Saturday, May 2, 2015


Recently I had a conversation with some brother priests. Somehow we got onto the topic of the different languages that the Mass is celebrated in our diocese. There are Spanish Masses, Korean Masses, Vietnamese Masses and even Portuguese Masses. In most cases there is a priest who can and will celebrate these Mass in these languages.

But sometimes there isn't. The solution? Well, this makes my blood boil:

An English speaking priest will celebrate the Mass in English, except the readings and all the congregational sung parts are sung in the particular language of the people, be it Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese or Portuguese. I was told this works out very well, because the congregation has the priest's parts he says or chants in English in their particular language missal so they can follow what he is saying!

Anything wrong here????????


John Nolan said...

Utterly bonkers. When Pope Francis was in Korea the singing of the Ordinary was in Korean but the rest was in Latin since the Holy Father can't be expected to celebrate in Korean.

It stands V2 on its head. 'The faithful should be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary that pertain to them.' (SC)

Because of singing commitments (I am competent in Gregorian chant) I don't attend the OF much these days. Do I miss it? Like a hole in the head!

Anonymous said...

So are you saying the Mass could be sung in Latin and the congregation could follow in the Missal? The readings could be read in the vernacular during the homily period.

JBS said...

In other words, Father McDonald, your asking when the reforms of the Second Vatican Council affecting liturgical language will be implemented. Good question.

Joseph Johnson said...

When we have our monthly bi-lingual (English and Spanish) Sunday Mass and the Lord's Prayer is said in Spanish (which I don't know) I say it in a low voice in Latin (which closer to Spanish and it's easier to say without getting distracted by all the out loud Spanish that surrounds me).

Anonymous said...

I don't think there would be much wrong with that statement if it said : An English speaking priest, who does not know and has never spoken Latin, will celebrate the Mass in English, except the readings and all the congregational sung parts are sung in the particular language of the people. You could just say the old Latin mass was the better solution.

John Nolan said...

An English-speaking priest who does not know Latin? Unfortunately they exist, and it's not necessary their fault - I spoke to a priest who was actually discouraged from learning Latin in seminary. The fact that a certain competence in Latin is a canonical requirement for ordination is routinely ignored.

I am no Latinist, but I find it embarrassing if my Latin is better than that of a Catholic priest; it's a bit like going to your doctor with the foreknowledge that your medical expertise is greater than his.

Paul said...

Multiculturalism usually fails. Horribly. I attended an English/Spanish bilingual mass. While the intentions were (hopefully) good, the resulting Mass was a train wreck with Spanish and English seemingly being switched in and out at random and some parts (such as the creed) being said in both languages at the same time.

Thankfully, a priest and Jesus were both present.

Joe Potillor said...

John, I agree with you, it's a definite state on the situation in the Church, when a lay person's latin is better (linguistics or latin majors aside) than a priest's.

Of course, Latin would solve a lot of these issues, but just to be a pain, I'd say use Greek or even Church Slavonic if you really want to confuse people :p

Anonymous said...

Why is it that no one objects to the Jews having their sacred language (Hebrew), Hindus having theirs (Sanskrit), Muslims having theirs (whatever that ancient Arabic tongue is), yet if Catholics want to continue with THEIR sacred language, they are not only vilified, BUT THEY ARE VILIFIED BY THEIR OWN CHURCH? WHY?

Can someone please explain this shameful duplicity?

Why is it that tolerance always extends to everyone except Traditional Catholics?

Paul said...

The closer one gets to the Truth the more the diabolic forces tries to pull one away.

We know why. Be thankful for the blessing to recognize it when it happens.

John Nolan said...

Anon @7:09

Interesting question. It's partly ideological - Latin does subvert the chummy subjectivity in the new Mass which a lot of people like, or at least take for granted. It's partly guilt - in the 1970s a lot of schools dropped Latin from the curriculum in favour of more trendy (and easier) subjects, forcing the better universities to abandon it as an entrance requirement. So we now have otherwise highly-educated people who have no knowledge of the classics. They may say 'it's only another foreign language and I can get along perfectly well without it' but in their heart of hearts they know differently.

In the 1970s I became familiar with the Sacred Triduum (Novus Ordo) in Latin because I attended the London Oratory. In 1993 I was in Prague for Holy Week and found both the language and the music reassuringly familiar. Nothing would have induced me to sit through an Easter Vigil in Czech, since I don't speak a word of it.

By all means alternate Latin and the vernacular; apart from anything else it helps preserve the musical patrimony of the Western Church. But mixing of vernaculars is tiresome, divisive, and pointless.

rcg said...

I would think English speakers would flock to Latin. My grandfather used to discuss my word usage with me based on the roots, Latin, Greek, Germanic (Anglo-Saxon) and explain what the word really meant. So I agree that the NO should have alternating Latin - English and the priest should base his homily often on the Latin and what it means. It is very reassuring.