February 15, 2014

February 15, 2014 Column Father De Celles

Two Special Events in Lent. It’s a little early, but I wanted to give you a heads up about two parish events during Lent. First, I am excited to announce that St. Raymond’s will be presenting a special private showing for parishioners (and anyone else who asks!) of the movie MARY OF NAZARETH on the first Sunday of Lent, March 9th, 2014 at 1:30pm at Kingstowne Regal Cinemas. Please see the insert and the article in this bulletin for more details. Second, I am very pleased to tell you that Fr. Paul Scalia has agreed to present a Lenten Series on Thursday evenings during Lent. His topic will be on the Psalms. I invite you all to plan ahead so you can attend these very special Lenten events.

Latin in the Mass. In this column two weeks ago I asked for your input on whether we should introduce more Latin into the celebration of the 8:45 Mass. As I noted in my previous column, when I had asked the folks at the previous weeks 8:45 Mass for input I received a large number of responses, and they were overwhelmingly in favor of more Latin. I was a little disappointed that my column produced only a very few additional responses, but these too were mainly in favor of more Latin.

One thing I have gathered from all this is that some misunderstand the place of Latin in the modern liturgy. In particular, it seems some people think that Vatican II and the recent Popes discarded the use of Latin in the Mass. Actually the opposite is true: Vatican II and the Popes since the Council, have all encouraged and the use of Latin in the modern Mass. Allow me to quote them for you.

Veterum Sapientia, Blessed Pope John XXIII, February 22, 1962:

[2] In the exercise of their paternal care they [bishops] shall be on their guard lest anyone under their jurisdiction, eager for revolutionary changes, writes against the use of Latin … in the liturgy, or through prejudice makes light of the Holy Sees will in this regard or interprets it falsely.

Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Liturgy): December 4, 1963:

[36] The use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites … But since the use of the vernacular…may frequently be of great advantage to the people, a wider use may be made of it, especially in readings, …

[54] A suitable place may be allotted to the vernacular in Masses…especially in the readings … Nevertheless care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

Voluntati Obsequens, Letter to the Bishops…,Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship (under Pope Paul VI), April 14, 1974:

Our congregation has prepared a booklet entitled, “Jubilate Deo.”…This was done in response to a desire which the Holy Father had frequently expressed, that all the faithful should know at least some Latin Gregorian chants, such as, for example, the “Gloria”, the “Credo”, the “Sanctus”, and the “Agnus Dei”. It gives me great pleasure to send you a copy of it, as a personal gift from His Holiness, Pope Paul VI. … [W]hen the faithful gather together for prayer … their unity finds particularly apt and even sensible expression through the use of Latin Gregorian chant.

2000 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, issued by decree of Blessed Pope John Paul II:

[12] Since no Catholic would now deny the lawfulness and efficacy of a sacred rite celebrated in Latin, the Council was able to acknowledge that “the use of the mother tongue frequently may be of great advantage to the people” and gave permission for its use.

[41] All things being equal, Gregorian chant should hold a privileged place, as being more proper to the Roman liturgy.… it is desirable that they [the faithful] know how to sing at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin …

Redemptionis Sacramentum, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, March 25, 2004 (personally mandated, approved and published by Bd. John Paul II).

[112] Mass is celebrated either in Latin or in another language….Priests are always and everywhere permitted to celebrate Mass in Latin.

Sacramentum Caritatis, Benedict XVI, February 22, 2007:

[62] … In order to express more clearly the unity and universality of the Church, … with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful … [certain] liturgies could be celebrated in Latin. Similarly, the better-known prayers of the Church’s tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung.… [T]he faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin …

Although Pope Francis seems to have not said anything as clear and forceful as his predecessors, or the Council, nevertheless, he often uses Latin in Mass, e.g., his Christmas Midnight Mass this year was almost entirely in Latin.

In addition to some minor misunderstanding of the Church’s position on Latin, there also seems to be, among a few, a small, gentle and unintentional intolerance for those who prefer a more traditional liturgy in general. As truly unintended as I’m sure this is, it still seems inconsistent with the commandment to “love one another”? As Bd. John Paul II wrote in 1980 (Dominicae Cenae), talking specifically about those who prefer Latin in the Mass, “It is therefore necessary to show not only understanding but also full respect towards these sentiments and desires.”

It also seems that sometimes folks develop a certain proprietary attitude regarding the Mass they regularly attend, as if it is “their Mass.” To a certain extent I understand this: it’s convenient, you’re comfortable, you’re with your friends. But in the end, no one person or group “owns” any of the Masses. So if I make a reasonable change in a particular Mass—one out of seven—to accommodate a need in the parish, I would hope everyone, in simple Christian charity, would make adjustments. I hope this doesn’t mean you have to go to a different Mass, but for some it might.

Finally, a few have written that they don’t think it does any good to give me input because I “don’t listen.” Friends, if I didn’t listen to you I would not only be a fool, but I would have made a lot more changes (many of them very foolish) a long time ago to suit my personal preferences. But instead I have tried my best to listen, and to learn from and respond to what I heard. Sometimes listening causes me to change my mind, or to refrain from taking action, or to explain my reasoning to you. In any case, I promise to try to listen to everyone who has something to say, but I also promise to always try to do what I think is the right thing. Please God.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles