Friday, January 17, 2014


These are two differing visions or theologies of the same Ordinary Form of the Mass. Do you detect a difference? And which vision has more intellectual heavyweights in its corner?

(Yes, Virginia, this is an Ordinary Form Mass with His Holiness, Pope Francis!)

(And this is a different theology and vision of an Ordinary Form Mass also!)

John Nolan sent this in as a comment for my post: "POPE FRANCIS AND HIS EVALUATION OF THE TWO EXTREMES IN THE CHURCH TODAY: THE TRENDIES AND TRADDIES" but rather putting it in the obscure comment section, I thought it worthy enough of a mainline post and thus here it is:

What unites trendies and traddies (BTW, you need two 'd's otherwise it rhymes with 'ladies') is that they are liturgically aware. Forget aberrations such as clown masses; liturgical progressives like Rita Ferrone, Todd Flowerday and (to an increasing extent) Fr Ruff over at PTB are serious about liturgy, and wish to drive forward the agenda of Bugnini's Consilium which was cut short when Paul VI got cold feet. They know what they are talking about. Since progress is a "good thing", progressives tend to regard those who might impede it as not only wrong but morally wicked. This applies in politics as well as in ethics and religion.

Traddies (a term broad enough to include those who attended the Sacra Liturgia conference in Rome in June last year, and by no means confined to those who reject the Novus Ordo altogether) also know what they are talking about, and are arguably winning the argument intellectually. They certainly have more heavyweight academics in their camp. Ten years ago such a high-profile conference would scarcely have been conceivable; nor could one have imagined the number of private Masses in the EF celebrated every morning in St Peter's.

If there is a large "middle ground" it consists of those who turn up at their local parish church and accept what they are given without thinking too much about it. The Mass they attend will depend more on its timing than on the type of celebration. Larger churches can offer more choice, and congregations can be more selective. A sung Latin Mass as the principal Sunday Mass will draw a large congregation, but if the same church also offers a vernacular "family Mass" with hymns the congregation can be even larger. Devotees of the one will rarely attend the other.

I get the impression that the 'trendies' don't see the TLMers as a threat to the status quo, although they are bitterly opposed to Summorum Pontificum. Their main target is what they identify as ROTR or Reform2, and the 2011 translation to them epitomizes this, which is why they hate it so much.

MY COMMENT: Amen, Brother!


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I do think, however, the progressives do see the TLM as a threat but only in terms of celebrating both forms, the TLM influences the OF and thus promotes the Reform of the Reform on an institutional level. Will an institutional change, meaning the Congregation for Divine Worship come up with a new Ordinary Form Missal that combines the best of both the EF and OF and is more faithful to SC? One might be worried that under Pope Francis, liturgy isn't a priority, in terms of the reform of the reform or is it as evidenced by the glorious ad orientem Mass in the Sistine Chapel, but not only that, the chanting of the propers in Latin and the people's parts in Latin, but an Ordinary Form Mass through and through!

Pater Ignotus said...

Goof Father, I, and I suspect many others who do not share your liturgical views, do not see the celebration of the EF as a "threat" as you suggest.

It is too simplistic to characterize the discussion as an "either/or" choice - either one celebrates the EF or one sees it as dangerous, threatening, subversive.

Henry said...

Indeed, PI, most or all the (diocesan) priests I know personally who celebrate the EF likely regard its greater significance as "mutual enrichment" and support of the reform of the OF, which surely is their larger concern as parish priests (as it should be).

And, indeed, most of the lay people who attend the EF communities I'm familiar with also are devoted to the OF and to its reverent celebration. Although I'm spent much of my own "time, talent, and treasure" in recent years on the EF, I myself am equally devoted to the OF, which I attend more frequently during the week than the EF which I attend on Sundays, and myself see as the greatest importance of the EF its role in rescuing the OF, which the vast majority of Catholics will (and should) continue to attend. (And am perhaps a bit eccentric in that I'm more devoted privately to my treasured Latin-English OF missal than to the several EF missals I've collected over the years.)

For this reason, I tend to steer clear of the term "traddies", which seems in Catholic blogdom to refer mainly to "rad trads"--the type of separatists who may disparage the OF even when celebrated properly. Although this type of trads dominates blog discussions, I've not met many of them personally, and they're not a significant factor in most of the EF congregations I'm familiar with. (So, frankly, I'm puzzled why some folks like our genial host here seem to obsess so constantly over them. Perhaps it's because he's really a liberal at heart, or maybe because of his close association with the PT folks.)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Interesting Henry about my liberalism and association with the PT crowd. Both could be true or maybe not. Over at PT I push the envelope and await the day that I'm banned. They don't like too many divergent ideas about what discussions they will allow--they limit the discussions in other words if one is too traditional minded--it frightens them and challenges their agenda.
So I get accused of saying things over and over again over there despite the fact that the bloggers there and those who comment do the exact same thing, over and over again. Go figure!

John Nolan said...

I was banned from PTB more than two years ago. Liberals do not tolerate humour (especially when they're the butt of it) or dissent.

In England the Association for Latin Liturgy has, since 1969, promoted the use of Latin and traditional music (including Gregorian Chant) in the reformed liturgy. At its twice-yearly meetings it has a sung (usually solemn) Mass entirely in Latin, including the Scripture 'readings' and likewise the new form of Vespers. In the 1980s it produced its own Latin/English missal and was instrumental in ensuring that the best-selling new translation missal (published by the Catholic Truth Society) is bilingual.

The Latin Mass Society promotes what is now known as the Extraordinary Form. From a singer's point of view the two forms of Mass and Vespers are close enough to make little practical difference. The Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, founded by the late Mary Berry in 1976, uses both forms at its Associates' weekends, and the fact that Latin and ad orientem are the rule reinforces the continuity.

So for me, ROTR is something of a red herring; since its inception the Novus Ordo could incorporate all the music, and a lot of the ceremony, associated with the classic Roman Rite, and its normative language has always been Latin. The vernacular, however widespread, is an option. I understand that attempts by the USCCB to require priests to seek permission to celebrate in Latin were countermanded by Rome.

The only change I would make in the (sung) EF would be to recite most of the Canon quietly to allow for the singing of the Sanctus and Benedictus, to mandate EP1 for major feasts and either that or EP3 (a great prayer, thank you Cipriano Vaggagini!) for Sundays. Leave the rest as it is, and don't tinker with the EF for at least another hundred years.

John Nolan said...

Sorry, in first line of last paragraph for EF read OF.

Henry said...


I don't see the Latin Novus Ordo or Oratory style liturgy as the goal of the ROTR. Rather, an ordinarily and largely vernacular Mass, holy and glorious in its own right, largely chanted in the vernacular, admitting the possibility of occasional Latin ordinary but not fixated on it. Propers in the vernacular, exploiting the wonderful new translation and often chanted. With vernacular hymns of musical quality encouraged when appropriate, but sans the trash that's predominated in the OF in recent decades. But with the emphasis on ars celebranda and manner of participation rather than textual or structural change; I myself see no reason to expect any change in the OF Roman missal in the foreseeable future, nor do I see any as necessarily needed.

What's needed (and desperately) is the ars celebranda of the new generation of liturgically well-formed priests that will gradually replace the problem generations that have done do much damage (and made the OF seem a lost cause doomed to failure). But in the hands of the fine young priests I'm seeing now it can be a holy and reverent thing. Most of them favor--while not yet being in position to fully implement--chant, ad orientem, selecting the more traditional options, communion on the tongue, kneeling, Latin when desired, etc. Thus, only doing things that have always been permissible, but not commonly seen in most areas.

So, as I see it, the emphasis of the ROTR would be not on what is allowed, but on what is actually done. In the OF Masses I attend celebrated by younger priests, I don't often hear EP II (which should disappear, not by mandate but by disuse) or EP IV, but usually EP III on ferial and memorial days (with propers and preface recited), EP I (Roman canon) on feast days and solemnities (with propers and preface chanted). As these post-2000 priests replace the older generation, these practices likely will become more the norm.

In any event, all along I have seen the principal problem in the OF being not in its missal--which I regard as richer is some ways than the EF missal--but in those problem generations of priests and people who have ruined it in so many places and ways. But the famous biological solution (together with the departure of CINO's from the pews) is working its way, even if too slowly for some of us.

rcg said...

PI, i have been dismayed by the number of people who actively dislike the EF and the people who attend it. It is a point of tension in my family, although exclusively with in-laws so it it is barely noticeable. The level of vitriol is surprising. My parish is FSSP, so is quite conservative, yet there is hardly any murmurings against the OF except for the precision of the prayers in Latin versus English and not the form itself. The OF people seem to have something to display and want to physically interact with the other people while in Mass. This is not my opinion, but was the expressed opinion expressed in the lay liturgical working group that drove me from the last parish. This is not an aberration, either. Another neighboring parish has a Rock Mass that is packed every Sunday at 1800. They have youtube videos during Mass and the preist is dearly loved. These priests are much more difficult to engage in discussions about anything in Liturgy, Social Doctrine, or any of the other buzz points than the two young priests in the FSSP parish. I do not deny that there are jerks among the traddies, I have not met them. But the antipathy of the trendies is out front for everyone to see.

FrJBS said...

John Nolan and Henry,

Perhaps we could say the top priorities of the ROTR are:

A. priestly ad orientem for the canon, and
B. congregational kneeling for Holy Communion.

I think the secondary priorities are:

A. Latin Gloria, Pater Noster, etc., sung according to Gregorian melodies, and
B. "smells and bells", traditional vestments, etc. on Sundays and solemnities.

The EF Mass is the means of getting us to this OF end.

Pater Ignotus said...

rcg - No translation is going to be as "precise" as the text in the original language. Not missal prayers, not Aristotle, not Marx.

There will always be variations in syntax, vocabulary, punctuation, etc., when one translates any text from one language to another.

Why, then, don't we use the Latin texts? Because they are not understood by 99.9% of the people and one of the essential goals of the mass is to communicate the saving mysteries of Jesus Christ to the People of God.

You can't accomplish that is the language is not understood.

I do not actively dislike the EF.

And if you are looking for antipathy among the traddies, re-read a few of the posts on this very blog.

FrJBS said...

Pater Ignotus makes a good point about language. Liturgical vernacular is here to stay, as it should be. At the same time, "since faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is fitting that they know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin..." (GIRM 41).

John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus

You are quite right about translation, but there is good translation and poor translation, accurate translation and crude paraphrase. When I attend the Novus Ordo, which is probably more often than I attend the EF, it is usually in Latin. However, looking at the current translation of EP III (I choose this since the Latin text is not an ancient one, having been composed in the 1960s) I see all the hallmarks of a good translation. It is accurate, without being slavishly so; it doesn't miss anything out; the syntax and word order are as in ordinary literate English. Sometimes this means that a long Latin sentence needs to divided into two, but the translators try to keep the flow of the text; we don't pray in bullet points.

"Why, then, do we not use the Latin texts?" you ask. Well, we do, and are enjoined to do so by Sacrosanctum Concilium. To suggest that 99.9% wouldn't understand the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei when they are in Latin is preposterous. A child can do it - ask any eight-year-old Anglican chorister if you don't believe me.

You come dangerously close to suggesting that the efficacy of the Mass is dependent on those attending it understanding (or even hearing) everything that is spoken. This, as you well know, is heresy. I have heard Mass in Polish and Hungarian and derive the same grace from it as I would if it were celebrated in Latin or English. Of course people can benefit from the vernacular, but to say it is essential is to adopt the Protestant position.


I totally agree. Although I prefer the Mass to be in Latin my main objection to the vernacular was removed in 2011.

Gene said...

LOL! Heresy hovers over Ignotus like his own secret little black cloud.
Denial is that other cloud you see alongside it...

Gene said...

Speaking of trendy...a nun in Rieta, Italy has given birth to a baby boy and has named him Francis, in honor of the Pope. Now, just tell me the jokes don't write themselves...

Pater Ignotus said...

John - If "efficacy" were really your concern - it's not - but if it were, you would not utter a word about what you consider the beneficial use of Latin in the mass. Mass is as efficacious when celebrated in English, is it not?

And you would never mention getting women out of the sanctuary, because mass is as efficacious with women serving as lectors, is it not?

And you would never mention ad orientem celebration, because mass celebrated facing the people is as efficacious as mass facing the liturgical east, is it not?

Both of us are concerned with efficacy, but we have other, entirely legitimate concerns as well.

Further, I did not say that 99.9% of the people wouldn't understand Latin, I said that 99.9% don't. Now, I completely agree that they could understand the Latin if they were trained in the language, but that is, in my view, a waste of time and energy and a complete pipe dream, to boot.

People benefit from hearing and understanding the prayers of the mass. Hearing and understanding is accomplished when the mass is celebrated in a language the people understand. Latin, for 99.9% of the Catholic people, does not fit that bill.

Pin/Gene - A "Catholic" who skips mass, calls African-Americans a "feral minority," jokes about women being stupid, and maintains a Calvinist understanding of election, God's universal salvific will, and the human ability to thwart grace is not in a position to lecture others about heresy.

Henry said...

PI's question addressed to JN at 8:54 am 1/18: " Mass is as efficacious when celebrated in English, is it not?

JN's answer given at 7:44 pm 1/17: "I have heard Mass in Polish and Hungarian and derive the same grace from it as I would if it were celebrated in Latin or English."

My question: JN's answer preceding PI's question by 13 hours and 10 minutes, does this mean that JN is clairvoyant?

Anonymous said...

Pater Ignotus,

Do you mean to say that human language is sufficient to explain to us the mysteries of Jesus Christ?

Is it so important that people hear a language that they understand that all of those people who didn't know Latin prior to the 1960s derived no salvation from assisting at Mass and receiving graces therefrom?

If you have no active dislike of the EF, then why not say a Latin Mass?

You have insisted repeatedly thatthe NO Mass you say is the "traditional" Mass, despite many, many things that weren't "traditioed" from the Latin Mass. But have you ever yet defined what you mean by the traditional Mass? presumably that means more than mere validity. What, then, does it mean? or is it something that you just say to give the impression that in some vague way you don't denounce all the pre-VII stuff that you at best pay lip service to, but in practice seem to reject?

Henry said...

FrJBS: "The EF Mass is the means of getting us to this OF end."

It seems clear to me that this was Pope Benedict's main objective with SP. While at the same time wanting to preserve the great spiritual treasure of the traditional liturgy, especially for those enriched by it, and believing that it's attempted suppression had been unjust.

FrJBS said...

A "feral minority"! Fr. McDonald published that?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Where do you see that as I am trying to be more careful with not posting derogatory language although some comments do get posted when I don't read them as thoroughly as i should.

Gene said...

Once again, Ignotus, you reveal a disturbing lack of theological background. The view of predestination/election that I hold is not Calvinist. It may be found in both Augustine (Anti-Pelagian Writings/De Trinitate) and Aquinas (Summa). Aquinas and Augustine agree that God does,indeed, "reprobate" some. This is because all things are conformed to His will (both His passive/permissive will and His active/determinitive will from all eternity. Though God has elected all men to be saved in Christ, their free will is inevitably going to cause some to choose sin and damnation. These choices are not determinitive of God's will, but they are "conformed" to it. I know it is difficult for you to wrap your head around such theological concepts, but give it a try.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 9:29 - We can never fully explain the saving mysteries of Jesus Christ. We can, however, describe, and as far as we are able, understand these mysteries, as the Church gives us the theological explanations (the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception), prayers (as in the missal), treatises (as in the writings of the Doctors of the Church, et al), and devotional writings (as in numerous authors).

I would suggest that those who did not understand the language of the mass in the past were in no way deprived of salvation. However, Grace Builds On Nature. If a person is better able to understand the mass because it is celebrated in a language he/she understands, there is a better chance that he/she will be able to be transformed by the mysteries, respond to saving grace, and become the evangelist he/she was baptized to be.

I do not celebrate the EF because there is no necessity.

The words Traditional and traditional are too often used interchangeably. With a capital "T," Traditional means that which is revealed by God to be necessary for salvation and understood and taught by the Church to be so. Belief in Jesus Christ as the savior, belief in the Trinity, belief in One God - these are matters of Tradition

With a lower case "t," traditional means historical. Historically mass was celebrated in Latin, but this is not something that is revealed by God or taught by the Church to be necessary for salvation or to be true for all times and places. The use of Latin was traditional (historical.)

Many elements of the EF mass are traditional, such as the number of times a priest blessed the elements on the altar, the multiple bows of the head when reading the prayers, the manner in which the vessels were purified after their use.

None of these traditional elements is part of the Church's Tradition. They are most certainly part of the history of the Church in the Church's liturgy.

The OF mass contains all the Traditional elements of the mass. I celebrate the Traditional English mass, and in doing so, celebrate the mass that the Church has given us as an expression of the Traditional belief and practice of the Church since the celebration of the mass began.

The OF mass differs from the EF in matters of tradition, but not in matters of Tradition.

John Nolan said...

I get the impression that PI skim-reads posts that he assumes might be critical. But his latest riposte to my argument (at 8:54) is completely incoherent. I would have thought that my suggestion that he skates close to heresy would have solicited something in the way of rebuttal, but no.

Similarly, when I challenge his assertion that only one person in a thousand understands that the Latin 'Gloria in excelsis Deo' is the same as he has been praying in the vernacular for years, he merely reiterates his quite preposterous claim.

There are valid reasons for Latin and valid reasons for the vernacular. There are valid reasons for both orientations. There are valid reasons for both admitting women into the sanctuary or excluding them. And there are valid reasons for being frustrated and annoyed by someone who is deliberately obtuse and distorts everything one says.

Gene, I know where you're coming from, mate.

Gene said...

No, John, you do not know where I am coming from because Fr. has omitted to post my response to all the self-righteous nonsense above. There is nothing wrong with my ppost, i.e. it is not vulgar or name-calling. I do not understand why he will not post it because it is a relevant defense of my statements.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - My statement was that Latin wasn't useful because the Latin texts ARE NOT (present) understand Latin.

You responded by saying that it can be done.

I don't disagree. It CAN be done. But I don't agree that it is worthwhile or helpful to spend that time and energy teaching children Latin when, without that expense of time and energy, they can understand the prayer in their native tongues.

You have distorted my post regarding understanding the prayers. I did not say or suggest that understanding the prayers affects the efficacy of the mass. I didn't mention efficacy at all. You did.

You read into my post what is not there, distorting the clear meaning.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - Here's your original post:

Gene said...
So, Ignotus, let me get this straight, if someone is in Hell it is 100% their decision. So, my will can supersede God's will? I have the power to thwart Grace, negate election, and overthrow God's will…hmmm, that sounds about right for you, Ignotus. However, it is pretty pitiful theology. LOL!
January 7, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Yes, if a person is in hell it is 100% that person's decision and 0% God's decision.

Yes, when we sin mortally, our human will supersedes God's universal salvific will - the will that all people be saved.

Yes, every time we sin we thwart grace, we reject it, we opt instead for whatever perceived good comes from sin.

The notion that God chooses (elects) who will go to hell is not a Catholic belief. God does not make this choice, the sinner does.

The notion that a person cannot supersede God's will by choosing to reject grace and, thereby end up in hell, is not a Catholic belief. A person can supersede God's will by rejecting saving grace.

The notion that we cannot thwart God's grace is not a Catholic belief. Every time we sin we thwart God's grace.

You seem to think that God's foreknowledge of who will end up in heaven and who will end up in hell is the same as forecause. It is not.

God's knows from all eternity who will be among the blessed and who will be among the damned, but this knowledge is not the cause of where one spends eternity.

Gene said...


John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus

If you claim (as you did) that one of the "essential goals" of the Mass cannot be accomplished if the hearer does not understand the language in which it is celebrated, then you are denying its efficacy. Something is either essential or it is not; had you talked about a "desirable" goal, one could agree with you (although with reservations, or as they say in Latin 'placet iuxta modum')

"My statement was that Latin wasn't useful because the Latin texts ARE NOT (present) understand Latin". Would you mind translating that into English?

I sing Gregorian Chant (identified by Vatican II as the music proper to the Roman liturgy)and a knowledge of Latin is certainly useful. The ability to sing Gloria VIII and Credo III (the most common settings) when at an international pilgrimage centre (Rome, Lourdes, Fatima etc.) is quite useful. To be able to connect with pre-1965 liturgical music is useful.

Distinguishing between Tradition and tradition only works in English. In German all nouns are capitalized. In Italian only proper nouns are. In any case, the distinction is a purely subjective one.

Latin has been the liturgical language of the Western Church since the fourth century. The Devil has a particular loathing for it (ask any exorcist). It signifies the universality or catholicity of the Church over space and time. By all means use the vernacular, but suggesting that Latin has no place shows an ignorance and philistinism which is quite astounding.

Pater Ignotus said...

John, saying that the distinction b/w Tradition and tradition is subjective is absurd. That Jesus is both truly God and truly human is an essential element in the Tradition of the Faith. The use of a maniple, while traditional, is utterly non-essential and has nothing to do with the Faith.

And since we are speaking English here, what may be the case in German and/or Italian simply does not obtain. I am sure that in those languages the distinction b/w the importance of the humanity/divinity or Jesus and the use of a maniple is clear.

Correcting my typing error: My statement was that Latin isn't useful because Latin texts ARE NOT understood.

Your snobbery is showing. Because 99.9% of Catholics do not have the background in Latin you have does not make us Philistines, any more than your lack of training in the educational tracks others have benefitted from makes you a Philistine.

Joseph Johnson said...

"But I don't agree that it is worthwhile or helpful to spend that time and energy teaching children Latin when, without that expense of time and energy, they can understand the prayer in their native tongues."

Well, I think we can agree on one thing--in this country, the kids need to learn their prayers in English before we can attempt to teach them the Latin versions. I don't discourage my Hispanic PRE kids from knowing their prayers in Spanish but I also expect them to learn them in English (just like all the other students) as well.

All that being said, for several years now (starting in the Benedict XVI Pontificate), our Diocesan approved PRE textbooks have contained English and Latin versions of all the basic Catholic prayers, side by side, with Benedict XVI's exhortation that Catholics should learn the Latin versions (as well as the vernacular versions).

In my class each week, we alternate between the English and Latin versions at the opening and closing of each class. I do not require that they learn or memorize the Latin (but I encourage it). The learning of the English versions is required.

Gene said...

The efficacy of the Mass is not dependent on anyone understanding Latin.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - Lest you persist in believing the preposterous notion that it is a heresy to think that the People of God should be able to understand the prayers prayed at mass, I direct your attention to LA #25:

"25. So that the content of the original texts may be evident and comprehensible even to the faithful who lack any special intellectual formation, the translations should be characterized by a kind of language which is easily understandable, yet which at the same time preserves these texts’ dignity, beauty, and doctrinal precision.[25] By means of words of praise and adoration that foster reverence and gratitude in the face of God’s majesty, his power, his mercy and his transcendent nature, the translations will respond to the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people of our own time, while contributing also to the dignity and beauty of the liturgical celebration itself."

"...a kind of language which is easily understandable,..."

Now, if this notion is "heretical" - and surely it is not - but if it is, then I am happy to be counted among the heretics who gave us LA. Oh, and which pope gave his approval, sorry, his imprimatur, to LA?

I never said or suggested that understanding was necessary for efficacy, but as I have pointed out, efficacy is not the issue we are debating.

John Nolan said...

PI, here you go again. I did not suggest that it was a heresy that people understand the language of the Mass. What I did maintain was that it is heresy to claim that if for whatever reason they cannot (lack of knowledge of Latin, or English, or Tamil or Chinese for that matter) it removes anything essential from the Mass, and if you remove an essential element, then semantically and logically it must mitigate its efficacy.

What is annoying is that when I try to engage you in argument, if you pose a question I answer it, but if I pose a question you either evade it or reply with another question which is not usually relevant.

"Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis".

"Credo in unum Deum".

"Gloria in excelsis Deo".

Are you really suggesting that 99% of your parishioners don't understand what these words mean? They must spend a lot of their time looking for the way out when they are confronted with a sign saying "exit".

Pater Ignotus said...

John - I did not say or suggest that lack of understanding removes or changes the EFFICACY of the mass. It didn't happen.

You raised the issue of efficacy, I did not.

Yes, it is annoying when people distort what I say, when they "read into" what I say, when they ignore the texts cited.

John Nolan said...

PI, you may not have used the word 'efficacy' but you did use the word 'essential'. So, I repeat, it is bordering on heresy to suggest that anything of the essence of the Mass is vitiated if someone who hears it doesn't understand the language in which it is celebrated. Ironically, this has become more of an issue since the universal language was largely abandoned in favour of a babel of tongues.

Now, would you be so good as to answer the question I posed in my previous comment?

Pater Ignotus said...

John - I also did not use the word "essence." An "essential goal" is not the same as "essence."

I said "one of the essential goals." Now, literate person that you are, I don't have to explain to you that, in that instance, "essential" modifies "goals." Others may need tutoring grammatical, but surely a man of your erudition and linguistic skill simply misread what I had posted.

The essence of the mass is the essence of the mass, regardless of the vestments used, the language employed, the music sung or chanted.

The goals of the mass are not the essence (a word I did not use) of the mass, as you would agree.

One of the essential goals of the mass is the communication of the savings mysteries of Jesus Christ to the People of God. As Liturgiam Authenticam states (see my post at 8:15 a.m.) translations are to be prepared so that they are understandable (a laudable goal) in order that the content may be comprehended (again, laudable), such that reverence and gratitude may be fostered (again, laudable), etc etc etc.

John Nolan said...

PI, "essential" means "of the essence". It cannot therefore be qualified. "Laudable" means "praiseworthy". Not the same thing at all.

If I can readily accept that the vernacular is useful, why can you not accept that Latin is useful? Does it have to be either/or? When Pope Francis officiated at Vespers in St Peter's on the last day of last year the psalms and their antiphons were sung in Italian to the traditional Gregorian tones. Had I been there I would have had no difficulty in joining in with more-or-less complete understanding despite not being able to speak Italian, since I am used to singing Vespers in Latin. The hymn, the Magnificat with its antiphon, the Pater Noster and the Alma Redemptoris Mater were, however, in Latin, as were the polyphonic items sung by the choir.

Now had I been in (say) Cracow I would have had to keep silent for the psalms, since I cannot pronounce Polish, and my vocal participation would have been limited to those items which were sung in Latin.

Regarding "efficacy", on 6 December you took Fr McDonald to task for saying that "the Mass was just as efficacious for the laity when it was all in Latin as it is when all [is] in the vernacular". Do I detect some inconsistency here? Or is that you haven't grasped that "efficacious" is the adjectival form of "efficacy", in the same way as "essential" is the adjectival form of "essence"?

A greater knowledge of Latin on your part might improve your English. I can recommend some study material, if you like.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - My usage of "essential" was as an ADJECTIVE, not a noun.

Now, whether you accept it or not, that changes the meaning.

I did not say that understanding the prayers was of the ESSENCE of the mass. I never used the word.

I said that one of the essential (adjective, not noun) goals of the mass was....

I think you should consult your own study materials on the differences between adjectives and nouns.

Anon friend said...

John, one thing you may need to be aware of is that in the South of the U.S., Latin has not been mandatory in the public high school curriculum, in fact not even offered. It was mandatory for two years in the public high school where I graduated in the state of Pennsylvania. I cannot begin to tell you the value of that in college and certainly later in science, then medical training. (Not to mention the value in catholic liturgies...!) The good news is that it is just recently being required in some of the better high schools and even now in the excellent middle school where my daughter teaches. Those kids are blessed indeed.

John Nolan said...

PI, I have little knowledge of Greek, but I do not say "Greek is not useful because Greek texts are not understood". They are understood, but not by me, which is my loss.

There are few if any nouns which change their basic meaning when used adjectivally. A beautiful woman is one who possesses the attribute of beauty. I can say "speed is of the essence" or "speed is essential", and the meaning is precisely the same in both cases. Chambers defines "essential" as "relating to, constituting or containing the essence; necessary to the existence of a thing; indispensable".

You had a choice of adjectives which more accurately convey what you now claim you intended to say: desirable, laudable, important, even very important - so why did you plump for "essential"? Are you normally given to hyperbole?

By negligent (in charity I shall not say ignorant) usage you have dug a hole for yourself. The best advice I can give is to stop digging.

When you write "others may need tutoring grammatical" is this
a) a solecism?
b) a typographical error?
c) a Cockneyism inserted for effect, along the lines of "'e don't 'arf set 'isself up"?

Pater Ignotus said...

John - The word you ignore is GOAL. One of two essential GOALS of the liturgy is communicating the saving mysteries of Christ to the People of God.

Now you can go on and on about "essence" - a word I never used - but in doing so you avoid the point.

I used "essential" intentionally. But it is used as an adjective, not a noun. That makes your argument about the "essence"of the mass not germane to what I said.

John Nolan said...

PI, to use 'goal' in the way that you do gives the impression that we set targets or objectives for the liturgy which then has to be so ordered as to achieve them (at least as far as possible). It plays down the teaching that the liturgy is both the source and "summit" (i.e. "goal") of our Christian life.

As Joseph Ratzinger put it in 'The Spirit of the Liturgy':

"Christian liturgy is a liturgy of promise fulfilled, of a quest, the religious quest of human history, reaching its goal. But it remains a liturgy of hope. It, too, bears within it the mark of impermanence. The new Temple, not made by human hands, does exist, but it is still also under construction. The great gesture of embrace emanating from the Crucified has not yet reached its goal; it has only just begun. Christian liturgy is liturgy on the way, a liturgy of pilgrimage towards the transfiguration of the world, which will only take place when God is 'all in all'".

Gene said...

Ignotus is a prevaricator. Just enjoy it for the entertainment.

PS Anonymous, I get censored a lot, too. It's fun, though…LOL!

Pater Ignotus said...

John The liturgy comes with goals or purposes. We don't set them.

Desiring 1) to offer worship to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit does not downplay our understanding of the liturgy as the source and summit of our Catholic lives. Rather, it supports that reality.

Every celebration of the liturgy is a an act of worship of the source of our being. Every celebration of the liturgy is an act of communication - communication with the God to whom we look for salvation.

We do order the liturgy so was to worship God and so as to be the recipients of the communication of the saving mysteries of Jesus Christ.

John Nolan said...

Anon friend,

In England Latin was a casualty of the abolition of most of the selective Grammar Schools in the 1970s and their replacement with all-ability High Schools on the American model. The better universities had to drop it as an entrance requirement (I needed it to study Modern History at Durham in 1969) which accelerated its decline, although it survived better in the private sector.

I'm glad to hear that there is a modest revival of interest in the US - there are signs that the same thing is happening over here. In seminaries too; not long ago I spoke to a (diocesan) seminarian who said it was now a requirement to know enough Latin, Greek and Hebrew to be able to read the Scriptures in those languages.

We don't need all priests to be fluent Latinists, but sufficient Latin to be able to read the Missal and Breviary is not too much to ask. It is, strictly speaking, still a requirement for ordination.

John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus

So if you, or I, or Ratzinger agree that the Liturgy is a goal in itself, we are also agreed that this is part of its 'spirit' or 'essence'.

Unfortunately a lot of what you say gives a different message. Leaving aside the obvious absurdities, viz. that Latin is of no use, or that Catholics in the southern states of the US of A haven't twigged that Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus means Holy Holy Holy, you give the impression (rightly or wrongly) that your view of liturgy tends towards the utilitarian and Protestant.

The GIRM says that the vernacular may be permitted since no-one nowadays disputes the validity of a Mass celebrated in Latin. Or that Communion in both kinds may be allowed since everyone knows that to receive under the sign of bread alone is complete. This is a good example of post-V2 doublespeak. Catechesis is so deficient these days that neither of these statements may be taken for granted.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - The Liturgy is not a goal within itself and I did not say it was.

Here's what I said, "The liturgy comes with goals or purposes. We don't set them."

No, I do not give the impression that the liturgy is utilitarian, let alone Protestant.

The liturgy HAS a purpose - a goal. That purpose/goal is in the nature of the liturgy itself. That goal/purpose is, again, the worship of God and the communication of the saving mysteries of Jesus to the People of God.

We did not create these goals, we do not change these goals. We serve these goals.

John Nolan said...

PI, Ratzinger most certainly does say the liturgy is a goal in itself. It is you who dispute this, and if I have to make a choice, I would have to go with Ratzinger on this one.

Pater Ignotus said...

John -Read what I said, please: "The liturgy is not a goal in self." I am agreeing with Ratzinger's quote.

John Nolan said...

PI, if you say (as you do) that "that purpose/goal is in the nature of the liturgy itself", you are indeed agreeing with Ratzinger. Another word for 'nature' might be 'essence'.

So to say (as you do) "you can't accomplish that if the language is not understood" ("that" referring to "an essential goal" you now admit is in the nature of the liturgy itself (which is what 'essential' means, as I have been at pains to point out all along), you are in effect saying "the liturgy cannot accomplish that if the language is not understood".

That was the argument used by the Protestant reformers, and was explicitly condemned by Trent and Vatican II.

I do read what you write, and if you don't like Latin, then fair enough. But to say it's of no use is false; to say that 99.9% of people don't understand any Latin whatsoever (even the most frequently used prayers and chants) is both false and patronizing, and attempting to use theological arguments to justify what is merely a personal preference has resulted in your contradicting yourself and (one hopes unwittingly) giving readers the impression that your views on the Mass are not in line with right doctrine.

One last point (or Parthian shot, for those with a classical education) - if tradition is not the same as Tradition, is mass the same as Mass? It occurs to me that we might not be talking about the same thing, which would explain much.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - The liturgy does not exist for the sake of the liturgy. It is not its own goal.

The liturgy exists to offer worship to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to communicate the saving mysteries of Jesus Christ to the People of God.

Roadways do not exist for themselves. They exist for a purpose that is outside themselves - allowing movement to/from various locations.

If an essential GOAL of the liturgy is the communication of the saving mysteries of Jesus Christ to the People of God, and if that communication is accomplished more fully in a language the people at mass understand, then the goal is achieved more fully, more understandably in the vernacular.

Now, if you want to argue that the communication of the saving mysteries is more fully accomplished in a language the People of God do not understand, that's fine. I'd say you're wrong and stick with English.

Latin, as a means of communication, does not work in a congregation that does not speak/understand Latin. Having a handful of prayers memorized in Latin (or French or Chinese, etc) does not constitute knowing or understanding that language. I can say the Hail Mary in French, but I do not understand or speak French.

A person can quote the Pythagorean Theorem, but that doesn't mean the person has an understanding of geometry.

I used "essential" as an adjective. You misunderstood that and thought I was using it as a noun. I was not.

Tradition is not the same as tradition. That fact is not influenced by any other pairing of words. Many words have different meanings when capitalized, as I pointed out earlier: May/may, August/august, Polish/polish, etc etc etc.

Sure a non-philistine as yourself can understand the difference.

Anonymous said...

It (Trent) also called for the continued used of Latin in liturgy, although there was no specific condemnation of the use of vernacular. In fact, the council fathers decreed that vernacular explanations of some of the liturgical texts had to be given in the context of liturgy on every Sunday and holy day. (1)

(1) Compare: Session 22 Chapter 8 and Canon 9, Session 24 Canon 7. Translations found in: Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. II. Ed. Norman Tanner.

John Nolan said...

PI, it is blindingly obvious that May (the month of) and may (the subjunctive) although with the same spelling and pronunciation mean quite different things. But the meaning is inferred from the context and not from the capitalization. We capitalize the names of months; the French do not. If I write, beginning a sentence: "May all your troubles be little ones" I don't assume that because of the capitalization of the first word anyone would infer that the month of May was meant. In the 18th century capitalization was arbitrary; in the 19th it was still used for emphasis. I pointed this out to you a year ago but you obviously didn't understand.

I know the difference between a noun and an adjective, and the adjective is derived from the noun. 'Essential' means 'of the essence'. I even quoted the dictionary definition to you, but to no avail. I am coming to the conclusion that your lack of facility in English is a direct result of your ignorance of Latin.
"Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, et vobis fratres, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, opere et omissione, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa: ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, omnes angelos et sanctos, et vos fratres, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum".

Are you seriously suggesting that no-one in your congregation if praying this would not understand it? Most of the Latin words have English cognates; the fact that the main verbs, 'confiteor' and 'precor' are both deponent, the first taking the dative case and the second the accusative, need not trouble them; even 'nimis' (exceedingly) has an admittedly rare cognate 'nimiety'. That leaves us with only 'quia' and 'ideo' as the only Latin words that don't have English cognates, and their meaning is easily inferred from the context. Examine the 'Gloria' and you will find that the same applies. Someone singing it in Latin will certainly know what they are singing, particularly as they are no doubt used to singing or reciting it in the vernacular.

I shall continue to engage you in argument, despite your prevarications and perverse refusal to give a straight answer to a straight question. I assume your lack of intellectual rigour is a result of your 1970s liberal seminary formation, and so is not your fault.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - An "essential goal" of the mass is not the equivalent of "the essence of the mass." No matter how you spin it, they are simply not the same thing.

We are not having this discussion in French and we are not having it in the 18th or 19th century, so what the French do with the names of the months or what was done in the 18th or 19th century is not germane. It is a diversion - a prevarication.

The Church's Tradition and the Church's traditions are not the same thing.

I am not suggesting anything about understanding Latin. I am stating with certainty that 99.9% of the people in my parish do not speak Latin or understand Latin. Surely some recall the Latin prayers of their youth. But, again, being able to recite prayers in a language one does not speak does not mean one understands them. More to the point, hearing the proper prayers of the mass in a language one does not understand means that they are not understood.

And if you think Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, was then or is now "liberal," then you know nothing of the Mount.

John Nolan said...

PI, I'm not spinning anything. I don't speak Latin. I know of few people who do. My new (2011) CTS hand missal (the UK's best-selling one) is Latin/English so it would be possible to understand, say, a Collect sung or said in any language, not just Latin.

The sung Propers (Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Offertory and Communion) may be simplified and sung in the vernacular, which is fine. But the treasures of the Graduale Romanum need a competent schola cantorum to reveal them, and although the Latin texts are not difficult, being mostly taken from the psalms, the faithful are usually provided with a translation, so they can hear, understand and meditate upon what is being sung.

Insisting on exclusive use of the vernacular, even if it means replacing the Proper texts with garbage like "Gather us in" or "Let us break bread together on our knees" is imposing a narrow, ideologically driven and 'one-size-fits-all' interpretation on the liturgy which is all too prevalent. It also gives the impression that the liturgy is something we make for ourselves.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - I don't buy the argument that reading along in a hand missal is desirable. That's too much like taking a libretto with you to a performance of Die Zauberflöte. It really doesn't lend itself to full, conscious, active participation.

We do make the liturgy ourselves, based on the mysteries revealed to us by God.

We decide that language used, we decide the decoration style of the church, we decide, apart from ordination, the roles given to men women. Humans write the music after all.

If this were not the case then there would be not a single liturgical directive telling us to do this or that during a particular liturgy.

In and through the liturgy, which is very much a product of human creativity, we encounter the Divine in a way that is the source and summit of our lives. It is both a spiritual and a corporeal experience and, on this side of the tombstone, cannot be otherwise.

John Nolan said...


From a pastoral letter issued by the bishops of England and Wales in May 2011:

"The Liturgy of the Eucharist is a gift, something we receive from God through the Church. St Paul spoke of it coming from the Lord Jesus himself. 'For I received from the Lord what in turn I also handed on to you'. (1 Cor. 11:23). So the Eucharist is not something of our own making but a gift received".

Your opera analogy is flawed. If you don't know German your appreciation of German opera (or Lieder) would be hampered unless you had a translation, which is why surtitles were introduced. In the case of Wagner you need them even if you do know German! Last month I heard a performance of Handel's Messiah in Bruges. Although it was sung in (flawless) English, I was still grateful for having the written text in front of me, even in such a familiar work.

FCAP includes listening. To appreciate Gregorian Chant Propers in a liturgical context and to attune your mind to them you need the Latin text and if necessary a translation. It takes a modicum of effort, but most worthwhile things in life do; and the rewards are considerable. There might be music lovers who would refuse to attend a performance of Don Giovanni because it is in Italian, but I haven't met any.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - The Eucharist is a gift. How we celebrate it - music, liturgical roles, church design and decoration, etc - is of human origin.

Unless, of course, you think that patterns for vestments, directions for how many bows of the head are needed during the EF Roman Canon, and which language is to be used, etc., were divinely revealed.