Friday, April 18, 2008

Latin Mass Explained

Today I received the following unsolicited emails attempting to point out the error of my ways as regards my penchant for things Latin, particularly the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and the language in which it is celebrated.

The author did not identify himself, at least not in anyway that I can recognize. (Something I find instructive in itself.) While I normally don’t bother with anonymous attacks (and this is a veiled one), I decided that it would be a good opportunity to clarify a few points that I can easily reference to save time when I receive similar challenges…as I often have.

Here are the emails. My response will follow:

Email 1: Pope Benedict exemplified the truly "Catholic" nature of the Church
today in the liturgy at the National's stadium. The liturgy tuely
reflected the multi-cultural aspects of the universal (or Catholic as derived
from Greek) church. The main portions of the Mass were proclaimed in the
universal language of today (English) and various prayers and hymns were in
various languages of the faithful, such as Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, Nigerian
and Spanish (as well as Latin & Greek - yes the Kyrie is Greek not

Praise God - Savior of all not just the Latins.

Email 2: Forgot to point out in my last e-mail - The pope
truly embraced the reformed rubrics for the Universal (Catholic) Mass today in
the liturgy at National's stadium. While the Tridentine Mass has its
beauty, its relevance is limited to its historic context and times. The
Vatican II liturgical reforms, as demonstrated today, clearly better reflect the
modern multi-cultural context of the today's Church.

My Reply:

I am not in a habit of replying to emails from people who do not identify themselves by their real names or at least by the name that the addressee should be able to recognize. I find it neither conducive to genuine dialogue nor charitable. So I would appreciate it if you would identify yourself if you are going to continue to send me emails.

I will, though, respond this time.

1. I have no idea why you feel it incumbent upon yourself to lecture me as to my personal preference in worship. I have complete freedom to attend the Traditional Latin Mass and to express my preference for both the Form and the Language in which it is celebrated.

2. Your reference to how the "pope truly embraced the reformed rubrics" tells me that you have no idea what rubrics are. The rubrics are the appropriate postures, movements, and gestures of the celebrant and congregation during the course of the Mass. The Pope was celebrating the Mass of Paul VI, which he has been doing since 1970, and his "rubrics" were exactly what the Missal calls for and has called for, for almost 40 years. His celebration today had nothing to do with "embracing" anything.

3. Because there was a multi-cultural display says nothing about the Pope's embracing it. The Mass was planned most probably by the archdiocese of Washington D.C. (I had originally thought the USCCB – which it may well be, but I’m guessing the D.C. archdiocese), not the Pope. If you want to know what the Pope "embraces" watch the Masses at St. Peter that he does control. You will see nothing of the kind. (We know that it was not planned by the Pope, because the music was completely antithetical to everything he had written about the use of music at Mass over the last 30 years.)

4. You mention that this particular Mass reflects "the multi-cultural context of today's Church". Wonderful. But is the Mass supposed to reflect the Paschal (Sacrificial) Mystery or the "Church of What's Happening Now"?

5. Lastly you reference the reforms of Vatican II. Have you ever read the actual document of Vatican II on the Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium)? Allow me to quote directly from the document on a few items you are obviously unaware of:

23. ... there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and
certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted
should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.

Please note the words "grow organically from forms already existing". The form "already existing" was what we now call the Traditional Latin Mass. You say that the "Tridentine limited to its historic context and times". Not according to Vatican II. The TLM was to be the basis for organic development. In my opinion, it is one of the sad consequences of the aftermath of Vatican II that this instruction of the Council was ignored and we were given a Mass 7 years after Vatican II that was not an organic construct but a radical departure.

(Also, note this from Summorum Pontificum: “In this way the sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman use, enriched not only the faith and piety but also the culture of many peoples.” The Pope is instructing us on how the Mass, as celebrated in Rome, has, throughout history, entered into the culture and changed it, NOT the other way around.)

I should also note that the Traditional Latin Mass that Pope Benedict has promoted with his Moto Proprio, Summorum Pontificum (July 7, 2007), is not appropriately called the Tridentine Mass, but the Mass of Blessed John XXIII. (Or, even more appropriately: the Mass in accordance with the Missal of Blessed John XXIII.)

Please also note the following words of the Pope in his letter to the bishops that prefaced the Summorum Pontificum in which he states that "...the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching". The Pope intends for the two Forms to inform each other - hardly possible if the TLM is simply supposed to be a museum piece as you suggest. Perhaps you should read both the SP and the accompanying letter to fully understand the Pope's intentions.

Also from Vatican II:

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be
preserved in the Latin rites.

What's this? Latin is to be preserved? Where do we see the directives of Vatican II obeyed?

and this:

116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman
liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place
in liturgical services.
Pride of place? I did not see Vatican II today at the Papal Mass. I saw a celebration of self and a complete ignoring of the directives of Vatican II.

I have no problem with people like yourself who want to create a Church in your own image and worship in whatever way makes you feel warm and comfortable.

However, I choose to worship in the way our Church has prescribed. I'm a true Vatican II Catholic. I actually read Vatican II and look for the Church where its directives, particularly its liturgical directives, are actually honored.

I ended up attending what was then called "the Indult Mass" or the TLM with permission of the Pope and Bishop becaue I could not find a Novus Ordo Mass that was actually celebrated according to the mandates of Vatican II.

Thanks be to God our local parish now has a priest who celebrates the Novus Ordo according to those mandates and I am happy to attend.

If you truly feel that you are called to "straighten me out", then come and see me. We'll set a time to sit down and talk. However, as you have seen, I base all my actions and arguments on exactly what the Church ACTUALLY says, not what I want it to say.

Also, I plan to use your email and my response to it on my blog and in my general Catholic group box. Except that I will not post it and send it out with the intent to impinge on or impugn others desired form of worship.

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