Friday, July 20, 2012

The fake unity of multi-lingual Masses (vs Latin)

An anonymous priest's rant is posted by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, "GUEST RANT: Many languages for Mass and fake 'unity'" (WDTPRS, July 20, 2012).

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?


Anonymous said...

At Lourdes there are 6 official languages (French, Spanish, Italian, English, German, Dutch), and so at the Sunday International Mass, with 1000s in attendance, the whole Mass is done in the six languages. Readings, prayers of the faithful, etc. are done 6 times, once in each language. The Mass lasts about 2 hours, in part because of the sheer repetition of the various parts. Consider that faithful come to Lourdes from Africa, Asia and European countries that speak other languages. Many of those people are excluded in some way in this Mass. Lucky for me, I found a Traditional Latin Mass to attend at the same hour, instead of the "Intl." Mass. It seems to me that the truly "inclusive" Mass is the TLM. At least in the past, Catholics from the whole world could attend and understand and enjoy the unity of Latin. (sigh)

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

The liberal endgame is to merge religious ritual and political ritual into a single rainbow coalition of empty gestures, and then get on with their real business, which is elitist license and self-love.

The traditionalist endgame is to purge humanism and modernism from its burrow deep in the guts of the church and bring about a restoration not of "faith," but of THE faith. This itself may be a form of vanity, or may just be in vain.

The Neo-Cath endgame is to successfully convince themselves that none of this is happening, that all one need do is follow the leader in a collegial scrum where everyone and no one is leader. And then fatuously congratulate themselves for keeping their heads when everyone else is losing theirs.

There is an insipidity and a bleakness in every church I have entered, certainly, in my adult life: a sense of silliness, of children playing with toys, of men acting unmanly, of women indulging the dollhouse and tea time fantasies of their childhood. A sense of pretending that it is real.

Thank you, Vatican II fathers; thank you, Pope Montini; thank you Balthazar, Rahner and De Lubac; thank you all for this community of the addled and the infantile -- this play pen.

Robert Allen said...

My family began assisting at St. Josaphat one month ago. My son (15) and my daughter (21) were rubbing their "expertise" in after 2 weeks. My wife and I (middle-aged, not a smidgen of Latin) caught up with the punks on week 4. We'll have the 8 year old up and running before the end of the summer. But, most importantly, there is now no doubt in anyone's mind where we are headed on Sunday morning: to Mount Calvary, the altar of God.