To Re-Propose Rather than to Impose – A Reflection on The Latin Mass and Traditional Forms

I had the privilege of being on the Catholic Answers Live radio program on Monday. The topic was the Traditional Latin Mass. The Host, Patrick Coffin, presents an excellent show each night and is heard on most Catholic radio stations 6-8 pm Eastern Time.

You can hear the whole, hour long interview here: Catholic Answers Live – The Latin Mass.

I would like to mention a few of the topics that came up in the show either by Mr. Coffin, or by callers.

Mark your CalendarAnd while we discuss some Liturgical topics please also mark your calendar for a splendid celebration of a Pontifical Solemn High Mass at the High Altar of the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception here in Washington DC. It will Take place Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 1:00pm. The Celebrant will be Archbishop Joseph DiNoia, OP, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Liturgy. Here’s a flyer you can print: Pontifical Mass Flyer. The picture from last year’s Mass is to upper right of this post.

Among the issues discussed in the radio interview are some of these:

1. To Re-propose tradition rather than to impose – Several of the questions surrounded the issue of how far to go with diversity in the liturgy and what can be done to root the Church more deeply in traditional forms of the liturgy. In this matter  I have found that Pope Benedict has taken an approach wherein he has chosen to re-propose traditional elements, and the extraordinary form of the Mass rather than to impose them.

There are some in more traditional circles that would like him to use a heavier hand and simply abolish what they consider less desirable things such as modern instruments, Mass facing the people, communion in the hand, and so forth. There are others who fear that some of the freedoms they now enjoy in the ordinary form of the Mass will be simply taken away by the Pope.

But in all this Pope Benedict has a pastor’s heart. He has written clearly of his concerns over certain trends in modern liturgical practice. However, it would seem that his approach has been to re-propose more traditional practices and allow them greater room in the Church. In so doing he signals bishops and priests that they should be freer make use of such options. With the faithful more widely exposed to traditional elements, their beauty and value can be appreciated anew by the wider Church, and they will also excerpt increasing influence. But this will be done in an organic way that does not shock some of the faithful or provoke hostile reaction.

I must say that I have come to appreciate the value of this approach. As a diocesan priest I minister to a wide variety of the faithful, many of whom would not easily understand or accept a sudden imposition of the things preferred by Catholics of a more traditional bent. Mass said, ad orientem  is appealing to me for a wide variety of reasons. But many are not ready for a shift back. The Pope has modeled the option in the Sistine Chapel for the new Mass. I have made occasional use of this option at my own parish by using side altars for smaller Masses. The wider use of the extraordinary form in my own parish and throughout the world will also reacquaint the faithful with this posture. Little by little (“brick by brick,” shall we say) there will be a greater comfort with this eastward orientation. The same can be said for the use of Latin, Gregorian Chant having pride of place, communion on the tongue, kneeling for communion and the like. If the Pope were merely to impose such things we might find that pastoral harm was caused and open dissent might also be a problem.

2.  The silence of the Traditional Latin Mass was praised but also raised some questions. It is obviously harder for the faith to follow the Mass when much of it is whispered. Indeed, it had often been the practice of the faithful to quietly pray rosaries while Mass was going on, or say private prayers. The bells would signal them as to important moments requiring their attention. By the late 1940s and into the 1950s there was strong encouragement made for the faithful to use missals and follow along with the Mass while reading vernacular translations. The widely viewed black and white video of a Solemn High Latin Mass narrated by Fulton Sheen, (HERE),  was an attempt to teach the faithful more about the Mass and get them to use their hand missals. There were also experiments with using microphones on the altar, and beginning “dialogue” Masses wherein the faithful were encouraged to make the responses along with the server. So, while the silence of the Traditional Latin Mass is prayerful for some, others find it challenging to follow along. It takes a while to learn the visual cues as to where the priest is in the Mass and be able to follow. Some who experience this quietness are even provoked to anger that they are so “left out” of the Mass. Hence there are many different reactions to it.

3. The use of a sacred language. Some are bewildered by the use of a language that “no one understands” for the the Mass. But to this there are three answers.

First, the prayers are directed to God who understands Latin perfectly well. There is a tendency in modern liturgy to think its “all about me.” But the use of Latin makes it very clear we are directing our prayer to God, rather than to the edification of the congregation per se.

Second, liturgical Latin is not that hard and most of the faith have a familiarity with many of the responses. Some of the collects and other changeable prayers were obviously less well understood. But the English translation is readily available with the use of a hand missal.

Third, the use of a “sacred” language is not uncommon in human history. Notably, at the time of Jesus, the people spoke Aramaic in the streets and houses, but Hebrew in the synagogue and temple. There is no evidence that Jesus ever railed against such a practice and he, himself, read the Hebrew Scriptures in the synagogue. He had many concerns he expressed over the elitist and scornful religious leaders of his day and over certain religious practices. But the use of a sacred language in the liturgy was not among his listed concerns.

Balance – The use of the vernacular has many benefits, to be sure. But the loss of a common liturgical language is sad. Greater familiarity with the “mother tongue” of the Roman Catholic Church should be encouraged. Those who call the use of Latin “wrong” go too far. Latin can and should have a more frequent use than it currently does while not neglecting to appreciate the value that the vernacular has also brought.

4. One caller had an interesting question about the pronunciation of  Latin. He had been trained in classical Latin, and found that Church Latin sounds more like Italian. I got the sense that this grated on his ears! To be fair, the classical method of pronunciation has scholarly roots, but to me it sounds like Castilian Spanish. Theories abound about how the ancient Romans pronounced Latin. What puzzles me is why anyone thinks there was one way it was pronounced. Latin was spoken over a wide area from one end of the Mediterranean to the other, and north into Europe, later. Just as here in America, English is spoken with a wide variety of accents and pronunciation, surely Latin must also have had a wide variety of “sounds.” Church Latin simply took up the accent common in and around Rome. No doubt it does sound like Italian,  for the Italians are descendants of the Romans who lived in that region.

5. Problems in the Past – When I learned the Traditional Latin Mass back in the mid 1980s I interviewed a number of older priests and wondered why their generation had discarded something I thought was so beautiful. Most of them told me that in fact the Mass was often poorly celebrated. The Mass was hurried, the Latin was mumbled, the genuflections were half-hearted. There was great pressure to get things done. Low Mass on a  Sunday morning could be as short as 18 minutes. The more beautiful sung forms were rarely done and choirs had little skill when it came to executing the Chants.

There were exceptional parishes where things were done with greater solemnity and care, but the older guys told me the big picture was pretty bleak. Thus most welcomed the changes and found that the English imposed on them a more careful celebration in terms of how they said the prayers. It would seem therefore, before we idealize the past, we ought to have some sobriety that certain lacks and abuses may have given rise to the felt need for reform.

That said, we have tragically suffered and whole new series of abuses and problems. And the hoped for reforms were dashed on the rocks by a cultural storm that was blowing through the West. Continuity was lost and most have experienced a great tearing away from tradition and the Mass that the saints knew. With God’s grace we will find our way back to a greater continuity as the Pope re-proposes the tradition and seeks to knit together what is currently good with what has been lost.

Listen to the show if you get a chance, the link is above.

Plan as well to come the Pontifical Solemn High Mass here in DC if you live here or nearby. You won’t regret that you did. There is just nothing more splendid than a Solemn High Pontifical Mass. Archbishop DiNoia is also a fine homilist. Last year’s Mass was a great blessing with Bishop Slattery who is also a fine homilist. Here is a video clip of the day and info on how you can order the DVD if you so wish.

39 Replies to “To Re-Propose Rather than to Impose – A Reflection on The Latin Mass and Traditional Forms”

  1. The complaint about not understanding the Latin Mass is confusing to me. I have been to mass in California said in Vietnamese, I have been to mass in Mexico sadi in Spanish, and I have been to other masses where I actually COULD understand, but it was like fingernails on a chalkboard. Now, with the Latin Mass, I can go ANYWHERE in the world with my St. Joseph’s missal, and absolutely follow what is going on (except for the homily, obviously!) Isn’t that what is all about?

  2. There were certainly ” abuses ” in the celebration of the traditional Latin mass, I remember them well. One element we could take immediately from the traditional mass is its sacred music. Nothing approaches it in beauty and grandure. And the Latin used in the sung chant is pretty easy and comes with English text below the Latin. What passes for liturgical music today is just horrible, to be polite. It may sound great to the converted Protestant or Evangelical ear but to someone raised on trditional liturgical music it just misses the mark. And the sung masses of the old days went pretty well I thought, at least in and around K.C.

    I really have no other objection about the current form. It took a long time but I finally have come to appreciate the use of the vernacular in the mass. I also much prefer the new style vestments, and I’m glad to see the old top hat go.

    I do think there are too many sung masses today and some of the music directors get a little over zealous. And while , in the old days, some priests said mass too quickly, today the tendency is to extend mass unreasonably. I mean, some priests feel duty bound to keep us in church for at least an hour, even if that means singing the third, fourth, and perhaps the fifth stanzas to some pretty horrible music, or making needless commentary at mass, or inviting Mr. or Mrs. Jones from club ” Do Good, ” or Dr. Magic from the Diocesian Office of Finance to give a fifteen minute sales talk some where along the line. Our pastor has hit on the ingenious idea or incerting these ” pitches ” just after the sermon so people won’t be tempted to leave before the pitch is made. And one of the tendencies I really, really hate is the recorded or video presentation to the Bishop’s annual appeal. I really wonder if those things do much good.

    1. I don’t know about every convert, but as a convert myself, and speaking for some friend of mine who are converts, we prefer more traditional music. We wandered around long enough in the wasteland of “make-it-up-myself-Protestantism” and one of the things that drew us to the Catholic Church was its tradition. IMO/IME the people who like the pop/folk liturgical music tend to be cradle Catholics of a certain age.

      1. Exactly Sarah, I’m a convert in a way myself. Born in 1970, I knew only the splendor of the “made up by protestants and freemason” new mass until about the age of 37. When I finally made it through the desert and took in a Latin high mass, I understood all at once why they wanted to end it. It’s pure power, beauty, and glory given to God. I truly believe the Church structure as it currently exists is crumbling, the Church herself will never die of course but the structure as it currently exists it’s finished. The rebirth and subsequent conversion of the world will be a glory. Deo Gratias.

        (note: Editor, please forgive me for posting the same comment/topic twice, an error on my part)

  3. I attended my first Latin Mass a month ago. It was a Low Mass on a weekday. I had no idea what was being said and could not follow in the missal because the priest seemed to go so fast. I followed what everyone else did as far as standing, kneeling, etc.. I thought the Mass being said in Latin would be more reverent than being said in English. It wasn’t. However, it was more reverent because of the priest’s actions. I could tell it was all centered around the eucharist. There was a crescendo when the priest came to the part of the consecretion. And communion was quick! No EMs needed and there was a big crowd. You went up to the rail, kneeled, took the Body of Christ on the tongue and left. The Mass itself was completed in less then 35 minutes but I staid for the prayers after Mass. I was out in my car in 45 minutes. Back at home (it was a 40 minute drive to this Mass), I found a book on line called “The Latin Mass Explained” by Msgr. George J. Moorman. Got it, read it, and now I understand what is being done at Mass, not only at the Latin rite but in the liturgy today. I am going back to the Latin Mass, a High Mass this time. I am going to go at least once a month to remember how it was done. Now I think the Church was correct in wanting to get the people more involved in the Mass but they went way too far! Perhaps they should have kept the liturgy like it was but had it translated in the common language of the people and let them respond with the altar boys. In any case, it was confusing but beautiful and I can’t wait to go back for more. And the more I go, the more beautiful it will become and the less confusing it will be. Heck, I even bought a book on how to say some prayers in Latin! Oremus!

  4. This is a great summary of the reasons why the liturgy changed so drastically with so little resistance. I would add that there was an air of inevitability about the whole thing. Actually the changes in worship lagged behind what was going on in the broader society. Folk music had been dead for years when it became the “official” liturgical music of post-Vatican II.

    When Pius XII revised the Holy Week liturgy in 1955, he may have inadvertently brought on the deluge. A body in motion tends to remain in motion.

    1. Ahh no sir, the direct imposition of the new mess is the direct result of the actions of three popes John XXIII, Paul VI, and JP2. To attribute this in any way to Pius XII is incorrect.

  5. “re-propose traditional elements…rather than to impose them.”

    Curious: why was this approach not taken back when the traditional form was the norm? My relatives were scandalized to see the Mass they love swiftly change in just a few short years without their say or consent. Some died of broken hearts to witness things like the stained glass windows and statues they’d scraped together pennies during the Great Depression to buy get tossed into the rubbish heap, and to be told that times had change and they just needed to adjust. The new form of the Mass was not desired or expected when it was imposed from above in the 1960s. Where has the newfound solicitude for pastoral care come from? A bunch of them — my father included — simply gave up and stopped attending Mass altogether because the abrupt changes in worship, law, and catechism convinced them the Catholic Church was a man-made institution an not Divine after all.

    I’m a convert from Protestantism myself and had no particular difficulty learning the Latin rubrics, so I can only scratch my head at the statement that the Latin that even medieval peasants had no trouble with is somehow a roadblock to folks from our enlightened era.

    1. In regard to: “The new form of the Mass was not desired or expected when it was imposed from above in the 1960s…A bunch of them — my father included — simply gave up and stopped attending Mass altogether because the abrupt changes in worship, law, and catechism convinced them the Catholic Church was a man-made institution an not Divine after all.”

      Dear Sean – did not the liturgies given to us after Vatican II come the same way the previous ones did: from the men who are the Holy Spirit-guided stewards of God’s divine institution, the Church? I agree that an error may have been made with how apparently quickly the change occurred. It is unfortunate that some protested and parted. However, arguing over the use of Latin does not find a standing, really, unless the Latin is absolutely necessary in the priest’s ability to communicate the proper intent with God (Who, by the way, does not need Latin to understand us) and in the ability of the faithful to understand the liturgy and to also communicate properly with God. We communicate precisely when we use the language that we precisely understand. None of us precisely understand Latin as well as we precisely understand English, and Latin is easily translated into English. It is not English which is bad; it is a faulty translation which is bad (I think that we know this from our experience with improper translations of the Scriptures and some of the prayers which have been in use in the Liturgy of today’s Mass). I’m just speaking from the basis of common sense here. Peace and kindness. 🙂

  6. I recall a couple of my dear grandmother’s (may God rest her soul) peculiar attitudes toward the Mass. She was offended by the removal of the statues. If we went to Mass in a contemporary style church, she would tell me there was no “religion” in that church. She also devoutly prayed her rosary during every Mass and seemed distracted by the idea that she should have to participate in the liturgy.

  7. A few years ago I was part of a Jewish – Catholic dialogue group. As part of our program, we went to a Friday night Shabbat service. It was conducted in both Hebrew and English. It was a very reverential service – a very beautiful and holy service.

    It brought back memories of the Latin Mass and quite frankly, I was a little jealous that the Jewish congregation was able to worship in a special and sacred language, unlike ourselves. After a little while, I found that I could pray and sing along with the others – there was a lot of repetition so it was reasonably easy to catch on to reading the Hebrew.

    There are several things I would like to see changed in our Mass. First, I think that Latin can be brought into the current Mass through the Agnus Dei, Pater Noster, Sanctus, Gloria, etc. – which, I believe, can be done now. Two additional changes would be having the Priest and us all facing the Altar (behind which is the Tabernacle) to pray together to God and having Communion on the tongue by kneeling at the Altar rail.

    The “proposing” versus “imposing” is key. It seems to me that a lot of young people seem to like the traditional Mass. Rather than a “tops down” situation, it appears that it may be rather a grass roots effort – along with the “re-proposing” that is happening – and the two meeting somewhere in the middle.

    Many people are looking for a sense of the Sacred and the Holy – and that’s a good thing…

    1. Did you wear a cross or some outward sign of your Catholic identity such that it would unambiguously differentiate you from the Jews at Shabbat service?

  8. Let’s not forget that Benedict XVI is not personally pro-choice on the issue of communion reception. In order to receive communion from the pope, one must be kneeling and receive the host on the tongue. (The only exception in the past couple of years was a bizarre incident involving Queen Sofia.)

    While I value those laboring the fields working to shift the laity from liturgical chaos and banality to something closer to sanity and tradition, I think it needs to be accomplished like Benedict XVI’s leadership on communion. He believes something, and he does that something. He doesn’t believe one thing and do another.

    This is what ultimately separates the men from the boys. Saying something is good — often very good. But doing something is better — often setting a precedent. I cannot imagine a group of people receiving communion from the pope in the hand and/or standing now that Benedict has put into action what he has been writing about for years.

    Granted, it is one step — and there are a billion more to take to restore sanity in the absolute disaster that is the novus ordo in 2011. But it is a very important, significant step. It is walk, not just talk, using both charity and fortitude.

  9. Wow what a great combination. Catholic Answers, one of the organizations that helped me the most in my return to the Church and Monsignor Pope one of the people that while he was at St. Mary of the Mills helped keep me in the Church during tough times. Listening right now.

  10. Sherry, your experience is so important to the discussion I have had with my relatives. They will so easily find the good in jewish or muslim friends who struggle to learn their sacred languages but they (my catholic relatives) cannot see the same thing with the Catholic faith. Not to mention how sentamental my sisters get when they read about a middle aged divorcee who runs away to Italy for four months so that she can learn a language she’ll never continue with when she gets home.(?) Oh well… On a similar note: If a person can ‘learn’ all the slang, gutter-ish words that flow thru our media, movies, books, these same people can handle a bit of latin to praise the God of the Universe. I’ll never be fluent in latin but i feel that trying to learn is keeping my brain from calcifing…

  11. I am so thankful to God our Heavenly Father for your priestly ministry. It gives my heart much joy to know that you are my teacher, leader and guide. DiNoia is a God gifted homilist. I recently heard his homily on Thomas Aquinas. It blew my socks off. I learned a lot. Needless to say, I’ll be there. To God be the GREATER glory!. Amen.

  12. “If the Pope were merely to impose such things we might find that pastoral harm was caused and open dissent might also be a problem.”

    I strongly favor the Traditional Mass, but I have no problem with a very reverently celebrated OF Mass. I don’t want to see the TLM imposed, but I would like it to be freely available at more than 1 or 2 parishes per diocese (or state). I don’t want those attached to the OF Mass to go through the trauma those attached to the TLM went through when that form of Mass was forbidden virtually overnight. I do find the worry over ‘open dissent’ rather ironic – don’t we already have a huge amount of open dissent on all kinds of issues?

  13. Monsignor it’s just time to IMPOSE the TLM on everybody. The mass of bugnini is simply a disaster and if not said exactly, correctly, is often invalid. It’s a fact that protestants and freemasons created the novus ordo mass. This fact of history cannot be denied or ignored. I am a Catholic faithful to the magisterium but I only attend the Latin Mass. Our Lord IS present on novus ordo alters (see Michigan eucharist miracle just recently) but unfortunately this new mass just has too many shenanigans nearly everywhere. The solution is simply to take everyone back to the TLM. The novus ordo is directly responsible for the current apostasy within the Church. There is a great trial ahead for the Church after which she will be reborn and the Latin Mass will be the only mass. Deo Gratias!

    1. Sigh.

      Maybe it is because of attitudes like this that some areas have not been too keen on accomodating those who want the “TLM.”

      1. Bender,

        The above posting is a correct and honest “attitude” born of facts. That the Church is in apostasy in the US and Western Europe is not debatable, it’s a fact. If you want to sigh about anything, sigh about the 80% or more US “Catholics” who don’t believe in the true presence of our Lord, don’t believe or even understand basic tenets of the faith and who don’t even think it’s necessary to attend mass on Sunday. There is a lot to sigh about there but unfortunately sighing and hand wringing about those “crazy conservaties/lefebvrists/traddies/” or whatever other label is applied by those who loathe the true message of the Church does nothing to accomplish anything.

        Start teaching people their faith and what the Mass means and why and how our Lord is truly present. Then the problems with church closings and consolidations, priests shortages and the like will END overnight.

  14. Msgr, can you give an update on the current state of the Ex Form of the Roman Rite in the ADW? According to Cardinal Wuerl’s Wikipedia page, he has effectively-squelched the spread of this form of the rite in the archdiocese. Some clarification would be welcome.

    1. Such a charge would neither be fair or accurate. Currently the TLM is offered every Sunday at: St. John’s Silver Spring, St. John Neuman, Gaithersburg, St. Mary’s, DC, St. Francis DeSales, Benedict MD, St. Francis Xavier Newtown, every Wed at the basilica, Evey Friday at St. Mary’s, I also offer it every First Friday At Holy Comforter, and Msgr. Smith offers it ocassionally at St. Bernadettes. There are plans for a second Pontifical at the Basilica April 9. I will also be offering a Solemn Mass on Shrove Tuesday At Blessed Sacrament in DC. I would not call this rather full menu a squelching at all.

      1. So to be clear, pastors in the archdiocese are free to exercise their option for a Sunday (or other) TLM without fear of disapproval from the chancery? That’s the state of things in Arlington, but I’ve heard that it’s a bit different north of the Potomac.

        1. Yes, Pastors are free. As for fear of disapproval, that would be an self generated fear since the Cardinal has not expressed disapproval. Some would wish for him to vigorously advocate the TLM and interpret his quiet stance as disfavor. But it is not. I can assure the list is long of people and causes that want him to vigorously champion their vision. The Motu proprio is in force in this disocese in regard to the TLM

          1. Msgr,

            I can’t tell from the post and comments above which Cardinal you’re speaking of but I know that in my Florida diocese there aren’t more Latin masses because the Bishop does not approve. The Bishop is in charge and must be obeyed of course so even though each priest is “free” to celebrate the Latin mass it just doesn’t happen. No priest in his right mind is going to do something that he knows will offend the control freak bishop even though he is perfectly entitled to celebrate the Latin mass whenever and wherever. That this is going on in dioceses around the country cannot be denied. Why else would there be only one Latin mass in a diocese at 6pm on Tuesday (for example) 4 years after the Motu Proprio? If anyone denies this is going on they are simply burying their head in the sand.

      2. And allow me to put a plug in for a traditional Latin Solemn High Mass that Monsignor Pope will offer this Sunday evening.

        5 pm on Sunday 2/13 at Saint Mary’s at 5th and H, NW.

        The parish schola of men will sing the propers and Credo in Gregorian chant and a guest choir, Musikanten, will sing Josquin’s “Missa Pange Lingua.”

  15. The main problem I find with the traditional Mass is the PROPERS. They should be in the vernacular MOST OF THE TIME, for the simple reason that ONE SHOULD HAVE THE ATTITUDE OF LECTIO DIVINA IN HEARING THE CHANTS AND PRAYERS THAT CHANGE FROM MASS TO MASS: i.e. RECEPTIVITY OF THE WHOLE PERSON TO THE WORDS SUNG AS THE WAY THAT ALLOWS ONE TO BE PERSONALLY TOUCHED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT AS TO THEIR IMPORT FOR ONE’S OWN LIFE.. The problem with the Latin propers is that ONE HAS TO DIVIDE ONE’S ATTENTION BETWEEN HEARING AND READING AT THE SAME TIME WHICH INTERFERES WITH THE INTUITIVE RECEPTIVITY OF THE WORSHIPPER,As a result most JUST DON’T TRY TO READ A PARALLEL VERNACULAR TEXT WHILE THE PARTS ARE SUNG OR PROCLAIMED. Result: LITTLE RETENSION OF THE TEXTS SO CHANTED and therefore NO NOURISHMENT FROM THE VERY WORDS OF THE LITURGY THAT CHANGE FROM MASS TO MASS, in which texts is where the RICHNESS OF THE RITE IS. For this TO HAPPEN, one simply must compose English Chants inspired by the Gregorian repertoire WITH THE CONDITION THAT THE ENGLISH TEXT IS SUPREME AND THE MELODY MUST BE FITTING THE ENGLISH. This is how the ancient liturgy GOT ITS MUSICAL REPERTOIRE from the CENTURIES (about 800yrs) of monks and cannons in the first place: monks et alia responding with their spirit being so moved by the WORDS of the Liturgy that proke out in prayerful song. To do this in English it is not so beautiful as in Latin due to the different sounds of the two languages. But it is essential for a LITURGICAL PIETY that the TEXTS OF THE LITURGY BE HEARD IN A RECEPTIVE (not ACTIVELY ASSERTIVE) ATTITUDE, thus not READ BUT THROUGH THE EAR. Same as for LISTENING TO THE READINGS IN THE VERNACULAR instead of reading them while they’re proclaimed (in Latin OR English), SO AS TO ALLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT TO GET TO THE HEART WITHOUT DILUTION THAT NECESSARILY COMES FROM DIVIDING ONE’S ATTENTION.

    A couple of FACTS OF HISTORY about LATIN:

    The Roman Liturgy was the FIRST to translate into the vernacular Latin from the Greek among all the traditions (first in N. Africa among Roman colonials who brought it over to Rome by the early 4th cent.)


    Pope Nicholas the Great in the 9th cent. FULLY APPROVED OF CYRIL AND METHODIUS’ TRANSLATION OF THE LITURGY OF BYZANTIUM INTO OLD SLAVONIC AGAINST WESTERN AND EASTERN CRITICISMS (the FIRST of their translations was in Glagolithic and it was the Liturgy of St. Peter, ie the Roman Canon in Dalmatia, which was used FOR CENTURIES INSTEAD OF LATIN IN Croatia, which belonged to the Roman Patriarchate! Then came the Cyrillic in Bulgaria. The reason THIS WORKED was that Old Slavonic was spoken at that time by ALL THE SLAVS FROM RUSSIA TO THE BALKANS, unlike the linguistic multiplicity of tongues than could vary from town to town in terms of comprehension within one area and from region to region in the West.

    The Church considered seriously translation into the developed Western European languages in the 15th centuries on into the 16th, but by the time Rome got around to deciding such things, the Prots had already stole that thunder to GREAT EFFECT, SO THAT NOW ROME WAS SKITTISH ABOUT DOING THE SAME FEARING THAT THE LOCAL CLERGY WOULD INTRODUCE CHANGES ON THEIR OWN. (they did not have any scruples about translating the Bible, however, and BEFORE the Reformation their were MANY EDITIONS OF BIBLES AND MISSALS IN THE VERNACULAR FOR THE READING CLASSES.


    1. I agree with the use of the vernacular precisely because it is 1) credible TODAY as proven by the Vatican’s ability to translate Church documents CREDIBLY into several well-defined languages and 2) necessary for the full communion of the faithful in worshipping God, together WITH the priest.

  16. All superstitious, self-serving and biased discussions should cease on this topic. The Holy Spirit calls for obedience, not subterfuge, rebellion, bias, self-comfort, artificial constraints and other forms of division which may tend to retard the ability of many to enter, remain and thrive salvifically in the Church today. Do not make it difficult for the “royal priesthood” of St. Peter and Vatican II to worship their God fully and with minds ablaze with understanding and with full engagement at every Holy Mass WITH the ministerial priesthood at the helm.

    Look to the people and ask “What can I do to help my brothers and sisters come to full unity and salvation?”

  17. I do not oppose the allowance of the “Traditional Latin Rite Mass” for the good of the faithful on a limited basis, to the extent that it does not confuse the faithful and over-tax the clergy. However, I believe that the Holy Spirit, present and guiding the 2nd Vatican Council, expressly guided the Church to the form of the Mass in use today – FOR THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE. God is Love; let us not forget to do what we do with love as our motive.

    That stated, I want to remind all of the private revelation of Our Lady of All Nations which spoke specifically about the modernization of the laws of the Church (not the doctrine; but the laws which may be changed). Here is an excerpt from the message of 11 Feb 1951 [source: ]

    “Then the Lady folds her hands. I now see the Pope with cardinals and bishops. Then the Lady says, as if speaking to the Pope,

    You can save this world. I have said more than once: Rome has its chance. Seize the present moment. No church in the world is built up like yours. But move with the times and insist upon your modern changes concerning religious, priests, seminarians, and so on and so forth. Keep an eye on that. Carry through with it to the smallest detail! The doctrine remains, but the laws can be changed. Let the people of this world benefit more from the Remembrance of my Son.”

    This was precisely in regard to what must happen during Vatican II. Now, no one has to believe private revelation. However, one Pope suggested to us that it is better to believe than not to believe.

    1. “I do not oppose the allowance of the “Traditional Latin Rite Mass” for the good of the faithful on a limited basis, ”

      That’s quite generous of you Taylor, when were you crowned pope?

      1. Dear Peterman – I love the Pope and I do not have and I do not intend to imply having any authority whatsoever. I probably should have said “I like the gift of diversity in the Liturgy of the Church.” But thank you for bringing to my attention just how unclear or misleading my words can be. I, as a layman, was trying to make a suggestion, from the viewpoint of a layman. Pastors care about their people; they want to build them up and bring them to salvation. As such, the Pope, a very, very good man, loves us and cares greatly for us. He knows better than we do, but he also listens with love and affection to our concerns or suggestions.

    2. As for the Council, Vatican II never carried the seal of infallibility. Post festum and over the years, Paul VI made several pronouncements on its unexpected outcome, and his comments are more astonishing now than they were then (viz. cracks in the wall, etc.). It might serve you well to get acquainted with his words & take them into account.
      “for the good of the people”: Does that come from Liberation Theology by any chance?

  18. I applaud liturgical diversity. I do find the former Mass, even as celebrated today, as rather rushed and speedy. I think most of us who embrace the current Mass form, the crown jewel is the reformed Lectionary — three fuller readings on Sunday in a three year cycle, and the two weekday readings on a two year cycle. The former Mass, with two brief reading repeated each year and the weekday reading usually from the common or repeating the Sunday readings, was an impoverishment.

    1. Agreed, the New Lectionary is a vast improvement. I have been sying the TLM for all 22 years of my priesthood and am always surprised how quickly we are abck to a read I feel like I just preached on. I find the New Lectionary a rich fare and as you say the “crown jewel.”

  19. Hello, Monsignor.
    I’ve recently finished translating a French book on Pope Benedict and the liturgy for Ignatius Press. For reasons that aren’t perfectly clear to me, they have backed out of the project. I’m in a bit of quandary whether to seek another publisher or not. I feel that the work would be of considerable interest, but perhaps I’m too close to it to be unbiased. I wonder if you would be willing to take a look at it and give me your opinion. I know you’re a busy man, Monsignor, but you may find it interesting. Please drop me an e-mail if this is something you might be willing to look at. My email is [email protected]. I will send it to you as an attachment. Thanks.

  20. The “problems in the past”, the poor celebrations of the Holy Mass were without a doubt caused by the lack of grace from God, the grace being blocked caused by the previous delay in properly fulfilling the command to consecrate to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. That although such command was specifically only for France, the errors (like that of revolution) then have spread to other parts of Europe. Thus, even after the fulfillment and proper consecration of France as commanded then, the errors have spread towards the east, towards Russia. Such delayed action from the Church did not go without consequences, with the coming of persecutions in Russia and more revolutions around the world, the gravity of which left Pope Benedict XV desperately pleading for help from the Heavens through the Blessed Mother. But even with Her swift, prompt and loving haste to aid and rescue the Church by revealing publicly the solutions to the problems through the Fatima requests given to the three little shepherds, She was ignored. And the delay carries on. It is no wonder anymore that more abuses sprang up and continue to spring up at the present time, the evil ones are feasting on this their golden opportunity. Our Lady of the Rosary did not give Heaven’s reply straight to the Holy Father then probably because the Lord intended it to be publicly made and give emphasis not to ignore the Blessed Mother. But She continues to be ignored. And it is only upon the proper fulfillment of the Fatima requests will the grace of God freely flow again from top to bottom within the Church and bring back all her members towards the right path and grant us world peace, the peace that only God gives, the peace promised at Fatima.

Comments are closed.