Monday, February 3, 2014

DUH! WHY DOESN'T THE CHURCH USE A COMMON LANGUAGE FOR THE MASS TO UNITE US CATHOLICS OF DIFFERENT LANGUAGES WHEN WE ATTEND MASS TOGETHER? WHY HASN'T THIS BEEN THOUGHT OF BEFORE NOW?


I can't find the embedded code again, for some odd reason, but to play the French Canadian pre-1962 Roman Missal Mass filmed in a television studio in 1960, with excellent chant-like actual participation, both interior and exterior, of the congregation press HERE.

My Comment: As I watched this video again, and hearing the brief voice over of the commentator speaking in French, it reminded me why Latin should return to being the universal language of the Church. It unites people of various tongues and races during worship

Now that I am celebrating the Latin Mass every Tuesday and once a month on the First Sunday, I know all of those Latin Prayers almost by heart and understand them in Latin, not by translating them in my mind into English. Most pre-Vatican II Catholics at the time could witness to my same experience today in terms of actually comprehending the Latin for the fixed parts of the Mass, which was the majority of the EF Mass, except for the Antiphons, Collects, Secrets and Post Communion Prayers and prefaces. For the changing parts, we relied on our trusty English Missals!

So as I listened to this 1960 video, it wasn't foreign to me although the congregation was a French speaking one! I was united to them in the Mass because it was in Latin. I was one with them. I didn't need to hear it in English and the French speakers didn't need it in French. We were one!

As some of you may know, there has been political conflict and animosity in Canada due to the cultural and language differences between English Canada and French Canada. There has also been a separatist movement.  

But listening to these French Canadians celebrate the Mass in Latin, albeit with a bit of a French accent, tells me that anyone in the world at that time could have joined them and no one would have been jealous that their language wasn't used or incorporated somehow into a hodgepodge of languages so common today at Mass in so many places in the USA and other places. 

The same "separatist" movement could occur here in the USA with Spanish speaking and English speaking people.  There is great division today in Anglo parishes where Spanish speakers have moved in and sometimes overwhelm the original majority. The Mass itself becomes the battleground. Either an all Spanish Mass replaces an English Mass or there is this horrible hybrid Mass of both languages that irritates everyone.

I have a great idea! Why not celebrate the Mass in Latin and let the various language groups learn how to participate in this common liturgical language and use a translation of the Latin into their own Language in missals they purchase for themselves.

I think this is a great idea. I wonder why someone hasn't thought of it before me! 

50 comments:

Joe Potillor said...

The multiple languages, I've seen divides a parish, the Spanish stay in their group, the English in theirs, and whatever other ethnicity stays in their group. Latin has a way of uniting the people...

In the Byzantine Church, the vernacular has been used to great effect. But once again, what works for the East, doesn't necessarily work for the West.

Robert Kumpel said...

Yesterday, I attended a bilingual Mass held monthly at a rural parish in this diocese. It was a typical display of controlled chaos. The priest--a very good priest in all respects--said half the prayers in Spanish and half the prayers in English and preached a short homily in both languages. It was clunky, awkward and when the congregation prayed the Our Father together--one half of them in Spanish the other half of them in English--it was a jumbled mess. The problem was further aggravated by the use of canned music for all of the responses and hymns, which sounded like background music for a Tostitos commercial. I am not against having the Mass in English or Spanish, but this "unity by diversity" Mass is a failed experiment that needs to be scuttled. I've thought about suggesting to the priest that he try employing the language of the Church instead of this messy jumble, but I have a feeling he would not be too interested in that and probably doesn't want to deal with the garden-variety objections some congregants would make. I've learned the hard way that most priests don't like such suggestions. So I silently suffer the indignation heaped monthly upon the liturgy.

John Nolan said...

Twenty years ago I went to Prague for Holy Week. Thanks to the Oratorians, I was used to the sacred Triduum in Latin, and the two churches I attended, St Thomas in the Mala Strana and St James in the Nove Mesto used mostly Latin, so I felt quite at home. I have no Czech.

On my return I was recounting the experience to a work colleague who happened to be a staunch Methodist. He was genuinely perplexed and said that surely Latin got between me and God. I pointed out to him that there was a Methodist church in Prague but had he attended he would have found nothing familiar; the language of the prayers, the hymns and even the melodies thereof would have rendered him a mute and passive spectator.

I can understand why people like Pater Ignotus think that Latin is of no use. They live in a country where you can travel thousands of miles without encountering any language but English; they are not interested in the musical heritage of the Church, which they think began in 1965; they might, for the sake of political correctness, have to defer to the language preference of so-called Hispanics (do they realize that to refer to a Spaniard as such in a European context would be taken as a racial slur? Obviously not).

I live in a country where there is an established Protestant Church which defines itself by its English liturgy, although in the last few decades it has allowed choral music in Latin. In contrast, my Catholic identity is defined by a Latin liturgy. That doesn't mean that I reject a Mass in English - but even with the best translation in the world it will always be faute de mieux, if I might be allowed a French expression.

Random Thoughts said...

I can see the desire to have a common language for the Mass, but do you think practically the bell can be unrung?

I grew up in the post Vatican II church and I like most members of the church cannot speak, read, or understand Latin. Sure I know how to respond to some prayers in Latin due to rote memorization, but I never knew what I was saying. Moreover, I never had the opportunity or reason to learn Latin as I have never gone to a church where the priest offered Latin classes.

If we return to the days of the Latin Mass we would have to face the practical problem of either 1.accepting that the congregation does not understand what they are hearing or what they are saying (not appealing to me) or 2. instructing the clergy to take steps to teach the congregation Latin so they at least have an understanding of what is said during the Mass (not sure that this is a wise use of the clergy's time.)

Frankly, I do not see a return to the Latin Mass in my lifetime. And if the true desire is to say the Mass in a common language why does it have to be Latin? Why not mandate English or Spanish which are spoken and understood by billions more then Latin?

Steven Surrency said...

It is not an either/or. Use for the ordinary of the mass often. Also use the vernacular. Then, people will know the meaning of the prayers from their vernacular usage, but will also know how to say them in Latin. Cycle both through regularly. Everyone will know their vernacular and their Latin. Then, when a need for a bilingual mass comes up, Latin for all the ordinary. The propers and readings, of course, will still have to be negotiated. But the sung responses will be a unifying experience that is still wholly understood. Moreover, this is what SVC II actual asked for.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

We do have the all Latin Mass with the EF which as helped me tremendously to recover my own knowledge of liturgical Latin. Sadly many, many Catholics who desire the EF Mass are deprived of it purely out of the arrogance and clericalism of priest who refuse the faithful their liturgical rights. As for the OF Mass, I think we could see in the distant future the requirement of at least the Credo and Pater Noster in Latin. I would hope for the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei also. I think these are in the realm of the realistic.

FrJBS said...

Fr. McDonald,

Are the children in your grade school taught Latin? Small children learn languages very quickly. God bless our middle-aged and elderly parishioners, but they are not the place to start reintroducing Latin.

rcg said...

More than the commonality of the 'lingua' is the precision of the Thought. That is why the Third Missal was such a welcome event to me. Notwithstanding remaining errors the catechesis of the document the teaching value was incredible. You cannot imagine the errors we have promulgated to the English speaking faithful over the last two generations with the shadowLiturgy and the poor music.

Gabby said...

This past summer I was fortunate enough to attend Sunday Mass at Notre Dame in Paris and San Marco in Venice. In each case the Mass was celebrated in the vernacular but the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus & Agnus Dei were chanted in Latin & Greek and I heard a Gloria I hadn't heard since the 60s. I recognized it instantly and in Paris, where we were given an order of service I was even able to sing it. It was wonderful!

While I have no burning yearning for the EF (good thing because my Pastor doesn't know enough Latin to celebrate it) I think it would be wonderful to at least use Latin chant for the responses. You have to start small.

Henry said...

Random Thoughts, I belong to a Latin Mass community in which a preponderant majority consists of young folks and converts with absolutely previous Latin exposure, liturgical or otherwise. I, myself having picked up the Latin of liturgy and scripture without any benefit of formal instruction, offered a few before-Mass Latin acclimation classes a few years ago, until I discovered how utterly unnecessary they were. When people follow along in the English column as they hear the prayers in Latin week after week, they pick up sense of the meaning in short order. Partly because the Latin vocabulary of the Mass is quite small, nothing like what is needed for classical or conversational Latin. And the greater part of the EF Mass is silent, so it suffices to follow in English anyway. As I do in the Roman Canon, though my Latin is readily good enough that in my regular attendance at vernacular OF Masses, I carry a Latin-English Novus Ordo hand missal and follow the prayers in Latin as I listen to them in English. Really, I've never encountered anyone for whom the language of the Mass posed a great difficulty. Except on the isolated occasion when I get trapped in one of these awfyk bilingual affairs, and everyone on either side seems as diconcerted as I am, unable to be either fish or fowl.

Random Thoughts said...

Perhaps I just don't understand the motivating factor behind wanting to return to the Latin Mass. If we think there is something lost in translation, what good is it to follow along the Latin Mass with the English missalette? The same translation errors will occur. (Thus the need to actually learn Latin and not simply memorize the prayers.) If we want people to be able to go to any church and understand the Mass, shouldn't we look to a more widely spoken language?

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with those who want to celebrate the Latin Mass as Fr. McDonald offers, but I don't see the need to return to it wholesale.

rcg said...

RandomT, The bell was unrung when Latin was intended and used as the common language for about 1100 years. Your question concerning following along is a good one, too. Ironically, you aren't following along, but praying concurrently with the priest and may have your own prayers and devotions. The best is when you study the Mass ahead of time and contemplate the prayers and lessons in light of your own life and larger things. Our parish priests are very good at making the homily about the instant readings, feast, etc. and discussing how they link back to us. I suppose that folks will sometimes see their Latin improve, but I am not sure that is the actual goal. Engage otters after the Mass, talk to the priests and educated persons about why the words are like they are, then the Mass will really ring.

Unknown said...

i always thought the Kyrie was Greek. Am I mistaken?

rcg said...

Yes, otters. Lutrinae mustilidae are adept Latinists.

Joseph Johnson said...

Unknown,
You're right--the Kyrie is Greek and other words such as Amen, Alleluia and Hosanna are Aramaic. Isn't it odd how everyone seems to accept these words within otherwise vernacular Masses but the use of any Latin (even just for one part) can be quite controversial for some.

I get to experience the same things that Robert Kumpel describes in my parish each month (except for the canned music). Most Anglo parishioners that I speak to dread this monthly bilingual Mass and some have made the same suggestion about using some Latin for the Ordinary parts in these Masses. This seems perfectly reasonable to me.

I know the Mass parts in Latin and English--I know very little in Spanish and cannot participate in that language. If the Our Father is sung in Spanish I have to just shut it out mentally and pray it quietly in English or in Latin (I have done both). Unfortunately for people who think as I do on this matter, it seems that most clergy in our Diocese of Savannah adhere to the "Ignotian" line of thinking on this issue. Given this reality, I am forced to shut out the Spanish parts and internalize my participation rather than join my fellow Catholics in singing together in the language of the Church which neither of us speak (but which some of us understand).

Pater Ignotus said...

We do not use Latin as a common language for liturgy because it is not a common language.

John - I am indeed interested in the musical heritage of the Church. Having sung in choirs from 6th grade through seminary, I have an appreciation for all sorts of ecclesiastical music.

And let me correct your view of living in the United States. I encounter Spanish almost daily. I am one of the priests in this city who can manage in Spanish, so I get called to the local hospitals when needed. I am able to speak in Spanish with men I see working here and there.

And, when I shop at Home Depot, a large home improvement chain, I am grateful for the opportunity to expand my Spanish vocabulary since everything there is labeled in Spanish as well as English.

Anonymous said...

Funny in my F.S.S.P. parish we have Asian, Anglo, Latino, Black, Middle Eastern and guess what unites us???? LATIN!!!!!!! We all understand what is happening at Holy Mass and none of us feel out of place, common sense folks. As Father said DUH!!!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

PI, in my new post that I just posted, you have evidently not kept abreast of what is expected as it concerns the Latin language, which when used in the Liturgy becomes the neutral common language of the assembly! Please brush up on the facts before spreading false teachings based on prejudiced personal opinion. Tisk, tisk.

Gene said...

Hey, ya'll! Ignotus speaks Spanish! Wow! So does my daughter, my sister in law, and about a million school children. Hey, Ignotus, come back when you can speak Japanese. I might be impressed then, although you'll probably speak it incorrectly while insisting that you are correct.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - Actually...... "A record 37.6 million persons ages 5 years and older speak Spanish at home, according to an analysis of the 2011 American Community Survey by the Pew Research Center." (pewresearch.org)

37.6 million is a far, far cry from your daughter, sister-in-law, and a mere million school children, verdad?

Henry said...

A pertinent remark by Fr. Hunwicke at his "Mutual Enrichment" blog, discussed today by Fr. Z, about the 20th century's premier liturgical linguist, Christine Mohrmann, that

"she demonstrated how Christian Latin emerged, was consciously developed, in order to fill the needs and instinct of the worshipping community for a deliberately sacral language. She felt that the time was not ripe for vernacular liturgies in the late twentieth century, because modern European languages had not developed their sacred vernaculars. Liturgiam authenticam, interestingly, echoed her words in its call for the development of such vernaculars, even if this meant the possible use of archaisms."

While Latin will always retain "pride of place" because it is the language in which the mind of the Church developed, and because of the Latin treasury of sacred music, I'd guess that, starting with our wonderful new translation of the Roman missal as a foundation, in several centuries a fully sacral vernacular English will have been developed. Perhaps one that is suitable as a liturgical common language for the whole Church?

rcg said...

Henry, that does not seem unreasonable. However I would discourage that because it could dangerously generate independent liturgies and diverging teaching. If something useful is developed in the vernacular it should be reduced to Latin elements to ensure it is properly coded. Any subsequent vernacular expression can be rendered accurately, if 'clunky' so the locals can be educated.

John Nolan said...

As a goddam Limey, I have a question - why don't the wetbacks learn English or stay in ol' Mexico?

Joe Potillor said...

I speak Spanish too, and I'm more than happy to use it when necessary, and have no problem with it, but unity through diversity doesn't quite work.

Latin should most definitely be retained in the Roman Church...

Gene said...

That was my point, Ignotus, but you missed it as usual. Your speaking Spanish is no big deal. Quit bragging and being self-righteous.

Gene said...

I agree, John Nolan. We need to kick all the illegals out and require the ones here legally to learn English.
This open society crap needs to go.

Random Thoughts said...

RCG,

I believe your concern is already addressed by the Church in the Canon Law Article Fr. Cites today, 928, which allows the use of any language "provided that the liturgical texts have been legitimately approved."

Side note: I guess this prohibits the substitution of "y'all" where appropriate.

Anonymous said...

John Nolan says: "As a goddam Limey, I have a question - why don't the wetbacks learn English or stay in ol' Mexico?"

G-D and Wetbacks? Really?

HEY, Fr. McDonald, what happened to "Post an intelligent and civil comment. Comments contrary to these two norms, regardless of point of view, will not be post."

If you "reviewed this one, you need to see the eye doctor.

The FARCE continues......

Random Thoughts said...

Anonymous raises a good point. See the following excerpts from the Chatechism:

2146 The second commandment forbids the abuse of God's name, i.e., every improper use of the names of God, Jesus Christ, but also of the Virgin Mary and all the saints.

2148 Blasphemy is directly opposed to the second commandment. It consists in uttering against God - inwardly or outwardly - words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one's speech; in misusing God's name. St. James condemns those "who blaspheme that honorable name [of Jesus] by which you are called." The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ's Church, the saints, and sacred things. It is also blasphemous to make use of God's name to cover up criminal practices, to reduce peoples to servitude, to torture persons or put them to death. the misuse of God's name to commit a crime can provoke others to repudiate religion.
Blasphemy is contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. It is in itself a grave sin.

The sections on scandal are also informative 2284 et seq.

Perhaps in the future we can make our xenophobic points without using the Lord's name in vain.

rcg said...

A sense of humor is important to intelligent conversation.

Henry said...

"A sense of humor is important to intelligent conversation."

And perhaps especially in understanding the thoroughly British (like John N), it may help some uptight folks to lighten up a bit.

Random Thoughts said...

Really? I never realized blasphemy and condoning blasphemy was permissible for humor.

Learn something new every day.

Gene said...

Simple swearing like that is not blasphemy. Taking the Lord's name in vain is more like unbelieving Priests and Catholics who have lost their faith or do not believe all the Church teaches but who still pretend that they do believe while trying to persuade others to join them in their apostasy. So, which is worse, hitting your thumb with a hammer and yelling, "GD," or not believing in the Real Presence, the Virgin Birth, or the bodily Resurrection but standing up and reciting the Credo every Sunday…hmmmm...

John Nolan said...

O my golly gosh! Philip II was more concerned that the sailors in the Spanish Armada refrained from coarse language than that they practised their gunnery. Had he not been so fastidious we'd have a Catholic monarch, cheap booze and afternoon siestas.

There's nothing wrong with bilingual Masses provided one of the two languages is Latin.

FrJBS said...

I, too, object to John Nolan's term for poor Mexican immigrants.

Gene said...

FrJBS, that's poor Mexican ILLEGAL immigrants. You left out a key word.

Random Thoughts said...

Gene,

Saying GD is taking the Lord's name in vain and objectively is a grave sin.

http://catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0302.html

However, as the Father cited above notes your culpability can be diminished when you utter it without thought. Such as hitting you thumb with a hammer. But when you take the time to type it out, or review and post a commentator's comment, it is not as spontaneous.,but perhaps still excusable. It is not for me to Judge.

I jjust think we would all be well served to be cautious about the language we use, Especially here where others may look at our comments to learn about the faith.

Anonymous 2 said...

Having lived in the U.S. now for going on 35 years, and as a teacher of Immigration Law, I understand and respect the sensitivity over terminology. I would point out, though, in mitigation of John’s remarks, that he is British and lives in Britain. So, perhaps at least in this case, we should cut the_____ Limey a bit of slack.

John Nolan said...

FrJBS

It's not my term. It's been used since the 1920s and was used officially by the US government who launched Operation Wetback in May 1954 after pressure from the Mexican government (and, incidentally, the Catholic Church) to stem the drain of labour from that country.

On a more serious note, historically the USA absorbed vast numbers of immigrants but required them to learn English. The abandonment of this policy for the sake of political correctness is both misguided and unhelpful.

John Nolan said...

[Expletive deleted] Limey should have been in inverted commas; the expletive concerned is not used in British English and was a facetious allusion to the way the Brits believe they are described in American parlance. In the 19th century Mexicans referred to Americans as "goddammers" because of the frequency with which they resorted to that expression. It had as much to do with God as the frequent use of the 'f-word' has to do with sexual intercourse.

The level of economic migration to Britain is a hot topic over here. If they are from the EU, which now includes Bulgaria and Romania, we're not allowed to refuse them entry or deport them even for serious criminal offences. In the case of non-EU citizens convicted of serious offences (including terrorism) should be deported after serving their sentences, but they appeal to the courts over their 'human rights' and the judges overrule the Home Secretary.

Random Thoughts and Anonymous (which one, I have no idea) should realize the danger, when posting on religious blogs, of sounding sanctimonious. Anon's spluttering about the lack of censorship is the typical reaction of one who is looking to be offended. I, for one, will be happy to oblige him. RT's post at 7:07 on 4/2/14 is too priggish for words.

Random Thoughts said...

"Random Thoughts . . . should realize the danger, when posting on religious blogs, of sounding sanctimonious."

Pot meet kettle.

I shall tip my hat and exit this blog. I have kept up with this blog for several months although mostly as a casual observer. Although I always could do without the disrespectful, racist, and obnoxious comments. It's a shame because I grew up attending Mass at Holy Trinity in Augusta. Growing up I never thought Fr. McDonald would put up with some of the attacks that are spewn on this blog, let alone review and publish them.

John, my reflections on Anonymous' comments were more directed to my shared disgust that your comments warranted Fr. McDonald's approval and less with your crude language. Obviously I was not clear.

I am not morally superior to anyone. But I read this blog to try to understand more about my Faith. I am at a point in my life where I am looking for a lot of answers. I came here to find some. I've looked in the wrong place, so I shall go elsewhere.

God bless and Cheers!

John Nolan said...

RT, If I quote from any document, it is with the intention of dispelling ignorance, not pointing the moral finger. Expressions like "disrespectful", "obnoxious", "racist" are the stock-in-trade of the pompous prig. I have disagreed with many of the comments here, but I don't hurl childish epithets around. Get a life.

Gene said...

Bye Random Thoughts…and don't forget to close the door when you leave.

Henry said...

Random Thoughts: "It is not for me to Judge."

Indeed. And, even more so, fatuous to purport to assay remotely another's motivation and internal disposition sufficient to accuse him of serious sin in his internet comments.

Pater Ignotus said...

"Wetback" is an ethnic slur, whether it is used to describe legal or illegal immigrants from Mexico.

We don't get a pass to call illegal Italian immigrants "wops" or illegal Jewish immigrants "kikes" or illegal African immigrants "n-----s."

And just because your pappy or your grandpappy sat on the porch taking about "n-----s" working on the plantation doesn't justify use of that or any disrespectful, obnoxious, and racist slur.

John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus

'Limey' would be an ethnic slur were it not for the fact that no Englishman gives a tuppenny damn about whatever Johnny Foreigner chooses to call him. I assume you would ban the Tom Lehrer song about Mexico which includes the line "how I wish I could get back to the land of the wetback and forget the Alamo". Come to think of it, all Lehrer's output is so politically incorrect you might as well ban him altogether.

And while you're at it, you could confiscate and burn all copies of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" because of its frequent use of a word you can't even bring yourself to spell out. I admit that nowadays the use of that particular word implies a level of contempt that rules it out, and because it refers to skin-colour rather than nationality, it is a racial term. However, France, Germany and Italy are confident nation states and 'frog', 'kraut' and 'wop' are seen as jocular rather than offensive.





Gene said...

Ah, the self-righteous Ignotus has his hackles up. Isn't he cute when he is upset…LOL!

Pater Ignotus said...

John Oh, not all of Leher's work is politically incorrect. I cite, as the example that vitiates your argument, The Elements.

No, I will not ban Huckleberry Finn, nor the original lyrics to the Mikado's Act II aria for their use of the "N" word. I won't repeat what they say in speech or writing, but I will not ban them.

And it is not that "can't" bring myself to spell it out. I will not spell it out because it is offensive and racist.

John Nolan said...

When Joseph Conrad's 1897 novella "The Nigger of the Narcissus" was first published in the USA, the title was changed to "Children of the Sea". Because the original title was deemed offensive? Not a bit of it. The publishers thought that Americans would not buy a book whose chief protagonist was a black man. Now that's racism for you.

Guy Gibson (of Dambusters fame) had a black Labrador whose name was used as the codeword for the breaching of the Moehne dam. Nigger was run over on the night of the raid outside the guardroom at RAF Scampton, and was buried on the base. A few years ago Scampton was scheduled for closure and it was planned to move the mutt's grave (with headstone) to another station. The local TV news covered it and it was exquisitely funny to hear the female presenter try to tell the story without mentioning the dog's name.

When I was a child we used to play "Cowboys and Indians". I suppose nowadays it would have to be "Cowpersons and Native Americans".

Gene said...

I mentioned "Nigger of the Narcissus" in my post here but Fr. chose not to post it. Oh, well...