Friday, September 5, 2014



When I posted the Traditional Propers below, it once again reminded me of the genius of the Latin Mass of the Extraordinary Form. What is below are the only parts of the Mass that change. Everything else is the same day after day, Sunday after Sunday, week after week, year after year. 

Thus when Catholics of yesteryear only knew this form of the Mass, usually for most faithful Catholics they knew by heart the fixed parts of the Mass or at least could paraphrase these in English in their mind, including the Roman Canon. They did not need their hand missal (I had the St. Joseph Missal version) for most of the Mass. They only needed the English or vernacular translation for the parts I have posted below and that was it. 

Thus the older form of the Mass all in Latin with a bit a Greek and a tiny amount of Hebrew was easier to enter into full, conscious and actual participation than most people who know nothing of the pre-Vatican II Church think. In fact, with the Mass in Latin it forced us to pay closer attention to actually participate as the Church after Vatican confirmed. 

But not only that, the universal appeal of this Mass is so obvious. Except for the homily, a congregation attending the EF Mass could be of every language group in the world and the priest only knowing his own language and the ability to celebrate the Latin Mass could minister at Mass to every single language group there without even knowing any other language than his own and Latin. This is a miracle that was lost and to what avail

Now priests have to be gifted as language experts in the vein of Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict. You have to divide your parish in to divisive language and cultural groups. There is no unity but only liturgical chaos and disunity and anger that any particular language gets more attention even in the same Mass. How absurd is that!?

Yesterday at our Seniors' luncheon, one of our elderly parishioners reminisced  about the time during World War II when Macon had two prisoner of war camps, one for Germans and one for Italians.

The Italains had a bit more freedom and worked on a farm and earned meager wages for doing so. One day a powerful thunderstorm came up and lightening struck the ground and four Italians died and others were injured.

The funeral for the four Italians was held here at St. Joseph Church. All the Italian POWs attend the Requiem. Our parishioner 13 years old at the time served the Mass. It made a lifetime impression on him. Enemies of the USA gatherer in his Macon Church, completely and loudly responding to the American Jesuit celebrating the Requiem and in Latin (yes! out loud!) and all there praying for the repose of the souls of these Italian POWs. 

He said he couldn't believe he was praying with enemies of the USA who knew no English but were united in their Catholic faith and the universal language of the Latin Mass of that time. This is powerful folks! How could we have dumped that for the menagerie of different language Mass in the same parish? How foolish!


Anonymous said...

Do you think we will ever go back to the Mass being in Latin, either the OF or EF?
I don't see it happening until the current episcopate dies out personally

Anonymous said...

You have said it all!
There is nothing to add.

except maybe...thanks.


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thanks Sheila.

As far as an all Latin Mass returning as the norm or at least the unchanging parts in Latin, I don't think so, although under Pope Benedict I thought we might be going in that direction. But people for the most part like the instant understanding they have in the vernacular, which I do too, but are blinded to the complications now in places where there are many different languages even in the same parish and the difficulties this presents for priests and parishes and the divisiveness it presents.

Rood Screen said...

I find that even daily communicants rarely have a comprehensive appreciation for the nature and various parts of the Roman Mass, despite their having heard the whole rite in their own language for decades now.

John Nolan said...

In the latest number of 'Latin Liturgy', the magazine of the Association for Latin Liturgy which campaigns for the use of Latin in the post-Conciliar rites, there is an interesting article by Mgr Bruce Harbert, who was Executive Director of ICEL, tasked with producing a new translation following Liturgicam Authenticam.

The main point of the article is concerned with 'catenative' verbs such as dignor, mereor and valeo, which sometimes convey an important meaning, but are often merely stylistic. They occur very often in the Roman Rite. The compilers of the Novus Ordo drew a lot on the prayers of the Veronese or Leonine Sacramentary which is over a century older than the Gregorian Sacramentary, both for the orations and the Prefaces, and which contains far fewer catenatives. Mgr Harbert has no hesitation in saying this is 'a major enrichment of the Roman Rite'.

He goes on to say: 'In order to rescue meanings that had been lost in the previous official English translation of the Mass, the Instruction Liturgiam Authenticam directed that every word of the Latin original should be fully translated. This was a blunt weapon ... hence much of the renowned clumsiness of the official text. But the final revisers, many of whom had been involved in producing Liturgicam Authenticam in the first place, came to realize that its demands were unworkable, and many of the catenatives of the original, valeamus in particular, have wisely been left untranslated ... one thing can be said for certain: the introduction of the prayers of the Veronese sacramentary into the mainstream of the Roman Rite has been a considerable enrichment'. This resource was unknown at the time of the 1570 missal.

I have maintained all along that the Novus Ordo Missae should be judged on its own terms. Comparison with the classic Roman Rite, whose framework and music have been explicitly maintained, does few favours to either Rite (or form, if you prefer). Benedict XVI was enough of a scholar to realize that despite the distortions and abuses which have given the 1970 Missal such a bad name, there can be mutual enrichment. To my mind the reverence and ars celebrandi of the classic Roman Rite would enrich the Novus Ordo (and in virtually every NO Mass I have attended in the last 40 years it does just that) but the textual riches of the NO should not be overlooked, and at last they are available to those English speakers who have little Latin. In 2011 Mgr Andrew Wadsworth, another key player in the new ICEL, was able to write an article on the Advent Collects using the then new English version without having to refer to the Latin originals. This would not have been possible using the 1973 versions.

Anonymous said...

Father, when you ask, " How could we have dumped that for the menagerie of different language Mass in the same parish? How foolish!" I know that was pointed out even when the OF began. It fell on deaf ears.
And it also reminds me that the people who were glad the past 50 years happened are still among us, and saddened that some of their "progress" has been stopped, and would love to continue to dismantle the Church. They are not happy that the EF is gaining popularity.

Rood Screen said...

John Nolan,

Yours is the most balanced, concise and informed approach to the Roman liturgical tradition that I have encountered. The Western Church needs fewer arguments about, and more appreciation for, the riches of our bi-formal Roman liturgy. In other words, we need more Catholics like you.

Anonymous said...

John Nolan,

You have stated well my meaning in occasional references to the "textual richness" of the OF missal (as opposed to its spareness in typical celebration). Although my support of the EF is probably conspicuous, I personally prefer the OF missal textually, and use it (rather than the EF missal) daily in my private devotions, reciting the day's OF propers including an appropriate OF preface, as an extended closing prayer to the Office of Readings.

I am especially devoted to the OF prefaces, which because of the inferior 1973 English translation long had to be read in Latin to be appreciated, and feel the EF would be "mutually enriched" greatly by inclusion of the OF prefaces for use in EF Masses, along with a great many of the OF collects.

Although I understand the fears of those shell-shocked by past changes, the present duality is surely unstable, and the future likely promises a unified Roman rite that combines the best features of the EF praxis and the OF text.

Anonymous said...


May I suggest that wider "appreciation for the riches of our bi-formal Roman liturgy" cannot reasonably be expected to materialize out of thin air, in areas such as ours where Catholics have uniformly been deprived of these riches in recent decades. As per "lex orandi, lex credendi" the faith of Catholics has always been shaped by their liturgy, which indeed Vatican II recognized as "the source and summit of our faith".

So, is not the lay appreciation of the liturgy that you observe precisely what one should expect from the impoverished liturgy they have generally been exposed to throughout most of their lives? Why would one appreciate the richness of the Roman liturgy if he's never been exposed to it?

Rood Screen said...


I think you're right, but I would also observe that interest in the deeper tradition remains strong even among many who have rarely or never experienced it. Most of the priests I know who are fond of the Old Mass experienced a strong desire to celebrate it even before they experienced it. Similarly, there are seminary freshmen who have not yet taken a liturgical history class who nevertheless have a pronounced interest in the Roman liturgical tradition. Further, I doubt any layman would drive an hour to attend a Sunday afternoon Mass for the first time in the EF if he did not already have a longing for it.

I'm wondering where this longing comes from, and why some of us have it and others do not.

John Nolan said...


Thank you. Reading through my comment, I should have made it clearer that the framework and music of the classic Roman Rite are explicitly maintained in the Novus Ordo. In two week's time I shall be singing at a weekend retreat for young Catholic adults at Douai Abbey (England) where Mass and Vespers will be in the Old Rite. A fortnight after that I shall be doing the same in the New Rite at the AGM of the Association for Latin Liturgy. The liturgical ambience will be identical at both, and the differences minimal.

Were the latter to be in English rather than Latin (and I have sung Vespers in English to Gregorian tones and it works!)it would still have the same ambience. In a parish setting it is better for the congregation to sing the psalms in their own language, rather than having to rely on a crib. In 1995 I was in Cracow on Easter Sunday and attended two sung Masses back to back (both ad orientem). The first was in Latin. The second, celebrated at the high altar by the Archbishop, with deacon and subdeacon and using the 17th century Jagiellonian vestments, was in Polish but sung to Gregorian chant. Why did we get it so wrong in the English-speaking world?