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Dona eis requiem. Latin mass to return?
October 23, 2006 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Pope Benedict XVI wants to bring back the latin mass. This could be the start of a return to the old Catholic traditionalism and the undoing of Vatican II.
posted by SansPoint (71 comments total)

 
Undoing of what? WHAT? SANSPOINT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:43 PM on October 23, 2006


This could be the start of a return to the old Catholic traditionalism and the undoing of Vatican II.

Actually I'm betting that this is the turning point in the cultural shift towards fundamentalism in religion. Once the Pope is doing it no one else is going to want to.
posted by DragonBoy at 12:44 PM on October 23, 2006


Makes Mel smile.

Not just any Latin, but Nazi fascist Latin.

And he's gonna saint the much loved founder of Opus Dei in good old fascist Franco's Spain.
posted by nofundy at 12:46 PM on October 23, 2006


Sheesh. Next he'll be wanting to overturn the decrees that condemned the Inquisition. But oh, wait, the Church never condemned the Inquisition! Why, in fact, the Office of the Inquisition still exists! And slap me in an iron maiden but if Pope Benedict himself wasn't the most recent prefect of it!
posted by XMLicious at 12:49 PM on October 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


Sheesh. Next he'll be wanting to overturn the decrees that condemned the Inquisition. But oh, wait, the Church never condemned the Inquisition! Why, in fact, the Office of the Inquisition still exists! And slap me in an iron maiden but if Pope Benedict himself wasn't the most recent prefect of it! (see the last bullet point)
posted by XMLicious at 12:50 PM on October 23, 2006


yes and no. it's more complicate than that. let's see:

it's not about the language itself -- if you're a priest and a substantial number of faithful ask you to, you can use Paul VI's "new" Mass Book and celebrate Mass in Latin, without any problems.

the key factor is, the hardline Lefebvre traditionalists do not recognize as valid the new, postconciliar rite. you can bet your family bible that Professor Ratzinger will make clear that whoever asks to celebrate Mass using the old rite will have to state clearly that he recognizes as valid the new one he's not using. the Lefebvre wing staunchly refuses to do that, they simply don't admit the validity of the postconciliar rite.

hence, they'll remain out of the Church.

it's a bold, interesting move. but then, the motu proprio isn't out yet, so it's 99% speculation
posted by matteo at 12:52 PM on October 23, 2006


I was just thinking the other day that Ratzinger hadn't been doing enough to alienate Catholics everywhere. At least now when we go to mass we can justifiably say we haven't a clue what the Vatican's position is on the moral issue of the day.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 12:57 PM on October 23, 2006


and by the way, Wojtyla himself made a small concession, in the mid-80's, to the lovers of the Tridentine Mass -- you can actually ask permission to your local bishop, on behalf of your parishioners, to celebrate a given number of Masses using the Tridentine rite.

a smart move because it throws a bone to old-skoolers but keeps them inside the Catholic Church, essentially at the Church's conditions
posted by matteo at 1:00 PM on October 23, 2006


Ceci n'est pas en latin.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:01 PM on October 23, 2006


I disagree, sanspoint. Vatican II had many results. Whatever Benedict wants to do to move the Church to be more in line with social views that are widely held in the third world, I don't think the entirety of Vatican II can be "undone."

Plus, as the link points out, this can be taken to be faithful to the Vatican II principle that "The Second Vatican Council’s 1963 constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium (This Sacred Council), states clearly that “the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (No. 36). It also states, “In accordance with the centuries-old tradition of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the divine office” (No. 101)."
posted by ibmcginty at 1:04 PM on October 23, 2006


While I'm not a catholic some of my friends are so I think I'm entitled to an opinion, which is that this makes a lot of sense.

1) It just sounds cooler
2) It seems like it's got to be easier to run a massive organized religion effectively if most followers can't understand what you're actually saying. Because honestly, it probably doesn't make much sense.
posted by freebird at 1:08 PM on October 23, 2006


Non est. Hæc est, autem.
posted by sbutler at 1:09 PM on October 23, 2006


has anyone read deus caritas est? i have a strange fascination with papal encyclicals.
posted by Kifer85 at 1:10 PM on October 23, 2006


It's about time the church got back to the important issues - like the perfidious jew
posted by 2sheets at 1:20 PM on October 23, 2006


I agree with freebird. If you are going to church, that is better than listening to some dude tell toastmaster anecdotes.
posted by dios at 1:20 PM on October 23, 2006


Is the sermon in Latin too? The Wiki article on the Tridentine Mass suggests that sermons consisted of a re-reading of the Gospel in the vernacular, plus the sermon.

So what's the big deal?
posted by sbutler at 1:25 PM on October 23, 2006


Fidelis populus, nil carborundrum illegitematum!
posted by lalochezia at 1:26 PM on October 23, 2006


Personally, I always liked Latin mass. When we went to english, I really lost any interest.
I experience the mass as ancient ritual ceremony. And, as such, it is also meant to underscore the power, and "holiness" of the Church™. You quickly see that english just doesn't do the job.
A full-on Latin high-mass simply drips with "don't-fuck-with-us authority".
posted by Thorzdad at 1:29 PM on October 23, 2006


nofundy, JP2 canonized Josemaria Escriva back in 2002.

matteo, you've got it right. This isn't about Latin vs. the vernacular. It's about reaching out to that subset of the people who are attached to the Tridentine who can still be brought to acknowledge the legitimacy of the "Novus Ordo" mass. It's about acknowledging legitimate pluralism in aesthetic matters instead of externally imposing a soul-numbing uniformity on people.

Wouldn't expect most mefiers to grok that.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:30 PM on October 23, 2006


Progenies viperarum, quis demonstravit vobis fugere a futura ira?
posted by dios at 1:33 PM on October 23, 2006


...it's a bold, interesting move

It sure is. Ratzinger is the coolest pope yet (see his writings on Mozart). Joseph Campbell (whom I otherwise have little truck with) was right when he predicted -- way back around Vatican II -- that the vernacular mass would decimate the church. Just hearing Latin spoken is an education in rhythm and sentence structure worth any ten writing courses.
posted by Faze at 1:43 PM on October 23, 2006


credo quia absurdum est
posted by ruelle at 1:49 PM on October 23, 2006


is the whole world just getting more and more retarded?

can anybody think of a good reason for doing this incredibly stupid thing?
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 1:51 PM on October 23, 2006


Paenitentiam agite adpropinquavit enim regnum caelorum.
posted by caddis at 1:52 PM on October 23, 2006


StrasbourgSecaucus: Why is this incredibly stupid?
posted by sohcahtoa at 1:55 PM on October 23, 2006


What? No more buddy christ?
posted by jeffburdges at 2:22 PM on October 23, 2006


I wish all religions could be as entertaining as Catholicism.
posted by reklaw at 2:30 PM on October 23, 2006


Abrenuntias satanae? Et omnibus operibus ejus? Et omnibus pompis ejus?

Well, do ya, punk?
posted by languagehat at 2:33 PM on October 23, 2006


My wedding mass was in Latin.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 2:33 PM on October 23, 2006


a smart move because it throws a bone to old-skoolers but keeps them inside the Catholic Church

Those who were brought up with Latin Mass probably also went to Catholic school and are too old to lapse. Why throw a bone to the dog already on the leash?
posted by three blind mice at 2:42 PM on October 23, 2006


Please notice that latin it's absolutely optional. You can take the whole package without it.

From what I see Matteo is well informed, so I'll ask to him: why they want to pick up again the lefevbrian? I dont' see the point, really.
posted by darkripper at 2:43 PM on October 23, 2006


Um... does this really mean more than, 'priests who want to use the Tridentine liturgy no longer have to ask permission'? We're not going to see an across-the-board switch to the old austere Tridentine mass, where the priest faces the altar with his back to the congregation.
posted by zennie at 2:45 PM on October 23, 2006


"The decree would allow priests to celebrate Mass in Latin without having to seek permission of local bishops."

This is shocking!

I am stunned that, outside of a handful of priests out there who dutifully ask their local bishop if it would be OK to do a Christmas eve mass in Latin, that anyone actually cares about this.

Wake me when Benedict blames the September 11th attacks on the homosexuals and pagans.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:53 PM on October 23, 2006


I find church much to deal with when it's in a language I can't understand and I can just listen to the pretty music rather than worry my head about who must be subservient to whom and other fine points of Catholicism.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:01 PM on October 23, 2006


I don't see anything wrong with this. A lot of older catholics dig the latin mass. More power to them. Say it in Klingon for all I care.
posted by empath at 3:11 PM on October 23, 2006


A Klingon mass, I'd pay to see.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:14 PM on October 23, 2006


Personally I refuse to read that Richard Dawkins nonsense until it's been translated into Aramaic. Preferably by Mel Gibson.
posted by Arcaz Ino at 3:18 PM on October 23, 2006


MetaTamisium: Credo quia absurdum est
posted by eriko at 3:27 PM on October 23, 2006


Well, this will really help fill the pews to capacity. Who can't resist the incessant droning in an ancient dead language. Way to go Ratzi! Du bist Deutschland!
posted by chillmost at 3:29 PM on October 23, 2006


My $0.02:
This can't be good for the church. As it is, churches are struggling to attract people to their masses that are spoken in [English/other national language]. Changing the language to something foreign is only going to futher alienate those 'fencesitters' who go to church maybe a couple of times a year.
posted by cholly at 3:31 PM on October 23, 2006


Mostly what Thorzad said. The purpose of this is to retain or increase the power of the hierarchy/patriarchy or the cleargy. So the clergy can say, "Don't you worry your little head about what to believe. We will tell you". (I was reared Catholic)
posted by allelopath at 3:36 PM on October 23, 2006


I think this is a good thing. A lot of commenters seem to have the impression that this means that the current vernacular Mass will go away. It won't. A few more people will be able to choose to go to a Tridentine Mass if they want to. And it's not as if Catholics of any generation won't know what's being said; they've heard the vernacular version hundreds, if not thousands, of times.

As an almost entirely lapsed Catholic, I would definitely prefer the Tridentine Mass, for aesthetic reasons (on the couple of occasions I go per year). I can't stand the kumbayah 60s music you find at almost every single American church; to me, if you're going to do church, you should do solemn. Organs and chant and Renaissance polyphony. I realize that a lot of people like the way Mass is done these days and feel it is more inclusive, and that's fine. But I wish there was more of a choice. Sometimes I want to go, but I want to be able to avoid the rip-my-ears-off syrupiness of "On Eagles' Wings" and "Gather Us In" and most of the prayers.
posted by lackutrol at 3:59 PM on October 23, 2006


I have to say that religion for me is about the tribal ceremony, and I feel that all these people telling me I actually have to believe in it are acting in rather bad form. If I had been brought up a Catholic pre-Vatican II, I'd certainly feel that the vernacular mass was less special than the Latin.

And similarly, having been brought up in the Book of Common Prayer Church of England, I find:
We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. (etc)
which I heard every weekday morning from the age of 10 to the age of 18, much more religious than
Lord God,
we have sinned against you;
we have done evil in your sight.
We are sorry and repent.
Have mercy on us according to your love.
But then I'm saying that as someone who is fundamentally secular.
posted by athenian at 4:09 PM on October 23, 2006


I Nth the Klingon mass. That would be neat, though it certainly implies a very different meaning of the Blood of Christ.
posted by phearlez at 4:09 PM on October 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


Why stop at Latin? Let those lazy bums learn Aramaic! If it was good enough for Christ...
posted by clevershark at 4:19 PM on October 23, 2006


Aww. The end of



??
posted by thekilgore at 4:46 PM on October 23, 2006


I knew I memorized that Pater Noster back in high school for a reason.
posted by absalom at 4:46 PM on October 23, 2006


Oops. That was lame. I was trying to post this image.
posted by thekilgore at 4:48 PM on October 23, 2006


Athenian, I think you've gotten across what I was trying to say better than I might have. I've had a great deal of experience with both Catholic and Anglican traditions, and I've always loved the responses from the end of Evensong in the BCP, for example, like "Give peace in our time, O Lord / Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou, O God."

The paradox is that there is a lot more poetry in the "real" old texts than in the feel-good nice versions that are slowly replacing them.
posted by lackutrol at 4:49 PM on October 23, 2006


The Catholic Church united Europe by means of the Latin ritual--only to see the unity rent asunder by those who would conduct religion in the vernacular tongue: Luther, Calvin, Bucer, the centurions of the Reformation. The Tridentine ritual was itself aimed at coopting the vernacular experience via the sermon, while maintaining the uniform Latin ritual for the Mass.

For those of us, d'un age certaine, born around the middle of the 20th Century and indoctrinated in the Catholic schools of the 50s and 60s, the Latin Mass was the focal point for devotion. Its elimination after Vatican II was a staggering blow to young Catholics of the era, from which blow many of us never recovered.

Latin was an emblem of the continuity of the Church. For Irish Catholics, Latin was the vehicle through which the Irish monks kept scholarship alive--and which was taught by the "hedge priests" in defiance of the Sassenachs: cultural links that resonated powerfully in the Irish imagination. For the Church to give up Latin was so, well, . . . .Protestant. Talk about a double whammy. . .

It would be grand if it might be possible for a fallen-away Catholic to hear the glorious sounds of the lingua antiqua
without having to join a cult.

Dominus vobiscum.
posted by rdone at 5:25 PM on October 23, 2006


Ma quande lingues coalesce, li grammatica del resultant lingue es plu simplic e regulari quam ti del coalescent lingues. Li nov lingua franca va esser plu simplic e regulari quam li existent Europan lingues. It va esser tam simplic quam Occidental: in fact, it va esser Occidental. A un Angleso it va semblar un simplificat Angles, quam un skeptic Cambridge amico dit me que Occidental es.

Ma quande lingues coalesce, li grammatica del resultant lingue es plu simplic e regulari quam ti del coalescent lingues. Li nov lingua franca va esser plu simplic e regulari quam li existent Europan lingues. It va esser tam simplic quam Occidental: in fact, it va esser Occidental. A un Angleso it va semblar un simplificat Angles, quam un skeptic Cambridge amico dit me que Occidental es.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:40 PM on October 23, 2006


St. Francis got it right.
posted by Twang at 5:43 PM on October 23, 2006


As it is, churches are struggling to attract people to their masses that are spoken in [English/other national language].

While this is true in much of Europe and North America, it is not the case in most of the Southern Hemisphere.
posted by drezdn at 5:50 PM on October 23, 2006


b1trot, that lorem ipsum is actually Occidental (scroll to bottom for explanation), not Latin.
posted by gubo at 6:02 PM on October 23, 2006


rdone-- what a thoughtful and heartfelt opinion.

I can't wait to hear what my parents (b. 1947 & 1951), lapsed Catholics, have to say about Vatican II and the end of the Latin mass.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:02 PM on October 23, 2006


there go my hopes of ever becoming a priest.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:30 PM on October 23, 2006


This is the Death of Something!
posted by Falconetti at 6:48 PM on October 23, 2006


Conservative religion returns to slightly more conservative tradtion. News, etc.
posted by signal at 6:50 PM on October 23, 2006


It's not actually a dictum changing the default language to Latin, is it? It's just freeing the restrictions of Vatican II so that you're allowed to do it in Latin without getting the approval of your local bishop.

I like Latin. I'm officially Catholic although I've been to mass, uh, once in the past... ten years? I consider myself agnostic. But I certainly appreciate how pretty a properly done Catholic mass can be.
posted by blacklite at 6:55 PM on October 23, 2006


I say this to you, Pope:

Maledicat illum Christus Filius Dei vivi toto suae majestatis imperio et insurgat adversus illum coelum cum omnibus virtutibus quae in eo moventur ad damnandum eum, nisi penituerit et ad satisfactionem venerit. Amen. Fiat, fiat. Amen.
posted by oxford blue at 6:59 PM on October 23, 2006


Why stop at Latin? Let those lazy bums learn Aramaic! If it was good enough for Christ...

or Hebrew.
posted by caddis at 7:06 PM on October 23, 2006


So... the Vatican 2.0 bubble is about to burst?
posted by namespan at 7:36 PM on October 23, 2006


Actually, I can't comment on the effect (or lack of effect) on the Catholic faith and faithful, but I share the opinion of a number of classicists that Vat II all but killed classics education in high schools. If this is done as the FPP suggests, top - down, I hope it will reinvigorate interest in the latin and greek languages.
posted by eclectist at 7:38 PM on October 23, 2006


CENTURION: What's this, then? 'Romanes Eunt Domus'? 'People called Romanes they go the house'?
BRIAN: It-- it says, 'Romans, go home'.
CENTURION: No, it doesn't. What's Latin for 'Roman'? Come on!
BRIAN: Aah!
CENTURION: Come on!
BRIAN: 'R-- Romanus'?
CENTURION: Goes like...?
BRIAN: 'Annus'?
CENTURION: Vocative plural of 'annus' is...?
BRIAN: Eh. 'Anni'?
CENTURION: 'Romani'. 'Eunt'? What is 'eunt'?
BRIAN: 'Go'. Let--
CENTURION: Conjugate the verb 'to go'.
BRIAN: Uh. 'Ire'. Uh, 'eo'. 'Is'. 'It'. 'Imus'. 'Itis'. 'Eunt'.
CENTURION: So 'eunt' is...?
BRIAN: Ah, huh, third person plural, uh, present indicative. Uh, 'they go'.
CENTURION: But 'Romans, go home' is an order, so you must use the...?
BRIAN: The... imperative!
CENTURION: Which is...?
BRIAN: Umm! Oh. Oh. Um, 'i'. 'I'!
CENTURION: How many Romans?
BRIAN: Ah! 'I'-- Plural. Plural. 'Ite'. 'Ite'.
CENTURION: 'Ite'.
BRIAN: Ah. Eh.
CENTURION: 'Domus'?
BRIAN: Eh.
CENTURION: Nominative?
BRIAN: Oh.
CENTURION: 'Go home'? This is motion towards. Isn't it, boy?
BRIAN: Ah. Ah, dative, sir! Ahh! No, not dative! Not the dative, sir! No! Ah! Oh, the... accusative! Accusative! Ah! 'Domum', sir! 'Ad domum'! Ah! Oooh! Ah!
CENTURION: Except that 'domus' takes the...?
BRIAN: The locative, sir!
CENTURION: Which is...?!
BRIAN: 'Domum'.
CENTURION: 'Domum'.
BRIAN: Aaah! Ah.
CENTURION: 'Um'. Understand?
BRIAN: Yes, sir.
CENTURION: Now, write it out a hundred times.
BRIAN: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Hail Caesar, sir.
CENTURION: Hail Caesar. If it's not done by sunrise, I'll cut your balls off.

posted by SPrintF at 9:16 PM on October 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


So, shorter thread:

It's about the power of the church (and the pope), not about the spirit or salvation. Nothing changes.
posted by nofundy at 7:30 AM on October 24, 2006


I have an uncle who's promised to go back to church when they start using Latin again. During the 80's/90's, this was 'never', but I'll have to send this to him and tell him to take his suit out of mothballs. :)
posted by unixrat at 8:07 AM on October 24, 2006


Yup, ex-catholic here with fond memories of (Ukrainian) Orthodox services. And wine and bread instead of that cardboard host. Bring it back and maybe I'll swing by once in awhile to get my pope on.
posted by dreamsign at 9:00 AM on October 24, 2006


dreamsign, you might consider doing a fpp on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church such as how the split occurred from the Roman Catholics and what they do differently. The whole history is kind of fascinating.
posted by caddis at 9:15 AM on October 24, 2006


Bigus Dickus.

Anyone who thinks this is a bad idea doesn't realize that he isn't imposing the latin mass on anyone, he's simply alllowing those priests who wish to perform it to do so without requiring the permission of someone higher up. It's a manner of preserving a heritage, a culture and healing a minor schism.

As someone who was born post-Vatican II and went to church every Sunday from age 0 to 20 I'm curious to see what latin mass was like, regardless of my atheist beliefs now.
posted by furtive at 6:52 PM on October 24, 2006


I think the Vatican II link you were looking for, is in fact, this one.

I've heard the Mass in Latin, and I like it better than English. But Aramaic is still my favorite.
posted by dejah420 at 8:43 PM on October 24, 2006


Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.
posted by matthewr at 3:31 PM on November 4, 2006


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