From a reader:
I recently came across this article about a deaf priest recently ordained for ___. I’m curious – could a deaf priest ever say an EF Mass? It seems to me that the rubrics would either (1) require him to actively speak or (2) even if he could “speak” the Latin through sign language, an EF Mass would require him to both “speak” and use his hands for non-speaking purposes at the same time. Thanks for your time.
Back in the day, I mean quite a while ago, I suspect that a man who had never had the use of hearing from birth, would probably have been consider not suitable for Holy Orders. I believe that is relaxed now, but it would bring up some difficulties, concerning receiving sacramental confessions and the like. But in the modern period, sign language has become more sophisticated and our understanding of ways people genuinely communicate are broader.
That said, I don’t believe that the forms of sacraments can be done in sign language. I think they must be pronounced aloud, even if very quietly, even if there is some assistance through one of those buzzing gadgets that help people who have lost their voices.
In the case of a man who goes deaf after the use of hearing, who would have also the use of normal speech for the most part, I cannot see why he could not say Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
Think about this. For how many centuries was the EF the only form of Mass? During those centuries did any priests lose their hearing? Did they stop saying Mass?
Come to think of it, the regularity and rhythm of the Extraordinary Form, which is far less verbal and chatty than the Ordinary Form, would be much easier to celebrate without the use of normal hearing.
The priest who is deaf might have a harder time speaking quietly the parts which are so indicated in the rubrics, unless he is disciplined.
If the priest is a little louder during the Canon than he should be, oh well… the world will not come to an end if once in a while people hear the words of consecration in the Extraordinary Form. Maybe the perfect rhythm of the prayers at the foot of the altar is somewhat offset by the priest’s timing… oh well.. he’ll get up to the altar eventually.
These are the things we can relax about.