Vatican II called for the preservation of Latin in the mandated reform of the Roman liturgy. Most Catholics today find it convenient to forget this, assuming that Latin was an alienating, divisive thing that kept the pew peasants in ignorance about what was going in the Mass. Besides, learning Latin today would be a chore and a drudgery. So to Latin they bid "Good riddance!" and to the Vernacular they bid "Welcome!"
But then one finds that people today are rather grandiloquent about celebrating cultural diversity. In large metropolitan parishes one frequently encounters occasions when parts of the Mass are parceled out to native speakers or those otherwise fluent in various languages -- Spanish, Vietnamese, Polish, Italian, Portuguese, German, French, etc. -- in an expansive and sometimes all-too-self-congratulatory display of linguistic diversity and prowess.
All of this, of course, is quite as bewildering as it is impressive. Does anyone imagine that the majority of any congregation is familiar (let alone fluent) in all of these languages? Or even two or three? Is the purpose of jettisoning the Latin being forgotten here? Or wasn't the purpose effective communication to begin with? Hmmmmm ........
One thing apparent to anyone familiar with the traditional form Latin rite is that the rudiments of the Mass are transparently clear to anyone acclimated to it. Evelyn Waugh, a convert to the Catholic Faith in 1930, attests to this. The ordinary parts of the Mass -- the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei -- were always familiar even to those untutored in Latin. Any Catholic of age before the 1960s knew what was signified by these parts of the Mass (he knew, for example, what "Kyrie eleison" or "Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi" means), which seems more than one can sometime assume of English-speaking adults these days in the ordinary form of the Mass.
Furthermore, one could go to any country in the world and celebrate the same Mass with an identical form. This is not true since 1970. Any properly-catechized Catholic adult might figure out roughly where he is in the Mass, but the ordinary parts of the Mass would not be familiar, as they would be if he were acclimated to the Latin in the traditional Latin Mass. At one of the Spanish-language Masses I frequented in NC, the musical setting for one of the ordinary parts of the Mass was regularly Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence." If one did not know Spanish, he might well wonder what was going on.
But all this is a mere detail. Here's the post from the guest priest on Fr. Z's blog:
In my diocese we are often asked (read, expected, pressured) to participate in or to celebrate Masses in more than one language in the name of multi-culturalism. I am not talking Latin here. The result is that for bilingual people they are great, and for those who are not, at least half the Mass is incomprehensible. It is something of an irony, since I thought the very thing the liberals of the Church wanted was to run like lemmings towards the sea away from a language they could not understand. But now its all the rage, particularly in the Southwest where Spanish is so common. But now they cannot help themselves but make us sit through the new Mass to be culturally enriched by a modern romance language we do not understand. I am told that at a recent LA Religious Ed conference they did a Mass in five modern languages, meaning that four fifths of the devoted attendees did not know what they were listening to. My preference under such circumstances would indeed be Latin for real multiculturalism…but thats not going to happen where I live. Any thoughts?