Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Patricius is a naughty lad! He loves to tease us so....

Patricius (he the lover of Hobbits and Middle Earth) loves to pull our legs from time to time and to spin us a few googlies just to see our blood pressure rise and then sink again as we realise it is "Just Patricius".
This is no bad thing. We "Orthos" (rather than "Traddies") do get a bit hog tied with our own minimus mundi and, often, can see no further than the Pre 1962 Missal in front of us.
His latest post, entitled "Latin or English?" poses the question of the vernacular over the Latin. And y'know what? I disagree with him. No surprise there perhaps but may come as something of a surprise (to Patricius as well as others) is that I believe that, in many respects,  Latin is not as vital as the essence of what is being communicated. And, of equal importance, the phraseology that is used.
I do believe that the 1962 or Pre 1962 Mass is just as beautiful in English as it is in Latin. What is more, what orthodox or traditional Catholics yearn for is a return to the moral clarity and doctrinal certainty that we used to enjoy. The Latin Mass is only the tip of a very large iceberg. It just happens to be the mast that we have nailed our colours to since Vatican II....we also want much more besides!

But,  there is one small flaw with the vernacular Mass. That is, not everyone speaks English...astonishing I know, but true. That means that quite a large part of our "universality" goes out the window faster than a magic circler can say "boaz". It also means that you become totally lost and mystified at the Mass you are attending if it is in a non English speaking country. A couple of years ago I missed my connection for Turkey at Schiphol Airport; it was a Sunday and I had a 14 hour wait for the next flight so I went into Amsterdam and found a church. Mass had already started (I knew it was going to be a Novus Ordo but I thought it would give me a chance to pray and observe) and it was in Dutch (just single Dutch, that is confusing enough).
Of course, being The Netherlands, the main altar had been abandoned and the priest conducted proceedings using a green baize folding card table. All took place on this table, including the Consecration - but, never mind, I am drifting off the point. The point being that I had no idea what stage we were at and had some difficulty throughout the rest of the Mass. This is not a one off, it's happened to me in many countries worldwide, partly, admittedly, because in the NO (as it then was) it appears that a priest or his Extraordinary Ministers or any Joe soap can get onto the sanctuary and do all sorts of semi liturgical prance abouts. There is no set format or, certainly not one that is adhered to.
Whoops, it's that westerly breeze again! To sum up. I love the Latin Mass but could live with it (an orthodox translation) in English if need be.
What I cannot live with is my fellow Catholics believing that the only reason I have swum against the current for the past 22 years is because I desire the return of the Latin Mass only!
I also would like a return to spirituality, recognition of the Holy Father as Christ's Vicar on Earth, re-instatement of plainchant with the folk group elements consigned to wherever it is they deserve and a bit of peace and quiet before and after Mass.
But, perhaps I will only find all of those things in Lothlorien.


  1. I wonder if the criticism of Latin isn't just a feinting device. What the critics really fear is the silence of the EFas they would were the OF to be celebrated in similar fashion. Think how people talk and fidget through concerts, films, theatre. Stillness has become an artform in itself because the overriding mantra of post modern living is action, action, action.
    Just to give an example, a very dear friend of mine likes the OF because stuff happens. Her life is a whirlwind of doing without cease. She can't understand my need for "think time". Bumbling along, she calls it, even though she knows I have had a very demanding, almost 24/7, career.
    Nor can she understand why I am such a fan of the EF. She cites the old argument about Latin but really it's about having to stop doing and start being. When it's just you and God it can be a pretty daunting experience.

  2. Genty - you are so correct. I know of many pre Vat II folk who express a desire to attend an EF Mass as they "love the Latin".
    After experiencing it you will not see them for dust.....as you say...the silence is the cause. I believe (at least it does with me) that the silence forces you into confronting many interior things. If you are not prepared for that......you're toast! Literally!