Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Latin Mass: We Can't Understand It, Vatican II Ditched Latin

Many Catholics today are vehemently against the return of the Latin Mass, often referred to as the Tridentine Mass or now titled, 'The Extraordinary Form'. These same people are also usually against Latin being used in the Novus Ordo as well. There are a range of absurd arguments made by these anti-Latin Mass proponents. Two of the most common accusations made about the Latin Mass is that, no one can understand it, and that Vatican II said to ditch Latin. Lets first deal with the first accusation.

1. No one can understand it!

Really? How long are these 60s retreads going to hold on to that absurd claim? Can they read? Do they know that the Missal has the Latin on one side and English on the other? Do they know that the ordinary parts of the Mass do not change and that many young children memorize those parts of the Mass quite quickly? Do they also know that the Epistle and Gospel readings are read in Latin during the order of the Mass, and then usually read again in the vernacular at the pulpit before the sermon? If not, guess what? The readings are in the vernacular in your Missal too! How much effort does it take to read the English in the Missal? They are usually available for free in the pews! Here is another novel idea. Do they know that they can actually pray during Mass? Many apparently do not understand that you do not have to pray the exact passage out of the Missal in order to participate in the Mass. If people are going to argue against the Latin Mass, this is not a tenable position to do it from. If you can read, you can participate. It will not suffice to say that no one can understand what is going on or what is being prayed.
2. Vatican II said to ditch Latin?

This is a most fundamental claim made by those Vatican II only Catholics who claim that the Council abolished Latin from the Mass. It is must be understood that Vatican II along with the Holy Spirit did not abolish Latin in the Mass. The problem with the document Sacrosanctum Concilium, which we have in many of the VCII documents, is that it goes back and forth between two ideologies. The document clearly says that Latin should be preserved by law of the Latin Rite. But we have a huge "but" in other parts of the document where permission is given to limited use of the vernacular. That is where everyone went overboard. Lets start with paragraph 36.
36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
That is pretty clear, no? continues.

2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

So the document lays down a clear law, then makes an exception primarily to readings, etc. If you continue on and read paragraph 54 of the VCII document Sacrosanctum Concilium, it reiterates the first law, "steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass” That means that at least those parts of the Mass which never change should be said in Latin. As I stated above, there is usually no issue with the readings since both are usually read in Latin and the vernacular. But the document almost appears to be written by two people. One saying that the law of the Latin Rite Mass is to remain in force concerning the Latin language, the other wanting the vernacular more liberally used. While a person may be able to argue that the vernacular can be used in parts of the Mass, one obviously cannot argue that Latin was to be abolished from the Mass altogether. Yet we hear this all of the time from those who oppose the Latin Mass. This is the problem of the text giving an inch, and the liturgical hippies taking a mile. If we are going to use the text of Vatican II, we can see that Latin was not abolished from the Mass, it is the law that it be used. The vernacular is the exception to the law, which has unfortunately become the "law."

1 comment:

Adrienne said...

It's not much different in the GIRM. They make a statement about how something should be done and then give three other choices. In 99% of the cases the least palatable selection is made.