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Monday, July 02, 2007

The Latin Mass: Why?

As Dr. Robert Moynihan points out,

 [Pope Benedict] is not concerned with Latin in itself. His respect for the "old Mass" is not a nostalgic cultural attachment to an ancient language. No, Benedict is concerned about the essence of the Mass itself.

And what is that essence? The right worship of God.

I was conversing with others at a recent parish council meeting, and the subject came up. I did put in my own misgivings about some who seemed fixated on Latin for the Mass, but now I see that this isn't generally the case -- at least, not for Papa Benedict. It really is right worship that is at stake.

I've always been fond of Latin in liturgy. I have yet to attend a Latin Mass, but I have attended Benedictions in Latin back in college, and they were solemn and beautiful. Did I understand what I was chanting or singing? In time, I did, since I had the English and Latin text side by side in my booklet. It didn't take me long to learn the Rosary in Latin, either (the Spanish training helped immensely). This is really no different to attending Mass in English as a child (the norm at our parish when I was growing up), whereas we spoke in Filipino or Chinese at home. Of course, it helped that English was used in primary school, but perhaps if we had Latin in primary school, too?

And there is that valid point about inappropriate liturgy, which I didn't really see back home, but definitely saw here in Australia --- and as I've seen footages, much worse occur in the US. Some make me wince, groan, even pray for deliverance. Why is this so important? Is this aesthetics? No. It's "right worship of God." Either you revere him completely or you don't. God need not command that reverence. We simply owe that to Him in gratitude and love.

A happy thought elicits a smile, but a smile is also capable of eliciting a happy feeling. That's just how it works. And irreverent liturgy is capable of diminishing what we think of our God. It really is that simple. Sadly, as much as I love the English language, it is hardly the most reverent in 21st century usage. So much has become ambiguous and tainted with strange double meanings that it is very easy to lose the proper liturgical meaning in English.

So who's afraid of the motu proprio on the Latin Mass? No one should be. The vernacular Novus Ordo is not being replaced; it is only that the Latin Mass may now be used without the priest having to jump through episcopal hoops to obtain permission to do so. Amen to that.

[Link source: The Catholic Report.]

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