Monday, July 2, 2007


I do not understand all the brouhaha over the motu proprio.

About once a month or so my family and I would go to one of the indult masses in Cleveland. We did this after we attended mass at our own parish. (We were musicians. We would fulfill our ministry and worship with our community and then go to the Latin Mass to fulfill some inner desire we had.)

At our home parish we sang all the parts of the mass in Latin on Wednesdays and on some high holydays. I actually did not realize that not everyone (or rather almost no one) did this except the parishes in my little Catholic ghetto until I went into the seminary. (Ah! I was so naive!) Though now looking back, I think my home parish, at least in this one respect, was much closer to what Vatican II actually said (rather than what people want it to say).

47. According to the Constitution on the Liturgy, “the use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites.”(30)
However, since “the use of the vernacular may frequently be of great advantage to the people” (31) “it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used. Its decrees have to be approved, that is confirmed by the Apostolic See.”(32)
[But]. . . Pastors of souls should take care that besides the vernacular “the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertains to them.” (33) (Instruction on Music in the Liturgy)

Good ole’ Father Ozimek was cutting edge and didn’t even know it.

Anyway, I’ve lived both, love both, and see merit in both (though I am hardly qualified to be celebrant of the earlier form of the mass).

So I find it a bit troublesome that the very people who taught me that, “Unity does not mean uniformity!” would be the very ones who are most against this permission for greater usage of something that is already permitted in the Church albeit in a limited fashion. There is no reason why this should be seen as a great division in the Church.

The greatest proponents of the Norvus Ordo mass state that it is a natural outgrowth of the previous way of praying the mass: that nothing has essentially changed. We are, in essence, doing the same thing. That is all the less reason to be upset. Why those who would see nothing wrong with liturgical dancers or inclusive language at a mass in the United States go apoplectic at the thought of a Tridentine Mass existing somewhere is interesting. Besides nobody is going to be forced to attend (just as nobody is forced to attend a rock and roll mass or a polka mass.)

The New York Times (Thursday, June 28th) sited the Rev. Keith Pecklers, a Jesuit scholar at the Gregorian University in Rome as worrying that relations between Catholics and Jews may be harmed by the move. He sites as an example the Good Friday mass, which includes a prayer for the conversion of the Jews. If this were in fact a true concern, Fr. Pecklers and those who agree with him should be the first to rejoice that motu proprio has come out. In a more complete way the rite will become part of the living tradition of the Church once again rather than a historical anomaly that we keep alive. The rite, now that it will have to be taken a bit more seriously, will become susceptible to natural evolution. We know this is true from when it was still the universal rite of the Latin Church. The Holy Week services changed quite a bit in the 1940s. Pope John XXIII added, “We honor Joseph her husband” (sed et beati Joseph, eiusdem Viriginis Sponsi) to the canon of the mass. Now those parts of the mass that might be found objectionable to modern sensibilities might be more subject to change.

The charge in this article is also made that clergy will be overburdened, but that is in the paragraph just before it states, “there seems to be no widespread demand for it.” So which way is it guys?

Let’s be frank, most priests cannot even say the mass anymore. New churches are not designed for the rite and our grand old dames have often been so severely wreckovated that it would not even be possible to say the mass there anyway.

Still I call on those who would cry out “sensus fidelium!” to take a dose of that same medicine. It has been over four decades since the close of the Second Vatican Council. If there is still a hue and cry for this apparently legitimate way to pray the rite, maybe we are being told something. Who knows? If it is of God we will know soon enough. If it is not, it will die out of its own accord.

For us in the United States, all this moaning and fussing is really quite silly. What I do understand however are those in authority in such places as France where much energy has been spent suppressing this rite against those who feel the Church has gone astray and want us to return celebrating the way mass as it was before Vatican II because of it. They spent a lot of their authority capitol making the point that we have moved on and there is no returning. I felt the same way when defending parishes not allowing altar girls. I would say, “That is not our tradition, we are not allowed, Rome has spoken.” Well, then they spoke again and I felt as though I had enough egg on my face to feed a small 3rd world country. But you know what, if this is that to which we are called, you move on. The problem will be having both sides agree to play nicely with others and not run with scissors. When celebrated well, neither is “better” than the other. Both are mass. And as Christ is the ultimate celebrant of every sacrament, though we may get more out of one way than the other, the Christ proclaimed and the Body and Blood receive at both are exactly the same.

Perhaps I am really missing something here (and that is very possible) so file this under the, “nobody asked for my opinion” and “like what I think matters anyway” column, but let us wait and see and not get our liturgical underwear in a bunch in the mean time.


Anonymous said...

Well, we might be talking apples and oranges here, but you've apparently not worked with the alter Christi who don their Lenten purple for Mass, have a drum roll (literally) for their pre- and post-Communion jokes, then walk down the aisle to exit Mass saying loudly enough for small children to hear, "I feel like a giant grape!" Heh..



Fr. V said...


You are so right - I did think of that and that's why I felt obligated to say, "when they are celebrated well."

Terry Nelson said...

Very good post as usual.

Lynne said...

Thank you, Father. The ones who are upset about this...methinks they doth protest too much...

Habemus Papam said...

Nice post Fr. V. This topic has been filtering through out many other posts, those in particular from Rome, and I am very excited to see that something has been formally been stated by the Pope. I think this is a wonderful thing for the Church, and don't see it as a "set back" as many have said. There will also be no division as they have stated seeing how, as Fr. V stated, many do not know the full Latin mass. Let us enjoy the moment and see what happens.

Adoro said...

I simply don't think it will have much of an effect...although maybe it will help bring Latin back to the vernacular Mass. There is no reason we can't sing the Agnus Dei, the Sanctus, or say the Credo in Latin.

Anonymous said...

I dunno, Lynne.. we haven't even begun to discuss the bongos yet.. nor the EMHC's opening Adoration, etc. I just have to ask, "WWCAD" do? (What Would the Cure d'Ars Do?)

Odysseus said...

If I could go only to the TLM, I would. Unfortunately, as I am explaining on my blog(in an extremely long-winded fashion), I will have to curtail my Latin mass attendance for a while and get more in touch with my home parish (where I don't believe the MP will make any difference).

It's not the Latin. It's the format.

That, and I keep asking myself at the Novus Ordo mass, "Where did that table come from?" It constantly perplexes me as to how the table got into the mass.

Anonymous said...

It's simply more comtemporizing of everything, the fruits of which I'm sure not even Bl. John XXIII quite anticipated coming into the picture to muddy up everything.

The table? Which table? We have more than one in some sanctuaries! Do you mean the new altar? Well, we all offer the Mass, so we all needed a table. The one thing that consoled me was the linen over it.. like a holy pall that once covered a now-Risen Body. (That similar linen pall on caskets in funeral Masses consoles me, too.)

I thought I was doing the right thing long ago. To be far more involved in parish life as a layperson. Suddenly a fruit loop was on the Pastoral council for 3 years, headed up Social Events, was on every committee and edited a newsletter and addressed congregations from the podium from under a RCIA hat and also as disciple in lay-run Lenten and Advent services, yada yada...

I'm not so sure anymore. I backed off a while back, and the more I see female servers and meet female Pastoral associates, the less sure I become. What are we doing?

Anonymous said...

My young family and I love going to the Latin Mass once or twice a month down at Immaculate Conception. We just got a wondeful associate (i.e. very orthodox) at our new Novus Ordo suburban parish in Westlake (we just moved here as well) and we are hoping he may begin having a Tradtional Mass here every Sunday.

Keep us in your prayers.