Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Spanish Mass in English?
I’m not naming the parish or even the diocese, but a reader shared a bulletin announcement that seems a little odd to me.
It’s found in the parish’s listing of Mass times for the week; this particular parish has a Mass in Spanish at noon on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month. In this week’s bulletin, this parenthetical message appears after the listing for the noon Mass:
(this 12 noon Mass will be celebrated in English, unless there is a large number of Spanish-speaking parishioners in attendance.)
Now…I’m not really a fan of having Masses in various vernacular languages. I wrote about that issue here.
But here’s the thing: the pastor obviously wants there to be more Hispanics at the Spanish Mass. So…does it make any sense at all to put an announcement aimed at non-English speaking Hispanics in a bulletin that has not one sentence of Spanish in it?! I mean, how will they know? I suppose the English-speaking Hispanics could spread the word…if they get a copy of the bulletin.
Another thing: does this remind you of anything in the struggle to have a Traditional Latin Mass celebrated in a parish? Haven’t we all heard the stories of the pastors who said there weren’t “enough” people who wanted the “Latin Mass”? The bulletin announcement in question here takes the same tack: there will have to be a “large number” of Spanish-speaking parishioners present. How many is a “large number”?
If there aren’t enough Spanish-speaking parishioners to justify having a Spanish Mass on alternate Sundays, why have that Mass at all? You’d think the pastor would just omit it completely, rather than make threats about it.
I will say something in defense of any Spanish Mass in any parish, though. If the Mass is said in not really fluent in Spanish Spanish by a priest who is, the chances of adlibbing any of the prayers is put at a minimum! And for myself, since I’m not a fluent Spanish speaker, if I go to a Spanish Mass, and the priest does adlib, I most likely will not understand that he has done so, and I will be spared the irritation this causes me.
Similarly, suppose the pastor’s homilies are not exactly edifying; if he delivers the homily in Spanish, the non-Spanish speakers will not be subjected to sub-standard clichés, inanities, and jokes. Well…they might be subjected to them, but they won’t understand it, so, as the saying goes, no harm, no foul.
Well, not really. God, of course, understands every language and knows exactly who is adlibbing and who gives a decent homily.
Still, the Spanish Mass has saved me from a near occasion of sin on a number of Sundays.
Here’s a thought: if that Spanish Mass is so poorly attended, why not substitute a Traditional Latin Mass? Or at least a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin. Or at least a Mass with the Latin Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. Now there’s a concept.
As I said in my previous post on this topic, here’s the bottom line: If Sunday Mass is to be said in the vernacular, it makes sense that it be said in English, since that is the official language of this country. Then, instead of offering more Masses in various other languages, let one Mass be celebrated in Latin, for the benefit of all the ethnic groups in a parish, as well as the English speakers. We’re supposed to know the Latin ordinary (Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Credo, even the Pater Noster) anyway. Maybe it’s time parishes actually learned them – putting into practice what Vatican II actually mandated.