Friday, April 27, 2007

Latin Mass

When I heard some Jews were up in arms at a suggestion that the Pope is considering re-introducing a Mass service in Latin, my first reaction was "What's it got to go with them?". I mean, if I heard that Buddhists were going to start making clicking noises instead of chanting it wouldn't really ruin my day.
 
Apparently the problem is, the Tridentine Mass - which incidentally is not a lump of dried-in toothpaste on your bathroom carpet - includes prayers for the conversion of Jews to the Christian faith, and that's what these guys are up in arms about.
 
I have to say, this one's fairly close to my heart because I've prayed quite a few times that Jewish people - and some friends in particular - come to understand Jesus as he really is, the only route to God. I think the Jews are a wonderful race, but I've never understood how they can read and believe their 'Old Testament' scriptures yet fail to recognise that Jesus was the Messiah. Hey guys, like how many clues, predictions and promises do you need? Anyway, that's a decision for each individual, and God draws each member of his Kingdom in his own good time.
 
My objection to Mass in Latin in simple: because people don't understand it. Latin was perhaps the first Christian mega-language, but there's nothing holy about it. Jesus spoke Aramaic and (probably) vernacular Greek, but to our knowledge not Latin. Certainly, the local Roman soldiers wouldn't have spoken pure Latin, so at best Jesus may have had a smattering of Vulgar Latin, but that's the height of it. So any desire to re-introduce a Latin Mass is more about academic snobbery and self-indulgence than pleasing God.
 
The Roman Catholic church has a great role to play in evangelising the world, and I have a lot of time for Josef Ratzinger as a man as well as respect for the office of Pope, leading his part of God's church on earth. But one of the great errors of Roman Catholicism until the last hundred years or so was deliberately positioning the church hierarchy between God and his people, and the Latin language was one of the tools used to do that. Wycliffe and Cranmer were burned at the stake for translating the Bible into a language the common man could understand.
 
Catholic Mass, to the credit of the Roman Catholic church, is now said in modern languages churchgoers can identify with and use to communicate directly with God's spirit. And that's brilliant. This Latin business is simply symbolic of, literally, a dark age. Don't do it.

6 Comments:

At 9:01 a.m., Anonymous Observer said...

I'm not a religious person, BU, but it's hard to fault your logic on this.
I know some people who are avid believers in the Tridentine Mass.
They regard mainstream Catholics as Protestants because they see Vatican II as as a deviation from the true path.
I've often wondered if they hadn't been brought up with the Mass spoken in a language they understand, would they be so keen to support the return to Latin.

 
At 11:55 p.m., Anonymous kensei said...

I general think the mass in vernacular is a good thing. But there are reasons for the Tridentine Mass - continuity and consistency throughout the world being one. The fact that it forces people to focus and try to understand the Liturgy is another. I'd be happy enough for it to be an option, the people who use it are likely to know most of the Latin anyway.

The ultimate in those who reject Vatican II is this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bawden

 
At 10:39 p.m., Blogger Safiya said...

Interesting. I'm a Muslim. A key part of our faith is that our holy book the Quran has been unaltered since it's revelation and thus is in Arabic. Any translations are referred to as translations of the meaning of the Quran.

As part of this, the prayers and the call to prayer as always conducted in Arabic (but everyone learns what the words mean in their own language), which means there is a mavellous unity of faith as Muslims from China to Brasil will pray in the same way.
However, the khutbah, or sermon for Friday prayers is always given in the local language.

Just a different perspective on things.

 
At 1:03 p.m., Anonymous Ann Arbor Latin Mass said...

The return of permission for the Traditional Latin Mass is not a return of clericalism.

The Pope's biggest opposition has been from cardinals, bishops and priests. He's going forward in expanding permission because he knows that there are hundreds of thousands of faithful all around the world who want to worship Jesus Christ in the way that Catholics did for nearly two millenia.


Nor is the TLM an instance of educational snobbery: One of the beauties of the Traditional Latin Mass is that you don't have to know Latin to understand what's going on. You can participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass just by watching-along and praying-along. The Traditional Mass makes use of all your senses: Hearing the chant, smelling the incense, feeling asperges (sprinkled water - a reminder of baptism), seeing the actions at the altar, tasting the Lord.

The homily is in the vernacular and the readings are repeated in that language as well.

 
At 1:05 p.m., Anonymous Ann Arbor Latin Mass said...

Ann Arbor Latin Mass - website of una voce Ann Arbor

 
At 7:35 p.m., Anonymous patric jon of york said...

There was a time in Ireland, when the poor irish peasant was able to understand gaelic, latin and greek. What of the hedge schools? Foolish pride of man and reformers imposed upon the faithful a separation of souls and communion with Christ through Peter. No more saints and scholars...but faith in man, revolution and european union. Soon the veil will be required for all women, and foreign speaking folks will drink juice in pubs called the Crusaders Head!!

 

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