When ‘experts’ interpret the wishes of the laity: What could go wrong?

Over at NLM my friend Gregory DiPippo has a fine essay with reflections on the imposition of the vernacular for Holy Mass back in 1969/70.  This topic has been on my mind lately, given that we have been at this now for some 45 years and the mighty fruits of the vernacular are yet to enter the germination stage.

A sample:

In a letter to the Tablet published on March 14, 1964, Dom Gregory Murray, O.S.B., of Downside Abbey in England, wrote:

The plea that the laity as a body do not want liturgical change, whether in rite or in language, is, I submit, quite beside the point. … (it is) not a question of what people want; it is a question of what is good for them.Michael Davies quotes this in his book “Liturgical Time Bombs in Vatican II”, and rightly observes that it reflects the same mentality as that of the Soviet Communist Party. [Or Democrats] Just as the Party “ ‘interpreted the will of the people,’ so the ‘experts’ interpret the wishes of the laity,” and were willing to inflict any amount of suffering on them to make them accept what they, the experts, had determined was for the people’s good. And so I find myself reminded of two stories from those troubled days.

I think this is what emerged in those PODCAzTs I did on the 40th anniversary of the imposition of the Novus Ordo.  HERE

Another sample from DiPippo.  Amusing and strikingly sad at the same time:

The second concerns this commemorative plaque from the church of All Saints in Rome,

which reads in part:

His Holiness Paul VI, as the liturgical reform decreed by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council was beginning, was pleased to celebrate in this church the first Mass in Italian, amid the excited exultation of an entire people…A Roman friend of mine explained to me this is actually the third version of this plaque, because, in fact, not quite all of the people were excitedly exulting about Mass in the vernacular. After the first two plaques were badly vandalized, the third was placed well out of reach, and above a statue that no one would dare climb on. (The current plaque seems however to have a stain on it, of unknown origin, not visible in the photograph.)

Go read the rest there.

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  1. bmadamsberry says:

    Had the Mass been in Latin when I first attended (I’m a convert), I’m pretty sure I would simply never have come back. At the same time, many (most?) converts will extol the use of Latin in Mass, but do so post-conversion (or after they’ve already decided to join) for reasons that readers of this blog probably already know. I’m a big supporter of Masses in the vernacular, with particular parts (Credo, Angus Dei, Gloria, Sanctus, etc.) in Latin.

    My (Protestant) Father shares a similar feeling. If Mass was in Latin, he has told me in no uncertain terms that he would never come to Mass.

  2. pelerin says:

    ‘Excited exultation?’ I remember it being more like stunned disbelief. In fact I was too choked up to speak to anyone on the way out from that first Mass in the vernacular.

  3. iPadre says:

    The same suffering we priests undergo if we concelebrate (in some places). That is why I celebrate privately when on vacation. Not worth the agida.

  4. Sonshine135 says:

    I just finished listening to all three of the dawn of the Novus Ordo podcasts again ( I recall listening to them last year). I still cannot understand how Pope Paul VI came to the conclusions that Latin needed to be taken out of the Mass and Chant done away with. He seems to say that the passing away of these things is regretful but necessary. Being 45 years removed and a lover of the Tridentine Mass, I can only shake my head.

  5. ppb says:

    It’s so difficult for me to understand what happened during this time period, not having lived through it myself. In the abstract, Dom Gregory is correct to say” … (it is) not a question of what people want; it is a question of what is good for them.” The question then resolves to, “what IS good for us with respect to vernacularization of the liturgy?” In retrospect, at least, it is clear that the abrupt and total about-face that resulted from this kind of thinking was NOT good. Many of the faithful seemed to sense this, but apparently were ignored. Was there any place where the reforms were done more gradually and sensibly, with Latin and vernacular options both available?

  6. danidunn says:

    In regard to, not a question of what people want; it is a question of what is good for them.. I agree with that statement. Maybe it does smack of Soviet communism, but the flip-side is
    anything 46 million women do every year can’t be immoral.

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