, still pray for the Jews at Easter. "Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God that they may continue to grow in the love of His name and in faithfulness to His covenant. Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption."
It's vital to stress that this will not change. Some critics, naturally, will always be offended by any sense of a hierarchy of belief and any call for conversion. Yet an exclusive truth cannot, obviously, co-exist with another exclusive truth. Otherwise that truth would not be exclusive. If there is a God, there is not an absence of God. If water is wet, it is not dry.
Any serious Catholic believes that happiness and eternal life are to be found within the Catholic Church. To refuse to pray that other people will find their way into such a place would be positively selfish and cruel.
The problem is that in this intellectually dumb and morally numb age we like our truths, well, less truthful. "Might be" or "could be" or, usually, "anything you want it to be." Never "you should be."
The Pope has spoken extensively about this relativism, as he did when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. As Cardinal he also wrote at length about the central importance of the Hebrew Scriptures, the place of the Jews in the plan of salvation and the evils of anti-Semitism.
The latest announcement is far less about ecumenism, however, than about restoring the tradition of the Church and allowing greater freedom of worship. For some time individual priests have only been allowed to say the Latin Mass if they had special permission from their bishop. Pope Benedict has now allowed priests and parishes to employ Latin or the vernacular, leaving the decision up to them.
Obviously the Vatican hopes that this move will bring back some of the hundreds of thousands of conservative Catholics who have joined quasi-Catholic groups outside of the Church in the past 30 years. Some of them left for obscure or sinister reasons but many will doubtless return. Yet this is nothing more than a welcome consequence of a far more profound reform.
The Second Vatican Council or Vatican II was intended to be an organic progression of 2,000 years of Church tradition and teaching. Windows were supposed to be opened but an assortment of 1960s academics and left-wing priests preferred to smash them. Continuation became breach and a legion of abuses were allowed and even encouraged.
This latest pronouncement will enable the new and old order of the Mass to coexist and learn from one another, as was the reasoning of Vatican II. It is abundantly encouraging, long overdue and, yes, perfidious to those Catholics who despise everything they are supposed to revere.
- Michael Coren is a broadcaster and author.
Bet that would leave them dumbfounded.
Good article. Thanks for posting it.
Last night I hear that B16 is not allowing the TLM to be said during Easter just so that this prayer cannot be said.
Much ado over nothing.
Here is what I do not understand: The Latin Mass was good enough for the last 2,000 years, so why wasn’t it good enough after Vatican II as well?
Not quite accurate--the prohibition extends to private Masses during the Paschal Triduum, but then, priests are already prohibited from celebrating private Masses during the Triduum in the ordinary rite.
Public extraordinary rite Masses were already, and will still be, celebrated, all prayers intact.
Also, the 1962 Missal removed "perfidei" (which better translates as 'faithless') from the prayer for the conversion of the Jews.
As I understand it, the Latin Mass was not actually instituted until sometime in the Middle Ages, Greek being the predominant language during the early years of the church. The question I have, with no disrespect intended, is this: Why perform a worship service in a language you don’t understand? At the time the Latin Mass was instituted, Latin had spread widely thru the known world. However, it is little used or known in our society today. I would think you would want to approach The Lord in a way you can actually understand and truly communicate with Him instead of reciting sounds you do not understand. There seems to be some differing ideas as to whether or not Latin is some sort of Holy language. I mean no offense by any of this...it’s simply a question.
Well, yeah, of course ~ but what would the critics say if the Catholics prayed for the conversion of the Jews to Lutheranism...
...I suppose you’re trying to make some point...I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt...
Additionally, uniformity of language means worldwide uniformity of worship. Break it up into dozens or hundreds of vernaculars, and you no longer have "One" church, but a bunch of squabbling nationalistic or linguistic parochial groups, each with a different agenda and a different way to "worship." A new protestantism -- which is what exists now, and has existed for nearly 40 years.
> in a way you can actually understand
"The people" are not the intended audience of a valid and properly offered Mass; the Mass is a sacrifice offered to God on behalf of the people. God is the only One Who "needs to understand."
> instead of reciting sounds you do not understand.
I have no problems following in my Latin-English missal -- in fact, I've learned quite a bit of Latin, and my English vocabulary and comprehension have vastly increased as a result. All this without ever having taken a Latin class in my life. Same for my friends. Same for the 7-year-old kids. If all of these people are able to follow along, then the lack of understanding comes from those who have chosen not to understand.
Have you ever heard a mass in Latin? It is quite beautiful.
At my parish, we have one Latin mass a month, and it is very well attended.
As for myself, hearing the mass In Latin reminds me of when I was a little boy and just learning about my faith. It is a touchstone to the past, but it is not meant as a return to the past.
We pray for ALL people, everywhere in the world; and all leaders everywhere at every mass. It is our hope and prayer that we all grow closer to God in our everyday lives and practices.
Using Latin in the mass is merely another way to approach those goals.
...your question is complex, to the extent that Catholic theology places a premium upon tradition as a means to truer understanding of Our Lord, and also to the extent that the populace should not be ignorant of the actual text of the Latin Mass, as it is immutable and not particularly difficult to learn...you mention also reciting sounds not understood...I submit that it’s no better to recite sounds that you do understand, the salient point being that mere recitation instead of involvement is the detriment to comprehension, not the matter of grammar and syntax...
Raymond Arroyo said that the Vatican stated that so I guess he should have clarified it.
I guess I don’t see the problem with “new translations” if by that term you mean the vernacular of a certain time and place. We translate scripture into new languages all the time as missionaries continue to reach new societies with the Gospel of Christ. I don’t think they should be trying to teach those people Latin first before they can be exposed to the Word of God.
Also, keep in mind that Latin scripture was itself a “new translation” at one time, since the original Scriptures were written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
>God is the only One Who “needs to understand”.
I whole-heartedly disagree with this point. Paul said he would pray with understanding. It seems to me that worship without understanding is simply ritual and noise.
>I have no problems following my Latin-English missal...
Seems to me that you’re using one of those “new translations” (English) in order to be told what the Latin means in your missal. So what’s the difference between that and just using the English translation without the Latin? It sounds like you put more importance on the “dead” language than I do.
I guess we will just have to agree to disagree about this. I hope I have not offended in any way. I don’t understand your view...but that doesn’t necessarily make you wrong.
>God is the only One Who needs to understand.
I whole-heartedly disagree with this point
[emphasis added in places]Nowhere in that teaching is anything resembling "The purpose of Mass is so that the people can understand." Time to review your catechism.
263. Q. What is the Mass?
A. The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ.
264. Q. What is a sacrifice?
A. A sacrifice is the offering of an object by a priest to God alone, and the consuming of it to acknowledge that He is the Creator and Lord of all things.
265. Q. Is the Mass the same sacrifice as that of the Cross?
A. The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross.
266. Q. How is the Mass the same sacrifice as that of the Cross?
A. The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross because the offering and the priest are the same--Christ our Blessed Lord; and the ends for which the sacrifice of the Mass is offered are the same as those of the sacrifice of the Cross.
267. Q. What were the ends for which the sacrifice of the Cross was offered?
A. The ends for which the sacrifice of the Cross was offered were: 1st, To honor and glorify God; 2d, To thank Him for all the graces bestowed on the whole world; 3d, To satisfy God's justice for the sins of men; 4th, To obtain all graces and blessings.
There were a few misinterpretations on that program last night, that being the main one. The only kind of liturgy that has been restricted during the Triduum is the private Mass, which is not a new restriction.
Latin is the official language of the Church and you’d be surprised as to how many of the laity understand it.
If somebody doesn't want themselves prayed for, they probably ought to consider ome of the possible alternatives.
The one I propose is just one among many ~ bet it'd shake up the critics.
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