QUAERITUR: Requesting Mass in Latin in the Ordinary Form

From a reader:

Can one use the provisions of Summorum Pontificum as the basis for
requesting that an occasional OF Mass be said in Latin? I want to have all my ducks in a row (i.e. asking an organist and cantor if they would assist, and, if needed, lining up another Priest to say Mass) before approaching my Parish Priest.

The provisions of Summorum Pontificum really pertain to the Extraordinary Form, rather than the Ordinary Form.

However, when reading the Holy Father’s introductory comments to Summorum Pontificum, and reading also Universae Ecclesiae, we have the sense that the Holy Father desires that there be greater continuity with our traditional liturgical forms also in the Ordinary Form.  I think that would have to include the use of Latin, which the Second Vatican Council mandated should be maintained at the liturgical language of the Latin Church.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law guarantees that priests can say the Ordinary Form in Latin.  The priest doesn’t need any permissions to do so.

It seems to me that you need to be persuasive and diplomatic in your quest for the Ordinary Form in Latin.  In a sense, because of Summorum Pontificum those who request the Extraordinary Form have a stronger footing.  Odd, no?

One of the problems I foresaw when Summorum Pontificum came out was that the use of Latin would be relegated to the older form of Mass nearly exclusively.  I feared that people who want “All that Latin and stuff” would be shoved off to the Extraordinary Form corner.  This is one of the reasons why I wasn’t terribly happy to learn that new editions of the Roman Missal with the new, corrected translation would have no appendix with the Latin texts for Mass.

This is another reason why I think it is unhelpful to use the term “the Latin Mass” to describe Mass in the older, traditional, Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  The language of liturgy of our Latin Church remains Latin, for both forms.

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25 Responses to QUAERITUR: Requesting Mass in Latin in the Ordinary Form

  1. “The 1983 Code of Canon Law guarantees that priests can say the Ordinary Form in Latin. The priest doesn’t need any permissions to do so.”

    Even so, there are places where an OF Mass in Latin can bring a phone call to the priest from the chancery. I wonder if anyone has ever heard of a priest being admonished for celebrating Mass in any other language.

  2. JPManning says:

    In case you need encouragement in your attempt to have the Ordinary form in Latin let me tell you of my recent experiences. For All Saints and for All Souls I went to Solemn High Mass in Latin, in the Ordinary form and they were beautiful experiences. Whilst the choirs were singing I had the space to participate in the prayers to an extent that I don’t normally manage and I really feel refreshed in my soul from this contact with God.

  3. ivan_the_mad says:

    ” … new editions of the Roman Missal with the new, corrected translation would have no appendix with the Latin texts for Mass.”

    But you can get a daily missal with the Latin texts :D I just received an email from Scepter Publishing, advertising their new daily missal, with the new translation, which will be available in mid-November. From the product page: “The Order of Mass, Psalm responses, Alleluia verses, and numerous prayers in English and Latin”.

    http://www.scepterpublishers.org/product/index.php?FULL=683

  4. M. K. says:

    One of the problems I foresaw when Summorum Pontificumcame out was that the use of Latin would be relegated to the older form of Mass nearly exclusively. I feared that people who want “All that Latin and stuff” would be shoved off to the Extraordinary Form corner.

    I had the same concern, and I think that the ‘shoving of Latin into the EF corner’ has happened in many places. I am also aware of cases in which requests for celebration of the OF in Latin have been refused with the excuse that ‘Latin is an EF thing,’ after which celebration of the EF is also ruled out on other pretexts: ‘no properly trained priests,’ ‘this liturgical space isn’t designed for it,’ etc., etc. – the same old excuses, in other words, with the effect that Latin liturgy of any kind is denied.

    It strikes me that one of the arguments for celebrating the OF in Latin after Summorum Pontificum should be precisely the fact that many of the tired arguments against the EF don’t work against the OF in Latin – ‘properly trained priests’ should be less of an issue (there will still be priests who aren’t comfortable doing Latin without practice and preparation, but the learning curve for celebrating the OF in Latin probably isn’t as steep for them as celebrating the EF would be), arguments about the liturgical space and accoutrements, etc. So there should be a place for the OF in Latin, but my experience is that it isn’t happening as it should.

  5. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Without looking it up, I am very confident there is a canon that recognizes the right of the faithful to make their needs known to their pastors. And one of my principles is that if there is a legitimate option offered, then when folks ask for said options, and I am able to satisfy that request, on what legitimate grounds would I refuse?

    This is how I explained my decision to offer a monthly Mass, in Latin, in the Ordinary Form, in one of my parishes: people asked, it was a legitimate request, so how can I reasonably refuse?

    Not only can you ask, you ought to ask. Of course, if your pastor is unyielding, there isn’t much you can do; on the other hand, your pastor may be amenable. And having requests such as this strengthens his hand. Without such requests in my parishes, I would have had to say, “well, I’m sure someone will like it.” Instead, I did say, “folks requested it. I’m honoring those requests.” And should there be a complaint, this is a very credible response, whether to the complainer or to the chancery.

    And I echo our genial host’s point that we should not speak of the older form as “the Latin Mass,” nor go along with relegating Latin to the extraordinary form.

  6. pseudomodo says:

    So… to be clear now. For catholics in the western church there is currently (technically) 8 ways in which we can hear mass:

    1. OF / Latin / Ad Orientum
    2. OF / Latin / Versus Populum
    3. OF / Vernacular / Ad Orientum
    4. OF / Vernacular / Versus Populum
    5. EF / Latin / Ad Orientum
    6. EF / Latin / Versus Populum
    7. EF / Vernacular / Ad Orientum
    8. EF / Vernacular / Versus Populum

    Correct?

  7. Sixupman says:

    Why would one want to? The Holy Name Manchester [UK] Celebrate both, particularly major feasts – two Christmas’ ago they Celebrated three, on concsecutive days, most impressive. But I still say: why would one want to?

  8. Sixupman says:

    St Catherine’s, Leyland UK, have printed a missalette for the ‘New Translation’ with Latin and Vernacular side-by-side. [Offerimus Tibi Domine web-site]

  9. BobP says:

    No to 7 & 8. About 6, I’m not sure.

  10. BobP says:

    >Why would one want to?<

    Because English isn't everyone's vernacular.

  11. asperges says:

    I am not averse to the OF in Latin: indeed it supposed to be in Latin, with the vernacular as an alternative – but we all know what happened to that idea. Nevertheless, the EF Mass seems to me the first choice under Summorum Pontificum and the idea of its integration back to “normality” should not be upstaged, so to speak, by the OF. The recent decision of the Birmingham Oratory’s Sunday Latin Mass (OF) to become EF is exactly what should be happening.

    The expression “Traditional Latin Mass” (TLM) seems to be a largely US cognomen. It is difficult to see how the Novus Ordo could be ever be described as such, since it only dates from 1970.

    As to the list above this by pseudomodo, kindly delete 6,7 and 8 (shudder). An EF Mass versus Populum would be indeed regrettable and extraordinary, though occasionally forced by modern altars being precariously built to avoid versus populum; and the EF Mass must be in Latin, except for the readings, which, alone, can be in the vernacular.

  12. I once attended a Latin OF Funeral Mass celebrated ad orientem with incense, priest in black Roman vestments (including black Roman style cope for the commendation). No schola was available to chant the propers, which instead were chanted by the celebrant, and the small congregation sang the Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and In Paradisum beautifully. The priest spoke the Roman Canon with a very quiet voice that lent a … well, funereal … effect, and might not have offended a devotee of the silent canon. A man and a woman chanted alternately (and well) the verses of the Dies Irae. There was no eulogy as such, instead the sort of brief sermon about sin and death that one might hear at an EF Requiem Mass. Suffice it to say that–with a palpable emphasis throughout on prayer for the repose of the soul of the departed–this was unlike any vernacular funeral Mass I recall attending. Indeed, since the EF alternative under the circumstances might have been a low Mass without chant or incense, it seemed to me that the flexibility afforded by the OF (regarding ceremony and sacred music) was an advantage in this case.

  13. albinus1 says:

    But you can get a daily missal with the Latin texts :D I just received an email from Scepter Publishing, advertising their new daily missal, with the new translation, which will be available in mid-November. From the product page: “The Order of Mass, Psalm responses, Alleluia verses, and numerous prayers in English and Latin”.

    This appears to be the same hand missal offered by Midwest Theological Forum. I wrote to them asking what, exactly, was offered in Latin, and this was their response:

    No, not everything is in Latin and English. If you have access to a copy of the 6th Edition (2003/2004), our forthcoming 7th Edition will have the same Latin-English content.

    Here is a list of what is in Latin and English:

    •The Order of Mass, including the four Eucharistic Prayers (but not the prefaces)
    •Every Entrance and Communion Antiphon
    •Every response of the Responsorial Psalm (but not the full text of the psalm or canticle)
    •Every Alleluia Verse/Verse before the Gospel
    •All four Sequences
    •Some responses (for example “The Light of Christ/Thanks be to God” at the Vigil of Easter)
    •Many of the prayers in the section Devotions and Prayers

    The rest is in English only.

  14. albinus1 says:

    (Sorry for two consecutive posts.)

    It strikes me that one of the arguments for celebrating the OF in Latin after Summorum Pontificum should be precisely the fact that many of the tired arguments against the EF don’t work against the OF in Latin – ‘properly trained priests’ should be less of an issue (there will still be priests who aren’t comfortable doing Latin without practice and preparation, but the learning curve for celebrating the OF in Latin probably isn’t as steep for them as celebrating the EF would be)

    Presumably the issue of asking priests who don’t know Latin (or don’t know it very well) to celebrate the OF in Latin would be the same as that of having priests celebrate Mass in a modern language which they don’t know very well. A priest of my acquaintance was recently transferred to a parish where his responsibilities include celebrating Mass every Sunday in Spanish, which he doesn’t really speak, at least not very well. His lack of fluency in Spanish apparently wasn’t considered an obstacle to assigning him to a parish where celebrating Mass in Spanish is one of his duties.

  15. St. Rafael says:

    pseudomodo,

    No to 6 and 8. 7 can only be done in emergency situations out of necessity.

    The TLM can only be celebrated Ad Orientum. Never can the TLM be Versus Populum, ever.

    The TLM has to be in Latin, but I can see that in some certain remote circumstances, a priest could say it in the vernacular out of necessity. That is what the SSPX recommended to some Chinese priests who were never taught Latin. Better to have a vernacular TLM than a Latin Novus Ordo as the SSPX wisely told those priests.

  16. Eagle65 says:

    I am not having any success in our diocese. The Bishop is “studying” my request even though I have a group of parishioners who want to attend and priests willing to celebrate.

  17. jhayes says:

    @St. Rafael, over in different thread, another poster pointed out that, prior to 1962, the Pope traditionally celebrated mass at the high altar at St. Peter’s facing the nave – because that was the direction of East by the compass. The people then turned around and faced the same way at some times, so the Pope and the altar were then behind the people.

    It will be interesting to see which direction the celebrant faces when an EF mass is celebrated at the high altar of St. Peter’s in the future.

    It comes down to a definition of “ad orientem” and “versus populum”

  18. M. K. says:

    Albinus1,

    Presumably the issue of asking priests who don’t know Latin (or don’t know it very well) to celebrate the OF in Latin would be the same as that of having priests celebrate Mass in a modern language which they don’t know very well.

    I think there is somewhat of a parallel there, though I would argue there there should less of a barrier for a priest who doesn’t know Latin (or know it well) to be able to celebrate the OF in Latin than there would be for a priest to celebrate Mass in Spanish. Celebrating in a modern language, one is often expected to be able to preach in that language as well (“often” but not always – I know some priests in a situation like that of your acquaintance, who are lucky enough to have the help of a Spanish-speaking deacon – the priest does the Spanish out of the book even though he can’t carry a conversation in the language, but the deacon always preaches). I don’t think anyone expects a priest celebrating in Latin (in either form) to be able to preach in Latin as well.

    My point, however, was less about lack of languistic ability as an absolute obstacle as it was about the relative difficulty of a priest who regularly celebrates the OF in the vernacular learning to celebrate the EF vs. learning to celebrate the OF in Latin. My presumption is that such a priest would generally find it easier to celebrate the form he’s already familiar with in a different language than it would be for him to celebrate in another form and in a different language.

    I’d also like to think that celebrating the OF in Latin could be a kind of incremental step for some priests who might later celebrate the EF as well. If one isn’t comfortable with Latin yet and find the rubrics of the EF daunting, getting used to the Latin by celebrating the OF in the language could at least be a step in the right direction – once the priest gets comfortable doing that, he may be more willing to try the EF. “Brick by brick,” as Fr. Z says.

  19. jfm says:

    The OF in Latin can be lovely. One of the most beautiful masses I ever heard was at the Farm Street church in London – the Sunday 11 a.m. OF mass in Latin.

    Best things about OF in Latin
    1) NO ad libbing (even though ‘ad lib.’ is Latin) – very few priests are able to ad lib in Latin
    2) Lots of opportunity to practice your Latin responses

    For those of us post-Vatican II babies, who actually like the OF (horrors), the OF in Latin is the best of both worlds.

  20. Y2Y says:

    OF in Latin? Kind of like sticking a Ferrari decal on a beat-up Dodge.

  21. pseudomodo says:

    Thanks for the opinions and preferences!

    Notwithstanding the defacto Mass of Paul VI, I think all thes masses are permitted and not contrary to Vatican II ( note: not the ‘spirit’ of Vatican II but the authentic reforms of Vatican II yet to be fully implemented!)

    TLM is simply option 5 BTW

  22. Jerry says:

    It is my understanding Christ the King parish in Kansas City, MO is adding an OF Mass in Latin every Sunday beginning the first Sunday of Advent. In place of the present 10:30 Mass there will be a 9:30 Mass in English and an 11:30 Mass in Latin. (I’m assuming the Mass will be the OF: the web site simply says “in Latin”.)

    What a way to roll out the liturgical changes! As Father says, brick by brick… And especially symbolic given the history of this parish: (scroll down to the heading “A Kansas City Cranmer”).

  23. Hugh says:

    “I feared that people who want “All that Latin and stuff” would be shoved off to the Extraordinary Form corner.”

    … which is why I’ve suggested the Latin Novus Ordo Mass should be called the “Extraordinary Form of the Ordinary Form”.

    Or ‘EFOF’, which, to be a little rough, sounds like the response a lot of people are getting when they ask for one. :)

  24. rotaa says:

    At Boston College we have a weekly OF in Latin, ad orientem, celebrated by Father Gary Gurtler, S.J. We occasionally have the EF as well (and are looking to have it more), but we’ve also found that students are able to better adapt to the OF in Latin since it is fairly similar to what they are used to.

  25. James Joseph says:

    I would just like to hear once for the first time since my early childhood a priest or deacon in the Western church chant the Gospel (Ordinary or Extraordinary Form… I’ll take either.) I can still remember it distinctly. That’s my ultimate fantasy… I don’t think I’ll ever hear it again though. Not until I am in the grave rotting and my soul well… I am afraid of where my soul could go.

    Maybe… just maybe after that I could hear a member of the male sex read the Epistle. I haven’t seen that in years.