POLLS: Latin and/or Vernacular at Low Mass (TLM)

Under another entry HERE I deal with the question of vernacular readings during the Low Mass of the Extraordinary Form.

A long-time reader and supporter of this blog suggested a poll.

Here are a couple POLLS coming at the question from two directions. Please respond to both?

You can give your reasons in the combox, below (provided you are registered).

Which would you LEAST rather hear at Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form:

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Which would you MOST PREFER to hear at Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form?

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. george says:

    Father, when you say “Latin followed by the vernacular,” do you mean “immediately followed by” or “followed by the vernacular at the homily”?

  2. JaneC says:

    I ticked the “prefer vernacular only” box, but really, for me, it depends a lot on the priest and the circumstances of the parish. I have been to several parishes where Masses are said in Latin, and for better or worse, some priests are just not as comfortable with or proficient with Latin as others. They quickly become accustomed to the prayers they recite regularly, but the readings may still cause difficulty, and their discomfort is obvious. I would much rather hear Father proclaim the readings in the vernacular than in Latin if trying to do it in Latin, even very slowly, will leave him stumbling over the words because he is nervous and has a difficult time with it. It’s very distracting.

    Eventually, I would hope that Father would practice his Latin and get more comfortable with it, but at least for a time, vernacular only should be fine.

    My second choice would be Latin-only, with both Latin and vernacular being a very distant third.

  3. Lepidus says:

    This is the one thing I don’t understand about the EF, even going back to when it was the OF. It’s one thing to have the prayers in Latin, but since the readings are God’s Word that and are supposed to be something for the people to think about and apply to their daily lives or show some truth about God or the life of Jesus, why in Latin at all?

  4. lelnet says:

    I think that ideally the readings should be in Latin when Mass is celebrated in the Extraordinary Form. But I recognize that this is an ideal, not a requirement, and that JaneC’s concerns are quite valid ones. A priest whose comfort with Latin is perhaps less than it ought to be, but who makes the effort the celebrate the EF nonetheless is to be commended, and a certain amount of accomodation during the transition may be appropriate. But those who choose to attend Mass in the EF should have Mass celebrated, to the greatest extent practicable, in the universal language of the Church. If they want readings in local language, there are plenty of OF Masses offering that.

    “Latin followed by vernacular” is an awkward compromise that seems to satisfy no one.

  5. Imrahil says:

    Dear @george, frankly I don’t understand the question. That amounts to the same thing imho.

    Dear @Lepidus, because the first and most important sense of the lecture is to praise God by announcing (represented by a part) what He has done. I somewhat compare this to what is before the Consecration in the Fourth Anaphora of the OF. This part, “God has done so and so and so and so”, is in the EF taken by Lecture and Gospel. (I think that’s the better sort of way. I always have the impression that the OF Mass is two rather distinct parts, Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist, as they are called. In the EF, the structure conveys the fact that all of Mass is the Sacrament of the Eucharist.)

    Dear @lelnet, the deeper sense of the two lectures is that they represent the two different purposes the lectures have. Praising God (Latin) and making the Word of God known to the people (vernacular).

    Now my options.

    Low Mass: Latin only, and I won’t insist on a homily here either. (least: vernacular only. But I have no problem with that either.)

    High Mass: Latin and vernacular. Call that an unliturgical argument, but High Mass is (or should be; but generally, is) simply long enough to bear this. (Though if you can assure that all people have a missal, then Latin only, again, would have good theoretical arguments.)

  6. Imrahil says:

    I might of course add that I may be selfishly influenced by the fact that I have learned Latin at school.

    Nevertheless, in the quite frequent case there are missals enough for everyone, I trust in my objectivity. Latin only.

  7. “why in Latin at all?”

    A traditional EF view is that the purpose of the readings is not didactic but liturgical. That is, that they are not primarily intended for the edification or instruction of the people, but as an offering of God’s own words of Holy Scripture in worship of Him. What better words to use in praise and adoration than His own? From this viewpoint–that the Epistle and Gospel, like other prayers of the Mass, are addressed to God rather than to the people–it seems natural that they be in the same sacred language.

    In any event, I’m surprised that relatively people disfavor repetition of the Latin readings by repeating them in the vernacular. I personally have rarely heard at a weekday low Mass the Latin readings at the altar repeated in the vernacular from the pulpit. But this of course is standard practice at the typical Sunday high Mass, where the redundancy can seem tedious. Since everyone has just heard them already in Latin, and if interested has surely followed them in vernacular translation in their hand missals or the ubiquitous propers leaflets, one might wonder whether for those not interested, the vernacular reading from the pulpit is simply a time to tune out a second time.

  8. Cjtu48 says:

    I have a daughter aged 23 who has learning disability. She cannot read. She likes the quiet of the Latin Mass, and probably the English prayers are as incomprehensible to her as the Latin. However, she could benefit from hearing the readings in English. Sometimes I try reading them to her quietly, but then she feels conspicuous. OK, if we were really organised, we could read them to her before going out – but can we not hope for some assistance at our community worship? I sometimes get the impression that people are only concerned with their own preferences, and give little thought to the needs of other members of their community.
    Clare Underwood Cambridge, England.

  9. Jim of Bowie says:

    At low mass I prefer simultaneous (Priest in Latin, reader in vernacular).

  10. mdinan says:

    Due to my vast wealth, I purchased an old hand missal for a dollar, and through great perseverance managed to learn how to read it. As such, I fail to see the need to, during daily low Mass, hear the readings in the vernacular.

  11. Supertradmum says:

    Most Low Masses I have attended include the reading of both the Epistle and Gospel in both Latin and English, the English being from the ambo, or pulpit.

    However, most people go to the TLM with a missal, and children can be read the readings before Mass at home. I prefer the all Latin.

  12. Matt R says:

    Henry Edwards’s explanation of the traditional view of the role of the readings in the EF is the view I hold, and so I prefer Latin only.
    That being said, are there rules on what Bibles can be used, if one does not have the a 1964/1965 Latin-vernacular altar missal like the one used in the United States?

  13. Geoffrey says:

    I am sure virtual eggs and tomatoes will be thrown at me for saying this, but one of the things I dislike about the Extraordinary Form is the seemingly unnecessary repetition. The readings should be read only once, whether in Latin or in the vernacular (I prefer Latin only).

    I also think it is somewhat silly how as a sung Mass, the choir (and people) sing the Gloria, Creed, etc., while the celebrant recites them silently. But that’s another subject for another poll!

  14. Taylor says:

    I hate repetition, so either all Latin (with folks following along with their missal/handout), or in the vernacular. I prefer English at Low Mass, but that’s just me. Following 2 Tim. 3:16, I’m more inclined to view the Scripture as both dialectical and liturgical, though I can understand if folks want to stick with the strictly liturgical view of the same.

  15. Lepidus says:

    I noticed that many of the “Latin Only” voters are commenting about using their missals to read in English while the priest does the Latin. This is probably why we’re coming from different directions on this. My EF experience is noon Mass near where I work during the week. (For other reasons, I attend OF on Sundays). The missal I have (my Dad’s old one) has just the Sunday readings in it and there are no print outs. Maybe if I were going there on Sundays, I would have a different thought on it.

  16. johnmann says:

    The readings in Latin make about as much sense as giving the homily in Latin. The Mass of the Catechumens should be edifying IMO, taking into consideration the lowest common denominators.

    I also think the EF should be updated with the OF readings. Bring the EF and OF closer together without taking away from either.

  17. Granny says:

    In our parish Father does the readings in Latin and follows up with the English from the ambo. Each week as you come in the door there is a stand with the little red Mass books and a print out of the readings for that Sunday. Most, not all, of the parishoners bring their personal missal’s with them and can follow the readings without the extra printouts. I contemplated purchasing new Baronius missals for my husband and grandson until I saw the prices, and have been dithering about what to do for months.

    Then I saw the beautiful new missals from Campion, http://www.ccwatershed.org/Campion/
    and had determined to purchase them. Last Sunday, Father announced that he will be putting the Campion into the pews. He has asked us to “adopt” a missal to help pay for them. He made the statement that would save the parish money in the long since they would last unlike the little red books and all the printing for the Sunday readings.

    He is also replacing the seasonal paper missals with the http://www.ccwatershed.org/vatican/ missal since this has all the readings and music that is fit for worship including English chant and not one “Lord of the Dance” type hymn =}

    So where am I going with this… Perhaps this is a subject that could be brought up at your EF parish? That way everyone would have access to a missal.

  18. AV8R61 says:

    johnmann says:
    15 June 2013 at 4:50 pm
    The readings in Latin make about as much sense as giving the homily in Latin. The Mass of the Catechumens should be edifying IMO, taking into consideration the lowest common denominators.

    I think most people who visit here a lot have grown tired of driving the Mass into the ground in search of the lowest common denominator. LCD’s are not edifying. Edifying implies lifting up, encouraging to be better. LCDs implies approval to stay where you are, don’t learn, don’t grow, keep being lazy, keep doing what the culture says is ok. Learning some Latin has been edifying, for me ,anyway. I am not fluent in Latin, so I like when the readings are in Latin, followed by the vernacular right before the homily.

  19. Granny says:

    I have to agree with you. Our society has LCD’d itself into a mess. The education system is a glaring example. If we lower the bar any further those graduating from college will have the eqivalent of a high school education. The current NO Mass is also an example… I mean how much lower can you go than clowns, circus accourtrements, puppets, rock Masses, Barney masses…….. Nothing good has come from it.

    Our grandson is 13. He was raised in the local NO parish. He served every Sunday for almost 3 years and was a Lector too. Many Sundays he would Lector and serve the same Mass because those who were supposed to show up did not.

    I began going to the EF at the parish were we are now members. Reluctantly the grandson came with me 1 Sunday per month… reluctantly. Then he started being ready to go a second Sunday per month… Then he started trying to find alternates to read and serve in his place at the NO parish. None of this was at my urging. I simply kept my mouth shut and let the Lord lead the way.

    My 13 year old GS can see the difference between the local NO liturgy, the campus NO liturgy, and the NO at our EF/NO parish. Guess which one he refuses to go to? The campus liturgy with it’s Matt Maher concert music followed by the Christian gospel top 10. His second least favorite is the local NO parish that he grew up in! There things tend to run to hand gestures during the lyrics of some catchy Lord of the Dance type liturgy… and he won’t go to the folk Mass at all.

    Nope.. he CHOSE the Latin, chose the EF over all the possibilities near us. If for some reason the EF is not possible, the NO Mass of anticipation on Saturday is his second choice. He raised his own bar! He has to rise early, dress nicely, listen carefully, learn a new language, and he chose it on his own.

    Point… if you build it they will come =) If you raise the bar, people will step up to it! We should all be striving for the HCD =) not continually lowering the bar.

  20. John Nolan says:

    I have yet to encounter an EF Mass where the epistle and gospel were read only in the vernacular. For a start, they aren’t in the missal, so the priest would presumably have to read them from a hand missal, and if so it’s logical to face the congregation. The next step would be to read them from the ambo, and before you know it you’re in 1965 territory. In the old days those who habitually attended Mass during the week used a daily missal which had the added advantage of printing the Latin as well; most Sunday missals printed the epistle and gospel in English only. There is also the question of which translation to use. Is Douay-Rheims ed. Challoner still approved? A ‘modern’ translation like the Jerusalem bible (used in most lectionaries in the UK) would sound out of place.

    As for using the OF readings, this would compromise the integrity of the 1962 missal. One reason for preferring the EF is that it doesn’t use the OF lectionary with its cumbersome two- and three-year cycles.

  21. Denis Crnkovic says:

    Please excuse the petulance, but this is one of those discussions that so exasperates me. The problem of not understanding the Latin of the daily readings was solved years ago, but within memory of those of us who were paying attention and bothered to remember. It was long the tradition in the U.S. to simply have the priest, after reading or singing the Gospel in Latin, remove the maniple, go to the pulpit and read the Epistle of the day (beginning with the words “A reading from the Epistle of Paul to the Romans” (vel sim.) and then read the Gospel of the day (beginning “A continuation of the Holy Gospel according to N.” [without the Dominus vobiscum, since he was reading, in a certain sense, extra missam] and ending with “Thus far the words of today’s Holy Gospel”). This was and still should be the obvious, simple and elegant solution for the public who do not know Latin. What’s the issue? Why would you “interrupt” the flow of the Latin Mass by macaronically inserting the vernacular when you can – by traditional ritual – step outside the Latin at the appropriately appointed part of the Mass and repeat the readings in the local language?

  22. Todd J. says:

    The readings should be in the vernacular.

    Anyone with any knowledge of Church history knows that the Liturgy in the West ONLY came to be translated into Latin, because Latin was the vernacular. St. Jerome’s translation, the VULGATE, is vulgar Latin, i.e. Latin that would be understood by the common people (not the bombastic oratorical type). Good reason and an appreciation for history suggests that the words of the Gospel BE HEARD and UNDERSTOOD. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    A counterargument can and has been made that the readings themselves are themselves directed toward God, and not first and foremost to the people. This is a fallacious argument for the following reasons:
    1. God knows what God said. He said it. And He said it to us. We need to hear His Word, not us.
    2. There is, I believe, a latent Pelagianism in such an argument, as it is we who are giving a gift to God by reading His Word back to Him in Latin. We cannot. We do not. Christ offers the Sacrifice to God, and feeds us with His Word and His Sacrament. The Mass is not something we do for God, it is something God does for us.

    Then there is the argument that if it’s in Latin, you can read it from your missal. I do that the times I attend the EF, but that bespeaks a rather arrogant assumption. The majority of Catholics do not live in the literate first world where you can have Baronius Press ship you a lovely daily missal. The majority of our Church lives in rank poverty, and it is to them especially that the Gospel must be preached. Children who cannot read must hear the Word. Maybe missals suffice in the U.S., but it is not a universal solution.

    Embrace tradition. Use the vernacular (the “vulgar” tongue). (St. Jerome and Sts. Cyril and Methodius would appreciate it).

  23. Gaz says:

    Actually, I don’t have a preference. So long as it give glory to God, I’m for it.

  24. Bea says:

    Voted “least” vernacular only
    Voted “most prefer” Latin followed by vernacular…but voted for that with reservations depending on what Latin followed by vernacular covered.

    I would have voted Latin Only if it referred to the Mass only …but
    I voted Latin followed by vernacular if it included the gospel readings AND the sermon following the sermon theme and further explanations.

    Denis Crnkovic said it better than I.

  25. Cantor says:

    Perhaps there’s hint in the New Testament itself.

    Acts 2:7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these who speak Galilaeans?
    Acts 2:8 And how is it we each hear them in our own tongue, in the language to which we were born?

    If the listeners’ native language is good enough for the Apostles, it’s good enough for me. By itself or following the Latin makes no difference. Proclaim the Good News so the people understand.

  26. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Yet another controversy that doesn’t have to be. Most of our ancestors who spoke languages that weren’t close enough to Latin, and even some of those who were, got homilies where the readings were repeated in the vernacular and then the readings were discussed.

    For example, any student of Old English can tell you about the huge books of homilies in Old English which include their handy translations of the readings into Old English. The same thing happened in Middle English. And most likely, the same thing continued to happen among English-speaking Catholics down the years. Why would you want that to stop?

    And on the other hand, why would you want to shortcut that if you’re sitting through the rest of the Mass in Latin anyway?

  27. jflare says:

    I voted for Latin, followed by vernacular, preferably with the vernacular version being offered immediately preceding the homily. Because most people still don’t understand Latin, I think it best if we ensure that the Word might be read in our national or cultural mother tongues.
    I still wonder though: WHY does the Church not place more emphasis on simply learning Latin?
    Every nation essentially teaches its populace to speak, read, and write in the nation’s own language; a Church that has international scope could surely do the same.

    Has anyone thought about banding together and speaking to Rosetta Stone? They already have so many versions of different languages, surely it’d be not terribly difficult to develop a Totale for Ecclesiastical Latin.

  28. jflare says:

    I’d be a bit careful about that. Unless I”m gravely mistaken, the passages you quoted refer to Pentecost, when either the apostles began speaking in tongues or each hearer was caused to understand them by other means.
    It was a rather specific case, if I understand correctly. Not necessarily one that happened frequently. In fact, I think St Paul refers to the phenomenon in one of his letters, cautioning that speaking in tongues in particular isn’t necessarily intended as a charism to be widely pursued frequently.

  29. Leave the Extraordinary Form ALONE! Here is the start of the slippery slope. This notion that we should always be tinkering with things reminds me of the old adage we use that goes “fix it until its broke.” Tinkering with something sound, proven, and good could only be regarded as another bad idea.

  30. JonPatrick says:

    For masses where there is no homily I would say leave the readings in Latin alone. If there is a homily then do the reading in vernacular before the homily.

    One good reason for Latin only is that (at least here in the US) we have many different vernacular languages – Where I live one can hear OF Masses in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Vietnamese. Rather than having each community separate out into its own language Masses, why not all join together on one Latin only Mass?

  31. St. Epaphras says:

    Latin only for readings, please. Mass is never about “me” — MY language(s) or my anything else. No concessions for vernacular [language(s)] of any of us need be made. We can find the vernacular on our own, surely?

  32. lizaanne says:

    I find it distracting if my brain is in Latin mode, to suddenly hear the vernacular. I can read and follow along the translation just fine in my missal – I don’t need someone to read it to me.

  33. johnmann says:

    Almost all the arguments offered in favor of Latin only readings could also apply to the homily. If you think everyone should and can learn Latin, then I think you’re wrong but I get it. If you think the readings are purely liturgical, not for the edification of the faithful, then I get it. But if you think the homily should be in the vernacular so people can understand and if you think the readings are intended for edification, then by what logic should they not be in the vernacular?

  34. cwalshb says:

    Father, perhaps we could have a post, with sources, about the place/function of the Epistle and Gospel in the Mass? I was under the impression that the readings were not primarily didactic (though they cannot avoid having that characteristic) as the Mass is not a didactic exercise. I’m very fine with Latin-only readings and no homily.

  35. Stephen Matthew says:

    I should rather not hear the readings, or any other part, of a Low Mass at all. Let the priest who by circumstances must offer a low mass do so, but in all other cases let the mass be chanted as it rightly should be. If I were king for a day there should never again be another low mass in public because we should ever after always make available at least such things as needed for regularly scheduled high mass.

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