Thursday, May 17, 2012


Our Confirmation Mass last night was St. Joseph's first attempt at a tri-parish bi-lingual Mass (apart from Latin of course) where we incorporated Spanish for the second reading, a Spanish/English Communion hymn and made sure our program for Confirmation translated Spanish into English and English into Spanish. There were some other things we could have done but didn't and that'll be for next year.

But I know from hearing from both Anglos and Hispanics that almost universally they hate bi-lingual Masses in English and Spanish trying to placate the various cultures. I heard that vociferously in San Antonio, Texas at a conference on the revised English translation of the Mass.

I have a modest proposal so that no one is offended with at least the following sung parts of the Mass and this is in the form of a rant:

1. Why in the world can't a bishop of a particular diocese mandate that every parish, no matter the language, learn one easy setting of the Latin Mass, meaning the Gloria, Sanctus and Angus Dei? Our parish knows one setting very well which we use during Lent and Advent (which means we don't know the Latin Gloria, although the EF Mass congregation does). But that could be easily remedied if we had a mandate that every parish in the diocese knows these. Then at bi-lingual Masses at the Cathedral or in parish, such as our last night, everyone knows and sings the simply Latin parts for the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei. Apart from that, I'm open to various ideas about the various official prayers of a particular Mass with a mixed congregation.

2. I think allowing for a Spanish reading at a predominantly Anglo Mass is fine or the opposite depending on the majority there. But do we have to be "politically correct" in trying to please all the cultures at a Mass? Have we lost our minds as Catholics. Why can't the Mass be universal and use a dead language "Latin" that shows no favoritism to any particular language? Just ranting.

And the much vaunted "bishop's candle!":


ytc said...

Yes! The bilingual Masses are so lame. It's almost _embarrassing_ to be present in one. It's so hard to want to sing songs, it's just really so lame. I cannot think of a better word to use.

Latin, anyone? Oh no, Latin!

And I'm sorry Father, but that little candle looks silly. It's not even an altar candle, it's a bugia! If there were seven equal-sized candles on the altar, it would look much better. But I must say with that little thing, it would look better if it wasn't there at all. That thing you have is a carrying candle, a pontifical bugia, carried beside the bishop in the EF. Not an altar candle.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

YTC, you are 18 years old correct? May I ask, how do you know all this??????
You are correct and this candle belongs to St. Joseph Church and the brass pitcher and bowl we have has bishop's miter and crozier imprinted on it--both come to us from the Jesuit time of the parish and why I don't know.
But I thought that since this candle is here and certainly not used any longer in the OF Mass why not place it on the altar for this OF Pontifical Mass a sign of Pope Benedict's hermeneutic of continuity??????

Henry said...

Why not just follow the instructions that Pope Paul VI sent in April 1974 to every bishop in the world with a copy of the Jubilate Deo booklet containing a collection of simple Gregorian chants of the Ordinary of the Mass, the Memorial Acclamation, the Preface dialogue, etc, requesting that all Catholics in their diocese be taught them. We've had now almost the biblical 40-year period of episcopal foot-dragging.

Pater Ignotus said...

What not use Latin? People in the pews don't understand Latin, and neither do 99.9% of the priests who advocate for its use.

The litury has two purposes. ONE is the praise and worship of God, Father, Son, and Spirit. TWO is the communication of the saving mysteries of Jesus Christ to the People of God.

God can be worshipped in any language. Communication, however, doesn't happen in languages that people don't understand. (Memorization isn't the point - parrots can do that.)

One does not "allow" a Spanish reading in a predominantly Anglo mass. One chooses to include (or is told by his bishop to include) a reading (or hymns)in Spanish so that the people who understand in Spanish can receive at least a portion of the liturgy, in this case the Scripture reading, in the language they best understand.

This is not about being PC, it is not about "tolerating" people who speak a language other than English, nor is it about "pleasing" all cultures. It is about (wait for it) communicating the savings mysteries of Jesus Christ to the People of God. Verdad?

Anonymous 5 said...

There is a dreadful irony to every bilingual Mass, in light of Genesis 11:1-9 (Babel). In the Tridentine Mass, we were/are united in the sacrifice of Christ by a universal language that schools everyone to look beyond his culture, whatever culture that may be. By suppressing that Mass and making the vernacular the norm, we have rent ourselves asunder. By celebrating bilingual Masses, we show in the fullest sense the travesty that is diversity. Masses are supposed to be about unity, not a lame celebration of nationalistic, cultural, or linguistic diversity.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

PI, I don't think there is any Catholic in the world who could not learn what the Latin Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei mean in their own language; we shouldn't be so condescending of the laity or of the clergy to think they don't know what these mean in their own language especially if there was regular use of such in parishes (not exclusive)! Henry the Jubilato Deo booklet of Paul VI is the Mass setting I am suggesting and I am very familiar with this booklet which can still be ordered as it is in print. Just as an aside, when I was the Associate Pastor and Master of Ceremonies at our Cathedral between 85 and 91, Bishop Lessard encouraged me to make sure that the Cathedral parish learn the Jubilato Deo booklet as he understood Pope Paul's mandate. Like PI is today, I talked him out of it telling him the congregation wouldn't sing it or understand it for it would be just too hard for them. The idiot (as I have been called on another blog) was me at the time, but I've become less idiotic in my own humble opinion since then! Thank God from whom all blessings flow!

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Gee, Ignotus, Latin was used for centuries and most of the people in the pews didn't understand it. I believe the sacramental graces were still conferred. The Mass and its effects are not predicated upon anyone understanding it. Besides, Latin is beautiful and the fact that it is an ancient language of the Church creates a sense of awe and mystery. There is nothing wrong with that.
Anon 5's point is also well made. The Mass and the Church generally should draw us beyond ourselves and provide us with a structure that shapes and challenges us. "Communication" takes place in other than verbal ways. Verstehen sie?

ytc said...

Eh Father, I read a lot. They get into very arcane details such as the fact that the morse on the Pope's cope in penitential seasons has three gold pinecones on it! And I remember all these things. Just ask me what the subcintorum and the falda are!

On second thought, leave the candle, Father. I'm sorry for complaining.

And PI, sure it is, totally vernacular liturgy is all about being a PC didactic robot grab'n'go sacrament dispenser. It's like going to McDonalds (the restaurant, not Father's rectory). It is utterly and completely against the perennial tradition of the Latin Church to have vernacular (or majority vernacular, take your pick...) liturgy, and bilingual Masses prove non-vernacular is better in the most ironic of ways.

Now we have dopey Masses where one part is in English, another in Vietnamese, another in Spanish, another in Polish, etc. Wouldn't the Participation Queens be against such business, since a bilingual liturgy necessarily excludes everyone from some part of the Mass?

It's funny that the Participation Queens love vernacular so much; Latin is much more participatory, especially when viewed from a historical and international context. What 5th grader can't learn the unchanging parts of the Mass in Latin?

Henry said...

ytc: You gotta get with it ... dopey priests, dopey Masses, you can't have one without the other!

Carol H. said...

When Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his first public Mass as Pope, he was embarrassed by the fact that so few knew the words to the Pater Noster- he practically sang solo!
He said afterwards that EVERYONE should at the very least know this prayer in latin.

It is true that most people do not know or understand latin, but understanding comes with EXPOSURE. I memorized the Pater Noster without understanding a single word, but I have since figured out what many of the words mean. I FIND IT INSULTING TO HEAR THAT THEY LAITY SHOULD NOT HEAR LATIN BECAUSE THEY CANNOT UNDERSTAND IT! I think it is rather that there are some priests who would rather not take the time to learn it themselves, and they are using the laity as an excuse.

John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus would have us believe that only one in a thousand priests who advocate Mass in Latin understands that language, which is such an absurd statistic that I don't think I can take anything he says seriously.

Oscott College, a diocesan seminary in England, requires its students to know Latin, Greek and Hebrew to the level that they can read the Scriptures in those languages. If all seminary directors did what they are mandated to do, no man could be ordained who was not reasonably proficient in Latin (we're not talking about degree level here). Benedict XVI has said that to celebrate the EF it is only necessary to pronounce the Latin correctly and to understand what it is you are saying.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - you think it is better for people to learn what the Latin Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei mean in their own languages. I think it's better that they use their own langauges, there being no advantage to using Latin.

Pin - If the mass is "not predicated upon anyone understanding it" why, then, did we go to great lengths to make the translations more understandable in terms of the biblical references and theological nuances?

Communication, in the medium of spoken prayers, takes place through the words and the ideas communicated by the words. Therefore, they should be understandable in as direct and full a manner as possible. The vernacular language trumps Latin in this regards.

Fr. Anthony Forte said...

I think that one problem with bilingual masses is that when a reading is in the other language those who do not understand it feel that the liturgy has just left them. Perhaps a better solution would be a mostly Latin mass with the readings repeated in both languages (as Latin and Greek are used in papal masses) rather than alternating them in one language only. Another possibility for the proper orations would be to say the body of the prayer in both languages with the conclusion in Latin.

ytc said...

How about:

All Latin for mixed language congregations, but with one reading in one language and the other in the other. Gospel in Latin.


I think it would be kind of cheezy to have a reading in one language and repeat it in another. Same for Proper orations. It is a powerful thing and a very beautiful symbol when the Gospel is read once in Latin and once in Greek at Papal Masses, but the same can't be said of having it once in English and again in Portuguese. That's when it starts cheezin, imo.

Henry said...

I can't personally vouch that this is true, but I've heard that in some areas of Central American there are so many local dialects that the only lingua franca for Catholic worship is Latin! I've also heard that many or most Hispanic immigrants cannot readily understand the schoolboy Spanish that many U.S. priests pronounce, indeed, some of them without understanding (imagine that!) the Spanish words they're mouthing.

These reports ring true to me, as the author of a textbook that has different Spanish translations for use in different areas of Latin America.

All this shows how dated (and now out of date) and ill-advised the innovations of the 1960s were, with the Church moving in the opposite direction to the world, the Church fragmenting just when the world was moving closer together.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Ignotus said, "If the Mass is not predicated upon anyone understanding it, why, then, did we go to great lengths to make the translations more understandable..."

Now, I'm beginning to think you are just plain dense...the efficaciousness of the Mass is not predicated upon anyone's understanding it...not "the Mass."
The salvific benefits and graces of the Mass are not predicated upon whether we understand it or not. That would be to say that human comprehension is determinitave of Divine initiative, get it? That is called Gnosticism.

John Nolan said...

If migrants to the USA were required to learn English, which always used to be the case, there would be no need for bi-lingual Masses. If, for cultural reasons, people want Mass in their own language, fair enough; in England we have Polish Masses and even Polish parishes, but this isn't because the Poles are too lazy to learn English.

In Europe I will normally seek out a Mass in which at least the sung parts are in Latin; but I have attended an early morning Mass in Hungarian, and had no difficulty in participating, reciting the congregational parts in Latin (it helped that the priest stuck to the rubrics, so I knew where I was). At least I was spared the horrible English 'translation', now thankfully superseded.

If Ignotus won't have Latin in the Mass he is restricting himself to music composed after 1965, which is a good reason for those with any musical sensibilities to avoid his parish like the plague.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin - So, I ask again, if understanding isn't a good, why did we just re-translate all the prayers?

I would suggest it was to improve our understanding (get it?) of the prayers, their theological and biblical meaning. That's the rationale the Church gave.

(I would suggest, also, that the goal was not obtained, due to the unfortunate translation rules employed, but that's another matter.)

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Ignotus,understanding is fine, it may even be preferred. But, the efficacy of the Mass is not dependent upon it. Comprendez? Verstehen sie? Comprenez vous? Ne?

Joseph Johnson said...

I tried to post this earlier but my computer wouldn't cooperate--anyway:

I just don't understand the problem with using Latin parts of the Mass as long as we understand the meaning of those parts (whether by memory or by use of a Latin/vernacular hand missal--with a good, accurate vernacular translation). We don't have to be speakers of Latin to use this universal liturgical language. I think this is the obvious solution to the present problem with bilingual Masses (eg. English and Spanish). Incidentally, even an EF Mass is multilingual--Latin, Greek, Aramaic, and vernacular for the sermon (and readings, if re-read).

By using the Diocesan-approved PRE books and in accordance with the desire of the current Pope that Catholics know the basic Catholic prayers in Latin as well as in their own language, I have, for the past two years, had my 5th and 6th graders begin each class with a sung Pater Noster (so they could sing it at the Pope's Mass!) as well as the Ave Maria and the Gloria Patri.

They will have me for Confirmation class next year and, unless I am directed to do otherwise, the Latin prayers will continue to be part of the routine. This is the way you make even 5th graders learn Latin prayers and Mass parts--by regular repetition over time and by going through the words and their correspondence to the vernacular versions. It's just not that big of a deal and to say otherwise is condescending and shows a lack of connection to reality, frankly. Yes, I have very little patience with those who continue to parrot that same old line about not using Latin because it is not our everyday spoken language--there is room for both Latin and vernacular and justification for both!

John Nolan said...

Carrington, a First World War officer who fought at the Battle of the Somme, recalled that as his men were about to go 'over the top' one private soldier, usually invariably coarse of speech, was heard singing a hymn to the Virgin in Latin.

By virtue of its continuous use as a liturgical language for over a millennium and a half, Latin is a sacred language. The Devil has a particular hatred towards Latin (ask any exorcist). So do NuChurch liberals, which I suspect is not a coincidence. I hope Ignotus is aware of the company he keeps.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Nolan, Nuchurch...I love it! LOL! I don't think Ignotus has much acquaintance with the Devil. If he did, he would not be so smug or so glib...

Anonymous said...

What gets all the more irritating is all kinds of hemming and hawing about "diversity" and "respecting other cultures," but somehow or other, that never, ever gets to apply to Latin.

There's a reason why I take multiculturalism on the part of some in the Church and everywhere else with a huge grain of salt: because it's hypocritical, one-sided, and therefore only ever runs in one direction. And if you happen to be of some sort of ethnic background, then oh gosh, golly gee, then you most certainly have no hope of ever understanding Latin.

I very much agree with those who point out that it is condescending to say that the priests and laity are incapable of understanding Latin. At the EF, bilingual booklets are always provided. There are 1962 Missals available in Latin and English. The SanctaMissa website walks you through the EF. Latin and in English, side by side. Actually, even the English translation of the Eucharistic prayers should blow you away.

Learning the Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei is not hard. Fifth graders can do it, so why can't we? With the new, correct translation of the Roman Missal, it should be even easier: what we pray is what we believe. Sloppy language gives us sloppy theology.

At one time, the Mass was celebrated in Latin only. I'm reading Paul Mariani's Church Militant, which is about Catholic resistance in Shanghai in the 1950s. Chinese Catholics knew the Mass in Latin during the 1940s and 1950s (most of them who went to Catholic schools run by French Jesuits were also schooled in French as well as Latin). Why does everything have to be so mundane and "instantly understandable" to the point of domestication for it to be even approachable or accessible? The amount of public complaining on the part of some about the word "consubstantial" this last Advent was embarrassing.

Just about the worst thing I have ever heard is a very lame Latin-English Agnus Dei, that goes like this: "Angus Dei, you take away, the siins... of the wooorld... miserere nobis... miserere nobis." "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis" is not hard. The easiest settings of the Mass are even repetitive, so it should be a snap. The same can be said of the likes of "Tantum Ergo," "O Salutaris Hostia," and "Adoro te Devote."

The thing is, if you're keen, Latin will sink in, bit by bit. I have no formal training in Latin, but I am able to pray the Rosary in Latin, whereby I do know what I'm praying. Whenever I attend the EF, I know almost precisely where Father is in the order of the Mass, and where he is when he's reading the Gospel at any one time. Also, Latin reminds us that we pray with the universal Church, and that there's Someone beyond our ethnic and tribal loyalties that we should be watching for in the East.