Latin Answers

Thank you to all the people who have answered my questions on the Latin Mass and expressed their opinions. The combox is now closed on this one.

A summary of my own feelings is this: I do actually appreciate the Latin Mass, and hope a wider permission is granted for the Latin Mass to be celebrated because it will aid the cause of unity in our church. A wider use of the Latin Mass will also help to set an example and bring back a more reverent celebration of the Novus Ordo.

I appreciated reading why people enjoyed the Latin Mass, and I share a love of most of the things they cherish. However, I believe that most of the things people value: reverence, order, dignity, silence, a sense of the numinous, and a love of Gregorian chant etc. can be found when the Novus Ordo is celebrated properly. I do understand that I am lucky to be part of a parish like St Mary’s where the Novus Ordo is celebrated with care and reverence. I realize some readers are not so blessed.

In conclusion, I’d like to be positive and do something I very rarely hear anyone do: I’d like to point out what I like about the Novus Ordo. There are some rough spots, but on the whole, I think the English language translation of most of the Novus Ordo is simple, utilitarian and dignified. The language is not flowery but functional. It does the job in a practical and straightforward way without drawing attention to itself. It’s common sense for the worship of the people of God to be audible and to be in the ordinary language of the people, and despite the rather complex academic answers to my questions, I think it is still obvious that the Mass was first translated into Latin so that more people could understand it, not fewer.

I also like the fact that there are options and opportunities for varied expressions of worship.
We live in a very pluralistic and varied modern culture. The Spirit is at work in all sorts of ways throughout the church and throughout the world. The flexibility of the Novus Ordo allows us to respond to the needs of the all of the faithful in a universal church. I actually think this is a positive thing. I realize that this leads to some abuses, but there will be abuses of one kind or another in whatever form the liturgy takes, and I’d prefer to take the risk.

In addition to the Novus Ordo itself, I think the new lectionary is vastly improved. Now the faithful are fed with far more of the Scriptures on a regular and consistent basis. I could go on about how good the new breviary is, for instance, but most of all I accept the Novus Ordo because I accept the authority of the Catholic Church. I accept her authority in the past down through the ages, and I accept her authority now in my own age. I believe the Holy Spirit has led the church into the Second Vatican Council. The Novus Ordo is one of the fruits of that Spirit-led council. I’m happy to accept the authority of my church and the liturgy which better men than myself have handed on to me, and I simply don’t feel qualified to set myself up as an alternative liturgical authority.

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  • Good post Father. To me the crucial sentence is ” A wider use of the Latin Mass will also help to set an example and bring back a more reverent celebration of the Novus Ordo.” While I can only respond to that with a loud ” Amen” my concern relates to the number (more accurately the scarcity)of priests trained to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. While I understand the Society of Saint Peter are making training available to ordained priests I suspect the numbers will only increase in the short term if there is a reconciliation between the Church and SSPX. Due to the intransigence of the latter I do not see that happening in the short term notwithstanding the oft mooted motu proprio.

  • Father, I had this thought while reading the post. The Catholic Church is a Church made up of some 30 different Rites I believe. The most popular of course is the Roman. Could the “Traditional” mass be another rite of the Church? Just a thought from the Eastern Lung.

  • Anonymous

    “I believe the Holy Spirit has led the church into the Second Vatican Council. The Novus Ordo is one of the fruits of that Spirit-led council. I’m happy to accept the authority of my church and the liturgy which better men than myself have handed on to me, and I simply don’t feel qualified to set myself up as an alternative liturgical authority.”If one looks at the “fruits,” whatever they may be, I believe it is borderline blaspemous to attribute them to the Holy Ghost.”Index of Leading Catholic Indicators” by Kenneth Jones shows the “fruits.” They are quite rotten.

  • Maybe you’re a natural ‘glass is half empty’ sort of person.I see many many wonderful fruits of the Second Vatican Council.Sure there are abuses and problems, but that’s life. Cheer up! There’s more to be thankful for than to complain about.

  • Fr Peter, I personally believe one of the the main reasons Rome is contemplating wider permission for the Latin Mass is for the sake of church unity. The more we approve of other liturgies from different groups, the more we can have unity even if we don’t have uniformity. So, for example, the approval of the ‘Anglican Use’ liturgy. This direction could open the door to the EO groups to be reconciled with the Roman Pontiff.

  • The Question Man

    What was the purpose of the change from Tridentine to Novus Ordo and has that pupose been accomplished?

  • To respond to Fr. Peter, I have thought about that for a while, but part of the problem is that a Rite is more than just liturgy, but also discipline. There would have to be a co-existing ecclesiastical structure, a patriarch, etc. I doubt there’s much desire for that.To respond to Sursum Corda, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen unless SSPX has a true change of heart. Bishop Fellay has made it very clear that the Vatican would have to, at the very least, accept that they believe the N.O. to be illicit and allow them a right to dissent thereof. Thankfully, I don’t think that will ever happen. No one in perfect communion with Holy Mother Church should be allowed to believe that.

  • David Deavel

    Fr. Longenecker,I suggest you read more literature about the liturgical questions–I’m thinking of people like Dom Alcuin Reid, Fr. Aidan Nichols, etc. The more you read, the more you’ll realize that serious liturgists faithful to tradition are willing to think about positive aspects of the NO, such as the larger group of prefaces, and how they might be grafted on to the old rite. The rite was not perfect in 1962, but the changes made in the 1970 missal cannot all be attributed to the Holy Spirit, as you seem to imply. I think a number of things are problematic in the new missal and need to be fixed. The Holy Spirit doesn’t guarantee the infallibility of practical action in the Church; to criticize practical decisions, in the right spirit and tone, is faithfulness.

  • I agree with you David. This is what the Reform of the Reform should be about.

  • I agree that a Mass well said with a spiritual homily is much more valuable than whichever liturgy is followed.However, as a foreigner, the English translation of the Mass is so editorialized that the English words are perhaps too far away from the original Latin, but in other countries the original is followed more closely. In the beginning it was quite confusing for me to take part in the Mass in the US because the responses by the faithful would raise my eyebrows in confusion.I dare hypothesize that if the English Mass translation weren’t so skewed there wouldn’t be such a high demand for ethnic Masses and the ensuing lower attendance when such desires are frustrated.

  • The Question Man

    The change from Tridentine to Novus Ordo………………Was it inspired by the quiet voice of The Holy Spirit, the hue and cry for change from the simple souls in the pews, or perhaps the will of those towering intellects who always seem to know what is best for those simple souls? Would they be the same towering intellects who determined American Catholics cannot be expected to accept a holy day as a day of obligation if, horror of horrors, it should fall on a week day?

  • David,To expand upon what you’ve said, they are willing to look at both the good, as well as that which must be re-evaluated and questioned, but in a particular way. This is important.This has also been the approach of Ratzinger.Fr. Longenecker is correct that the modern rite can be celebrated with great dignity, reverence and the like. But, indeed, the ethos are but one question — even though important. There are various issues, such as organic development, the process of the liturgical reform, the mandate of the Council, the method of revision, the subjectivism created by so many options, and so on. These are discussed by the likes of Dr. Lauren Pristas, Fr. U.M. Lang, Dr. Alcuin Reid, Fr. Aidan Nichols and Fr. Jonathan Robinson — to name only a few.These are men in the centre of the Church. These are the deeper issues that must also be looked at, and which point to the good and necessity of a co-existence of the classical liturgical movement and reform of the reform.We of course should not villify or be unduly critical, but neither should equate liceity (legal promulgation) as meaning all is well and should be accepted on an as-is basis. These things can be approached while remaining steadfastly in the heart of the Church as a loyal and obedient son who fully accepts her Magisterial authority.

  • Andrew

    Fr. Longenecker,Were your questions concerning the use of Latin answered sufficiently? We must remember that Latin is STILL the normative language and that vernacular is merely permitted. Vatican II did not mandate the use of vernacular but merely allowed it to be used. I don’t think it is fair to imply that those who desire a return to Latin (not neccessarily the TLM) are setting themselves up as “alternate liturgical authorities”. Pope Benedict XVI recommended the use of Latin in Sacramentum Caritatis and has begun to use it in his own masses and no one, I imagine, would imply that he is setting himself up as “an alternate lturgical authority.”

  • Andrew, yes and no. I found many of the ‘answers’ to be complicated justifications and much personal opinion rather than straightforward answers. However I think Shawn Tribe did a good job over at NLM.Don’t infer more than I said. I am not saying those who like the Latin Mass are setting themselves up as new liturgical authorities, but I think those who take extreme views against the Novus Ordo are.

  • As an instructor of Latin at a Catholic College, I wonder if the MEANING of the missal will be largely or partly obscured by the use of Latin, in which most of the participants are not well-versed, if versed at all. In my own experience most of those who are most enthusiastic about the Latin masses are absolutely ignorant of language.In addition, purposeful reversion to a dead language, however majestic and beautiful, seems, to me at least, to reek of the dead formalism that supposedly undid Pagan civic religion – much hand-waving and solemn, mostly incomprehensible utterances, little meaning for most participants.