Sunday, September 12, 2021


Bishop-elect Guido Marini is the papal master of ceremonies and I suspect one of the last times he will function as such for a papal Mass. He is excellent and has been a good and faithful servant to two popes. He will be missed, but I believe his tradition of excellence will continue as I truly believe Pope Francis has appreciated Bishop-elect Marini’s expertise in these papal Masses in Rome and certainly how well organized they are in the various journeys around the world.

(The other Marini, now an archbishop and the head of Eucharistic Congresses, Archbishop Piero Marini spoke to the pope words of welcome at the beginning of the Mass.)

The choir is stunningly good and the Introit is chanted in Latin as well as the parts of the Mass. The pope is celebrating the Mass in Latin too! 

If only this example of an Ordinary Form Mass could be the experience of most Ordinary Form Catholics throughout the word, how much better off would be the praying Catholic community!
This is a brief synopsis of the Mass and the video below it is the full Mass:


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John Nolan--the pope gave a more solemn form of the absolution in Latin after the Confiteor and named Sts. Peter and Paul--never heard this at an ordinary form Mass as the absolution is brief. What do you make of it?

James said...

The Vatican has just announced that the pope will preside over Msgr. Marini's episcopal ordination on 17 October. It would be great if Pope Benedict were there too.

John Nolan said...

Fr Allan

I've heard it in Germany, at Cologne cathedral, sung in German. I suspect that local customs in central Europe were incorporated into the Novus Ordo. In 1993 I was in Prague for Holy Week. The churches were packed (it was soon after the fall of the Communist regime - sadly Catholicism has now collapsed in the Czech Republic, but not, it should be noted, in neighbouring Slovakia).

In St James's church in the Old Town, a splendid Baroque church, I attended the Good Friday liturgy. The Blessed Sacrament was brought in procession from the altar of repose in a monstrance covered in a lace veil, preceded by servers beating clappers, while the Vexilla Regis was sung. I've never encountered it before or since.

The same church on Easter Sunday had the full orchestral version of Dvorak's G Major Mass and apart from the Scripture readings was in Latin; the previous evening in another splendid baroque church (St Nicholas) I attended an Easter Vigil done entirely in Gregorian chant.

Being used to the Triduum as celebrated in the London Oratory I felt entirely at home. On returning I recounted this to a colleague who was a staunch Methodist. He was bemused, saying surely Latin got in the way of worshipping God (the sort of argument you hear from Fr Kavanaugh). I pointed out that there is a Methodist church in Prague but had he attended he would not have understood a word and the hymns would have been entirely unfamiliar.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - I have never argued that, "...Latin got in the way of worshipping God..." I suspect there are a few folks who are fluent in Latin - not just the memorized responses, but fluent - who worship splendidly in Latin.

I have argued that, for those not fluent in Latin, imposing a language in which they are not fluent is an impediment.

TJM said...

Fr. K,

You just contradicted yourself. I had a Latin/English Missal at 7 or 8 so there was no impediment

John Nolan said...

Mike - So the use of Latin in the liturgy only benefits those few people who are fluent in the language and is an impediment to the rest of us?

In Budapest the Pope may have used Latin because he doesn't speak Hungarian, but that doesn't explain why most of the congregational singing was in Latin. It wasn't that everyone present was fluent in the language. The second reading was in English, and when I was in Hungary in 1994 I only encountered one English speaker. Pope Francis himself doesn't have English, so would it have constituted an impediment to his and others' understanding?

The Latin Ordinary was Mass VIII (de Angelis) and Credo III. Would this be because it is more familiar to a multinational congregation than would be a modern setting in the Hungarian vernacular?

The Solemn OF Mass I attended on Sunday was, as usual, in Latin apart from the Scripture readings. All the Gregorian Propers were sung, apart from the Offertory which was set by Palestrina. The Mass Ordinary was an a capella setting by Josef Rheinberger (1838-1901). Even in Oxford you would not find fluent Latinists outside the Classics department, but I can guarantee that no-one in the sizeable congregation would buy your argument, and like me would probably regard it as jejune and narrow-minded.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - Were you to attempt to communicate with a person and told you must do so in a langauge in which you are not fluent, of which you know only a few memorized phrases, you would find that communication impeded.

Thanks to Madame Marie Louise Rahier, a stern Belgian women who earned her PhD in pharmacology at the Sorbonne and, who, in retirement, taught French at Belmont Abbey College, I have a number of prayers memorized in French. I cannot communicate with a person who speaks French.

Yes, not knowing a language is an impediment to communicating in that language. It is for you and it is for me and for all who read this blog. To believe otherwise is be narrow-minded and pig-headed.

Why impose that impediment on the people in the pews?

TJM said...

John Nolan,

I suspect our jejune priest NEVER goes to the Opera because he is not fluent in Italian, French, or German! Of course if he did, he would know he could use a libretto.

I recall a friend of mine who was a native of the Netherlands returning from a trip there to visit her family (this was in the mid-1970s) and mentioned they had been to Mass there and sung the Ordinary in Latin. I was surprised by this because this was our darkest hour liturgically in the US and asked her how this was possible. She responded: Oh, we do not have a problem with using other languages, including Latin at Mass, like you Americans.

John Nolan said...

Mike - I'm not suggesting you preach to the 'people in the pews' in Latin, or chat with them in Latin after Mass. Liturgy is not primarily about one-to-one communication.

TJM - Talking of opera, a few years ago I saw Don Giovanni in Antwerp. It was sung in Italian with surtitles in Flemish! Seriously, though, language can be a political issue. Brussels is a predominantly French-speaking city in a Flemish-speaking area. If you stop at a service area on the ring road be sure to use English. Using French would be equivalent to rocking up at Mike Kavanaugh's church and offering to sing Gregorian chant.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - Liturgy is very much about ONE-to-one communication.

Always, on God's side, there is ONE.

On the human side it may be the one person in the pew, the one family grieving the loss of a beloved family member, the one school class that planned the liturgy, the one congregation preparing to be split into two parishes...

Yes, it is always about ONE-to-one communication. God speaks, the People hear and respond.

John Nolan said...

Nice try, Mike, but substitute 'one to one communication' with 'person-to-person interaction' and continue the same line of argument. God does not simply communicate on a mundane level using human language (even Hebrew, Greek and Latin). 'Cor ad cor loquitur' as Newman eloquently put it.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - Open your Bible - Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Swahili, your choice. What medium does God use to communicate to us His revelation? Words. Mundane human words.

Take up your reproduction copy of the 7th century Gelasian Sacramentary, maybe the one put out by the Clarendon Press from Oxford in 1894. You will find it full to the brim with mundane human words, all carefully written and preserved by Holy Mother Church to enable us to receive God's revelation.

Now, most certainly, God is not limited to the use of mundane human words in His communications with us. He could use the Dots and Dashes of Morse Code, Navajo or Australian Aboriginal smoke signals, or - and this might be my favorite - semaphore in the ancient Greek phryctoriae style.

In ANY case, your dismissal of "mundane human words" is bogus when we are addressing one of the primary means which God through the Church chooses to communicate with us in the liturgy.

Remember the WORDS of Abraham Joshua Heschel; ""Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts out as a sound, ends in a deed."

John Nolan said...

Mike - a lot of verbiage employed in tilting at straw windmills - no-one is dismissing 'mundane human words'. And why use inverted commas when quoting yourself?

What is mundane is your reductionist view of liturgical language which argues that only those fluent in Latin can benefit from hearing it in a liturgical context, and for 'the people in the pews' it is an imposition and an impediment.