Oh my! The Atlanta Journal Constitution has an engaging piece on reactions to the Motu Proprio.
My emphases and comments.
The Latin Mass not cause for contention
By Lorraine V. Murray
Published on: 07/21/07
In the sixties, hippies shunned their elders’ traditions, [I am instantly disposed to like this writer. This grabbed me immediately.] including their approach to paying bills, which involved jobs. With time, however, many hippies traded love beads for suits and realized that working beat living on the streets.
Hippies are long gone, but the anti-tradition crowd lives on and reared its head [YES!!! It’s "aging hippie syndrome"!] recently when Pope Benedict XVI announced that the Latin Mass would be more widely offered to Catholics.
Some folks protested that the Church was moving backward instead of forward, but what’s wrong with that? [Can you believe this?]
First, a little background: The liturgy of the Tridentine Mass, usually celebrated in Latin, dates back to the sixth century. [Thank for pushing back rather than leaving it in the 16th.]
And it was the only option [Unless you lived in, say, Milan, or had no Eastern Catholic Church around.] for Catholics until the Second Vatican Council rolled out an updated Mass in the vernacular in the 1960s.
Although the Latin Mass was still celebrated after that, it became rarer than the proverbial hen’s tooth and today might exist in one parish among hundreds of others.
That one parish for Atlanta’s Catholics is in Mableton, where the pews at St. Francis de Sales are filled with parishioners from all over the city, as well as adjacent states.
Clearly, there are people who love this reverent and ancient liturgy and will travel far to find it.
Which may baffle advocates of the newer Mass.
After all, isn’t a Latin liturgy confusing and unintelligible? And doesn’t the priest show disrespect to the congregation by turning his back toward them during these Masses? [Exploding the cliches! YAY!]
No on both scores: Catholics who cherish tradition find beauty in Latin, which is an unchanging language. And even children follow along at Latin Masses without confusion, since the missals post the vernacular side by side with Latin. [Oh…. thank you thank you thank you! Many years ago, when I was in seminary, I was attached to a "teaching" parish. The pastor asked me to work with a good vocalist there for the Passion on Good Friday. I said I had the 3 books in Latin. He said okay. We worked it up with another fellow. When we started singing on Good Friday, you could feel the air crackling with attention. After the service was over, an aging hippie, or rather harpy of a wymyn religious who worked as DRE set upon me with fangs and nails in the narthex, foaming and screeching about how we had abused everyone, and no one could understand what had happened, blah blah. I turned to some people, staring in amazment at the scene, and asked if they had a hard time. No one seemed to have been overly taxed. In fact, they all liked it! One person said that she had never followed it so closely, but she had to work a little at it. I asked a boy about 12 if he was able to follow. It was hard at first, but after that there was no problem. "I just followed in the book!"]
Another wonderful thing about the Latin liturgy is that Catholics can attend Mass anywhere in the world and worship God just like at home, since Latin remains fixed in Nigeria, Paris or Idaho. [this is called unity, I believe.]
As for those critics who claim the priest is disrespecting the people in the pews: He and the entire congregation traditionally faced East, which symbolizes the risen Christ. [I wonder if the author heard my last PODCAzT?]
I grew up with the Latin liturgy, and when I stepped into the sanctuary, I entered another dimension entirely. [Hmmm…. I am not sure what Lorraine was doing in the sanctuary, but, this article is so good, who cares??]
One that was serene and dignified, fragrant with incense and echoing with Gregorian chant.
Before long, I knew all the prayers in Latin by heart, so when the priest said, "Dominus vobiscum," I knew he meant, "The Lord be with you."
Unfortunately, the post-Vatican II Mass has led to some egregious problems.
Traditional Gregorian chant gave way in some parishes to awful, folksy, feel-good music. Organs gathered dust, while guitars and drum machines took center stage.
Obviously, I favor the traditional Mass, but I see no reason to turn Benedict’s proclamation into a war between conservatives and liberals. Instead of girding for battle, let’s look at the larger picture. [Nicely put. And she has this exactly right. There is a much larger view of what Pope Benedict is doing.]
For one, the pope is not doing anything radical. He is merely giving Roman Catholics greater access to something that is their birthright, [YES!] since the Latin liturgy was standard for many centuries.
After Vatican II, it took a bishop’s permission for such a Mass to be offered, but, thanks to Benedict, all that’s needed now is a willing pastor in one’s local parish.
People who favor Mass in their local language are not being asked to give it up. But those who have sat longingly in the pews, missing the powerful liturgy their ancestors enjoyed, now can have their day. In a church that prides itself on being universal, this is definitely a step in the right direction.
Lorraine V. Murray is the author of "Grace Notes. Embracing the Joy of Christ in a Broken World" and "Why Me? Why Now? Finding Hope When You Have Breast Cancer." She works in the Pitts Theology Library at Emory University. Web site: www.lorrainevmurray.com/
Kudos, and again kudos.