Sunday, December 17, 2006

Coffee and Conversations on the Potential Changes to the use of Latin in the Liturgy

Post-Mass conversations with my parents usually cover the following topics:

- The coffee we ordered
- The events of my week
- The events of their week
- The events of my siblings' week
- Catholic and political events (they afford me a few minutes to indulge in my political science background)
- The Liturgy

You wouldn't think it, but the most lively topic is usually the Liturgy. When I returned to my faith two years ago, I never knew the Mass was said in Latin. A trip to Europe and Pope Benedict's The Spirit of the Liturgy later, I was dying for some Latin in our 'Bugnini Masses'. Our English translations were so clunky; our hymns so flakey. By the Grace of God, our local pastor introduces a little more Latin into the Mass every year, especially during Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, and thus part of my appetite for the language of the Church is satisfied. But I, like my parents, want more. We want a vibrant Latin liturgy, or at least a liturgy that isn't afraid to use Latin and English together. When I was volunteering at WYD 2005, my fellow freiwilligen und mich discussed the positives and negatives of the Novus Ordo Mass. We appreciated understanding all the Liturgy in our mother tongues. We appreciated the participation. But on the other hand, we found the new Mass to lack reverence and sanctity. It was too much like everything else in our society. Latin would at the very least offer us a time truly outside of this world. And on top of this, going to Mass in a foreign country was a little difficult if you didn't speak the native tongue.

Hence it is with much joy that I heard the Holy Father is planning an indult to all bishops to 'deregulate' the use of Latin in the Mass. No one is really sure how 'deregulated' it will be, but I'm certain we won't be witnessing a return to the Tridentine Mass, or even a major up turn in requests for it. It will probably 'universalize' the Mass in way not seen since before the 1970s, as most parishes will likely offer at least one 'Latin' Mass each day of obligation. It will also have a profound affect on the Liturgical music, as the latest Marty Haugen jingle will sound absolutely ridiculous after the congregation and the priest chant the Sanctus or the Gloria in Latin.

Of the people my parents and I have spoken to about the indult, the general feeling is quite positive. Catholics, especially of the younger variety, are craving a truly countercultural experience that will remind them of Christ's calling, and the sanctity of the Eucharist. Older Catholics will probably have a harder time acclimatizing to the changes, of course, since they have spent the last 40 years praying a certain way. Habits can be hard to change (unless you're a feminist nun - ha ha ha!). But everyone seems pleased, if not a little impatient; we've been waiting a while for this.


Harrison said...

The indult that will be released will not be for the ability to say a Latin Mass...that is already permitted...but for the use of the Tridentine Mass for those who wish. Word has it that it will happen in January.

I concur that there ought to be more Latin. The common prayers really ought to be in Latin, while those which vary from week to week should be in english. Stuff like the Gloria, Pater Noster, Eucharistic Prayers (that's a toss up though...because it can change since there's about 12), Sanctus, closing blessing, and others that are commonly used should be in Latin.

This was the opinion of the Bishop who is incharge of English in the Liturgy for all conferences who have English Missals. He also thinks that the new translation is much more reverential in its language and brings back the beauty that has come from choppy translations. The Roman Missal is in its 3rd Edition since the changes, yet we are still using the translation from the 1st Edition, which is NOT good.

And the local Pastor is mulling over the use of Latin more in the Mass. A few of us have been talking to him about more of it's use and he takes a few months to mull things over, so fear not, I have a feeling we'll hear more.

You'll be happy to know that the Aspotolic Exhortation that is coming out in January will be addressing the issue of Latin in the Mass and, apparently, will be encouraging the training of Seminarians in Latin again (not necessary at the moment) as well as the study of Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony. This is, I am sure, B16's first attempts at bringing about a proper practice of the Liturgy.

Also, re: communion rails, we may have some at the Tabernacle and front of the Altar is another thing our beloved Pastor is mulling over.

You should ask him to use some more Latin at your wedding Mass if you want...I think he'd be open to it :).


The Poodle said...

Thanks for the correction, Harrison.

My brother is studying theology at the Master's level, and he has to learn Latin. You'd think seminarians would have to as well.