Monday, June 11, 2007

Latin Revivalism a la Benedict 16

Some of my friends at Catholic Explorers have been discussing the impending motu proprio which is expected to permit the use of the Tridentine Rite without permission of a bishop. As it stands now, if you want to have the Mass said according to the Old Rite, you need the permission of your local bishop. It's expected that the motu proprio will change all that.

I don't know about you, but I would love a bit more Latin in the liturgy. My favourite hymns and prayers are in Latin, and I've always felt that it lends a much more eternal and sacramental feeling to the Mass, at least for a regular Joe-60 Ouncer like myself. Speaking a language that is not your mother tongue is always a special experience, bewildering and difficult at times yes, but always worth it. Imagine how it would be to speak the mother tongue of your faith! (leaving aside Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek of course)

So back to my friends. One thinks that the use of the Old Rite will lead toward proper liturgical evolution, a process that was upset after Vatican II. The other is more skeptical, feeling that a direct indult requiring the use of Latin in the Novus Ordo Mass would be more effective and rule out the possibility of creating a Tridentine and New Order factional divide within the Church. Those are both compelling arguments and I think both are right. The thing is, I'm pretty sure we're supposed to be using some Latin in the Novus Ordo Mass already, which makes me skeptical of how effective any direct indult would be.

I personally think Ol'Ben is up to something a little more indirect, which would make sense if he were truly wishing to revitalize the process of liturgical evolution, and heck, we all know it's more his style to do things subtly than with a bang. Visit Catholic Explorers for more on this discussion.


Anonymous said...

Boy oh boy, you hit my favourite topic!!

We were blessed with exposure to the Tridentine as adolescents--when the Indult was offered in Victoria at Queen of Peace. Plus I had a year of boarding school in which daily Mass and all other sacraments were in the old rite.

Of course for the majority of our formative years, we attended the current Mass, and only at those where the pastors were solid or conservative (for lack of better terms).

I say all this to provide a bit of background. I have been to plenty of properly celebrated Novus Ordo Masses. But there is just something about the Tridentine--I am no theologian. I am not trying to tear down the NO. Those who prefer it, are perfectly within their rights, and I respect that.

To my mind, the difference between rites is like that of the modern, rather barren churches vs. the beauty of many of the churches built in times past. It is not merely the Latin (or lack thereof) that causes the difference, but a deeper, perhaps more subtle reason. I find beauty more easily in the Tridentine than in the NO. And beauty naturally raises our minds and hearts to God. Good art/architecture, beautiful music, a Mass of great beauty and transcendency--that's Heaven.

It also seems that there are plenty of NO priests interested in taking the training in the Tridentine--apparently the courses are booked up early, with wait-lists for the next course, before the first has even started! They have no trouble filling seminaries, either, nor do the solid NO dioceses with strong Catholic Bishops. I can't see the Pope forcing Latin on the NO, THAT would be a major uproar. Encyclicals coming from Rome continually state that Latin should be retained, as should Chant, but it has yet to be done. In a spirit of obedience, we should be doing it, but are not, for whatever reason.

Yes, ideally, the Masses should have more Latin, more chant and polyphony, much less guitar and me music. Wouldn't that be great! At this point (at least in my area), it seems that a massive, miraculous correction of musical/language conscience would be needed to even start reform. BUT I know that I will get the beauty and loveliness of chant and good hymns at the Tridentine. There, I hear homilies in which writings from Trent, the Church Fathers, Pope JPII, Fulton J. Sheen, etc, are mentioned. No discontinuity or favouring of one side of the sixties over the other (w/regard to solid writers). I know I'll be reminded to go to confession frequently (being human, it's easy to forget the tough stuff and concentrate on the easy). Mary our mother is mentioned often, too. I'm not saying this isn't possible with the NO, but it is much more rare.

My dearest wish has always been that the Tridentine be offered freely, and be freely available anywhere. In fact, that is one consideration which makes it difficult to decide to move back to Victoria. I don't even know if there is any Tridentine society or group who would support an Indult anymore (I don't want to get into the Pius X society, I know it offers in Victoria once a month). It is important that our kids have a knowledge and love of their heritage.

I am honestly puzzled about the fear there is (esp. among the hierarchy) regarding possible "divisiveness". Are there so many "Tridentine-ites" that would kick up a fuss? The 99 percent majority don't really care, do they?? Any division I think would stem from a lack of obedience/support of the Bishops. If the Byzantine and other rites can co-exist within the Church, why not Tridentine and NO? Heck, there are so many flavours of NO, would the addition of a Tridentine be noticed by the majority?

My opinion is, that if the Church says the Tridentine is okay, we should all be open to it. I'm not saying those who are not interested should be forced to attend, but that if it is of God, it will bear fruit, if not, then it will die out. Right now, it seems to be bearing very good fruit indeed, even under suppressive conditions. I admit, I am very interested to see what God will do with the two rites, should our "Papa" make them co-equal. Should be an exciting century, but in a good way this time!

Here in Edmonton, in just 6 months, we can tell the difference now that the Tridentine is offered weekly at a reasonable time, sometimes 3 times a week. There are now 8-12 altarboys, there are 30-50 people attending, and Mass of the Angels is sung, with a one-man schola chanting the propers. They're looking for more volunteers for that too.

Alas, we are only able to make it once a month, it costing a tank of gas, and an arising time of 5:30am. But it is worth all the financial sacrifice and sleep deprivation. My other small dream was to have our 3 boys serve at the Tridentine, and that, praise God, finally came to pass this last weekend!

God Bless,


Colm said...

It's everyone's favourite topic these days.

After thinking about the potential divisivness of any expanded use of the Old Rite last night, I'm now in full agreement with you. In my parish alone, we already have people who go to Masses celebrated by only a certain priest, or Masses celebrated in a certain (High Mass v. the vernacular Mass), or even Masses celebrated at a certain time. Divisions based upon Mass preference already exist, and if anything, Catholic history of the last 4 decades tells us that when it comes to factionalizing the Church, Mass preference is one of the more marginal factors. As my newly coverted wife pointed out last night, Catholics aren't mad at Catholics about what goes on in Mass - they're mad at each other about what goes on after Mass.

Anonymous said...

"Catholics aren't mad at Catholics about what goes on in Mass - they're mad at each other about what goes on after Mass."

Especially parking lot drivers:).

Catholics are mad at Catholics who are badly formed and yet enforce changes in the Mass and Church buildings, changes which erode reverence and beauty. Trying hard not to be mad!


Harrison said...

Colm, we definitely need to get together for a beer one of these days!


Harrison said...

To respond to E.C.

I agree with both about that divisiveness and I tackle that in my newest comment the Catholic Explorers blog on this comment.

However, I disagree that the Tridentine Mass is superior to the Novus Ordo.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful Novus Ordo Masses that I have seen have been on EWTN. They understand the necessity of Latin in the Liturgy and they celebrate ad orientum (though only off camera, their Bishop will not allow it on camera).

Anyways, I wish I could be present at such a Mass because I see the beauty that one can see in the Tridentine Mass. It is an organicly grown Mass. The Tridentine Mass is organic, but the way the Rite is celebrated HAS changed organically throughout the centuries. The nature of the Mass has not, but the Rite has, and it is there that I disagree that the Tridentine Mass is superior in beautiy to the Novus Ordo.

It is unfortunate that it is not celebrated the way it ought to. But if you ever do go to a Novus Ordo celebrated accordingly, I think you would agree that it is just as beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry if I wasn't clear--I was just making a statement of opinion that I prefer the Tridentine over a well-said modern Mass. I don't want to get into a "which is superior" argument--plenty of others have done so and continue to do it.

My attitude toward the above is, God allows it, and if He doesn't want it or finds it wanting, He'll deal with it in His own time. Of course reformation of some sort is needed, but that's not my job, other than praying for it of course.

I've been to Latin N.O.s, I've been to those which use the altar rails, have been truly blessed with the N.O. pastors I've had from childhood onwards. Many of them agree privately that Latin is to be encouraged, but lack the ability to to so, probably due to lack of support at the chancery office. And maybe the justifiable fear that some of the congregation will revolt.

I agree that EWTN's Masses are beautiful, and I bet at Mother Angelica's they are even more magnificent--Benediction is awesome there anyway. The Immaculate Conception Grotto is excellent too. Being able to attend one like that in our area would make us way more happy out here, but if it was a choice between the Latin NO w/chant and incense, and the Tridentine, both being equally available, I'm thinking we'd be going Tridentine. But that's us, and others will decide differently.

The big thing for me is I think, the beautiful psalms and prayers in the Tridentine, which are not abbreviated. They sink into your mind, never to be forgotten--such as the familiar "I will go unto the altar of God...", or "I will wash my hands among the innocent..." come to mind.

God Bless,