“Hey, Roman! You have a minute?”

Our friends over at Kansas Catholic have brought back the "church sign dialogues"!  We are pleased.

Here are the first few frames of the recent offering.  You can go over there and read the rest.

Church Signs: Discussing the Traditional Latin Mass That is Not Near You

Continued at Kansas Catholic.

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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24 Responses to “Hey, Roman! You have a minute?”

  1. arbunckle12 says:

    Regarding the last sign on the linked site: isn’t “Amen” really from Hebrew or Aramaic? I figured I would ask here since the purveyor or slavish translations lives here… :-)

  2. Flambeaux says:

    Vewy, vewy, nice. Thanks for pointing it out. :D

  3. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Absolutely brilliant! Will have to check out Kansas Catholic more often.

    But, at the risk of being pedantic about all things linguistic ;) I’m not sure about the answer:

    “Yes. The Ordinary Form is in the native tongue.”

  4. Joe says:

    Andrew, you make a good point. And it is mildly ironic to correct ‘avuncular’ with ‘venacular’.

  5. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada said: “But, at the risk of being pedantic about all things linguistic ;) I’m not sure about the answer:
    ‘Yes. The Ordinary Form is in the native tongue.’

    I loved the interchange, but that line bothered me too. Actually, the “ordinary language” of the ordinary form is Latin. The vernacular is actually the “extraordinary language” of the Novus Ordo. Technically, Latin is always permitted in the Novus Ordo. A priest has to have permission from the local ordinary to say Mass in the vernacular. Of course, most, if not all, bishops give a blanket permission for the vernacular language(s) to be said in their diocese. So, unfortunately, in practice, it seems like the vernacular is the “main” language of the Novus Ordo and Latin is the one you need permission to use. However, it’s actually the opposite.

  6. So if one reads the “signs of the times” correctly, restoring Latin to the liturgy will help retain the Hispanic peoples who are leaving the Catholic Church for Protestantism?

    I suppose it would follow logically only if the Protestants who were evangelizing them had their services in Latin.

    But they don’t.

    Perhaps a better case could be made for restoring some of the modalities of EF worship to Latin churches as a way of retaining their flocks and evangelizing…restoring a sense of the sacred and transcendent.

    The language issue is a very sensitive topic for we Easterns. Greek-speaking, Ukrainian-speaking, Arabic-speaking churches are only growing through immigration – rarely through evangelization. 2nd generation folks and visitors do not understand the worship, so they go to a place where they can worship in their own tongue. Often these places have either a Latin or Protestant steeple.

    Worship in a language no one speaks is hardly the silver bullet to the Hispanic pastoral issue. Case in point, one of our Byzantine missions is starting to overflow with members who are almost entirely Hispanic. The language used in the liturgy is Spanish. The modality of worship is fully orthodox and the community is very welcoming. They are growing.

    A connection?

  7. Flambeaux says:

    While the OF may be, de jure, said in Latin, the de facto reality is that OF = vernacular as far as most bishops, priests, and laymen are concerned.

  8. Father Anonymous says:

    Suddenly, the ordinary emerges with a sledge hammer and smashes the sign to the tune of “Gather us in”

  9. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Fr Deacon Daniel,

    I entirely agree with you. I was just pointing out that the picture of ourselves that we sometimes portray to the outside world is not correct. Hence, the quibble about the use of Latin in the OF.

    Having said that, sometimes I think that the mystery of not knowing a language can actually lend to the very sense of the sacred that you talk about. It reminds us that we are in a different space than our normal world. It allows us to concentrate less on the words than on the liturgical action and prayer. In example, knowing no Ukranian at all except for “Gospodi Pomilui”, I find Ukranian-Catholic Divine Liturgies to convey perfectly that sense of the sacred and allow me to attach my silent prayer to that of the priest.

    This is not to say, of course, that all English or other native tongues should be eliminated. But, perhaps (knowing that my next statement may distress some readers), there is a case for mixing lanaguages in order to communicate the sacred mysteries. We go back to the old debate about readings in the vernacular and Canon in Latin. I think we have much to learn from Byzantine-rite Catholics, because I have seen up to four languages (Greek, Slavonic, Arabic, English) mixed quite successfully with no apparent distress to the congregation.

    Restoring the use of liturgical language, whether in Latin or in good vernacular translations, should also help priests. A little fear of whether they are saying things correctly is surely a good thing because they are addressing the Church’s most profound prayer to God. Also, mastery of a language can lead to improvisation, while some trepidation might avoid it.

    I offer these thoughts as only one of, surely, many ways of helping to restore the correct modality of worship. They are certainly only the ramblings of an amateur, and a layman at that.

  10. arbunckle12 says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel:

    Are you saying that we make our decisions about the liturgy based on lowest common intellectual denominator? I don’t see how saying “people can’t understand Latin/Greek/Arabic so let’s have the liturgy in English” is fundamentally different from “people don’t understand or want the concept of ‘sacrifice’ in the Mass, so let’s remove it.”

    Christ says “Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Part of being perfect is worshiping in the most perfect manner possible, and catering to ignorance isn’t perfection.

  11. Andrew,

    Glory to Jesus CHrist!

    You and I are of one mind here. I have always advocated a “blending” of the liturgical language with the vernacular. I say this for two reasons:

    1. It is a respectful “nod” of affirmation towards the historic roots of the particular church. No church body exists apart from a certain linguistic and cultural heritage in its past. A blended English-Latin Mass would be (and has been, where i have seen it) quite beautiful. (Not to mention the fact that Gregorian never quite sounds the same in the vernacular. THe music was really made for Latin.) I think the measured use of a non-vernacular liturgical language does add a dimension of the transcendent. Not everything needs to be spelled out for me in a way that I understand. This was part of the pedagogy of Jesus and hHis employment of parables.

    With that said, one need not experience the sacred by making everything incomprehensible! Balance is the key.

    2. It is also a nod to the contemporary situation of the church – it exists at a specific, historic moment, ministering to people who not only have a past, but also a present and a future! Having a blended language liturgy demonstrates an apostolic openness to the culture at large.

    In my own experience, I have served in a single liturgy that had English, Arabic, Greek and Syriac in the service, with English being the predominant language. It was truly a sacred and beautiful experience, and communicated effectively the historic roots – and apostolic present and future – of the parish.

    God bless!

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

    PS: And do not disparage your poignant comments as the “ramblings of a layman!” Our ministry exists to serve the common priesthood, the majority of which is made up of lay people. (We clergy are the minority!) In order to lead effectively, we also need to listen effectively.

  12. Arbunckle,

    You wrote:

    “Are you saying that we make our decisions about the liturgy based on lowest common intellectual denominator? I don’t see how saying “people can’t understand Latin/Greek/Arabic so let’s have the liturgy in English” is fundamentally different from “people don’t understand or want the concept of ‘sacrifice’ in the Mass, so let’s remove it.””

    Not at all. (Hopefully my position is clarified a bit in the post above.)

    At the same time, I would not treat the matter of liturgical language as in any way equal to the theological doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. One is a matter of discipline, the other of revelation. I believe some of the problems that existed after the “liturgical reforms” of the OF had to do with treating these two points (and others like them) as synonymous. Some felt, “well if these minor points of discipline can change, why not doctrine?” Everything appeared to be up for grabs. (Part of the issue there was that the catechesis seemed to treat minor points as if all things were major! An unhealthy maximalism, like an anemic minimalism, is no virtue either! And so, here we are today.

    So, no – do not “dumb down”. But recall the catabasis (condescension) of God to translate the “Word” into human form, so that we might be elevated (anabasis) to participate in His divinity through the Spirit. The Mystery should never be made or treated in a manner that is pedestrian. The goal is to make it accessible and comprehensible, while elevating the soul to the Kingdom.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  13. Flambeaux says:

    Liturgical language is a matter of discipline? I can’t put my finger on it, but that assertion strikes me as fundamentally wrong.

  14. Flambeaux,

    Yes, that matter was settled by the pope during the controversies between the German Latin hierarchy and the venerable Apostles to the Slavs, Sts. Cyril and Methodius regarding the translation of the sacred books into the vernacular.

    Prior to that, some held it to be a matter of faith that Scripture and liturgical texts should only be celebrated in either Latin, Greek or Syriac (Aramaic) since those were the three languages on the sign of Christ’s cross proclaiming Him to be “King of the Jews.”

    The pope agreed with the two missionaries from Constantinople, over the objections of the German hierachs.

  15. Flambeaux says:

    But we’re not talking about the evangelization of new peoples. We’re talking about Latin Rite Catholics. Or I thought we were…

  16. Yes and no.

    Yes, we are discussing the Latin Church, but the issue has implications beyond just that particular church. It is an issue being discussed and addressed within the broader communion of Catholic churches.

    No, we actually are (or at least should be) focused on evangelization, especially in the Western world. One should not assume that all Mexicans are baptized, practicing (Latin) Catholics to be sure.

    And liturgical language is still not a matter of dogma, per se. It can and should be regulated by the hierarchy, though, as a matter of church discipline.

  17. David Deavel says:

    It’s true that the Ordinary Form isn’t necessarily in the “native tongue,” but when it is I think it’s the “vernacular” and not the “venacular.”

  18. One thing in this whole Latin vs. Vernacular issue is that people often seem to freak out about not understanding a foreign language. But if this is our Rite, I don’t understand why people are so vehemently against learning the basic ordinary parts of the Mass. It’s not like the Church is asking everyone to be completely fluent in Latin, but Vatican II does state that the faithful of the Roman Rite should know their parts in Latin. I’m not fluent in Latin, I could barely speak it (if I could speak it at all) if I had to use it in conversation, but I can say and understand the common parts of the Mass. It’s not that hard. I just find it odd that people don’t have a desire to put forth much effort to learn certain details about their faith. Especially in a day and age where so many people know so much trivia.

  19. Jane says:

    I enjoyed the sign language.

  20. mpm says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    Thanks for the well articulated points!

    What you say is attested in the Latin liturgy itself, as I’m sure everyone here
    is aware: the “Kyrie Eleison”, “Amen”, the use of the Greek “Trisagion” on Good
    Friday, etc.

    St. Augustine would always take a moment to explain to his listeners what a “foreign”
    (ie., non-Latin) word actually meant, whether Greek or Hebrew. He seems to
    have felt there was a “sacramental/mystical” point to understand when such terms
    were used in the iturgy, or when they occured in the New Testament.

  21. Charivari Rob says:

    Andrew – “I think we have much to learn from Byzantine-rite Catholics, because I have seen up to four languages (Greek, Slavonic, Arabic, English) mixed quite successfully with no apparent distress to the congregation.”

    Father Deacon Daniel – “…I have served in a single liturgy that had English, Arabic, Greek and Syriac in the service, with English being the predominant language. It was truly a sacred and beautiful experience, and communicated effectively the historic roots – and apostolic present and future – of the parish.”

    In Boston, we recently had the concluding liturgy of our Archdiocesan Bicentennial Year. The Mass included 15 languages (and 7 choirs) – a beautiful example of the diversity and universality of the Church.

    Here’s a link to the video, if anyone’s interested: http://www.catholictv.com/shows/default.aspx?seriesID=111

    CR

  22. Lindsay says:

    I have thought it would make sense to blend the languages myself (namely Latin and then the vernacular for readings and such), but I remember how ridiculous I found the liturgy for the Papal mass in Washington DC. The use of so many languages seemed to make it about celebrating US and OUR diversity rather than Christ and His sacrifice. It was a distraction. I don’t doubt, Fr. Deacon Daniel, that you have seen it done well, but it seems like something that could be difficult to implement universally well.

  23. Lindsay,

    I agree that it can be overdone. In my experience, the majority was in the English vernacular. Two prayers were in Arabic, and the verses of Trisagion were done in English, Greek, Arabic and Syriac. There were also a few communion hymns in Arabic.

    Large gatherings, like the one that involved the Holy Father’s visit and the event Charivari Rob, are extraordinary, so the number of languages used may have a symbolic purpose, but I agree it can really detract from the worship.

    I will say that during Pascha (Easter) we have 10-15 readings of the Gospel in various languages. This year I will be proclaiming the Gospel in both English and German!

    In the Mass (OF or EF) I could envision many of the responses being in Latin, as well as the standard Gloria, Sanctus, and the Pater Noster. The Introit, the Propers, the Creed and most of the Canon could be done in English. The Words of Institution and the Doxology could be done in Latin. Just a few thoughts…

  24. Charivari Rob says:

    In this case, a good bit of it was symbolic, but it didn’t detract or distract.

    I think an important factor in this was that there was no (unnecessary) repetition. If it was a case of “We just had all the intercessions in English, but now we’re going to repeat them in _____ just because we can”, that would indeed have been distracting.

    In fact, there was no repetition at all. The Mass was in English, simultaneously translated into sign language, with several of the Mass parts/responses in Latin or Greek, as appropriate. The intercessions and psalm verses (and some of the hymns) were in the other languages, reflecting some of the cultural history of the Archdiocese. The printed program presented all of the content in English (with the exception of the Latin and Greek), so there was no trouble following along.

    (As to what I would consider to be ‘necessary’ repetition – if you’re having a specifically bilingual Mass, the Gospel and homily should each be done in both languages.)