Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Spinning the Latin liturgy

John Allen is reporting in the International Herald Tribune that the Tridentine Latin Mass is on its way back in, and soon. Indeed, there have been significant signs that the "old liturgy" would soon be designated an "extraordinary universal rite," with the "Novus Ordo" of Vatican II becoming the "ordinary universal rite." (Which means, most likely, that any priest could up and decide to celebrate in Latin any time he wants, bishop's permission or not.) Allen, seemingly the press apologist for the Vatican of late, spins this benevolently: "Though some details remain vague, one point seems all too clear: When the decision officially comes down, its importance will be hyped beyond all recognition, because doing so serves the purposes of both conservatives and liberals within the church, as well as the press." Allen goes on to stake out his typical middle ground, pedantically explaining why this is a victory neither for the right nor the left.

I beg to differ. The restoration of a rite that garnered only three affirmative votes at the Council, compared with more than 2,000 in favor of reform, is nothing less than a repudiation of Vatican II, and a capital act of hubris on the part of the pope. No decision of this pastoral magnitude should be made on one's own, whether one is the bishop of Rome or not. The groups who have been clamoring for this restoration are small indeed, and the Tridentine liturgy is widely available in many places. There is no pastoral need to elevate it in this way. The "need" is merely ideological.

Unfortunately, not only will it probably happen--despite the strenuous efforts of many European bishops to stop it--but simultaneously the English vernacular liturgy will soon be dealt another crushing blow with the introduction of new, painfully archaic, and highly Latinized translations. Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie has labored long and hard to stop this train wreck, most recently in America magazine, but he, and the rest of us, are likely soon to be run over by it.

So sorry, John, I couldn't disagree more.


At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Travis said...

I beg to differ with the statement that "the Tridentine liturgy is widely available in many places".

Being for the Diocese of Lafayette in Louisiana, which just happens to be one of the most densely populated Catholic areas in the country, there is 1 and only 1 Tridentine mass said in a month in our Diocese.

It is said in the afternoon at a medium sized parish on the first Sunday of every month.

While Vatican II did many things to open up the faith to the layity, one of the tragedies of the council was the total abandonment of the Tridentine Rite.

And I think that your worries of the Novus Ordo being discarded for the Tridentine is incorrect. Many seminarians are not even being trained in Latin. I have a friend who will be ordained on June 30, and he did not even have 1 Latin class as a requirement for his studies.

On the other hand, I do believe that many orthodox priests who have been trained in Rome, and were taught Latin, will likely implement some sort of structure to a weekend mass schedule that will offer both the Tridentine Rite and the Novus Ordo.

Lastly, what would the problem be with revising the translation of the Novus Ordo to more accurately reflect the meaning it was supposed to take? What is the problem with saying "And with your spirit" instead of "And also with you" and so on?

In Christ,


At 3:16 PM, Blogger CtotheL said...

I think the key here is pastoral need. If there is further need of the Tridentine liturgy in your diocese, then folks should ask the bishop for another. We don't need a universal indult--it's overkill. And it would be wildly inappropriate for a priest to just up and decide one Sunday that he's going to celebrate the 10:30 Mass in Latin.

As for the English translation of the Novus Ordo, the problem with "And with your spirit" is simply that it doesn't make sense in English. "And also with you" makes perfect sense, and a vernacular liturgy should make sense to those who pray it.

If you're interested, you can read Bishop Trautman's piece in America. He's also written similar articles elsewhere. He's an incredibly moderate and pastoral bishop, and he makes the case better than I.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment.


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