Friday, June 27, 2008

Continuing with Paul VI and the New Mass

Rolling right along from where we left off in this speech:

It is here that the greatest newness is going to be noticed, the newness of language. No longer Latin, but the spoken language will be the principal language of the Mass. The introduction of the vernacular will certainly be a great sacrifice for those who know the beauty, the power and the expressive sacrality of Latin. We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance. We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant.

Is it just me, or does this sound like a guy being dragged kicking and screaming into this whole arrangement? This is like one of those drug ads that you see on TV where they spend 20 seconds telling you that the drug is great and then roll off about 5 minutes worth of how the drug isn't fit for anyone who eats or breathes and will kill you in 95% of cases.

Did I miss the citations to Vatican II that expressly called for Latin to remain the norm and Gregorian chant to be given pride of place?

We have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment. What can we put in the place of that language of the angels? We are giving up something of priceless worth. But why? What is more precious than these loftiest of our Church's values? Thus far, the whole discussion is loaded with regret, but these are all excellent questions nonetheless. The answer will seem banal, prosaic. Yet it is a good answer, because it is human, because it is apostolic.

Fire away.

Understanding of prayer is worth more than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed. Participation by the people is worth more—particularly participation by modern people, so fond of plain language which is easily understood and converted into everyday speech.

As our parishioner from Arizona informed us below, most folks probably don't understand the Mass now. Participation has been stripped down to rote recitation. What of the internal, spiritual engagement of the parish engulfed in something ineffable and mysterious? Would this mean that I would be completely screwed if I went to a vernacular Mass in a non-English speaking country? Whither Veterum Sapientia and the wishes of Blessed John XXIII?

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