A very worked up person sent an e-mail which I share:
Yesterday, November 6, Christ the King Chapel at Franciscan University held its monthly Latin Novus Ordo Mass. However, this particular Mass, celebrated by Fr. Conrad Harkins, OFM, was entirely in Latin, including the readings (which were not later read in English), the homily, and the announcements. This is a slap in the face to the students and faculty attached the liturgical tradition of Latin in the liturgy. How can this outrageous behavior be tolerated at a so-called orthodox university?
At the very least, Fr. Conrad owes the student body an apology for making a mockery of Latin and the Mass.
My reaction is this. I would like to have a transcription of that homily!
Folks, it is not illicit to say Mass in Latin. The readings are part of Mass. The readings can be in Latin, too. Should they be? Why not, if there is a group of people whose mother tongues are diverse. People can follow in their booklets or on a sheet. I rather like the idea that Latin be used in the newer form of Mass and not be relegated merely to the TLM.
The priest preaches in Latin. Hmmm… if he is not requested to do so because there is a gathering of Latinists present (I have done that) he is either just showing off, which is vain, or imprudent. Again, I think he would be opening himself to scrutiny about the quality of his Latin, along with the content of the sermon.
At last, I cannot fathom why this would be taken seriously as a "slap in the face". If the priest was acting with ill will in doing so, his antics should simply be called silly and everyone should move on to more interesting things. If the priest was just trying to get into the spirit of everyone’s growing interest in Latin, then he should be thanked, but asked kindly to preach in English from now on.
UPDATE 8 NOV 15:46 UTC
This came in via e-mail:
I was informed by a student present at the Mass who knows some Latin that the homily was not original, but was a text taken from St. Bonaventure.
As for the use of Latin, it was probably not the best idea to do so for the homily and the announcements, as this is not customary in this particular Latin Mass, and it is rather defeats the purpose of the homily and announcements if most of those present do not have enough fluency to understand them. While there is certainly nothing wrong with saying everything in Latin, it strikes me as imprudent to do so without any notice, especially at the special monthly NO Latin Mass that previously this semester had already been used as a platform against the TLM on campus.
At any TLM I have ever attended, the homily has always been in English, and the readings have been given in English at the start of the homily. The major disservice of using Latin in the manner done is that it is almost certain to lead to misunderstanding. For students not familiar with the TLM, I could see this as presenting a caricature of what such a Mass is like, while as your e-mailer demonstrates, it has rather inflamed passions on the part of its supporters who see this as a slap in the face. [So… is this the same writer as above?] There may be a perfectly good reason why the celebrant chose to celebrate in this way, but absent an explanation, assumptions are bound to be spreading like wildfire. It’s a shame, since there was no need for this to happen.
Prayers are in order for the university, I have a sinking feeling things are going to get ugly before all is said and done in regards to the TLM.
Why can’t everyone just get along?
UPDATE 8 NOV 17:27 UTC
I got this via e-mail from the Public Relations office of FUS. My emphases added:
Unless I clicked the wrong link, I think the comments are now closed on the recent postings about Fr. Conrad’s Mass earlier this week, but can you please add this to that thread?
Franciscan University of Steubenville
I deeply regret any pain that I have unwittingly caused those who love the Latin liturgy. I too love both the Liturgy and the Latin language, having celebrated the one and having taught the other at various times in my life.
In a university setting, I thought that those who loved the Latin language would be pleased to hear the Scriptures and a sermon in the venerable tongue of the Latin Fathers, just as those who go to a Spanish Mass are pleased to hear the Scriptures and a sermon in that romance language.
When I read the Gospel in Latin and gave a short word of exhortation in Latin at Franciscan University several years ago, it seemed to please the congregation.
For the record, the Latin Mass yesterday was not the Traditional Latin Mass, the subject of the recent motu proprio of the Holy Father, but the Novus Ordo Latin Mass. I celebrated the Mass devoutly and had no intention of using it in any way as a commentary on the Traditional Latin Mass. Since the Holy Father has expanded the use of the Traditional Latin Mass, I look forward to the opportunity to celebrate it as I did for the first years of my priesthood.
Fr. Conrad L. Harkins, O.F.M.
November 7, 2007
There it is folks! It was a misstep.
I have a few things to add as I start wrapping up my own interest in this story.
First, I think it is obligatory, in charity, to accept what Fr. Harkins said. Take him at his word. Sure it was not such a great idea to surprise people with even announcements in Latin. However, do not forget that saying even the readings in Latin was within his right as a priest of Holy Church. Maybe fewer surprises next time?
Second, I will repeat what I wrote above: I cannot fathom why what Fr. Harkin did would be taken seriously as a "slap in the face". In my opinion the people who got their noses of out of alignment on this a) should have gone to ask Father what was going on, b) unclenched their backsides a little and c) should collectively write Father a note of thanks for being a priest and then take him out to supper. Really. Make peace.
Third, it is sad that this sort of thing gets out and around, but I am pleased that it was resolved amicably and with a gesture of humility on the part of Fr. Harkins. I believe good Christian men and women will now take the next step and lay this to rest.
Fourth, I think these little tussles will in the long run be of benefit if, and only if, people behave like intelligent Catholic ladies and gentlemen.
Fifth, I think the FSU staff should get their act together and have the older form of Mass also on campus. For pity’s sake! Just do it!
Finally, I applaud Fr. Harkins for the note he wrote. He earned my respect for stepping up like this.