From the might pen of Fr. Hunwicke comes this gem. You should immediately go also to read the comments. In case you don’t know already, Christine Mohrmann demonstrated in her 1957 masterpiece Liturgical Latin that in the early Roman Church the Latin that was spoken by the people in the streets and the Latin used in worship were not the same. Hence, the argument that, today, the language of the worship should be of the same register as the language commonly spoken (and hence up for constant revision) is, essentially, rubbish. This falsehood is still, like a noxious worm, tormenting us today.
November 20 Anno Domini 2121: a family dialogue
A favourite of some appreciative readers, reprinted by request with one or two tinkerings.
Literate and Latinate six-year-old: Papa, why, this morning, was the psalmody of the Mass in honour of St Pius X so odd? I mean, in the psalmus of the Introit, why did we have Gratias Domini in aeternum cantabo, rather than Misericordias …? And why has ecclesia been replaced with coetus?
Papa: Well, my child, when that Mass was added to the Missal, the Holy See was rather keen on the Bea psalter.
Literate …: What was the Bea, Papa?
Papa: It was an evil German Jesuit who …
Literate …: What, Papa, is ‘Jesuit’?
Papa: I think you’d better ask your Mother … not many people nowadays know the answer to that question … I’m not sure I do … but the Bea had acquired the confidence of Pius XII …
Literate … (fiercely): Ah, the pope who appointed Hasdrubal Bugnini who engineered the Great Liturgical Deformation of the twentieth century?
Papa: Exactly, best beloved, except that his name was Hannibal … Hasdrubal was his brother … sort of … perhaps I have allowed you to read too much Livy … and the Bea began its evil work by doing a new translation of the Psalter into Classical Latin and …
Literate …: But surely, Papa carissime, St Christine Mohrmann, the great Dutch Latinist and Doctrix of the Church, had just demonstrated that Liturgical Latin was an exquisite deeply Christian form of Latin expressly crafted to convey in all its transcendent beauty the Catholic Faith?
Papa: Indeed she had, but Pius XII, a weak and foolish pope, ignored her scholarship and allowed the Bea to do its worst. And …
Literate …: But, Papa, consider the rendering coetus. It is profoundly wrong. Because the Vulgate rendering ecclesia binds together the Church’s appropriation of Scripture with the text of the Old Testament. Coetus elides that linkage. Be honest with me, pedantic Parent: Coetus also ruptures the link with the Septuagintal rendering … ekklesia megale. Thus the harmony of the Hebrew, the Greek, and the Latin is rudely sundered! So why was today’s Mass not subsequently corrected when St Benedict XVII completed the Great Liturgical and Doctrinal Restoration in 2031 by promulgating the Sixteen Definitive Anathemas against Bergoglianism?
Papa: Because the liturgy, learned offspring, bears within it marks of all the periods through which, in its triumphant march across the centuries, it has passed. These profoundly eccentric details provide a powerful incentive to historical research such as that upon which you, after your Seventh Birthday, will embark. Now run along and finish your doctoral thesis on the de Beatificatione et Canonizatione of St Benedict XIV. Then you can ask your Mother what ‘Jesuit’ means before I read you your bed-time story from the newly recovered papyrus text, Oxyrhynchus 26,091, of the Hecale of Callimachus.
Literate …: Thank you, Papa. I warmly anticipate each of those three agenda.